Destinations / Travel

From sea to shining sea…. these beaches are Europe’s most well-kept secrets

We'd like to consider ourselves consummate experts when it comes to beaches. After all, in our own home stretch, we've tallied our own domestic spots for curling up with a book or bobbing in the waters. That's why, when it comes to the matter of beaching your way around Europe, we're no stranger to some of the more elusive spots. It's time to dust off your beach towel and head down the more covert spots dotting the coastline. Forget Positano, Amalfi, St. Tropez. We're taking you to the best secret hideouts and grottos east and west of the continent, for your consideration below.


Isola D'Elba, Portoferraio


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Nested off in the Tyrrhenian Sea is Italy's well-tended secret: the isle of Elba. The waters look more lapis lazuli than sea. Only reachable via flight to Pisa, the island is worth exploring for the intermingling of island life and Tuscan cuisine. It is also famously Napoleon's place of exile – so see for yourself if the surrounds are worthy of a great despot.


Šulić, Dubrovnik


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Old Town, Croatia plays host to an abundance of beaches, each more beautiful than the last. Šulić is no different. With a narrow inlet that is perfect for cliff-diving and plenty of benches to sun your wares on, it's as family-friendly as it is indulgent. The water is warm – and make sure to have a sunset cocktail at any of the cheerful bars perched right by the waves.


Lido Capuccini, Lago Di Garda


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Lake Garda is studded with beautiful beach clubs up and down the coast. This beachfront has a cafe, and unobscured views of the shingle beach, glistening waters and not too many fellow attendees jostling for a spot.


Balmins Beach, Sitges

A lot of Sitges is worth your time. Balmins Beach might clinch our top spot, however. The sheltered bay is of course queer-friendly, with a bar and sundeck attending to all your parched throat desires. Platja de Balmins is one of the few sand beaches in Europe, so it's perfect for the fellow sand-familiar Australian. Clothing is optional. A good time is not.


Crvena Stijena, Montenegro

Stick a hand under the waters of Crvena Stijena and you'll be able to see its entirety. The waters are translucent, and there's pretty cool rock in the shape of a baying wolf splat in the middle of the shoreline. Though, be warned, the shore bed is a touch rocky, so we'd wade with flippers on.


Baia De Paraggi, Portofino


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Two choices await at this rocky inlet: one, you settle on the narrow public strip with your own sundried wares, and busy yourself around with the Italian locals who refuse to pay a dime for the beauty of their natural lands. Two, purchase a sundeck at any of the several beach clubs ringing the waters, complete with an umbrella, dine-in service, and any float toys that you might need. Two roads diverge into the woods. I don't know which to pick, but I know the water is mighty fine.


Eze Bord La Mer, France


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Fine... this one is a little more of a beloved haunt than a trade secret. Eze Bord La Mer in the Cot D'azur French Riviera is sandwiched between its more well-to-do sisters like Cannes and St. Tropez. This coastal fringe of Nice is just as nice, if not less populous. This locale has been the play-village of artists, auteurs, and aristocrats for centuries, and we're starting to understand why.

After Greek islands of a similar clandestine nature?  Need other destinations in the EU that won't leave you fighting within an inch of your life? We've got you covered.


photo credit: one, two 


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