In the Mediterranean, sun-drenched beaches, glittering waters, historic architecture and a touch of summery je ne sais quoi are a part of everyday life. Spanning the gorgeous coastlines of southern Europe countries like Spain, France, Italy, Greece and Croatia, pristine and unique beaches are the perfect place to spend summer days and live the good life.
From deserted romantic coves to long umbrella-covered sands — the diversity you can experience in the Mediterranean is unparalleled. Head to Croatia and Spain for classic beaches of white sands and gentle shorelines. Or venture to Greece and the west of Italy where natural rock formations form unforgettable bays.
On the southern coast of Spain lies one of the most beautiful beaches to visit in the Mediterranean. Framed by forested cliffs, Cala Mitjaneta's gentle waters are a crystal clear sky-blue — perfect for all your favorite swimming and snorkeling activities. Dig your toes into the powdery white sand, whip out your beach towel, and apply a generous helping of sunscreen, because you won't want to leave!
From Cala Mitjaneta, you can leave your towel on the shore and make the quick swim to Cala Mitjana — an equally beautiful (but more crowded) adjoining beach where you can snorkel around underwater caves. As one of the most popular local beaches in Menorca, parking fills up quickly, so arrive early. Pack a picnic lunch and some refreshments (water especially!) as there are no restaurants or tourist amenities on the beach itself.
Navagio is easily one of the most romantic Mediterranean beach destinations you can visit. And you can only get there by yacht or powerboat. It doesn't get more romantic than this exclusive little cove in the Ionian Islands of Greece. Nicknamed the Smugglers Cove, this beach is worth making the extra effort and spending the entire day. And if you get your timing right, you can organize a champagne sunset at sea on the way back.
While the sandy beach beckons sun tanners, the main shore attraction — besides the abundant natural beauty — is an old shipwreck that's slowly decaying on the shore. Grounded in 1983, the crew of the Panagiotis smuggled cigarettes and booze before they were chased ashore and caught by officials. With dramatic sandy cliffs, deep blue waters and a real-life shipwreck — this beach will ignite your sense of adventure and love of the high seas!
You'll need to swim a short distance to get to shore, so come prepared with your bathing suit on. Tour operators usually run boat tours for the full day. If you're chartering a private boat, try to arrive as early as possible to beat the crowds.
This is easily one of the most unique beaches in the Mediterranean. Over thousands of years, the wind, rain and sea have beaten the white limestone and Marl cliff into gigantic natural steps that you can climb. Reminiscent of an out-of-this-world moonscape, this beach is a bucket list must-see. The steps get their namesake from an old Sicilian legend. As the story goes, nefarious pirates used to quietly dock their ships in the calm waters of the bay, sneak up the white steps by moonlight and raid local villages of their supplies.
To get up close and personal with the cliff steps, you'll need to walk along a long stretch of sandy beach leading to the cliff. As you get closer and closer, the white steps loom over you and contrast beautifully with the clear blue ocean. If you've got a flair for adventure, you can climb up on the limestone rock and sneak up the steps yourself! Or wander down to the water's edge and go for one of the most picturesque swims of your life.
The eroded stone (specifically Marl), creates a clay mud that is rumored to be good for the skin. Cover yourself in clay, lay down on the warm rock to dry, go for a swim and maybe even bring along a good bottle of Sicilian wine for the perfect day out in Italy.
Barceloneta beach is one of the most popular beaches in Barcelona. And once you see its two miles of picture-perfect beach backed by charming beach huts and sparkling city buildings, you'll understand why. It's touristy, bustling and it's wonderfully convenient..
There's plenty to do besides suntan and swim. Take a kite or windsurfing lesson, hop on a yacht or enjoy a nighttime party with friends. Grab a bite to eat at one of the many beach-side restaurants, or take a stroll to admire famous architect Frank Gehry's eye-catching El Peix metal fish sculpture.
At night, people swap their swimsuits for party-wear and head to the north of Barceloneta to some of the most popular nightclubs like Pacha and Carpe Diem. To top off your city experience, there's nothing quite like grabbing one final beer and sitting on the sands with a couple of friends to watch the spectacular sunrise.
Zlatni Rat frequently as one of the best Mediterranean beaches lists in Croatia, Europe, and even the world. It's been nicknamed Golden Horn Beach for its unique V shape and golden pebble sand. The beach is totally natural — shaped by the wind and ocean currents — and the 'horn' frequently shifts from side to side. The azure water strikingly transforms into a deep, deep blue about 20 meters in, making Zlatni a great swimming spot with plenty of deep water to splash around in.
