An Insider’s Guide to Three of Europe’s Best Hidden Beaches —

BALTIMORE (STL.News) – “You can surely go to the Costa del Sol, Amalfi Coast, or the French Riviera and find great beaches,” says Dan Prescher, senior editor with International Living. “But why fight the crowds and pay the high prices when there are great beaches off the beaten tourist trails? This new report points readers to three beaches where they can enjoy all the genteel comforts of a European vacation on the coast—but do it without battling massive numbers of visitors.”

These three beautiful European beach destinations offer fun in the sun near an historic town in Spain, a wealth of natural drama in the Canary Islands, and a hidden cliffside escape in Northern Ireland—all well out of the tourist glare.

Llanes, Spain

In Asturias province in northern Spain, the town of Llanes (west of Bilbao and Santander) is a beach community that provides all the amenities. This is a resort from a genteel time — filigree cast-iron balconies overlook tiny fishing harbors. Floats and nets dry in the clean sea air. Elaborate glass awnings from the late 19th century add an Old World grace to pavement cafés, and the tradition of bite-sized pintxo snacks arrayed on bar-tops has been imported from the nearby Basque country.
For the best of the many, many hidden inlets and beaches of Llanes, head westward out of town, past Poo de Llanes, and continue along the AS-263 for half a mile or so. About a hundred yards past the right-hand turn which is signposted “Punto Limpio Llanes” is a dirt parking lot on the north side. From there, a walking track leads some 200 yards to Playa San Martín’s clear, clean water and tide-washed golden sand. Swim alongside wading seabirds, and offshore islets with not a car in sight.

Playa de San Juan, Lanzarote

Lanzarote, one of Spain’s Canary Islands (although it’s closer to West Africa than Madrid) is home to landscapes more typical of the Atacama desert: lava fields, volcanic calderas, crater lakes in vibrant cerulean blue, rocky deserts, and precipitous cliffs. It’s drama on a grand scale.

On the northwest coast of this 30-mile long island, around the village of La Santa, the shoreline mostly consists of black lava rock formations plunging steeply into clear water. Head north along the LZ-410 to Caleta de Famara, go through the village (grab some tapas from Bar Sol on the way—the fried calamari rabas on Lanzarote are crisp and fresh) and out west along the Avenida del Marinero. Bear right as the road turns northwards and carry on until it tapers out into sand. Follow the tang of ozone and salt to the tiny Playa de San Juan. Bathe in the warm waters of the scouring Atlantic, under a picture-book volcano.

Causeway Coast, Northern Ireland

Ireland’s coastline is an embarrassment of beauty. There are simply thousands of hidden beaches on the island. For the most part they’ve been “hidden” because the Irish climate doesn’t usually lend itself to beach culture. But gamble on another great summer like 2018’s, and it could well be 85 F on the Causeway Coast, right at the top of the island.

Tourism in the region centers on the resorts of Portrush, Portstewart, and the vast white-sand beach of Whitepark Bay. A secret beach awaits just over a mile east of the Giant’s Causeway. There’s no road—follow the cliffside walking path from the Causeway visitor center to a high point just past Lacada Point where the trail switches back 180 degrees. Directions are difficult, but it’s a jewel, overflown by herring gulls, Canada geese, redshanks, curlews, and an occasional lost swan. The water is cool, clear, and empty.

More information on Europe’s best hidden beaches can be found here: 5 of Europe’s Best Hidden Beaches

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