Summer holidays are coming! And while much of Europe gets crazy busy at this time of year there are still some gems where you can find a quiet spot.
Heading on a summer holiday to Europe can mean following the masses. But believe it or not, even in the peak of summer, you can find some places relatively untouched by tourism. That doesn’t mean you’re gonna have a whole beach to yourself, but you might be able to swing a bat and ball without knocking over a parasol.
We’ve done a few summer holidays over the past few years and non touristy beaches can be easy to come by if you know where to look.
Biarritz, French Atlantic Coast
The south of France is a magnet for holiday makers. Heading to places like St Tropez, Nice and the Cote d’Azur is the norm not just for international holiday makers but the French too.
But, strangely, the Atlantic coast gets probably around half of the holiday makers of the Med* (*not actual figures). Our fave spot is Biarritz. A classical French style town centre lined with bars, cool restaurants and cafes and some pretty high end shopping.
There’s an assortment of exceptional beaches including the Grand Plage (big beach), the Plage de la Cote des Basques and Plage de la Petit Chambre de Amour (little love room beach!). Surfing is big around here, so board hire is easy to come by. However, sun worshippers, families and wave splashers will be equally at home.
Saying it’s a non-touristy beach area isn’t strictly true, as it’s still very popular, but with the length of the coast to choose from you can ride a bike or hire a car and find a quiet spot relatively easily.
If you get beached out you can head down the road to neighbouring Bayonne/Anglet, which are less touristy working cities with their own French charm..
Get There: Biarritz Airport has direct flights from London Stanstead, Birmingham and Southampton.
In August if you head to places like Cinque Terre or Rimini on the Italian mainland you’ll be packed in like sardines. Rows upon rows of parasols and loungers packed with tourists from Germany and around the world.
However, Sardinia manages to still have pockets of calm and even stretches of quiet beach in the peak of summer where it can be you and maybe a couple of Italian families.
I’ll quickly cram in all the clichés: azure sea, tranquil paradise, searing midday heat, white sandy beaches.
Oh and I forgot fantastic authentic cuisine.
You’d be well advised to hire a car or scooter as the best places are all hidden from the bus routes. However, you can still make your way around by public transport.
For mid summer holiday quiet beaches in Sardinia head to Porto Palmas or Quarta/Quinta Spiaggia. And those are just the tip of the iceberg.
Get there: There are three airports on Sardinia – Olbia, Alghero and Cagliari. As the island is quite large you will be best advised to pick one nearer your holiday digs and venture from there as appropriate.
In the summer time the world and his kids head to the Greek Islands. Insider tip: Do the Greek Islands just out of season (May-early July and then mid Sept-October).
The Greek mainland is obviously huge and has beaches easily the equal of the picturesque scenes of Mykonos or Santorini – only without the cruise ships and/or drunk teenagers.
An hours drive from Thessaloniki and you’re on the peninsula of Chalkidiki, a relatively developed region albeit a lot less packed than Crete for example. You can still get the nightlife fix and food is much cheaper than in the more touristed areas. Although this is still a popular summer holiday spot it isn’t on the level of Santorini or Crete.
Pelion further down the coast is an unspoiled hilly region where few international tourists venture, but is still lined with stunning beachy coves and authentic tavernas.
Kalamata on the west coast is an excellent springboard into the Pelopponese region. Head to Mavrovouni beach, a long sandy beach in the Mani Peninsula around 2 hours from Kalamata.
Get There: Thessaloniki in the north, Athens in the south, Kalamata on the west coast. All fantastic places to start a trip to the Greek Mainland.
Hang on, the Baltic sea for a summer holiday??
Well, as a series of interconnected islands Denmark is a surprising beach destination. Sure, that’s not the main reason you’ll end up there but if the weathers good the beaches are fantastic. Fine sand backed by dunes and often with fantastic food and dining options nearby.
Denmark may not be the cheapest option for a week in the sun. But you’ll beat the crowds, get in some activities like cycling or windsurfing and get to say you went on a beach holiday to Denmark!
The best beaches are Søndervig Beach and Hornbæk Beach.
To top it off the Danes are a super friendly bunch and you’ll easily come home having made new friends.
Getting There: Flights to Copenhagen, Billund and Aarhus are all well linked and often cheap to get to.
There’s a reason why Spain is such a popular holiday destination. The weather is often perfect, the food is cheap and fantastic and there are a million beach options.
Those who have done a Costa del wherever holiday will appreciate that it can get a bit manic in the resorts and culturally it can feel like Costa del Essex. But never fear, there is more to Spain than it’s package tour south.
Spain’s north west has been a favourite getaway for Spaniards for years. With craggy cliffs and bays, hidden beaches, fantastic surfing and numerous pretty towns to explore, Galicia is a little breath of fresh air.
Cities like La Coruña or Vigo are ideal to base yourself and explore from. For city beaches Vigo has Praia de Samil or Praia do Vao, La Coruña has Praia de Orzan/Riazor.
But a short drive from any of these two and you’re into rustic rolling hills and unclaimed beaches. Go explore!
Getting There: La Coruña, Vigo and Santiago de Compostela are the main airports in the region. There are direct flights from London and Edinburgh to Vigo.
I’ll be honest this is a wild card, mainly due to the logistics of getting there. But for the intrepid, Albania is an interesting summer beach holiday.
It’s a quirky little country with a range of scenery from rolling hills and mountains to craggy coastlines and slightly run down cities. But that’s kind of it’s charm. It isn’t EU yet, so no Euro – therefore still very cheap everything.
As for beaches, you will pretty much have your pick of the whole coastline. Although it can be busy it isn’t a patch on Corfu which is a boat ride off the southern coast.
Due to it’s location the food has a strong Italian influence with bit of Turkish/Eastern European influence for good measure. Definitely one to head for now before the crowds descend.
Getting There: Tirana is the main airport although there is only British Airways direct flights from the UK, meaning it’s quite expensive to fly direct. It’s much cheaper to fly to Corfu or Bari in Italy and get the ferry.
Fethiye Region, Turkey
Thanks to security issues Turkey is pretty much off most peoples beach holiday radar at the moment. However, it is still a relatively safe place to head to on a summer holiday, especially if you avoid the bigger resort areas around Dalaman and Antalya.
The knock on of the bad press means that there are some amazing hotel deals to be had at the moment, plus a lot less in the way of mass tourism.
The coast around Fethiye has mostly escaped the resort infrastructure around those two infamous tourist hotspots. In fact you will find some of the best and most beautiful beaches in Europe scattered across this coastline.
Patara beach is the longest beach in Turkey with 11 miles of golden sand and not a resort in sight. You’ll still find plenty of great little places to base yourself for a week plus historic ruins, authentic food and sleepy villages.
Further up towards Fethiye is Oludeniz, a slightly more developed spot with an amazing lagoon for snorkelling and a more accesible town for the nightlife options.
Getting There: Dalaman is the nearest airport with links to many airports across the UK and Europe.
Inspired? Book a flight with our trusted flight provider…
Wherever you go for your Europe summer holiday, we’re sure you’ll have an amazing time. Let us know of you plans below in the comments box or on our social media accounts. And make sure to send us a postcard! (or at least tag us in your posts!)