Top budget beach destinations in Europe
For most Londoners, the closest we get to seeing beaches is lusting after incredible pictures posted to Instagram, usually by people who don’t have to pay the extortionate living costs found in the capital. However, crafty travellers will know that you don’t have to break the bank to find white sands, blue waters, and multi-coloured cocktails.
Here are our top budget beach destinations in Europe for those who want to top up their tans while simultaneously keeping their bank accounts looking healthy.
#1 | Nice, France
The name enough should let you know that this city on France’s south coast is quite… nice (it’s actually pronounced like ‘niece’). Despite being a playground for the rich and famous – trust us, you’ll see the yachts to prove it – Nice has plenty to offer the more frugal holiday-maker. The Mediterranean climate makes it the perfect beach destination, with dozens of coves to sun yourself next to the gentle ocean.
Being a major city also means you aren’t forced to stay in an overpriced resort. Cheaper hotel options are easy to find, as are affordable yet pleasant Airbnbs. The French Riviera is known for its exceptional culinary offerings, and in Nice this means you can find great, cheap food on almost every corner (and a fantastic bar on every other corner).
For beach lovers, Nice is best visited in June, July or August when the water is warmest. The locals are well aware of how lucky they are to have glorious beaches right by a major city though, so the best beaches can get a bit crowded. If you have sampled all the city’s local beaches, head out to the nearby peninsula of Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat to enjoy a less crowded day at one of the many hidden beaches there.
#2 | Tenerife, Canary Islands
As the largest of Spain’s Canary Islands, Tenerife is known for giving people the ‘big summer holiday experience’ without the big price tag. Tenerife is one of Europe’s only locations that can truly be called ‘tropical’ and, lying just off the coast of Morocco, offers fantastic weather, buzzing nightlife, and some incredible all-inclusive beach holidays.
Thanks to its location, Tenerife has a warm climate year-round, meaning people looking for a slightly cheaper holiday can visit in the off season for a reduced-price holiday and still soak up the rays every day.
Playa de las Americas is one of the first beaches visitors head for. Lined with sun beds and bars, you can enjoy a bit of R&R here before night falls, at which point the area turns into one of the island’s best party zones.
For those looking for a more natural beach experience, try La Tejita beach instead. This huge natural beach has no shops or bars lining it, so the only thing to do is sit back and work on your tan while the crystal clear Atlantic waves crashing nearby provide the soundtrack to your holiday. This beach is also ‘natural’ in the truest sense of the word as it attracts many nudists.
#3 | The Black Sea Coast, Bulgaria
If you’re looking to get off the beaten track and onto a slightly cheaper one, maybe you should head to Bulgaria’s Black Sea Coast. Most people don’t consider Eastern Europe when thinking of beach holidays, but if you go at the right time of year the weather is incredible, the beaches are sublime and, most importantly, the whole thing will cost only a fraction of what you might pay in better known Mediterranean locations.
One of the best locations on this stretch of coast is the aptly-named Sunny Beach. This long, sandy beach makes it easy to find a spot to set up camp and enjoy the sun, and in the purpose-built holiday town you will find everything you need during your stay, including decent hotels and restaurants. While some of the famous resorts in Spain and Greece have become a little too accustomed to British travellers, Sunny Beach has retained its strong Bulgarian culture (and low prices) and the friendly locals are always eager to show their appreciation that someone from outside Bulgaria has visited.
#4 | Brač Island, Croatia
Holidays to Croatia are usually thought of as being filled with visits to historical sites and endless Game of Thrones tours (many scenes from the hit show are filmed in Dubrovnik). However, the country’s beaches and islands shouldn’t be overlooked, as they are simply incredible.
While things can get quite expensive in the middle of the tourist hot-spots such as Split and Dubrovnik, you’ll find the most stunning beaches and affordable holidays on the island of Brač.
A short ferry from the mainland will bring you to the famously chilled-out island. Once you’re there, our suggestion would be to set a course for the small but charming beach of Lovrečina Bay. As you walk down to the sand you might pass the ruins of the medieval church, however nothing about this beach is old or stuffy, with clear white sands and waters of a colour that would rival the Caribbean.
On the southern edge of the island you’ll also find the incredible beach of Zlatni Rat. This sand bank spits out into the ocean, allowing you to set up camp with the clear Mediterranean waters on each side of you.
Being on an island and in a slightly less built up area also means that despite the beaches of Brač being some of the most picturesque spots in Europe, there are rarely any crowds and prices for accommodation and food are more than reasonable.
#5 | Crete, Greece
Package holidays for almost any budget are easy to find when you’re looking for a holiday to Crete. This Greek island sits comfortably in the middle of the Mediterranean, and unsurprisingly has more beaches than you could ever visit in a single week, or even two for that matter.
The island of Crete caters for all types of holiday makers, meaning you can easily find a decent hotel near one of the many beaches dotted around the island. The beautiful cove beach of Vai is flanked by palm trees and is one of the most beloved beaches on the island. Due to its natural beauty it was awarded a Blue Flag by the European Union, meaning that despite its popularity it is always kept clean.
If you’re trying to escape the sun loungers, head over to the stunning Balos Lagoon. The geography of the area around the beach creates a natural paddling pool filled with turquoise water. Often described as one of the most photographed spots on Crete, the lagoon can be full of families and wannabe influences in July and August, but even the crowds of tourists can’t detract from the stunning natural beauty of this place.