20 Most Beautiful White Sand Beaches in Europe

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Are you in search of the best sandy beach in Europe on which to lay your towel? Here are 20 of the most beautiful white sand beaches that you’ll find in the region.

There are many miles of amazing beaches in Europe, but some of the most spectacular are pebbly rather than powder-soft sand. But sometimes you just want to sink your toes into delicious sugary sand.

It’s worth noting that you won’t find exactly the kind of  bright white sand that you get in tropical places, which often consists of crushed coral and shells rather than rock, but if you know where to go there are plenty of places with fine soft sand. 


There are many coastlines with long sand-dune backed beaches in Northern Europe (particularly along the Baltic Riviera) and on the west coasts of Spain and France. Scotland and south west England also sport scenic sands. But you’re more likely to find warm turquoise waters in Mediterranean Europe.

Generally speaking, the large islands in the Western Mediterranean (Menorca, Mallorca, Ibiza, Sardinia, Sicily, Corsica) are fantastically reliable for sandy beaches. Hotspots in the Eastern Mediterrnanean include the Cycladic islands and Halkidiki in Greece, Cyprus, and the southern Albanian Riviera. Outside the Mediterranean, there are a few places in the Canary Islands where you can find white sand, especially Fuerteventura.


San Vito Lo Capo, Sicily

The beach at San Vito lo Capo on Sicily, Italy

It’s surprising that this beach isn’t more well-known outside Italy. Perhaps the Italians want to keep this one to themselves? San Vito Lo Capo on Sicily’s northwest tip is one of the most popular beach resorts on the island, with easy access from both Palermo and Trapani airports. The main attraction is its fine iridescent sand and luminous waters. Be sure to try some of the towns famous seafood couscous whilst you’re there though.

Santa Giulia, Corsica

Tree-lined Santa Giulia beach on the French island of Corsica

In fact, all of the islands in the Western Mediterranean are good options for sandy beaches. Corsica is another that’s home to impeccable beaches, there’s no question about that. South of Porto Vecchio you’ll find Santa Giulia, a beautiful lagoon of dazzling exotic colours. This beach could easily be mistaken for somewhere Polynesian. Fragrant pines and sizzling seafood joints add to the paradise atmosphere.

Pelosa, Sardinia

Shallow waters of Pelosa beach at Stintino, Sardinia

Spiaggia La Pelosa is a hidden gem in the north of Sardinia. Between the village of Stintino and the tiny island of Isola Piana, you’ll find pearly sands and warm waters. With an ancient watchtower looking over large areas of shallow lagoon in Caribbean-esque colours, it’s the perfect place to live out your Robinson Crusoe fantasies.

Cala Mesquida, Mallorca

Turquoise seas on Cala Mesquita on the Balearic island of Majorca

Any number of beaches from the Balearic island of Mallorca could be on this list, but the Blue Flag rated Cala Mesquida in the northeast of the island is a bit more low-key than some. There’s a large wedge of dune-like sands leading to crystal clear waters that take on a tropical tinge.

Ses Illetes, Formentera

Pale sands and seas of Ses Illetes, Formentera

If sugar-like sands and shimmering colours are your thing then the beach of Ses Illetes in the Balearics is the destination for you. Beach aficionados catch the ferry from Ibiza to tiny Formentera island for this perfect expanse which rightly has a reputation as one of the best beaches in Europe. You won’t be alone in high season though, as Ses Illetes has become a popular destination for daytrippers.

Agios Prokopios, Naxos

White sands of Agios Prokopios on Naxos

The Greek island of Naxos in the Aegean is quietly home to some of the best sandy beaches in the Med. Considering the island has an airport (domestic flights only), it’s still somehow under the radar for a beach break. All the better for those who do visit. Agios Prokopios is a long golden sand beach just 5km from the island’s capital. It gently curves around from a headland which protects it from the worst of the winds and morphs into the equally picturesque Agia Anna at the other end. The sea here is a particularly vibrant shade of turquoise.

Koufonisia, Greece

Sandy beach on Koufonisia, Greece

Many of the places on this list are well-known beach destinations, but here’s somewhere that’s still a little under the radar. The tiny and laid-back Greek island of Koufonisia is part of the Cyclades chain of islands in the Aegean, and it’s absolute paradise for beach lovers. Hop on a ferry from neighbouring Naxos and you’ll find some of the palest sands and vibrant blue waters that you’ll ever come across in Europe.

Cala Galdana, Menorca

U-shaped beach at Cala Galdana, Menorca

The Balearic island of Menorca is a top destination for idyllic turquoise waters and family-friendly white sands. It has many stunning coves, but one of the best beaches is the large sweeping crescent of sand at Cala Galdana. Flanked by cliffs and backed by shady trees, this picturesque location is popular but hasn’t been overdeveloped.

Tahiti Beach, Sardinia

Paradise colours of Tahiti Beach, Sardinia

The ritzy Costa Smeralda in the northeast of Sardinia is where Italy’s rich and famous head on their superyachts for beautiful beaches. Just a bit further down the coast, you’ll find Cala Brandinchi (or Little Tahiti, as it is popularly known), arguably the most beautiful of them all. It regularly tops ‘best of’ lists for its stunning colours and fine, bleached sands.

Balos, Crete

Sands of Balos lagoon, Crete

Crete’s exotic-looking Balos lagoon is one of the natural wonders of the Eastern Mediterranean. The gentle white sands shelve in and out of bright teal waters between the mainland and the small island of Tigani. The sand at Balos is brilliant white and sometimes takes on a pinkish colour in the light thanks to the tiny particles of crushed coral. Visit early in the morning to get the best of the beach before the crowds arrive.

