The summer has been unlike any other we’ve ever experienced, especially when it comes to holidays (or the lack thereof). However, as travel restrictions begin to ease up, it’s likely we might have a few slightly different priorities when booking our next trip.
Beaches are often one of the biggest draws to a holiday destination. Whereas once we were happy to pile onto some of the world’s most famous beaches, no matter how busy they were, there’s a strong chance more of us will be searching for less crowded options for our next holiday. But what could those options be?
Discovering Europe’s top rated, crowd-free beaches
To find out, we conducted some research using TripAdvisor data and reviews. We looked into European beaches with a below-average number of reviews (meaning they most likely haven’t seen the same kind of crowds as their more famous counterparts), but which also had the highest number of ‘excellent’ reviews, proving that although they may be quieter, the people who have been there think they’re a fantastic destination.
The results offered a surprising mix of lesser-known gems in both the UK and further afield, where you could enjoy a relaxing beach break whilst still having the space you need to feel relaxed.
The top 10 lesser-known beaches in Europe:
It may surprise you that Scotland and Ireland feature most heavily in the top 10, quieter beaches in the whole of Europe. These off-the-beaten-track beaches are joined by options from Sweden, Poland and Denmark – not necessarily destinations that would come top of mind if you’re thinking of a break by the beach. Nevertheless, could some of these destinations be worth adding to your list of next holiday destinations?
- Traig Lingeigh Beach (North Uist, Hebrides, Scotland
- Carrickfinn Beach (County Donegal, Ireland)
- Tjurpannans Naturreservat (Grebbestad, Sweden)
- Aillebrack Green Coast Beach (Ballyconneely, Ireland)
- Playa Muchavista (Alicante, Spain)
- Leba Beach (Leba, Poland)
- Newburgh Seals Beach (Aberdeenshire, Scotland)
8. Salgerhoej (Mors, Denmark)
9. Oldshoremore Beach (Sutherland, Scotland)
10. Embleton Bay (Northumberland, England)
The best spots for a peaceful beach break in the UK
It may still be a little while until we’re free to explore the world as we were before, but so many UK beaches featured in the top list, it’s clear that there are still plenty of fantastic options for a little sea and sand right here on our doorstep.
Scotland in particular is home to some of the highest rated, yet least reviewed coastal spots, so could make an excellent destination for beach-lovers this summer.
Taking the top spot with an impressive 100% ‘Excellent’ review on Tripadvisor is Traigh Lingeigh Beach on the Isle of North Uist in the Hebrides. Spreading over miles of gorgeous, wide, white sandy beaches and with clear turquoise seas, you could be forgiven for thinking you’ve landed in the Caribbean. You may well find you have the whole beach to yourself, so this is the perfect spot for walking a dog, taking a gentle stroll, or simply enjoying the peace and quiet while soaking up the fantastic views across to the islands.
But you don’t just have to head to the Hebrides for a fantastic UK beach experience – see the top 10 results for quiet UK beaches below:
1. Traigh Lingeigh Beach (North Uist, Hebrides, Scotland)
2. Newburgh Seals Beach (Aberdeenshire, Scotland)
3. Oldshoremore Beach (Sutherland, Scotland)
4. Embleton Bay (Northumberland, England)
5. Ross Back Sands Beach (Northumberland, England)
6. Kiloran Beach (Colonsay, Scotland)
7. Sandwood Bay (Kinlochbervie, Scotland)
8. Traigh Bhostadh (Lewis, Outer Hebrides, Scotland)
9. Scarista Beach (Harris, Hebrides, Scotland)
10. Camusdarach Beach (Arisaig, Scotland)
The best beaches in the rest of Europe for beating the crowds
Of course, there will come a time in the not-too-distant future where travel restrictions will ease up and we’ll be able to venture a little further afield on our holidays.
We’ve looked at some of the more popular European holiday destinations to find the best beaches for escaping the crowds.
Easily reachable by train or ferry, France could well be one of the first overseas destinations holidaymakers visit. And with over four and a half thousand kilometres of coastline, you’ll be sure to find a section of beach away from the crowds.
