Europe’s Top 10 Secret Beach Locations
When it comes to beaches in Europe, it’s not all about the Mediterranean. Spain, Portugal, and Greece may be the countries that immediately spring to mind when you think of summer sunshine in Europe, but we’ve scoured the Black Sea and the Adriatic to bring you 10 perfect nuggets of sand. And, with car hire from Nova, you’re never far from your perfect beach in Croatia, Bulgaria, or Romania.
Undulating hills carpeted in wild flowers, sunny beaches studded with cosy inlets and coves, imposing mountains, exclusive boutiques, and lush vineyards are just some of the features of Hvar, 63km from Split and one of the most popular Adriatic islands.
Hvar town is a glossy enclave of yachts and gourmet restaurants, but it’s not all about flashing the cash on this stunning island. The sunniest location in Croatia, Hvar is a naturally beautiful refuge scented with lavender and home to the charming port town of Jelsa and the ancient settlement of Stari Grad. The north side is home to the sandiest beaches, with beautiful strands in the deep bays of Jelsa, Mlaska, and near Sucuraj.
Stiniva Cove, Croatia
There are fast and frequent ferry connections from Split to Vis, an island 63km from the Croatian mainland that is home to the gorgeous Stiniva Cove. Nestled on the south side of the island, the cove was probably created when a cave ceiling collapsed, and now it is preserved as a natural monument.
If solitude is what you’re after, you will be delighted to hear that there is no direct vehicular access to the bay, and the sea entrance is too narrow for yachts. To reach Stiniva cove by land, turn left after Plisko Polje and continue on foot for about half an hour via a track that leads down to the stunning Stiniva Bay. Sea access is also feasible in a small boat. Access from the sea is possible with a small boat. You can hire taxi boats at Rukavac cove.
You’re definitely off the tourist trail when you wander away from the more familiar Dalmatian coast and visit the towns of Ston and Mali Ston on the Peljesac peninsula. Ston is about 59km northwest of Dubrovnik, on a sparsely populated peninsula facing Korcula Islan
Peljesac is an idyllic beach location and is perfect for the outdoor enthusiast. Prapatno is our favourite, but there are many more sheltered, sandy beaches on the peninsula, including Trstenik and Trstenica, as well as the perfect pebbled beach at Zuljana.
Zlatni Rat, Croatia
Another island gem off the coast of Croatia is Brac, and this is where you will find Croatia’s most beautiful beach. Zlatni Rat in Bol is more shingle than sand, but that will not detract from your enjoyment. Frequently called the Golden Cape or Golden Horn, the Zlatni Rat is a promontory roughly 2 km west of Bol on the southern coast of Brac.
Lined with white pebbles and framed by Mediterranean pine, the beaches on either side of the beach stretch some 634 metres. Swimmers beware that the current is treacherous directly south of the tip of the promontory, where it enters the open sea.
Sveti Konstantin, Bulgaria
If the roar of jet skis by day and clubs by night is not your idea of a great holiday, you should take a look at Sveti Konstantin, a small beach resort about 9km northeast of Varna. Here, hotels are well scattered across parkland, and the atmosphere is far less commercial than other resorts.
Opened in 1946 as Druzhba (Friendship) and later renamed Sveti Konstantin i Elena, Sveti Konstantin is popular with older holidaymakers. It is celebrated for the reputed health-giving properties of its mineral waters. Several new resort hotels cater for young families, but it remains a tranquil retreat.
Europe has few remaining deserted beaches, but some survive along the Bulgarian coast. You’ll find some white-sand jewels in the south, hidden in the forested Strandja national park. Though more developed than these, the aptly named Golden Sands beach has some of the softest sand on the continent.
Car hire in Varna puts you just 16km from Golden Sands, a resort created in the late 1950s that has been honoured with many awards for environmental awareness – and it shows: The water and beach are pristine, and you can even avail of solar-powered transportation.
The Mouth Beach, Sinemorets, Bulgaria
Drive 93km south of Burgas Airport in your hire car and you’ll find a tiny shard of paradise, nestled on Bulgaria’s southeast coast. Sinemorets is a stunning resort village with some of the best beaches on the Bulgarian Black Sea coast.
These sheltered beaches are protected by towering cliffs and lush forests and framed with fine, white sand and the purest of warm water. The northern Mouth beach lies at the opening of a wide creek into which the Veleka River flows. The beach is uniquely beautiful, but it is not suitable for children due to the absence of lifeguards and the depth and force of the water.
Agigea Beach, Romania
Bulgaria remains Europe’s top budget destination for visitors, and although it might lack the infrastructure of other holiday stalwarts, it compensates with well-preserved historic attractions, affordable sea and spa resorts, and an abundance of Black Sea beaches.
Wander among the dunes at Agigea, a tranquil hideaway with a beach bar and abundant sand. Hire a car in Constanta and you’re just 10 km away from Agigea. If you are in Eforie Nord, Agigea South Harbour is just a 15-minute walk away.
When you hear that Sulina is inaccessible by car, it should give you an idea of how quiet and unspoiled this beach is. Renowned for its rugged beauty and welcoming locals, Sulina is listed among the last remaining virgin beaches in Europe.
Lined with satiny sand, the beach is 150 metres wide and lapped by the waves of the Danube delta. (Hence the water is not salty). Book a hotel in the town of Sulina and you are just a 10-minute walk from the beach. Then you can relax, far from the hawkers and noise that define so many European resorts.
We are slow to tell you about the beaches at Vadu and Corbu, two adjoining villages on the shores of the Black Sea in Romania, because the absence of crowds is one of their biggest attractions. Large and silent, they take their place among the last wild beaches on the Romanian seaboard.
To get to Corbu and Vadu from Bucharest, take the A2 highway to the seaside, and when close to Constanta, take the A4 past Ovidiu, Lumina and Navodari, until you get to Corbu. The road to Corbu is not great, and, although you will manage it in a standard car, you would be most comfortable hiring a 4X4.