1. Skåne, Sweden
If you fancy a bit of seclusion, head to southern Sweden. The beaches near the town of Skåne are clean and well-maintained, and you’re unlikely to have any trouble finding a space to lay out your sun towel. Our favourites include Falsterbo beach and Skanör beach – the latter is lined with colourful beach huts.
Fly to: Gothenburg
2. Yvonand, Switzerland
One of the most beautiful beaches in Europe can be found in Switzerland. Yes, we know, it’s a land-locked country, but this particular stretch of sand is on a lake. You’ll find plenty of room to lay out your sun towel while enjoying the beautiful backdrop of forested hills. The lake’s surrounded by campsites, so it’s a great option for anyone considering a cheap holiday in Switzerland.
Fly to: Bern
3. Queens, New York, US
The beaches in New York City are seriously underrated. Take Brighton Beach in Brooklyn. This wide stretch of sand has beautiful views and some fantastic beach-side restaurants. But one of of our favourite beaches in New York City is Rockaway Beach in Queens. Locals flock here for the great surf, friendly atmosphere and the concession stand-filled boardwalk. Make mine a hot dog to go. Once you’re all beached out, check out some of the exciting free things to do in the Big Apple.
Fly to: New York City
Fly to: Macau
Macau is an autonomous region on the south coast of China, and getting there is easy – it’s just a 30-minute ferry ride from Hong Kong. Its beaches are deserted and lined with palm trees, and Macau’s small size means they’re all easily accessible, too – you’ll never be far from one of Macau’s top casinos. One of our favourites is Cheoc Van Beach, which has great facilities, including changing rooms and toilets. There’s even an outdoor swimming pool if you don’t fancy battling the waves, although the water remains calm throughout most of the year.
Fly to: Macau
5. Ayvalik, Turkey
Home to some of the best beaches in Turkey, Ayvalık is a seaside town on Turkey’s northwestern Aegean coast. It’s a great alternative to more crowded resort areas like Bodrum. The water’s crystal clear and, in most cases, shallow, making it ideal for children.
It’s also one of Europe’s cheapest beach destinations, so it’s a great option for a low cost holiday in the sun.
Fly to: Istanbul
6. Lisbon, Portugal
Some of Europe’s best beaches are just a few miles from the capital of Portugal, Lisbon – but luckily for you, most visitors to Portugal haven’t cottoned on to that fact just yet. A large number of beaches in Lisbon are easily accessible from the city centre, either via a bus or a short train journey. We’re particularly fond of Praia da Ursa, a Portuguese beach on the Atlantic west coast, just north of Cabo da Roca. It feels wonderfully remote, with two towering sea stacks at either end of the beach. If you fancy taking a break from the beach life, there’s plenty to see and do in Lisbon, too.
Fly to: Lisbon
7. Playa de las Galgas, Tenerife
A great alternative to Tenerife’s busier beaches, this small bay is a true hidden gem, visited mainly by locals. The vast majority of tourists heading to this part of Tenerife make a beeline for the Costa Adeje’s most popular beaches, such as Fañabé and Torviscas, meaning it’s highly likely you’ll have this beautiful Canary Islands beach entirely to yourself. It’s accessible via a public path or, if you’re staying at the five-star Roca Nivaria Gran Hotel, through a cave.
Fly to: Tenerife
8. Manama, Bahrain
This 600-metre-long sandy beach is a great destination for a sun-soaked beach holiday. There’s a huge amount of development taking place in Bahrain, and this beach is close to some of Bahrain’s best hotels, including the Ritz-Carlton Bahrain. And although it’s a great place to catch some rays, Bahrain is also a fantastic diving destination. An added bonus? Local laws state that if you find a pearl, it’s yours to keep.
Fly to: Bahrain
9. Ryde, Isle of Wight, UK
Forget Spain, Greece and Portugal and head to Ryde this summer. Some of the UK’s best beaches can be found on the Isle of Wight. We’re smitten with Appley beach, which is a hidden gem only known about by locals – until now. It’s easy to get to – simply look for Appley Tower, a gothic structure built in 1875 by eccentric local landowner Sir William Hutt. When hunger strikes, head to the Dell Café and enjoy some fish and chips while you watch the yachts glide through the waters of the Solent.