You can rent sunbeds and umbrellas or take shelter in the shade of the centuries-old pine tree forest that flanks the beach. To get your adrenaline fix, take some kitesurfing lessons, play a game of beach volleyball, grab a jet ski or just go snorkeling. During summer there's a lifeguard to make sure your summer fun stays safe.
Just outside the romantic getaway town of Budva, Jaz Beach is the perfect spot to kick off your flip-flops, pull out a fruity cocktail and launch into lazy vacay mode. The gentle curve of the beach is framed by emerald garden mountains that seemingly drop into the seabed. The water is deep blue, crystal clear and warm, beckoning tourists and locals alike. Although the beach is a mix of sand and pebbles, it's still comfortable to walk and lie down on.
The beach is 1.2 kilometers long, so there is plenty of space to spread out if you want to avoid crowds. Jaz beach also hosts various summertime concerts. The likes of Madonna and the Rolling Stones have graced the sunny shores to deliver good vibes to all beach-goers.
It's difficult to find a sandy beach near Nice, but Plage des Marinières is the answer you've been looking for. A quick motorbike or 20-minute bus ride away from the city center, the beach "sand" is actually small pebbles rather than powder. It's still comfortable to lie on and doesn't make its way into every bag and under every swimsuit!
Flanked by the old town of Villefranche-sur-Mer, the beach is tranquil and relaxing. A gentle sand slope means waters are calm and warm. It's the perfect place to soak up the sun and absorb the French atmosphere. You can also take advantage of French bathing rules and choose to tan topless.
Nearby you can also visit the even quieter Plage de l'Ange Gardien beach or sail to the sparkling clean waters of Plage de la Darse.
If you've seen a Dubrovnik postcard or watched "Game of Thrones," then you've probably already laid eyes on Banje Beach. Fit for kings and queens, the iconic beach is a major tourist attraction all year round. With a view of Old Town stretching out into the bay, beautiful blue waters and a sandy beach, Banje is often packed with tanned bodies during summer. It's an alluring mash of European culture and regular beach appreciation.
Adventure calls beachgoers in the form of yachting, parasailing, jet-skiing, banana boats and paddleboard rentals. All ages will be happy to splash around in the gently lapping waters of the protected bay. Facilities are modern and convenient. Rent a sun chair and umbrella to relax in style, and stop off at one of the many beach or ice cream bars to stay refreshed. Public restrooms, open-air showers and disability access are also available.
It's rare that a beach can capture your imagination so vividly. Unlike other beaches, tourists are not allowed to set foot on Spiaggia Rosa — only to view it from a distance via boat. Why is it so protected? Because this beach is one of the rarest beaches in the world with pink sand.
The reason for the beach's pinkish hue is the unique ecosystem which surrounds it. A blend of crushed fossils, crystals, coral and dead marine creatures mix together to give the sand a pinkish hue. In the past, the pink was even more striking, but years and years of tourists trekking through and stealing sand as souvenirs caused Italian officials to close the beach in 1994.
During summer, you can take a boat ride to Budelli island and look (but not touch) the pink sands. Thanks to the conservation efforts, this pink beach will be around for future generations to appreciate and marvel. While Spiaggia Rosa is undoubtedly a gorgeous sight, if you want to actually dig your toes into a rosy-colored beach, you can also find pink sand at Elafonissi Beach in Crete, Greece.
Even though the sand is pebbly, Santorini's Red Beach claims its place as one of the most beautiful beaches to visit in the Mediterranean. Set on the shore of a dormant volcano near the famous Akrotiri archeological site, the beach is both a history lesson and a natural wonder. From the cliffs to the sand, everything is a deep rusty color of red. The color is caused by the red and black pulverized volcanic rock from the nearby Santorini caldera. The point where the cliffs meet the sky and the sand meets the ocean is truly mesmerizing.
Red Beach is tourist-friendly but not overcrowded. You'll find sunbeds and umbrellas for rent and can stock up on refreshments at one of the nearby canteens just off the beach. The dark blue (but clear) waters are perfect for snorkeling and are teeming with intriguing rock formations and marine life.
What makes the Mediterranean such a fantastic summer holiday destination for so many people? Maybe it's the classy European culture and history that permeates every port or the lip-smacking taste of sun-drenched wines. Or maybe it's the warm, gentle waters of a sea almost entirely enclosed by land. One thing is for sure — the Mediterranean holds some of the world's best beaches.