As the summer season kicks off, it’s the perfect time to make plans for a beach getaway, and Europe has some of the best oceanfront property in the world.
But if sweaty beach crowds make you want to stay indoors and away from the waves, consider these six destinations that aren’t on most people’s radars.
Portugal has its share of beaches, but if you surf, Supertubos stands alone. It’s located in a worn-down, ancient fishing town, and the area is low-key and packed with fresh seafood and tiny surf schools. The waves are known for their perfect hollow tubes, but the beach itself is ideal for a hot, lazy day. Think golden sand, chill vibes, and dramatic coastlines lined with a 16th century wall and fortress.
Les Cavaliers is another prime surf spot. Located just off Biarritz in Anglet, French Basque country, it is a consistent and desirable alternative to Hossegor. Les Cavaliers has reliably strong waves, but there are also surf schools—it is not just for the experienced. The town is casual and laid back. Easy, unpretentious, and friendly year round. Stop by the Beach House, where you can dine on simply, locally-sourced cuisine (think artisanal Basque paté and St. Jean de Luz sea bream ceviche tacos) oceanside.
In the quieter northern region of Mallorca, away from the party scene, is Es Calo des Moro Beach. Crystal clear waters, near silence and empty sand—this option is something special. The beach is owned by a private foundation. Meaning, you won’t find any bars or clubs or even crowds most of the year. You have to hike a rocky cliff to reach the water. But once you’re there, you will have a small, secluded paradise for the day.
On the South Coast of Iceland, beside the small fishing village Vik I Murdal, you’ll find a jaw-dropping cliff-side beach with black sand and basalt stacks. The scene is striking, and the folklore behind the beach gives it a mystical air—the basalt columns are said to be frozen trolls turned to stone as night fell while they were pulling ships to shore. The beach is the sight of several Game of Thrones episodes. It won’t be warm—at the height of summer the weather is in the high 70’s—but the Reynisfjara experience is unlike any other.
Georgia is on the rise, and beyond Tbilisi, the exciting capitol rich with wine culture, avant-garde fashion, and techno in former Soviet spaces, there is Batumi, a lively resort town on the Black Sea. You can travel to Batumi from Tbilisi by train for only around $8, and once there, the mountain lined city boasts deep blue waters and a mix of Ottoman, Brutalist, and Classical European architecture. An added bonus? The entire city and seaside area is covered in bike lanes—visitors can partake in a bikeshare as easily as locals, and explore the cliffside escape (which also happens to relatively warm all year around.) Bars and clubs line the water. This is a lesser-known beach with a party-vibe.
The beauty of the Greek island beaches is no secret. But beyond Santorini and scene-y Mykonos, there is tiny, quaint Hydra, which boasts clear turquoise seas in calmer surroundings. It is a good choice for a laid-back stay in a sea captain’s 18th-century mansion-turned-boutique hotel (Hotel Miranda), complete with winding, ancient streets and a rich artistic history. After all, Henry Miller used to stay here during the 1930s, Leonard Cohen bought a place here in the 60s, and today, you can find Project Space Slaughterhouse and Hydra Workshop, both contemporary arts spaces with consistently surprising and relevant work.