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Albania, Bulgaria, Romania: Europe’s best beaches that you’ve probably never heard of

Dhërmi is one of Albania’s longest beaches.
Dhërmi is one of Albania’s longest beaches. Copyright Canva
Copyright Canva
By Angela Symons
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From Albania to Ireland, these are Europe’s best under the radar beach destinations.


Europe is blessed with miles of beautiful coastline - but its popular beach destinations are buckling under the strain of overtourism.

From Marseille to Mallorca, visitor caps are being enforced to cope with the crowds.

If you don’t want to fight for your spot on the sand - or be scowled at by fed up locals - why not explore some lesser known beach destinations this summer?

Here are some of Europe’s best under the radar beach escapes.

Experience the Med on a budget in the Albanian Riviera

Albania is yet to make its mark on Europe’s mainstream tourist trail - which is all the more reason to visit.

Stretching along the Adriatic and Ionian seas, the country’s 450km coastline is dotted with golden sands and pine forests.

For the best beaches, head to the Albanian Riviera, which runs from Vlorë to Ksamil.

Though far from undiscovered,Dhërmi is one of Albania’s longest and most popular beaches. When you tire of the lively bars, you can easily wander off to solitude.

Venture further south to Ksamil where you’ll be rewarded with turquoise waters and three small islands within swimming distance.

Currently, Tirana International Airport - a two-hour drive from Vlorë - is the main gateway into Albania. You can also get a ferry from Corfu in Greece to the city of Sarandë.

Vlorë is slated to get its own airport in 2024 - though it’s not without controversy.

Reconnect with nature in Irakli.Canva

Get back to nature on Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast

Bulgaria’s Black Sea coastline brims with natural beauty.

Around a 35 minute drive from popular Sunny Beach, Irakli retains a wild feel. With just two restaurants, a nudist area and a campsite, this sandy stretch is the perfect place to get back to nature.

Not the outdoorsy type? Vaya Beach Resort to the north offers contemporary boutique villas with sweeping ocean views. The seaside town of Obzor is also close at hand if you’re looking for a different experience.

Burgas Airport, Bulgaria’s second-largest flight hub, is around an hour’s drive from Irakli.

Poreč is a great alternative to Dubrovnic.Canva

Combine sunshine and sightseeing in Poreč, Croatia

Skip cruise passenger-packed Dubrovnik for Poreč in western Croatia.

With cobbled streets and terracotta roofs to rival its popular neighbour to the east, Poreč’s ancient old town is steeped in history.

Head to the UNESCO-protected, 6th-century Euphrasian Basilica to marvel at well-preserved gold mosaics before taking a short boat trip to Sveti Nikola island for a spot of sunbathing.


Poreč is a 40-minute drive from Pula Airport, where shuttle buses to the town centre are available. It is also just over an hour’s drive from Trieste, Italy. Alternatively, you can reach Poreč by catamaran from Venice.

Espiguette beach offers a wild escape from Montpellier.Canva

Take a beach break from busy Montpellier, France

Just outside Montpellier lies one of France’s most beautiful beaches. Plage de l'Espiguette in Grau du Roi offers a long, wild stretch of sand with rolling dunes.

Classified as a Grand Site of France for its emblematic landscape, the beach is protected from development. Its striking square lighthouse is one of the only structures in sight.

Montpellier is less than two hours’ train ride from Lyon and just over six hours from Paris, where you can connect with Eurostar and other cross-country services.

Foneas Beach is just minutes down the coast from Kardamyli.Canva

Enjoy ocean views on Greece’s Mani Peninsula

Archeological sites and azure coves line the Mani Peninsula in southern Greece.


If you prefer to explore the coastline rather than lounge on it, head to sleepy Kardamyli, where hiking trails lead you to stunning ocean vistas.

Just minutes down the coast, Foneas Beach is hugged by rocky cliffs and scattered with picturesque white pebbles.

Kardamyli is under an hour’s drive from Kalamata, where there’s an international airport and bus services.

The Aeolian islands can easily be reached by ferry from Sicily.Canva

Channel volcanic vitality on Italy’s Aeolian islands

Just north of Sicily, the rocky Aeolian islands jut out from the Tyrrhenian Sea.

The island of Vulcano may not be known for its white sands - but its volcanic black beaches are no less stunning.


Wallow in the warm mud baths before taking a boat to the larger island of Lipari to watch the sunset from the Geophysical Observatory.

The islands can easily be reached by ferry from Sicily.

Kinnagoe Bay in Donegal showcases Ireland's stunning coastline.Canva

Trade sunshine for beauty in Donegal, Ireland

Ireland might not be the first place that springs to mind when you’re thinking about a beach holiday, but the Emerald Isle has its fair share of breathtaking coastline.

The secluded Kinnagoe Bay in Donegal is a prime example. Since it’s right in the north of the country, don’t expect warm temperatures and sunshine. The curved sandy beach is sheltered by a green sloping hillside which more than makes up for the weather, though.

Kinnagoe Bay is around an hour’s drive from Derry, two hours from Belfast and four hours from Dublin.

Romania’s Danube Delta is a paradise for birdwatchers.Canva

Birdwatch in Romania’s magnificent Danube Delta

Where the Danube River meets the Black Sea, you’ll find a wild stretch of ever-changing marshland reachable only by boat.

Europe’s largest wetland area is a paradise for wildlife lovers. Spot pelicans, herons and white-tailed eagles as you listen for the howl of golden jackals in the woodland.

When you’re not exploring the delta’s remote channels and vast lakes, white sandy beaches await in Sulina and Sfântu Gheorghe.

Speed boats and ferries run from the city of Tulcea to Sulina in Romania’s Danube Delta.

Seilebost offers spectacular coastal views.Canva

Pretend you’re in the Caribbean in Scotland’s Outer Hebrides

Off Scotland’s northwest coast, the Outer Hebridean Isle of Harris is home to some of the UK’s most spectacular beaches.


The small coastal farming village of Seilebost is about as scenic as it gets. Visit in late spring or summer to take in spectacular views of Luskentyre’s white sandy bay framed by flowering primroses and Caribbean-blue waters.

To reach the Isle of Harris, you can take the train to Mallaig or Kyle of Lochalsh, then journey by bus across the Isle of Skye to the ferry crossing from Uig.

Izola was once under Venetian rule.Canva

Get lost in the Venetian charm of Izola, Slovenia

Izola, on Slovenia’s small slice of Adriatic coastline, was once an island under Venetian rule.

Less packed than neighbouring Piran, the small fishing port delights with charming winding streets. It also has a scattering of pebble and sandy beaches that can be accessed from a coastal walking path.

You can combine your visit with a day trip to the popular summer resort of Poreč, Croatia, which is just an hour’s drive south of Izola.


Izola is a 30-minute drive from Trieste or just over an hour’s drive - or a three-hour train ride - from Ljubljana.

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