Whether you want to soak up the sun, get active or party on the sand at a festival, look forward to summer with our pick of beach breaks across Europe
Doing an excellent line in Nordic cool, this pared-back refuge on Rügen Island is right by the Baltic and has an outdoor sauna, underfloor heating and a glossy kitchen. Sleeping eight and set within a biosphere reserve (biosphaerenreservat-suedostruegen.de), it’s a great spot for nature lovers. Lobbe, a 5km-long, white sand beach, is a few minutes’ bike ride away and the beech forests and chalk cliffs of Jasmund national park are within easy reach.
• Seven nights from €840 (no phone, ruefugium.de). EasyJet flies to Hamburg (two hours away) from Luton, Edinburgh, Manchester and Gatwick
Casa Diso, Italy
One of those places you half want to keep to yourself, Casa Diso is a newly-restored townhouse apartment in the village of Marittima, Puglia, sleeping four and 15 minutes’ walk from the beach. The rustic chic interiors have whitewashed walls, stone floors and vaulted ceilings. There’s a small courtyard and a roof terrace with sea views. Although it’s a self-catering let, rental is per night, so it’s a good bet for a short break.
• From £95 a night (01223 460100, essentialitaly.co.uk). Fly to Brindisi from Stansted with Ryanair (ryanair.com)
Citta dei Nicliani, Greece
Opened last year, this boutique hotel in Kitta on the Mani peninsula is a family-run, 18th-century tower-house with seven suites. There are plenty of frills, from original engravings to Korres smellies, but the price is frill-free. Horse riding, wine and olive oil tastings and fishing are possible nearby, as well as hikes to attractions such as the Unesco world heritage site of Mistra. But you can also spend days lazing on the peninsula’s beaches.
• Doubles from £65 B&B (+30 27330 51827, cittadeinicliani.com). Fly to Kalamata from Manchester with Thomas Cook (flythomascook.com) and Thomson (flights.thomson.co.uk) and from Gatwick with easyJet (easyjet.com) and Thomas Cook
Club Amazon, Turkey
Despite the name, this small resort is more Swallows and Amazons than Brazilian jungle lodge. Set among pine trees in Bordubet, about 30km west of Marmaris, it’s a simple, back-to-nature escape popular with families. Swim in the bay (the beach is a 500m walk or kayak away) or pool. Sleep in a mini stone bungalow or the resort’s take on gypsy caravans (some have partially glazed roofs for stargazing) and feast on homemade food in the restaurant.
• From £25pp full-board in a bungalow (+90 252 436 91 11, clubamazon.com.tr). Thomson and Thomas Cook fly to Dalaman from 14 British airports
Evert’s Boathouse, Sweden
Known for fishing trips and a floating hot tub, Evert’s Boathouse is opening a shorefront hotel outside Grebbestad, on the west coast of Sweden in March. Sweden is never going to be a budget destination, but the rooms, all with sea views, are good value for the location. This is the place to try fresh seafood, cycle to the beach, kayak to hidden coves or take boat trips.
• Doubles from £131 B&B (+46 525 14242, evertssjobod.se). Ryanair flies to Gothenburg from Edinburgh and Stansted
ME by Melia, Mallorca
One of two new hotels being launched by Spanish hotel brand ME by Melia in the Balearics this summer (the other is in Ibiza), ME Mallorca opens in Calvia – the posh end of Magaluf – in May. It’s right on the beachfront, and guests can lounge by two pools, book a SkinC spa treatment, dial down to an “aura manager” for bar and restaurant recommendations or head to the beach. This isn’t a budget brand but, in May and June, you can bag a slice of beachside luxury for less.
• Doubles from £79 room only (0808 234 1953, melia.com). Monarch (monarch.co.uk) flies to Palma from Luton and Manchester
Fishermen’s huts, France
Sleeping five, these two-bedroom cabins outside Roquebrune-sur-Argens, near Fréjus on the Côte d’Azur, are set on stilts among palms and bougainvillea. Luxury camping with a few frills, the huts have kitchens, bathrooms and shady dining terraces, and access to several pools, a restaurant and a spa. In peak season there’s a children’s activity programme; adults can enjoy hiking, cycling (a path takes you to the closest beach in around half an hour) or water sports on the adjacent lake.
• Cabins from €360 a week, self-catering (+33 4 9445 7125, camping-les-pecheurs.com). EasyJet flies to Nice from eight British airports
Villa Bronzino, Croatia
This townhouse is literally a stone’s throw (10 metres) from the beach across a small lane. It sleeps five and is five minutes’ walk from the centre of Pucisca, a pretty village on the island of Brac, with shops and cafes. You won’t need a car; hire a boat for the day instead and set off for one of the island’s beaches. Or stay at home and hop between beach and house, retreating into the villa’s surprisingly contemporary interior to cool off.
• From £610 a week, self-catering (01494 671359, croatianvillaholidays.com). Easyjet flies to Split from Bristol, Gatwick and Stansted. Ferries from Split to Supetar, on Brac, cost from £6 return (jadrolinija.hr).
