The world's sunniest short-haul beach destinations
In the market for a short-haul summer break - a sun-soaked, cheap holiday on the beach which won't cost the earth? We've rounded up the ideal destinations, which means all you need to worry about is the sunscreen!
1. Madeira, Portugal
First things first: where is Madeira? This cluster of islands can be found in the north Atlantic Ocean, southwest of Portugal, 310 miles from the African coast and 620 miles from the European continent. Now you know. Although Madeira's coastline is largely rocky, in recent years, the government's constructed a number of man-made beaches. Praia da Calheta is one of our favourites. But it's certainly deserving of its place on this list - join the growing numbers of sun-seekers booking Madeira holidays and you'll experience a destination which is on the same latitude as Morocco, so you'll enjoy plenty of sunshine and ridiculously warm water. Madeira has a beautifully diverse landscape, too - the entire archipelago has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it's one of the only places in the planet where banana trees grow next to vineyards. Continue the Portuguese expedition by visiting their top 10 beaches.
2. Costa Daurada, Spain
This beautiful part of the world enjoys 13 hours of sunshine a day in August and September, so it's the perfect destination when it comes to cheap beach holidays. We're particularly impressed with the coastal town of Cambrils, which has fives miles of coastline divided into nine sandy beaches, along with some of Spain's best beach hotels. Unsurprisingly, seafood reigns supreme here, and the entire area is a foodie's paradise. We recommend heading there in October for the Wine and Gastronomy Show, the annual "Calamari Days" at the end of the same month and for the Olive Oil Days, which were created to show off the region's finest olive oils. Here's everything you'll need to pack for that holiday in the Spanish sunshine.
3. Biarritz, France
An historic, beautiful coastal resort on France's Basque Coast, there are six beaches in Biarritz itself, although there are many more within easy reach. And despite the fact that it's one of France's best surfing spots, there's plenty for those who prefer a gentle paddle, too. Le Grande Plage is the town's largest and most famous beach. The waves can reach enormous heights, but it's still a great option for families, thanks to the great facilities, which include beach clubs, parasols for hire and some wonderful beachside cafés and bars. For something a little calmer, head to Plage Port Vieux, which is protected from the wind - making it perfect for toe-dippers and younger visitors. Its sheltered position is the reason it's regarded as one of Biarritz's best beaches for kids. On a budget? Here's how to have a great family holiday for less than £500.
4. Skåne, Sweden
Sweden might not sound like an obvious option for a beach holiday but Skåne, which is just a two-hour flight from the UK, has some of Europe's most beautiful beaches. During summer, this part of Sweden gets a whopping 17 hours of sunshine per day, which makes it one of Europe's sunniest destinations. Beach-wise, we're smitten with the award-winning Sandhammaren beach, on the southeast tip of Skåne - the clusters of pine trees which line the beach are crying out to be explored. We also love Skanör and Falsterbo. These two seaside towns are known as the Rivieria of Skåne, and this is where you'll find Sweden's most beautiful beaches, along with pastel-hued beach huts and crystal clear water.
5. Copenhagen, Denmark
There are some fantastic beaches near Copenhagen, although few people realise just how many lie within easy reach of Denmark's capital city, making it a great option for crowd-free short haul beach breaks. And the best bit? It's just a two-hour flight from the UK. One of our favourites is Amager Beach Park, which is close to the city centre and incredibly family-friendly - there are toddlers' pools and a beautiful promenade, and during the summer there are live concerts most weekends. We also love the great facilities - including freshwater showers - at Bellevue beach, which is six miles from the Copenhagen's centre, and Hellerup beach, a small, family-friendly beach just north of the city. Here are 10 of the best things to do on your city break in Copenhagen.
6. Lisbon, Portugal
Lisbon's got some fantastic stretches of coastline within each reach, but to escape the crowds, we recommend heading to Costa da Caparica, to the south of the city. This is where you'll find some of Portugal's best beaches. Praia de São João is a one of the quieter stretches of sand and a great option for families, although two of the most popular ones are the beautiful Castelo and Bela Vista beaches. It takes just 20 minutes to get to Costa da Caparica from Lisbon's city centre, and the town is great base if you're planning on exploring further afield. Nearby attractions include Ericeira, Europe’s first World Surfing Reserve, and the beautiful beaches of nearby Estoril. When you're done, head to Lisbon for pasteis de nata, shopping and partying on Pink Street.
7. Tenerife, the Canary Islands
We simply couldn't write a guide to the world's best beach destinations and leave Tenerife out. There's something for everyone on this volcanic island - more specifically, 248 kilometres of coastline and 43 kilometres of beaches. If you're a regular, it's highly likely you're familiar with the southern beaches such as Los Cristianos and Fañabé, but we recommend heading north, to the beaches near Santa Cruz, the island's capital. One of our favourites is Playa de las Teresitas - this gorgeous stretch of golden sand is the perfect sunbathing spot, and a breakwater protects swimmers from strong currents.
8. Bodrum, Turkey
Bodrum is famous for its spectacular coastline, and it's easily accessible from the UK - it takes just over three hours to fly there. Both locals and visitors from further afield head to Xuma Beach for the crystal clear water and a backdrop of towering, forested hills, but it's also got a fantastic beach club, famous for its fantastic DJ sets. Looking for a beach close to Bodrum city? You'll love Bardakçı Bay, which has great facilities and beautiful views. One of the quieter stretches of sand is Turgutreis Beach, also known for its brilliant facilities - although it rarely gets crowded. It's almost one of Turkey's most photogenic spots, thanks to the great view of Kos. Finally, if you're asking yourself: "is Turkey safe?" the answer is that most parts are. Coastal resorts along the Mediterranean, such as Bodrum, have been almost entirely unaffected and are miles away both from the larger cities of Istanbul and Ankara. The FCO advises against travel to some areas along the Turkey’s border with Iraq and Syria, but these warnings have been in place for years.
9. Aarhus, Denmark
Another city with a wonderful selection of beaches within easy reach, Aarhus is also European Capital of Culture for 2017. If you're a keen cyclist, you'll be pleased to know that most of the beaches are just a 10-minute bike ride away. Top of your list should be Ballehage Beach, on the edge of Marselisborg Forest - two miles south of Aarhus city centre. Den Permanente is equally stunning, and is especially popular with the younger crowd, who come here for barbecues and bonfires. Åkrogen Beach is a popular spot for ball games, and its huge boulders and rock pools made it a wonderful place for inquisitive younger visitors.
10. Corsica, France
Corsica has a beach for everyone, from sheltered, crowd-free coves to wide, sun lounger-packed stretches of sand. The Mediterranean island is known for its unbelievably clear water, and a great snorkelling spot is the six-kilometre-long Calvi Beach. With its soft white sand, Palombaggia is known as Corsica's best beach, while Ostriconi Beach is equally stunning, although slightly wilder and more remote. You'll find it near L’Ile Rousse, a commune on the north of the island. When it comes to choosing a base, the beach resort of Campomoro Beach should be top of your list. It's a small resort, with a handful of family-run hotels and great facilities, nestled in a spectacular mountainous landscape on the west of the island. Roadtripping? Here are 5 ridiculously beautiful drives in France.
Summer's our favourite time of year for a holiday, so we've decided to fuel your imagination with some timely holiday inspiration:
10 sun-soaked destinations which should definitely be on your hit list.
Don't panic - summer's far from over, but if you're planning on extending your fun in the sun this year, it's never too early to start thinking about that all-important autumn winter sun fix.
Celebrate the kids going back to school by booking a September getaway.