Las Salinas, Ibiza

White sands of Las Salinas beach on the Spanish island of Ibiza

Partygoers on Ibiza head to Las Salinas for porcelain-coloured sand, electric blue water, and an array of beach bars hidden in the woods behind the beach. This 1.5km beach is has a carnival atmosphere in high summer when the beautiful people head here for daytime fun, and windswept natural beauty in the off-season.

Corralejo, Fuerteventura

Corralejo beach, Fuerteventura

The colour of the sea and sand in Fuerteventura has to be seen to be believed. This Spanish Canary Island is not too far from the Atlantic coast of Morocco, which explains the proliferation of sand (it’s blown over from the Sahara). It’s a great choice for winter sun when the Mediterranean is too cold and blustery.  The laid-back town of Corralejo on the island’s north tip has surf schools, a dune park, and an assortment of white sand beaches.

Sotavento, Fuerteventura

Lagoon sands of Sotavento, Fuerteventura, from the air

The incredible sands in Fuerteventura don’t stop at Correlejo. Head south to the Jandia Peninsula where you’ll find the wild and beautiful Sotavento lagoon beach, a favourite of kitesurfers. The swirling sands are created by a low-tide lagoon and sand barrier. It does get a little windy, but there are over 9km of sand to explore.

Ayia Napa, Cyprus

Sandy lagoon at Ayia Napa in Cyprus

There’s a reason tourist development is built up around Ayia Napa in Cyprus. And that reason is its beautiful white sandy beaches – the best on the island. The Nissi Beach has fine powdery sands, clean shallow water with Blue Flag status, and a particularly picturesque islet. It’s not one for solitude-lovers though; Nissi is famous for its beach bars, clubs and watersports.

Plage de Pampelonne, France

Yellow sands of Pampelonne, St Tropez

Of all the beautiful beaches in the South of France, Pampelonne beach in St Tropez is the showstopper. The glamorous head here to sunbathe and spend their money in the extravagant private clubs that line the 5km stretch of perfect yellow sand.

Elia, Mykonos

Sun loungers on Elia beach on Mykonos

The Greek island of Mykonos is known for its wide array of pale golden sands. The most famous are the party beaches Paradise and Super Paradise, but a short distance away is Elia, the longest beach on the island and arguably the most beautiful beach. Head here to recuperate after the night before, or just to enjoy the traditional vibe, relaxed charm and immaculate sands.

Mondello, Sicily

Mondello beach and pier, near Palermo

The lively beach resort of Mondello is a Sicilian institution. Technically an outer suburb of Palermo, it’s easily accessible on frequent buses from the city and airport. The sand here is so fine it squeaks between your toes.  It’s a great place for people-watching in the summer when the island’s beautiful people head here to top up their tan. Pastel-coloured cabins, gelato and art nouveau buildings add to the charm.

Voidokilia, Greece

The sandy semicircle beach at Voidokilia, Greece

The beach of Voidokilia has become famous in recent years for its perfect (and photogenic) semicircular shape. It’s located in a nature reserve on the west coast of Greece, in the Peloponnese region. This part of Greece is quiet and unspoilt, with few big tourist resorts around – visitors are likely to be roadtrippers or from the nearby luxury resorts at Costa Navarino.

Playa Muro, Mallorca

Jetty and waves on Playa Muro, Mallorca

There’s 6km of soft sands at this Blue Flag beach which is just south of the popular resort Alcudia. That’s plenty of space and appeal for everyone. The beach has some organised parts with lifeguards, cafes, and sunloungers, and some quieter and more natural spaces around the sand dunes. The water is shallow and child-friendly, and one of the cleanest on Mallorca.

Kalamos, Ios

Empty sandy beach at Kalamos, Ios

The Greek island of Ios is best known for the lively party beach Mylopotas, which attracts a buzzing backpacker crowd. But the rest of the island is home to some knockout beaches. It can sometimes be difficult to find sandy beaches that have been left natural and unorganised, but the south-east of Ios is home to several – mainly due to their difficult access. The wide empty sands at Kalamos are worth the effort though. 

Read more: 

10 Best Sandy Beach Resorts in Greece

21 Most Beautiful White Sand Beaches in the World

10 Best Mediterranean Islands for Beaches

10 Clearest Turquoise Waters in Europe

10 Most Beautiful Beaches in France

10 Most Beautiful Beaches in Greece

10 Most Beautiful Beaches in Italy

10 Most Beautiful Beaches in Spain

10 Most Beautiful Beaches in Portugal

10 Most Beautiful Beaches in Croatia

10 Most Beautiful Beaches in Turkey

10 Most Beautiful Beaches in the Balkans

7 Pink Beaches and Lakes in Europe

What To Do with Your Valuables at the Beach

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Image credits: San Vito Lo Capo © nadisja / Adobe Stock, Santa Giulia © gevisions / Adobe Stock,  Pelosa © Emiliano / Adobe Stock, Cala Mesquida © lunamarina / Adobe Stock, Ses Illetes © robertdering / Adobe Stock, Agios Prokopios © costas1962 / Adobe Stock, Mylopotas © jsk12 / Adobe Stock, Mitjana © Naeblys / Adobe Stock, Las Salinas © Alex Tihonov / Adobe Stock, Tahiti Beach © Emiliano / Adobe Stock, Corralejo © The Mediterranean Traveller, Bolonia © Juanamari Gonzalez / Adobe Stock, Maspalomas © Valery Bareta / Adobe Stock, Balos © smallredgirl / Adobe Stock, Ayia Napa © Aleksandr / Adobe Stock, Vai © gatsi / Adobe Stock, Pampelonne © lukaszmilena / Adobe Stock, Elia © aetherial / Adobe Stock, Mondello © Paulo Resende / Adobe Stock, Kolona © Mike / Adobe Stock