The Pink House, Corfu
Only 20 paces from Kalami Bay’s white pebble beach, this seafront villa sleeps six and has a garden with lemon and orange trees, bougainvillea and roses. In the owner’s family since the 1930s, when Lawrence Durrell was a neighbour, it has the original tiled entrance hall, wooden floors and antique furniture. Two of its three bedrooms have views of the bay, and thick stone walls keep things cool in the summer. Choose from the sunny terrace at the front for morning coffee overlooking the sea and the shady terrace at the back for lazy lunches.
• From €750 a week, self-catering (+30 210 211 0994, ownersdirect.co.uk/greece/GR4345.htm). Thomson flies to Corfu from 14 UK airports
Coastal Food Trail, Portugal
Tour operator Sunvil has launched a year-long food festival (bit.ly/1djokoz) in the Alentejo, designed to highlight restaurants and food producers off the tourist trail. These include A Escola in Alcacer do Sol (restauranteaescola.pai.pt), a converted schoolhouse that serves a winning rabbit pie, and Casa do Porco Preto (barrancarnes.com) in Barrancos, which makes ham from free-range black pigs. To combine sand, sea and sustenance, book into Herdade do Freixial guesthouse, with its pool and yoga classes. Around 30 minutes’ walk away is the village of Vila Nova de Milfontes, where you can tuck into fish or roast kid overlooking the sea at Tasca do Celso, or feast on grilled prawns and sardines at beach shack A Choupana.
• From £494pp for a week’s B&B at Herdade do Freixial, including flights and car hire (020-8758 4722, sunvil.co.uk)
Budget adventure, Croatia
If you want to spend most of your holiday in the water rather than beside it, try Adventure Dalmatia’s budget adventure week. Based in the village of Zadvarje, just over an hour’s drive from Split, you can try your hand (and legs) over the course of a week at canyoning, rafting, sea kayaking, snorkelling and hiking. One highlight is a kayak trip to Vrulja beach, famous for its submarine freshwater springs. There’s also plenty of free time to relax on river and sea beaches.
• From €390 a week, including transfers, some meals, accommodation, equipment and instruction (+385 21 540 642, adventuredalmatia.com). EasyJet (easyjet.com) flies to Split from Bristol, Gatwick and Stansted
Salvinia Lodge, Poland
Poland may not be the first place you think of for a beach holiday but this 18th-century farmhouse in the Vistula delta is close to some fabulous, white sand beaches. Near the start of the Vistula Spit, just east of Gdansk, the lodge looks like a traditional, half-timbered farmhouse, but step inside, though, and the look is more cool design pad. Restored a decade ago and now sleeping eight, it successfully mixes ancient (painted wooden doors, shuttered windows, giant timber beams) and modern (sleek stainless steel-and-wood kitchen, contemporary standalone baths and, in one of the guestrooms, a vast, minimalist open fireplace). You can also visit nearby Malbork Castle, a Unesco world heritage site, or go amber hunting on the beach.
• From €900 a week, self-catering (+48 692 496 619, salvinialodge.com). Wizzair (wizzair.com) flies to Gdansk from Doncaster, Glasgow, Liverpool and Luton
Casa de la Guadesa, northern Spain
Can’t decide between coast and mountain? At this pretty stone house in San Juan de Duz, you can dip into both. Sleeping four, it’s a 15-minute walk up a country lane from Playa la Griega on Asturias’s “dinosaur coast” (find out more at the museum in neighbouring Colunga, museojurasicoasturias.com) and around an hour’s drive from the Picos de Europa national park. The foothills in between are known for their apple orchards and traditional cider houses; just the thing for toasting the sunset – and mountain scenery – from the cottage balcony after a day on the sand.
• From £850 a week, self-catering (01223 328721, casas.co.uk). Return ferry for a car and two people from Portsmouth to Santander costs from £338 (0871 244 1400, brittany-ferries.co.uk/economie).
Sea kayaking, the Sporades
To reach the kind of empty white sands the cocktail-quaffing, sun lounger-bagging hordes can only dream of, there are few better ways to travel than by kayak. Not least on one of Aegean Escapes’ six-day sea kayaking expeditions from Skopelos to Kyra Panagia, in the Alonnisos marine park, in the northern Sporades. Covering up to 35km a day, these are aimed at intermediate kayakers, as there is some challenging paddling – including two open-water crossings – but the rewards include visits to “secret” beaches, sea caves, pretty harbours and, if you’re lucky, a chance to spot rare Mediterranean monk seals as well as dolphins and tuna. Wild camping at night means great stargazing, too.
