Despite many travellers seeking out more exclusive, one off experiences when they jet off, there’s no denying that a beach holiday is still the most appealing trip for those seeking out sun, culture and a relaxing week or two away from their busy lives.
Europe is rich in its diversity with many differing languages and dialects being spoken, terrains to explore and cultural differences to learn about. What one thing Southern Europe knows about is beaches; Mediterranean white sands, turquoise warm waters and friendly locals guide you to hidden foodie gems. The beach holiday is the epitome of luxury, whether you spend your days laying in warm weather with nothing else to do but flick through a few chapters of a book before readying for a delectable dinner as the sun sets, or exploring the local area and immersing yourself in all of the culture you can soak up.
If you’re looking for some inspiration for your next beach holiday, we’ve shortlisted our top five picks for 2020.
It’s not new information that the southern shores of France have been welcoming sun-seekers for centuries. This oldest city in the country and largest cruise port may not be inundated with beaches but with 300 days of sunshine a year, average temperatures of 25 °C in summer and fantastic transport links, it’s sure to attract visitors for a long while yet.
Pointe Rouge beach is the largest sandy beach in the area, after a dip in the water head to one of the beachside restaurants for some classic French fare. With museums, shops, theatres and 2,600-year history, there is much to be explored. And if the busy city appeals during the day but you’d much rather seek out a calmer retreat to reside in throughout your stay, Saint Martin de Castillon offers some glorious options.
Sand-dwellers and food-lovers rejoice, the city of San Sebastian on the north east coast of Spain offers beautiful beaches and exquisite dining in equal measure. La Concha Bay (a shell-shaped bay) holds the iconic Concha Beach in the centre, Ondarreta Beach to one side and the Isla Santa Clara in the water making this a truly picturesque scene, especially from Miramar Gardens. Surfers will be spotted on Zurriola Beach and it is worth packing your walking shoes, as on foot is the best way to take in all this city has to offer.
With more Michelin stars per square metre in the world (16) this should tell you a little about the other attraction of this city and the five-star María Cristina Hotel offers an elegant place to sleep off those tiring days eating and exploring.
With 2,000km of coastline, Sardinia is bound to offer some stunning seaside delights. This Italian island isn’t small so focus on one area so that you can find a good balance between a relaxing holiday in the sun and discovering the local sights. The north east area holds dreamy islands and beaches, which are ideal for snorkelling, while the archipelago of La Maddalena is highly recommended, especially the Pink Beach (Budeli), as well as the island of Caprera.
Hotel Capo d’Orso is the ideal base for this area with unbeatable sea views in its waterside location. Perfect for a romantic getaway, this five-star resort holds the luxurious Thalasso wellness centre and spa along with two restaurants to dine on fresh seafood and beautifully decorated rooms and suites with fine sand beaches very close by.
It’s no surprise that Croatia made it on to the list. With this destination quickly growing in popularity over recent years, if you haven’t made the trip, you really should, and not just for the city of Dubrovnik, as lovely as it is.
A country seeped in history, Croatia opens itself to visitors with grace, offering top quality holidays from city breaks to long summer vacations. Hvar is an island in the south, the ideal location for a visit in the warmer months to soak up, not only the sun’s rays, but the fantastic history including a hilltop fortress and Renaissance-era cathedral.
For tropical-looking secluded beaches and coves, take a short boat trip to the nearby Pakleni islands, you won’t want to miss the natural beauty on offer here. Try the boutique Little Green Bay Hotel to complete your stay in luxury.
A region that covers the west side of the gorgeous Greek island of Crete, Chania is centred around a small port city but offers up trips to mountains, gorges, lagoons and beaches alike.
Crete is a very welcoming place with beautiful Venetian harbours, great food, soft sand beaches and hidden lagoons that must be sought out and lounged in. Located in Cape Gramvousa is the highly rated, Falassarna beach offering a tropical look and ruins of the ancient Roman city of Falassarna to one end. The most prominent lagoon is Balos Lagoon, easily reached by boat and certainly worth a visit. The shallow, warm waters invite you in for a dip and the secluded location leaves you feeling like you’ve been transported into a dream.
To make your dream come true stay at the boutique Residenza Vranas, a building that dates back to the 1500s and sits on the harbour in the centre of Chania city.
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