10 of Europe’s best beach towns, with places to stay

Assos, Kefalonia, Greece

There’s something very special about small but perfectly formed Assos: butter-colored and pink houses line a horseshoe-shaped bay, with Venetian ruins scattered among the narrow alleys. There are two small beaches, but the real fun is to rent a motorboat and discover the small bays and coves that surround this part of the Kefalonian coast. Walkers can follow the path up the headland to the ruins of the 16th-century castle of Assos; there is not much to see, but the views make the walk worth it. Roi Suites is a bougainvillea-covered cluster of well-equipped studios in a neoclassical waterfront building, with beautiful sea views from the pool terrace.
Doubles from £117 (minimum seven nights), roisuites.com


One of the Turkishcittalows” – slow cities, with an emphasis on nature and sustainability – Akyaka is located at the mouth of the Azmak River on the glittering Bay of Gökova. Behind the beach, a network of bougainvillea-covered streets houses traditional lokantas (simple bistros) and cafes; In the evening, the seaside restaurants set tables on the sand. Boats sail up the Azmak from the small harbour, where seafood restaurants line the leafy riverbank and a shaded walkway leads into the countryside. Akyaka is also the kitesurfing center of Turkey, with several surfing schools on the long stretch of beach just outside the city. The Iskelemlocated in a quiet bay above the headland, it is a wonderfully peaceful retreat with simple rooms and an excellent restaurant.
Doubles from €83 B&B, iskelemotel.com.tr

Göltürkbükü, Turkey

If Turkey has a Saint-Tropez, it’s this glitzy convergence of two villages, Gölköy and Türkbükü, with a newly built public beach and decked beach clubs that exude the laid-back vibe of the Côte d’Azur. There’s plenty to do, but it’s still much quieter than nearby Bodrum, and there’s a particularly strong restaurant scene – book a table at Arnavutköy for a sumptuous seafood-themed splurge. Behind the beach, souvenir shops stand next to small designer boutiques pensions next to five star hotels and the regular ones dolmuS (public bus) offers the chance to explore other villages on the peninsula, including pristine Gümüşlük, with run-down seafood restaurants along the beach. The Matiz is a cozy B&B with five simple rooms, a quiet leafy garden and roof terrace.
Doubles from £86 B&B, matizturkbuku.com

Sibenik, Croatia

To say Šibenik is a mini-Dubrovnik might be an exaggeration, but it has the same elegant Venetian architecture and terracotta-roofed houses – and considerably less in the way of crowds. This is a city built for wandering: from the Riva, the seaside promenade, to the elegant cathedral and through the warren of corridors and alleys leading to the 11th-century St. Michael’s Fortress. The Blue Flag Banj Beach is a 200-metre walk from the center and has a restaurant and a playground. Boat trips are available to the pristine waters of the Kornati Archipelago. Hotel Life Palace is a lovingly renovated 15th century mansion, with 17 rooms that exude the historic atmosphere, with frescoes, exposed brickwork and Renaissance-inspired furniture.
Doubles from €118 B&B, hotel-lifepalace.hr

Cavtat, Croatia

One of Dalmatia’s most charming little seaside towns, Cavtat has terracotta-roofed houses rippling around a small horseshoe bay, with two forested peninsulas stretching towards Dubrovnik, 21 kilometers away by water. Quiet cafes and restaurants – several of which have been run by the same families for decades – lie parallel to the promenade, with swimming platforms and small pebble coves giving way to crystal clear water. There are regular boat taxis to Dubrovnik and the nearby Elaphiti Islands, and there is a lovely circular walk through the forest, with a few simple beach bars that are perfect spots for sunset. Villa PattieraOnce the home of opera singer Tino Pattiera, it stands at the top of the promenade, with stunning views from its 12 apricot-colored bedrooms.
Doubles from £156 B&B, villa-pattiera.hr

Santa Maria di CastellabateCampania, Italy

A world away from the hustle and bustle of the nearby Amalfi Coast, the Cilento coast is dotted with small seaside resorts where faded palazzos and fishermen’s houses overlook pristine beaches. Santa Maria is one such place: fishing boats return early in the morning to supply the town’s restaurants, while fishermen mend their nets on the blue flag beaches. Days can be spent lazing on the sand or following hiking trails to the Cilento National Park, with the nearby archaeological sites of Paestum and Velia a big draw for history buffs. Stay at the Hotel Garden Rivieraon a hill 500 meters from the center, with beautiful sea views and a shuttle to the beach. Doubles from €72 B&B, hotelgardenriviera.it

La Flotte en Regarding, Île de Ré, France

Once an important sea fishing port, La Flotte is now one of the most beautiful villages on the Île de Ré, with a warren of streets and alleys between classic Breton-style houses, a waterfront lined with restaurants and a large marina. The nearby Arnérault beach is the best choice for a lazy afternoon; the trees behind the beach provide shady areas for napping, with changing and toilet facilities – although it is very tidal so check times before you go. There are bicycles to rent for the ride to the atmospheric Abbaye des Châteliers, and a daily morning market for picnic delights: excellent cheeses, bread and meats. The Hôtel Hippocampe is located in the old village, with chic, airy rooms.
Doubles from €74 rooms only, hotel-hippocampe.com

ConcarneauBrittany, France

Steeped in history, with a sandy beach and a working fishing fleet that fills the town’s restaurants with the freshest seafood, Concarneau is Brittany at its breezy, prettiest best. A town in two parts, it has 14th-century ramparts around the old town, situated on a small island, and cobbled streets that wind between houses to the bustling fishing port. Plage des Sables Blancs – a long stretch of unspoilt sand – is a short walk from the center of town, with good facilities including lifeguards. The Fisheries Museum and the Marinarium – the oldest naval station in the world – are good wet-weather options for families. The Hotel Ker Mor is a quirky 19th century hotel on the waterfront.
Doubles from €117 B&B, hotel-logishotels.com

Fornells, Menorca, Spain

Not to be confused with Playa de Fornells – a newer development a few kilometers away – Fornells is one of Menorca’s most charming fishing villages, with a tranquil waterfront dotted with palm trees that has become a hub of seafood restaurants (the dish to order is caldereta de llagosta – lobster stew). In recent years it has also become known for its water sports, with the reliable wind providing ideal conditions for windsurfing and wing foiling; there are paddle boards for calmer days. The town beach is small, but Cala Tirant, on the other side of the headland, offers clear water and a wide stretch of sand. Can Digus has light, airy apartments in the heart of the city.
Double from £57 room only (minimum two nights), candigus.com

LlafrancGirona, Spain

The jumble of whitewashed houses, blue doors and small fishing boats bobbing in the water give Llafranc a pleasantly old-fashioned feel. Once the Costa Brava’s most glamorous spot – attracting everyone from Ernest Hemingway and Salvador Dalí to Elizabeth Taylor and Sophia Loren – it has softened into a quiet, family-friendly seaside resort that only gets really busy in July and August. The sheltered harbor is ideal for water sports such as kayaking, sailing, diving and paddle boarding, and there are good walks to be had (particularly the mile-long walk around the pine-clad headland to Calella de Palafrugell) and plenty of bars for a little relaxation. to create. nocturnal buzz. Hostal Sa Teula is 100 meters from the sea, with 18 simple bedrooms and a restaurant serving locally caught fish and classic Catalan dishes.
Doubles from €109 B&B, hostalsateula.com

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