• From €400 a week including kayak hire, guiding and lunches (+30 698 321 1298, aegeanescapes.com). Thomas Cook (flythomascook.com) flies to Skiathos (an hour’s ferry ride away) from East Midlands, Gatwick, Manchester and Newcastle
Glisten Glamping, France
Opening in April in Urrugne, close to a string of beaches in the French Basque country, Glisten’s new family-friendly domes come with beds for six, Fatboy beanbags, covered outdoor kitchens and solar-powered fans. Bathrooms are shared with the rest of the site, as are swimming pools, playparks, a farm and, in July and August, a kids’ club. And if some of your party want a more back-to-basics approach, Glisten operates as a pop-up glampsite within an existing campsite, Col d’Ibardin, so it’s possible to book cheaper standard tent pitches too.
• Seven nights from £560 (0844 344 0196, glistencamping.com). Ryanair (ryanair.com) flies from Stansted and Manchester to Biarritz, 30 minutes’ drive away
Moving from Antalya to Aspat, a new site near Bodrum, this year’s SunSplash music festival will host beach sets by the likes of Gilles Peterson, Osunlade, Phil Asher and Zara McFarlane between 1-8 June. It’s a great setting, with a beach bar and bungalows close to the water, a mountain behind and, to one side, a natural creek shaded by eucalyptus trees. Cool down between sets with a swim, hike to nearby archaeological ruins or join one of several organised fringe events, from yoga classes to music production workshops.
• From £460pp for seven nights, including half-board accommodation and festival tickets (no phone, sunsplash-festival.com). EasyJet (easyjet.com) flies to Bodrum from Bristol, Gatwick, Liverpool and Stansted
The recently launched Sustainable Interregional Bike Tourism project aims to promote cycling in Sicily, Malta and Gozo. Over 1,000km of self-guided day-long cycle routes, from an easy 34km ride past Malta’s St Pauls Grotto and catacombs to a challenging 117km trail along the southern coast of Sicily can be downloaded, free, from the project’s website (medinbike.com). If it’s beaches you’re after, head to Gozo. The 42km Gozo Coastal route links the syrup-coloured sand of Ramla and Marsalforn bays with Calypso cave and the rock arch of Wied il Mielah via inland attractions such as the Ggantija temples and Ta’ Kola windmill. The website also lists bike-friendly hotels on the islands so you can put together your own itinerary, or choose one of its suggested longer routes.
• Ryanair (ryanair.com) flies to Malta from eight UK airports. Bike hire costs about €50 a week (cyclemaltandgozo.com). Freewheel Holidays (freewheelholidays.co.uk)does seven-night trips to Malta and Gozo from £629pp, including half-board accommodation and cycle hire but not flights
At Playa Montroig Parc, on the Costa Dorada, self-catering accommodation ranges from basic tent pitches to timber pavilions and cottage-like villas, all set in shady woodland. It’s right beside a huge sandy beach, and there are also children’s sports and activities, three swimming pools and a choice of restaurants. It has one other great selling point: it’s location is ideal for tackling some of Tarragona’s famous climbing destinations, the cliff-top village of Siurana and the La Mussara plateau among them. Eurocamp has included the site in its new Active collection. Climbing trips have to be booked independently, but camp “couriers” can offer maps and guidance, and recommend suppliers for equipment and lessons.
• A week in a mobile home costs from £490 for four (0844 406 0552, eurocamp.co.uk). EasyJet (easyjet.com) flies to Barcelona from seven UK airports
Yoga on the beach, France
Between May and October yoga teacher Rachel Hanberry tailormakes budget yoga breaks in Biscarosse Plage, south-west France, through her business Belle Vie Yoga. Book a single class, a weekend retreat or a week’s worth of classes and you can spend your time refining your downward dog on the beach, in the forest or in Rachel’s studio. Add-on surf lessons can be arranged. Or follow a weekend of yoga with a trip along the coast in one of Hanberry’s husband’s campervans (belleviecampers.com). The highest sand dune in Europe, the Dune du Pyla, and the Bassin d’Arcachon are just up the coast.
• Pack of five yoga classes €80 (+33 6 7122 5912, belle-vie.fr). Nearby Côte & Dune guesthouse has B&B doubles from €78 a night (+33 6 0896 3173, cotedune.fr). Camping Panorama has basic pitches from €20 or cabins for four from €141 for three nights (+33 5 5622 1044, camping-panorama.com). EasyJet (easyjet.com) flies to Bordeaux from Bristol, Gatwick, Liverpool and Luton
VW camping, Spain
Camper hire company WeDubYou launched in south-west France last year and is now expanding into Spain. The company’s 20 vans come with iPads pre-loaded with films, games and music and can be picked up and dropped off at either Girona or Bergerac airports, but it’s the add-ons that set this company apart from the campering crowd. The VIP package includes a champagne hamper. The Vélos package buys two electric bikes for the week (all the easier for navigating your way into secluded, narrow coves). And the EasyStart package comes with a luxury campsite and dinner for your first night. Strike out alone, though, and you have a pick of fabulous coastal campsites. One of the region’s best is Cala Llevadó, with pitches in a pine forest right by the sea.
• Campervan hire from £595 a week (020-7193 9058, wedubyou.com). Camper pitches from about €20 a night. Ryanair (ryanair.com) flies to Girona from 10 UK airports