10. Cayo Costa State Park, Fort Myers US
This beautiful spot makes a great alternative beach destination to Florida’s most popular stretches of sand because it’s only accessible by boat, although it’s actually only a short hop from the mainland. To get there, simply hop on the ferry from Pineland, to the west of Fort Myers. Once there, you’ll find plenty of wildlife, forests to hike through and cabins which can be rented for overnight stays.
Fly to: Fort Myers
11. Pwll Du Bay, Gower, Wales
Why head further afield when you’ve got a beach like this much closer to home? Pwll Du Bayi is spectacular and secluded, and a great option if you’re looking for a beautiful beach in Wales but keen to avoid the most popular destinations, like Rhossili Bay, which was recently voted Britain’s best beach – and is now more crowded than ever!
12. Perhentian, Malaysia
As much as we love Thailand’s beaches, they can also be incredibly crowded, so why check out some of Malaysia’s best beaches instead? Head to the Perhentian Islands (there are two of them: Perhentian Besar and Perhentian Kecil) and you’ll find a handful of visitors, some of the best cheap beach accommodation in Asia, fantastic diving and breathtakingly-beautiful beaches. Getting to the Perhentian Islands is easy – simply jump on a ferry in either Kuala Terengganu or Kota Bharu, on the mainland. Both destinations are serviced by regular flights from Kuala Lumpur.
Fly to: Kuala Lumpur
13. The Gili Islands, Indonesia
Another great alternative to popular beach destinations like Thailand and Dubai, the three Gili Islands (Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air) are easily accessible from the mainland but feel fabulously remote. There are no cars on any of the islands – just beautiful beaches, lots of wildlife (keep an eye out for the enormous lizards) and some of Asia’s cheapest beachfront accommodation, ranging from cute beach huts to the luxurious beachfront boutique hotels which have sprung up in recent years.
Fly to: Bali
14. Isle of Arran, Scotland
If you prefer your beaches wild and rugged, head to Arran, the seventh largest Scottish island. The most spectacular section of coastline can be found near Kildonan, which is whre you’ll find Silver Sands, which we reckon must rank as one of Scotland’s most beautiful beaches. There’s a campsite nearby, so it’s a great option for a cheap holiday in the UK, and it’s brilliant for wildlife-spotting – the island has a huge colony of seals. Check out some of the best beaches in Scotland here.
15. Iki Island, Japan
Japan’s beaches are often overlooked, but they’re some of the most beautiful beaches in Asia. We’re particularly smitten with the beaches on Iki Island, which is easily accessible from Nagasaki – visit on a day trip or stay at one of the shiny new hotels which have sprung up in recent years. The island’s beaches are dotted with weird and wonderful rock formations. One of our favourites is Saruiwa, or Monkey Rock, which can be found on the western edge of the island and resembles a sitting monkey.
Fly to: Nagasaki
16. Juist, Germany
Juist, one of Germany’s East Fresian islands, might not be one of the most well known beach destinations in Europe but that’s precisely why we love it. It’s a great option for a cheap beach holiday, with hotel prices significantly lower than those in popular beach resorts in Greece and Spain. The island, which is easily reachable from Baltrum on the mainland via ferry, is dominated by Wattenmeer National Park, which is lined with white sand beaches.
Fly to: Groningen
17. Cheung Chau Island, Hong Kong
Hong Kong is made up of over 200 islands, so it’s hardly surprising that great beaches aren’t exactly in short supply. Cheung Chau is just a few miles south of the main Hong Kong island, and it’s filed with temples and gorgeous beaches. There’s also no motorised traffic, so it’s a great place to escape the hustle and bustle of Hong Kong. We suggest a walk along Sai Tai Road, which heads south from the pier. Make sure you spend some time at Cheung Chau Island beach, which is a wide stretch of sand where you’ll find some wonderful seafood restaurants.
Fly to: Hong Kong
The summer holidays are just around the corner, and the following guides will help you make the most of them:
Here’s how to enjoy cheap holidays in the UK without breaking the bank.
Booking a Mediterranean holiday this summer? Here are the places to put at the top of your hit list.
Here are the best beaches in Europe if you’re planning to strip off this summer.