Greece, Cyprus, UK: Seven of the world’s top 10 best sustainable beaches are in Europe

Nissi Beach in Ayia Napa, Cyprus.
Nissi Beach in Ayia Napa, Cyprus. Copyright Unsplash
By Euronews Travel
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From calm, family-friendly waters to top party destinations, travellers recommended these beaches for their sustainability efforts.

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Over half of Tripadvisor’s users say that helping the environment is important to them and sustainability increasingly factors into travellers’ choices about where to go.

When it comes to beaches, this means clear waters, clean sand and environmentally friendly initiatives.

Each year, Tripadvisor releases a ranking of the world’s best beaches with European destinations topping the list in 2024. For the first time, this year’s ranking also includes a category for the most sustainable beaches.

Travel sustainability company BeCause provided data from beaches awarded the prestigious Blue Flag - marking them clean and safe - between May 2023 and April 2024. This was combined with positive reviews which referenced terms such as “environmentally friendly,” “eco-tourism,” and “clean water” over a 12-month period.

With European beaches taking seven of the top 10 spots, here are a few of the destinations that made the list.

Sandbanks Beach, UK: Plan a family-friendly day out

This British spot claimed first place on Tripadvisor’s list of the most sustainable beaches. It has maintained its Blue Flag award for more than 30 years - longer than any other beach in the country.

Back before Brexit, it was also one of the few areas in the UK commended by the European Commission for its high standards of cleanliness. Visitor comments describe it as “clean and tidy” and “sandy, clean and beautiful”. With a team of volunteer litter pickers keeping this coastline clear of rubbish, it's unsurprising that this often gets a mention.

The soft, clean golden sands are perfect for little ones to build sandcastles without having to worry about digging up trash. There’s even a children’s play area just behind the beach to blow off some extra steam before heading home.

Sandbanks also offers stunning views of Studland and Old Harry Rocks - on a clear day you may even be able to spot the Isle of Wight.

A cold Autumn morning on the beach on Sandbanks Beach, Poole.
A cold Autumn morning on the beach on Sandbanks Beach, Poole.Unsplash

How to get to Sandbanks Beach

Sandbanks Beach is a small peninsula which crosses the mouth of Poole Harbour. If you are travelling from London, it is around four hours by train to reach this stretch of the UK’s south coast.

If you want to travel to the beach in a sustainable way, several bus routes connect with local hubs in Poole and Bournemouth. In the summer, a ferry service crosses Poole Harbour from Studland and Swanage, providing a scenic way to reach the beach.

What is the best time to visit Sandbanks Beach

Beautiful nature spots make Sandbanks a good choice year-round. It's popular in summer so expect bigger crowds but there’s still plenty of space to set out your blanket and enjoy the sun.

But Tripadvisor also notes that visitors love to visit this beach on a cold day too. Walk its length to take in the best views of the British south coast or look on in awe at the incredible properties along the seafront.

Galissas Beach, Greece: Plan a snorkelling trip in these warm shallow waters

This sheltered bay on the western coast of the island of Syros, Greece came in fifth place on Tripadvisor’s list.

Set in a cove between high cliffs, it is a great spot for snorkelling with calm shallow waters that travellers say allow you to stay only waist-deep a long way out.

Visitors mention its clean, clear waters as well as good accessibility for people with disabilities.

After you’ve had a swim and lounged around on the beach, head into the village to find unique flavours at the local taverns. Catch the magnificent view from the Agia Pakou chapel or visit the ancient ruins of the town of Galissas.

Galissas beach on the west coast of Syros island, Greece.
Galissas beach on the west coast of Syros island, Greece.Via canva

How to get to Galissas Beach

A direct bus links Galissas beach with the capital of Syros, Ermoupoli, where there is also an airport if you are coming from abroad. The journey takes around 20 to 30 minutes and the bus stops just a few minutes walk from the beach.

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Nissi Beach, Cyprus: Plan a trip with party vibes and powdery white sand

Nissi Beach is a popular stretch of sand in the resort of Ayia Napa, Cyprus. It is 500 metres long and has been awarded a Blue Flag for its cleanliness. It takes its name from the small islet of Nissi which is located nearby and can easily be reached by foot through the shallow waters.

The beach is known as one of the most picturesque in Cyprus. Its eastern end is quiet and relaxing in contrast with the western end which is famous for its nightlife. The Nissi Bay Beach Bar is a hub of music and partying, creating a vibrant programme of activities during peak months.

If you are looking for a sustainable option that is a bit more lively, then this could be the choice for you.

A view of Nissi Beach, Cyprus.
A view of Nissi Beach, Cyprus.Unsplash

How to get to Nissi Beach

Larnaca Airport is around 35 kilometres away from Nissi Beach and it takes about an hour to get there by bus.

If you are visiting Ayia Napa, then you can catch a direct bus to its golden sands with services running around every 20 minutes.

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What other European beaches made the top 10 list?

Seven of the top 10 most sustainable beaches were in Europe across the UK, Greece, Cyprus, Malta and Spain.

Rounding out the list were Saundersfoot Beach in Wales at number three, Mellieha, Malta in seventh followed by Myrtos Beach in Greece and Playa Blanca in Lanzarote, Spain.

Outside of Europe, Radhanagar Beach in India, Corniche Beach in the UAE and Camp’s Bay Beach in South Africa also made it into Tripadvisor’s top 10 most sustainable beaches.

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