Corsica island’s Palombaggia beach, France. Photo by Jplm.
This French island is sophisticated, flashy and one of the best places for water sports in the Mediterranean. Corsica’s 600 miles of coastline has numerous deserted shores and secluded coves.
St Restitude, near Calvi (North West): St Restitude is the place for a peaceful hideaway. A secluded small beach backed by pine woods, with soft sand and clean water.
Palombaggia Beach, Santa-Giulia Beach, Golfe di Sogno Beach, near Porto-Vecchio (South East): Port Vecchio is an upmarket resort town spread over a rocky hill with its own beach, a yacht marina, lively streets, and good range of accommodation, cafes, and restaurants.
The best beach is Palombaggia Beach, southeast of the town, a perfect crescent of white sand sandwiched between an azure sea and a cluster of dunes, with an excellent beach restaurant; other pristine beaches are Santa Giulia Beach (good for watersports) a few miles to south, and around Golfe di Sogno to the north.
For more isolation take a boat or have a very long walk from St Florent across to either Saleccia Beach or Loto Beach. Neither have facilities or many visitors, just lots of soft yellow sand – including a mini-desert – and clear water. Saleccia has a camp site beside the desert. See Corsica beaches page
Best May-June, & Sept. OK July-Aug , though hot and crowded like the rest of Europe.
Larvotto beach, Monaco.
Monaco is surprisingly pleasant and Larvotto beach’s half kilometre of imported, smoothed gravel offers clean waters protected by jellyfish netting (rarely needed but hedge fund managers like to take precautions! ), good exposure to the sun and is divided evenly into pay and public sections, with a kid’s play area at the Italy end. There are plenty of cafés, bars and restaurants with a spread of prices. Free toilets are available under the promenade and the stretch is an easy 10 minute walk from the city’s core, Casino Square.
Menton, practically next door to Italy, Menton is quiet even in high season and has a fine micro-climate even better than the rest of the Riviera, some stylish architecture and a couple of good size beaches bordered by promenades and cafés. Our favourite is Les Sablettes, the smaller beach near the port on the Italian side. Shallow, calm and with comfortable though coarse sand it’s a winner for families but popular with everyone.
On the Nice side is a huge curve of the Baie du Soleil and beaches beginning with Plage du Fossan beside the unpleasantly modern new museum. It’s one curve andbeaches are pretty well identical, though the onshore cafés would disagree. The surface ranges from mid-size pebbles thru shingle to almost-sand while the Fossan corner of the Mediterranean does appear to collect jellyfish in season due to currents.
Cap d’Agde near Montpellier is naturist-friendly, in other words get your kit off. Not just in terms of nudist beaches but the entire city – from restaurants to banks – goes for the natural look.
Camaiore, one of the very crowded free sections; most of the beach is occupied by pay areas. Versilia Coast, Italy
A stretch of the Italian Riviera known as the Versilia Coast encompasses Italy’s best mainland beaches. It extends from Marina di Carrara through Marinas di Massa and dei Ronchi to Forte dei Marmi, Camaiore and finally Viareggio.
The beaches are very similar, wide, soft and beige, with the sea shelving gradually and rips almost unknown. The biggest problem is that pay parasols occupy 90% of the best sand and parking is very difficult, though if you arrive early and are prepared to pay not a lot (25-80 euros per day for parasol and two loungers, then you’ll be comfortable. From June to September the sea will be an acceptably warm temperature, though crowds hoover up free spaces late July-August. Versilia Coast Photos and more information.
Terracina, 1. 5 hours SW of Rome, on the way to Naples.
One of the best beaches on Italy’s mainland, Terracina’s is very long, wide and offers plenty of comfortable sand that is pay-parasol free, yet is within easy reach of cold drinks or simple meals from beach cafés.
The town itself is quiet and pleasant but not immediately adjacent to the sea so wheels or at least 20 minute’s walk will be necessary to get wet. See Terracina Beach
This small island is more African than European. It has clear sea and superb shores, and it offers some of the best swimming and skin-diving in the Mediterranean. Most of hotels are within a short walk of the beaches ; there are campsites as well. It’s essential to book ahead in July-Aug.
Getting there: by ferry from Port Empedocle, or by air from Palermo. In summer time you can fly directly from Milan. Best May-Sept, but avoid July-Aug if possible.
La Costa Verde, Sardinia island (Tyrrhenian Sea)
Sardinia is quite wild and less developed than many islands and has a spectacular, cove-pocked, beach-packed coastline. One of the prettiest stretches in the Meditterranean is of course the Costa Smeralda, the island’s best-known resort area with 5 star development.
If you want to get away from the crowds, grab wheels and drive! Also Santa Teresa di Gallura (a daily ferry service goes there from Palau) has stunning coves and beaches. See Sardinia Beach Pictures
Best May-June, & Sept. OK July-Aug , though hot and crowded.
Abruzzo (Adriatic Sea)
Fine sand, clear water and classic Italian hospitality in Silvi Marina, with lots of after-beach sightseeing in Abruzzo’s mountains and medieval villages.
Zlatni Rat, Croatia
Croatia has low prices and a lengthy coastline dotted with islands and fine beaches, many of them shingle (small stones like rounded gravel).
Kolocep is one of the Elafiti islands on the Adriatic coast, near Dubrovnik down south. It has some of the loveliest, secluded beaches in Europe while Zlatni Rat (Golden Horn) on Brac Island, with its azur sea and crescent shape is a primary target for beach lovers.
Shingly Zrce has three 24/7 beach clubs that encourage Ibiza-style beach boogies, while Banje beach just outside the ancient walls of Dubrovnik is perfectly located for mixed days of hot culture and cool water.
Croatia also offers some great scuba diving walls, reefs, caves, wrecks off a few of their 1, 000 + islands.
Best May-June and Sept. OK July-August, unless crowds are a problem. See Croatia Beaches.