Last Updated on June 29, 2022 by Helen E. White
The entire Mediterranean Sea is lined with dazzlingly beautiful beaches, and most importantly, they are all different. You’ll find high-octane glamor on some of the world’s most popular sandy beaches, while others feature wild dunes, rocky coves, and aquamarine shoals.
So start planning your European escape now with this list of the best beaches in the Mediterranean:
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- 1 The 20 Best Beaches in the Mediterranean
- 1.1 1. Kokkini Beach in Santorini, Greece
- 1.2 2. Pampelonne Beach in Saint-Tropez, France
- 1.3 3. Navagio Beach on Zakynthos, Greece
- 1.4 4. Playa el Bajondillo in Malaga, Spain
- 1.5 5. Myrtos Beach in Kefalonia, Greece
- 1.6 6. Pissuri Bay, Cyprus
- 1.7 7. Ses-Salines in Ibiza, Spain
- 1.8 8. Kalafati Beach Beach in Mykonos, Greece
- 1.9 9. Barcelona in Barcelona, Spain
- 1.10 10. Isola Bella in Taormina, Sicily
- 1.11 11. Playa de la Malvarrosa in Valencia, Spain
- 1.12 12. Beach du Midi in Cannes, France
- 1.13 13. Sakarun Beach in Zadar, Croatia
- 1.14 14. Larvotto Beach in Monte Carlo, Monaco
- 1.15 15. Monterosso Beach in Cinque Terre, Italy
- 1.16 16. Banje Beach in Dubrovnik, Croatia
- 1.17 17. Dona Ana, Algarve, Portugal
- 1.18 18. Oludeniz, Turkey
- 1.19 19. Patara, Turkey
- 1.20 20. Poetto Beach in Cagliari, Italy
The 20 Best Beaches in the Mediterranean
1. Kokkini Beach in Santorini, Greece
The beaches of Santorini are unique in that most of them are sparkling black and the water is a sparkling sapphire blue. Even more exotic is Kokkini Beach, aka Red Beach, near Akrotiri to the south, a stretch of dark sand protected by tall red cliffs from which it takes its name.
Umbrellas provide shade – there aren’t many trees on volcanic Santorini, and snorkeling is possible at one end. There are no taverns here, but you can stock up on a picnic in Fira, the capital of the cliff, or spend some time on the beach, then head to nearby Akrotiri for lunch and visit the magnificent archaeological site there.
2. Pampelonne Beach in Saint-Tropez, France
Pampelonne Beach on the French Riviera, stretching for three miles of white sand and azure sea and surrounded by dunes overgrown with shrubs, exudes glamour. Just 15 minutes by bus from Saint-Tropez, this is where connoisseurs come to sunbathe.
Pampelonne has many public spaces and the beach is kept immaculate by the staff of the nearby bars and restaurants. The rustic Plage L`orangerie is located right on the sand, family-friendly and delightfully unpretentious.
One of the most iconic shots of Zakynthos, or perhaps all of Greece, is the view down from the high white cliffs to the rusty bulk of a ship seemingly wedged into the sand and the sea an amazing aquamarine hue. The MV Panayiotis was wrecked in 1980 and has remained unchanged ever since.
But it is the beauty of this small cove that attracts visitors, and during the high season, it is very crowded. The only way to get here is by boat, and to get the perfect cliff-top shot, you need to take a tour of the island. Needless to say, the beach, surrounded by rocks, has no facilities, so be sure to bring water with you.
4. Playa el Bajondillo in Malaga, Spain
West of Malaga, the Costa del Sol stretches for about 83 miles to Gibraltar, surrounded by a series of golden sand beaches. Beyond the coast, the ocher mountains are dotted with pueblo blancos and white towns, and on a clear day, you can see the misty mountains of Morocco across the Straits of Gibraltar.
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The beaches near Malaga are city beaches, not quiet little coves, with sun loungers, plenty of water sports, warm, clear water at the end of the season, and gently sloping seabed. One of the most popular is the wide beach of Playa Bajondillo in Torremolinos, the perfect place for a lazy day to sunbathe and eat. Chiringitas, or beach taverns, are located along the waterfront. Look out for espetas de sardinas, a Torremolinos specialty of fresh sardines grilled over hot coals.
5. Myrtos Beach in Kefalonia, Greece
Myrtos in the northwest of Kefalonia, consistently ranked as one of the best beaches in the Mediterranean or the world, is a strip of bleached pebbles between the foothills of two chalk mountains, the water is the Caribbean hue of bright sea water, the smell of wild herbs in the air.