Our research shows the best option to be Plage Saint-Guirec, in Perros-Guirec, just north of Lannion on the north-west coast. Enclosed by pink granite rocks, this large sandy bay is sheltered from both winds and waves, which, along with the rock pools and a selection of café bars nearby, make this a fabulous option for adults and families alike.
- Plage Saint-Guirec, Perris Guirec
- Plage de la Terriere, La Tranche sur Mer
- Ile vierge, Brittany
- Plage de la Conche des Baleines, Ile de Re
- Plage des Soixante Bornes, Saint Jean de Monts
One of the most popular destinations for British tourists, Spain’s beautiful beaches draw visitors from all over the world. Head a little off the beaten track and you’ll be rewarded with a wealth of quieter beaches that don’t skimp on beauty.
Taking the top spot in our research is actually a city beach in El Campello, just 20 minutes’ drive or 15 minutes train journey north-east of Alicante. Playa Muchavista is a clean, spacious stretch of sandy shoreline which offers wonderful views of the surrounding hillsides and plenty of nearby facilities, but still avoids the crowds of some of the area’s more well-known beaches.
- Playa Muchavista, El Campello
- Playa de las Conchas, Las Graciosa, Lanzarote
- Grandes Playas, Corralejo, Fuerteventura
- Flag Beach, Corralejo, Fuerteventura
- Playa de Langre, Langre
Another holiday hotspot, between the mainland and many islands of Greece, there’s an abundance of beautiful beaches, coves and bays, so there’s plenty of options if you’re looking for a quieter seaside experience.
The most popular Greek beach, with just a small number of reviews is the stunning Fteri Beach in Kefalonia. Reachable by boat or by car with the last couple of kilometres on foot, this secluded spot is breathtakingly beautiful, with crisp white pebbles meeting crystal neon seas, and a backdrop of white cliffs. Bring plenty of supplies and prepare for a day marvelling at the view; it’s very likely you could have this untouched paradise almost to yourself.
- Fteri Beach, Kefalonia
- Spiaggia Xerokampos, Xerocambos
- Megali Paralia, Skiathos
- Erimoupolis Beach, Sitia, Crete
- Kania Beach, Halki
From lakes and hillsides to ancient history, Italy has it all – and of course you can’t forget the country’s incredibly varied coastline.
Interestingly, the most popular, lesser-known stretch of beach in Italy is actually the Bagno Maurizio beach club in Viareggio. You need to pay to access this private area, but this brings clean facilities, sun loungers, umbrellas and friendly, family-run hospitality which has wowed all Tripadvisor reviewers. The beach itself is clean and sandy, and you know you’ll have your own spot to spend the day.
- Bagno Maurizio, Viareggio
- Spiaggia di Scivu, Marina di Arbus
- Spiaggia di Talmone, Palau
- Bagno Egisto, Viserba
- Cala Spinosa, Santa Teresa Gallura, Sardinia
Drawing tourists from all over the world to its world famous holiday resorts, Portugal is also home to around 1,800km of coastline.
The most celebrated beach on our list of lesser-knowns is clothing-optional Praia Do Submarino, near Alvor in the Algarve, which is only accessible at low tide, and is a short walk from the nearest car park. The spectacular landscapes of the beach, with golden cliff formations and small coves to explore, make this a truly magical spot, which is free from crowds and blessed with wonderful sunset views.
- Praia Do Submarino, Alvor
- Praia da Cordoama, Vila do Bispo
- Bordeira Beach, Carrapateira
- Praia Da Amoreira, Aljezur
- Pego Beach, Carvalhal
Croatia is a fantastic destination for beach-lovers as its multitude of tiny islands mean there’s plenty of coastline to explore and enjoy.
On Hvar island, about an hour’s walk from the main town is the peaceful beach of Mekicevica. Reached by pathway through rolling terrain and pine forests, this tiny shingle bay is an ideal spot for enjoying a few peaceful hours by the clear seas. You can enjoy snorkelling or sunbathing, and make use of a small bar selling food and drinks. Even in high season, this is a secluded spot for avoiding the crowds.
- Mekicevica, Hvar
- Oprna Bay, Stara Baška
- Beach Veli Zal, Mali Lošinj
- Kandarola Nude Beach, Rab
- Bosana Beach Pag, Pag