5 Dreamy European Resort Destinations for Every Type of EscapeBy Carl Pettit
The sand, stark cliffs and stunning vistas you’ll encounter on European beaches can be as varied as the different languages and cultures you’ll find on their shorelines.
Whether you’re on the hunt for a romantic getaway, some outdoorsy fun or the chance to dive into the local gastronomy scene, we’ve come up with an outstanding list of European beach destinations to match every type of escape or mood.
For the Romantic: Italian Islands
Sardinia, in the Tyrrhenian Sea, is full of romantic potential for the starry-eyed. White-sand beaches abound along Sardinia’s Costa Smeralda. Spiaggia del Principe (Prince Beach), in a remote cove, is only a six-minute drive from the Hotel Romazzino, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Costa Smeralda (which has its own lovely beachfront) and numbers among some of the most stunning beaches in the world due to its soft sand, sparkling turquoise water and rocky surrounds.
Stroll through the ritzy yet cozy village of Poltu Quatu, with its tiny, yacht-lined inlet pinched in by rugged terrain. Sublime outdoor dining awaits in romantic restaurants where you can savor local Sardinian cuisine with exquisite views of the marina below and the Maddalena archipelago across the water.
When in Venice, if you require some private time away from the tourist throngs, book a stay on the private Isola delle Rose. This island, home to the JW Marriott Venice Resort & Spa, offers up a secluded garden oasis perfect for tender moments, yet it still provides easy access to the romantic ambience of St. Mark’s Square and the rest of the Venetian archipelago.
For your beach fix, head to Lido, an almost seven-mile-long sandbar in the Venice Lagoon and Adriatic Sea with the area’s top shoreline for sunbathers.
For the Culture Lover: Greece
After you’ve soaked in some Greek sun along the unforgettable shoreline of the Costa Navarino, explore beyond The Westin Resort, Costa Navarino and wash the sand from your feet, slip on some footwear and immerse yourself in the local heritage.
Walk past ancient churches, mosques and remarkable structures like the Gothic Palace of the Grand Master, with its imposing battlements and towers. History buffs should visit the Archaeological Museum of Rhodes (housed inside a medieval structure built for the Hospital of the Knights of St. John) and explore Rhodes’ storied past.
Farther afield, to the southeast, the ancient Acropolis of Lindos and the surrounding archaeological site offer up incredible views of the nearby ports and the sea, all harkening back to a Hellenistic time when the goddess Athena ruled supreme.
For the Foodie: Spain
Spain and beach life are synonymous for many. Yet there’s more to this nation’s sand-adjacent culinary scene than tapas and paella. In Barcelona, for example, treat yourself to hearty Catalan chow like suquet de peix (fish stew) or charred veggie dishes like escalivada (eggplant, peppers and tomatoes). If you want to splurge on some truly gourmet Catalan cuisine, stray from the W Barcelona’s waterfront and head to Petit Comité in Eixample (away from the city beaches) will expand your gastronomical mind … and possibly your belly, as well.
Beachgoers in Mallorca staying at The St. Regis Mardavall Mallorca Resort or the Sheraton Mallorca Arabella Golf Hotel can dig into some of this island’s traditional offerings, like tumbet, a baked vegetable dish smothered in tomato sauce or, if after a tasty snack, caragols (snails) with aioli. Foodies craving something fried can try frito Mallorquin, with lamb, liver, potatoes, peppers, garlic and more — which is sure to satisfy.
For the Ultimate in Relaxation: Portugal
Portugal is home to a host of gorgeous beaches and woodlands perfect for unplugging from the rat race. Guests staying at The Ritz-Carlton Penha Longha Resort, located in the Sintra-Cascais Natural Park, can enjoy dreamlike states as they amble through verdant hills full of palatial homes and actual palaces, like Pena Palace, which looks like something out of a fairy tale. Take advantage of the hotel’s luxurious spa, stroll across Guincho Beach (a windsurfing mecca) or check out the many delightful shops in the nearby coastal town of Cascais.
In the Algarve, in southern Portugal, the Pine Cliffs Hotel, a Luxury Collection Resort, Algarve serves up the ultimate in relaxation from its cliff-top perch overlooking Praia (beach) da Falésia. Visit the hillside village of Monchique for a thermal spring soak to unwind further still. If you want a great meal, head into Albufeira for some fresh fish in a laid-back establishment like Tres Coroas and gaze out at the dreamy Atlantic while you dine.
For the Outdoorsy: Turkey
Adventurous souls who get antsy sitting on the sand can give in to their outdoorsy spirt at the Caresse, a Luxury Collection Resort & Spa, Bodrum in Turkey.
Apart from swimming in the Aegean or hiking around Bodrum Castle or the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus (one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World), energetic travelers can learn to dive at the Aquapro Dive Center and explore underwater reefs and shipwrecks.