A zigzag trail leads down the mountain from the village of Divarata, there is parking below. Once you’re on the beach, you can rent umbrellas and sun loungers, but for food, you’ll have to eat in the village or have a picnic. While in Myrtos, look out for the dark caverns of the sea caves at the end of the beach, but beware of the falling rocks knocked out by the ibex that burrow through the bushes atop the cliffs.
6. Pissuri Bay, Cyprus
A long arc of sand, pebbles and crystal clear waters, the hills behind it, strewn with silvery olive trees, make Pissouri beach popular with locals, especially on weekends. Head to the western end, where you can see sea turtles while snorkeling and see falcons circling the sky above the white cliffs.
This beach near Limassol has the usual amenities – sun loungers, umbrellas and a few taverns – but for a treat, try one of the restaurants in the sleepy village of Pissouri. The Two Friends Tavern, just off the square, is great, and The Bunch of Grapes is a local legend if you’re in the mood for a long, hearty meal. You will need to reserve a table for the weekend.
If you’ve rented a car, drive a little further west from Pissouri to admire Petra Tou Romiou, the huge sea pond where Aphrodite is said to have been born from sea foam.
7. Ses-Salines in Ibiza, Spain
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The island of Ibiza is surrounded by a necklace of rocky coves with aquamarine water that rivals Tahiti in color. Ses Salines, a 10-minute drive from Ibiza Town, is one of the longest beaches, about a mile of pale golden sand on the southernmost tip of the island, which is fringed with pine trees and named after the nearby salt pans.
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Like much of Ibiza, Salines is both very beautiful and very cool. Superyachts drop anchor at lunchtime, their glamorous passengers stopping at hipster beach bars for a tender. In the evening, Balearic relaxing music is heard from all the beach bars. The Jockey Club is a place for serious people, and Sa Trinka has a laid-back hippie vibe.
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8. Kalafati Beach Beach in Mykonos, Greece
You’re spoiled for choice with stunning beaches in Mykonos, the most fashionable and cosmopolitan of the Greek islands. The best places are away from Mykonos town, so you will need to take a bus or taxi.
Everything is possible here. Super Paradise is a popular place for fun parties, and Panormos, also very gay friendly, is a place to get everyone naked. Kalafatis Beach on the island’s east coast is quieter and more secluded, a crescent of pale golden sand against a backdrop of bushy hills dotted with whitewashed villages.
It is almost always windy in Mykonos, so it is a great place to windsurf or simply float along the rocky strip in the clear blue water. You can rent equipment from the beach hut, including snorkeling equipment. Several beach taverns offer typical dishes; You can’t beat Greek salad, fried calamari and souvlaki for a toes-in-the-sand lunch.
9. Barcelona in Barcelona, Spain
No doubt you’ll want to spend time in Barcelona admiring the quirky architecture, cool shops and fabulous art scenes. But on a hot day, it will be nice to adapt to the beach.
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Wander the tiny streets of the revitalized fishing district of Barceloneta, northeast of the Gothic Quarter, and you’ll find yourself on a long stretch of golden sand dotted with seductive chiringites.
On weekends, locals flock to the beach and stroll along the palm-lined promenade, a great opportunity for people-watching. Take a break in Agua, right on the waterfront, for cocktails, tapas and delicious paella.
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10. Isola Bella in Taormina, Sicily
You’ve marveled at the magnificent Greco-Roman amphitheater, browsed designer shops, and no doubt tasted ricotta-filled cannoli with your morning cappuccino. So what’s next in Taormina?
By cable car from Via Pirandello to Mazzaro, you can walk to a small, refined pebbly beach overlooking Isola Bella. This rocky islet, connected to the main beach by a white sandy spit, was the home of the Englishwoman Florence Trevelyan, who inhabited it with various exotic plants. Now it’s a nature reserve, and although tiny, it’s considered one of the best beaches in the Mediterranean.
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You can walk along the sandbar at low tide and snorkel around rocks and sea caves in amazingly clear waters, or simply stretch out on the beach and soak up the sun on the island of Sicily.
11. Playa de la Malvarrosa in Valencia, Spain
Like Rio or Los Angeles, Valencia is one of those cities that is in the enviable position of having gorgeous beaches right on your doorstep. One of the best beaches in the Mediterranean, La Malvarrosa is a seemingly endless sandy beach where you’ll find every imaginable sport, from beach volleyball to SUP, kayaking, snorkeling and CrossFit.
The beach is lined with a promenade lined with tapas bars, cafes and ice cream kiosks, and is always filled with joggers, walkers and cyclists. There is an area on the beach where wheelchair users can enter. Malvarrosa is the perfect place to end a day of sightseeing with a refreshing dip and a plate of seafood paella, a local speciality.
