With more than 40,000 miles of coastline running from the rugged North Sea to the sunny Mediterranean, everybody knows that Europe is full of beautiful beaches. What many travelers don't realize, however, is that there are also hundreds of secret beaches in Europe. These are little-known locales that are typically only visited by secretive locals and the savviest travelers. If escaping the crowds on a peaceful stretch of sand sounds like paradise, make sure to add one of these secret European beaches to your next vacation... just don't tell anyone else!
How something so immense has remained secret for so long is certainly a mystery. Located on the southwest Basque coast of France, close to the border with Spain, Guéthary is a sprawling sun-drenched beach backed by sharp white cliffs and rolling green hills. Visitors are immediately mesmerized by the power of nature on display here, making it popular among in-the-know surfers who skip the busier Hossegar to ride the waves here. The secret beaches of Guéthary have no tourist services at all, so make sure to grab a baguette and bottle of wine to bring with you for lunch.
Everybody knows about the jet-setting, luxurious island of Capri. What everybody doesn't know is that Capri has a big sister just a few miles away. Southern Italians know that Ischia (pronounced eez-KEY-ah) has the same clear blue waters and white sand beaches as Capri for a fraction of the cost. The most peaceful beaches are along the southern coast near Sant'Angelo, while the beaches along the northwest coast (near Forio d'Ischia) are amongst the very best secret beaches in Italy for snorkeling. You can rent a beach chair and umbrella from the cafes and bars that line the shore; most will also have snorkeling gear for sale or rent.
The Albanian coastline is Europe's sercret riviera, and Ksamil is the jewel in its crown. A quick day trip from the nearby town of Sarande (which has daily boat service to Corfu in Greece), Ksamil offers turquoise water that rivals the best of the Caribbean, and four small islands to explore (all are within swimming distance from the store, but you can rent a boat if you'd prefer to stay dry. Ksamil is well-developed with all the comforts that tourists would expect, and locals are generally able to communicate in Italian, Greek, English and Albanian if you have any questions.
Unless you grew up in the USSR, you've probably never heard of Jurmala. This sixteen-mile stretch of beach just outside Riga, Latvia is well-known in high-flying Russian circles, but virtually unheard of in the West. There are a few reasons why it is one of the best secret beaches in Eastern Europe: the beach has undergone environmental certification to prove the sand and water are safe and clean, the beach is lined with restaurants, cafes and activities for children, it's not uncommon to find treasures such as amber washed up on the shore, and the town of Jurmala is full of spas and health centers that use the famous local waters to heal and beautify.
These are just a handful of the best secret beaches in Europe. If you want to find a secret beach of your own, don't be afraid to ask a local for a recommendation, or even drive down an unfamiliar road if you think it heads to the shore. You never know what secret you'll uncover!