This year’s Conde Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards produced a fascinating list of top island beaches in Europe from strands of sand in the North Sea to Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast. 5 Greek islands are among the 12 best chosen for the list. See the whole list:
- Menorca, Spain
Quiet, pure Menorca (one of the three Balearic Islands on this list) is filled with postcard-perfect little beaches with some of the clearest, bluest water you’ll ever see. Cala Macarelleta is a favorite, surrounded by pine groves, cliffs, trails, and hidden coves—it’s certainly worth the hour-long drive west and south from Mahon.
- Skiathos (Sporades), Greece
Known for its soft, round, white shingles, Lalaria Beach is only approachable by boat from Skiathos town. There’s afternoon shade from the tall rocky shores that back this very small piece of paradise. Strong paddlers thrill to swim through dramatic outcrop apses (one underwater) at the southern end.
- North Frisian Islands, Germany
Extremely wide beaches, endless sand dunes, wide open landscape and fascinating villages draw summertime visitors to these islands facing the North Seas on the border with Denmark. Lesser-known Amrum has Europe’s widest beach, a perfect, 10-mile sand stretching which extends over the entire length of its western shore—from near-empty Nordspitze to a candy-striped lighthouse in Wittdün.
- Ibiza, Spain
No visit to the party island of Ibiza would be perfect without watching the sunset from Benirrás Beach, a 10-minute drive from San Miguel. Cap Bernat (locally known as “the hand of God”) is a dramatic rock configuration, made even more so by the weakened light and the island’s famed ‘Drum Down the Sun’ hippie beats on Sundays.
- Thassos (North Aegean Islands), Greece
For an unusual dive, visit the warm, natural pool of Giola at the southernmost tip of the island. It’s a 10-minute hike from the road, but well worth a stop if wandering Thassos while exploring its 33 beaches (including nearby Astris and Psili Ammos).
- Mallorca, Spain
When most people think of Mallorca, their minds usually go to endless beach resorts filled with noisy holiday makers (Magaluf in particular), but the largest of the Balearic Islands has more than a handful of dreamy places to swim and enjoy the sun. Below the dramatic Tramuntana mountain range on the northwest coast is the chic pebble beach of Deia. It’s a bit of a hike from the main village, but amazing water and perfect lunch spots make this a must-visit.
- Mykonos, Greece
Paradise and Super Paradise beaches have become something like parking spots filled with people sunbathing, so these days, head to less crowded spots like Agios Ioannis at the Mykonos Grand Hotel & Resort (pictured, southwest of Chora) or the tiny, semi-pebbled and family-friendly Glyfada beach, a 5-minute drive south.
- Isles of Scilly, England
Crystal-clear waters, perfect sand, and a sub-tropical atmosphere might not come immediately to mind when thinking of England’s beaches. But Par Beach on St. Martin’s, one of five populated Isles of Scilly off the coast of Cornwall, is a true discovery. Getting here is as easy as a flight from Exeter, Newquay, or Land’s End (or by ferry from Penzance).
- Crete, Greece
Balos Beach, on Crete’s most northwesterly peninsula, is most easily accessed by ferries from Kissamos port—much better than the long, rigit dirt road or a 3-hour hike. A mix of bright white and pinkish sand and incredibly vibrant turquoise water in the lagoon have made this one of the most photographed spots in Crete.
- Hvar (Dalmatian Islands), Croatia
For a quiet spell away from the lively Renaissance port town of Hvar, head south to the small pebble beach of Uvala Dubovica. Reach the spot early if driving as parking is limited, or rent a boat and swim on shore. A gorgeous 17th-century mansion anchors one end of the small port, while pine trees for shade sit at the other.
- Sardinia, Italy
Cala Goloritzè is one of Italy’s most enduringly famed beaches, located at the base of a ravine on the island’s northeastern coast. It’s super tiny, but no less beautiful with its limestone rocks, soft ivory sand, and astonishing, blue-green ocean. It’s so exceptional, it was even made a UNESCO site in 1995.
- Corfu (Ionian Islands), Greece
Cape Drastis, on the northwestern end of Corfu, is barely 50 nautical miles from the heel of Italy across the Ioanian Sea. The peninsula is full of tiny beaches, accessible only on foot or by water.