Want to avoid the British Malaga mobs or the Crete crowds and save money at the same time? Then you’ll need to look a little further a field. Skyscanner introduces some of Europe’s less well known beach destinations. Get your sun, sea and sand fix for less this summer.
Think Romania, and it’s Dracula’s castle not sand castles that come to mind, but you’ll find Romania’s Black sea resorts offer warm weather, miles of sandy beaches and good hotels – all for a lot less dosh than in the Med. Some of the better known beach areas include Mamaia (the ‘pearl of the Romanian Seaside’) and Mangalia. Some of the hotels may look dated, but most offer a good standard of accommodation, with English speaking staff, swimming pools and reasonably spacious rooms.
The beauty of Albania is its lack of crowds and concrete. Virtually untouched by mainstream tourism, sun seekers will enjoy Albania’s 450 miles worth of Adriatic and Ionian coastline dotted with protected, sandy bays and empty beaches. Mali i Robit is one of the better known beach holiday destinations in Romania, blessed with a mountain backdrop, a warm sea and pine forest surroundings.
If you’re looking to escape the British crowds this summer – Montenegro is the place to go. Only 13 thousand UK travellers visited in 2006, compared to the 16 million who went to Spain! This tiny Balkan country boasts 73km of beaches along its 293km coastline, so there’s bound to be a beach to take your fancy. From sand to shingle, popular to deserted, modern to rustic and remote – there are around 117 to choose from. Zanjic is one of Montenegro’s favourite beaches; situated deep in the Miriste Valley, it’s surrounded by old olive groves and azure waters.
When it comes to coastline, Slovenia is not well endowed. Its tiny 43km slither is squished in between Italy and Croatia, but Slovenia does have several beaches which are worth a look. Portorož (meaing "Port of Roses") is Slovenia’s busiest beach resort, hosting sandy beaches with both upscale and unpretentious beach clubs, waterfront cafes and flashy marinas. Portorož has been in the tourist business since the 13th century, with visitors flocking to wallow in the healing mud and salt water baths – the town still has eight different wellness spas and resorts today, which will cost you less than those of France or Italy.
Crimea – an autonomous region of Ukraine – boasts two coastlines, one along the Black Sea and the other along the Sea of Azov, which together give it a total of 517km of beaches. Yalta is the Crimea’s most famous resort town but there are plenty of secluded spots too with many coves and bays that can only be discovered on foot all along the south coast.
Here you’ll be able to inhale the fresh salty air mixed with pine aromas from the nearby forests and watch pods of black sea dolphins leap from the waters. The Crimea’s balmy sub-tropical weather keeps the sea at a warm 18C + from May until October, and prices in Ukraine undercut the Med by miles.
According to The Times, this small Baltic nation has the beaches to rival Brazil. There are numerous choices along the 330 miles of Latvian coast, including Jurmlala on the Latvian Riviera. If you want to party, Liepāja is the place to head. A hip coastal city with good value, funky hotels, all-night clubs and cafés, plus food and drink priced well below that of Greece, Spain or France. As well as the beautiful white sandy beaches, Liepāja also offers medieval churches, tsarist era fortifications and an abandoned prison that is said to be highly paranormally active.
You might wonder what landlocked Austria is doing on a best beaches list – but this mountainous nation has several lakeside beaches, which make an interesting alternative to seaside spots. Wörthersee in southern Austria is the country’s most well known bathing lake and one of Austria’s favourite summer holiday hang outs, with water temperatures reaching 25C in midsummer and clear blue-green H20 that is clean enough to drink. Plus, it’s surrounded by mountains, which not only provide a spectacular setting, but also keep it sheltered from strong winds.