Cold, wet and miserable are just some of the descriptions of winter weather. Often, in the midst of this dreary season, our minds are flooded with dreams of laying on the beach or basking in the sun. However, once the time comes, we often find ourselves lingering over the same old question: WHERE DO WE GO? Of course, everyone has their favorite beach bum locations, but if you’re looking for a little more adventure – this list is for you. Kick your beach day excursion up a notch and discover these secret beaches in Europe that are bound to give you some sun and relaxation, without the crowds. These destinations will be sure to help you create some memories and fulfill the fix for sun and sand that’s been nagging you since that first snowfall.
1. Cleopatra Beach (Turkey)
The vast coastline of Turkey offers some fantastic beaches. It is home to 258 Blue Flag beaches, as well as an array of hidden coves and intimate spots to get your beach on. Nightlife, history, sun and sea are all prominent aspects of the area, and once you’re there you’ll never be bored. Getting there is pretty easy too, especially with current flight deals at some of their lowest points of the year! The Turkish Riviera, located in the area of Antalya, offers 400 miles of sandy beaches, and for those travelers looking for more than just a day trip, the resort town of Alanya is about an hour from the international airport. This beautiful destination spreads along the Mediterranean and is accompanied by the beautiful backdrop of the Taurus mountains (which are only a 20 minutes drive away). Alanya is also home to Damlatas, one of the most sought-after local locations in Turkey for a beach getaway. Also known as Cleopatra Beach, it is usually a busy spot full of people, cafes, and fun. But if this bustling scene isn’t for you, don’t worry! Take a ride on a dolmus (local transport) a little further east towards the smaller towns of Oba and Mahmutlar, and you will find quieter less commercialized stretches of beaches. The town of Gazipasa has an especially lovely sandy beach I would highly recommend. It would be quite the hike from town, but local buses make it an easy option for out-of-towners.
2. Slanchev Bryag (Bulgaria)
While Bulgaria is renowned for its winter sports, the summer beach weather makes the Black Sea coastline a great place to visit. Popular with Eastern European visitors for many years, Western Europeans are now beginning to discover the area, especially Slanchev Bryag. Translated to “Sunny Beach”, this stretch of sand has no shortage of life and color. There is a vibrancy, and ‘spring-break’ feel to the area with plenty of low-cost accommodation available among the proliferation of hotels now residing along the coastline. For the history lovers out there, this area also has the unique characteristic of being right down the coast from Nessebar. This ancient town has been referred to as the “Pearl of the Black Sea”, and is basically considered a city-museum. Built by the Thracians in the 6th century B.C., this culture filled spot could add an element of intrigue to any beach day adventure.
3. Makarska (Croatia)
For those of you who don’t know which bathing suit to wear, leave it in the closet and head to Croatia! Home to clothing-optional beaches since the thirties, naturism is very popular here. Large nudist resorts are scattered throughout the country, including Koversada of Istria – one of the oldest naturist centers in Europe. Although, the Adriatic coastline does offer many commercial beaches like Koversada, there is a long list of hidden treasures that can only be found by a boat or a trek by foot. Makarska Riviera, south of Split, is most definitely on that list, offering an ideal location for those of you who would rather take on the ‘au natural’ in private. Makarska is a gorgeous haven of white sands and scenice views- perfect for anyone looking for a summertime escape.
Regardless of what you are looking for, hopefully this list can get you started on planning your next unexpected excursion. And hey, if you can’t wait until summer to get those toes in the sand, check out some other great destinations for a winter escape now!