12. Beach du Midi in Cannes, France
Favored by the locals for glossy, glamorous Cannes, Plage du Midi, west of the Vieux Port, is a wide sandy beach in front of a palm-lined promenade. The beach restaurants on this public beach have less shichi than the private clubs along the very trendy Croisette, and you can rent umbrellas and sun loungers at reasonable prices. Stay at sunset as the rocks of the distant Estérel massif turn deep red in golden light.
13. Sakarun Beach in Zadar, Croatia
Perhaps the most breathtakingly beautiful beach in Croatia, Sakarun is located on Dugi Otok, one of the hundreds of whitewashed limestone islands scattered along this stretch of coastline. It can be reached by boat from Zadar. Dazzling white pebbles and sand create a striking contrast with the shimmering aquamarine of the sea and the bottled greens of the pine trees that surround the bay.
The water here is warm and shallow, so this beach is great for visiting with children. There are few amenities, but you are here to immerse yourself in nature.
14. Larvotto Beach in Monte Carlo, Monaco
As you’d expect from glitzy Monaco, the city’s beach attracts quite a few beautiful people who come here to sunbathe, play volleyball and generally hang out. Even members of the royal family were seen here.
Larvotto is a man-made beach, two arches of grainy sand dotted with palm trees overlooking glittering yachts anchored in the sparkling Mediterranean Sea. It is located in the eastern part of the Principality, opposite Princess Grace Avenue, close to a couple of decent restaurants.
15. Monterosso Beach in Cinque Terre, Italy
You couldn’t ask for a more beautiful backdrop to this wide sandy beach right in front of Monterosso, the largest of the exquisite chain of coastal villages that make up the Italian Cinque Terre on the Ligurian Riviera.
Ice cream-colored townhouses sit at the foot of a cliff covered with lemons, vines and olives, while the beach gently slopes into the azure sea. You will find ice cream and cafes all along the promenade, as well as rental umbrellas on the beach. A word of warning though; Italians love to spend time on the beach, and you can find strong competition for the best place in August, the busiest season.
16. Banje Beach in Dubrovnik, Croatia
Banje Beach is a stone’s throw from Dubrovnik’s Old Town, offering great views of the walled citadel and the fragrant pine island of Lokrum across the water. Like most beaches in Croatia, it is rocky, which means the water is crystal clear.
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You can walk here from the Ploce Gate of the Old Town and rent a sun lounger or stake your spot on a towel. Along with water sports on the beach, you can also go on guided kayak trips and admire Dubrovnik’s ramparts from the water.
And if the beach gets too busy, do the same as the locals and take the ferry from the Old City Port to Lokrum. It’s only a 15-minute drive and you can swim on smooth rocks or take a nap in the shade of a pine tree.
17. Dona Ana, Algarve, Portugal
Dona Ana is one of the most spectacular beaches in Portugal or even Europe. It is tucked away on a peninsula south of the bustling resort of Lagos, down from the road to the spectacular rocky promontory of Ponta da Piedade. The beach itself is an arc of gorgeous golden sand lapped by crystal clear waters surrounded by bizarre rock formations. By renting a boat, from here you can go on a trip through the sea arches and grottoes.
18. Oludeniz, Turkey
If you want to choose the most beautiful beach in the Mediterranean, then you will not pass by Oludeniz in southern Turkey.
Oludeniz is recognized as the best beach in Turkey and is located 23 km west of the harbor town of Fethiye.
Surrounded by dense mountain forest, Oludeniz borders a dark green lagoon in such a way that only a narrow channel to the open sea remains free. A light pine forest separates the beach from the hotel along the access road.
Turquoise water looks great not only in the photo but in reality, it is even more beautiful.
On the honey-colored, coarse-grained sand, at least in the off-season, there is plenty of room for sunbathing and playing.
19. Patara, Turkey
Patara is not only one of the most beautiful and longest beaches in Turkey, but also one of the few coastal areas that are undeveloped and natural.
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The vast dune area is an ideal breeding ground for sea turtles.
After a great swim in the dark blue water and relaxing on the yellowish-beige sand, you can take the chance to enjoy cultural monuments.
Patara also invites you to explore the ancient historical heritage.
20. Poetto Beach in Cagliari, Italy
One of the longest beaches in Italy, Poetto Beach in Cagliari is five miles of white sand, overgrown with grass and backed by two shimmering salt pans, where pink flamingos are often seen. The wooded cliffs of Sella del Diavolo frame one end of the beach. The fresh breeze makes it the best spot for kitesurfing, while quieter activities include water biking, kayaking or just lounging on a sun lounger.
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There are cafes, bars, ice-cream kiosks and nightclubs all over the beach; sunset is the perfect time to be here because the music is heard from the bars and the locals go out for nightly walks, passagiata.