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The Reynisfjara beach near Vik in Southern Iceland
Photograph: Shutterstock

This surprising beach has been crowned the best in Europe

That’s one surreal landscape

Liv Kelly
Written by
Liv Kelly

Okay, we weren’t surprised when Bora Bora was named the best beach in the world – it’s hard to compete with those heavenly white sands and gloriously blue sea. But this year’s Golden Beach Award also celebrated some more unusual stretches of coastline, with a ranking that recognised nightlife, community and cultural significance alongside natural beauty. 

Five brilliant UK beaches made the overall list of 100, with European beaches taking up 11 of the top 25 spots. And while it’ll come as no surprise that beaches in sunny countries like Spain and Greece feature highly, Europe’s overall winner might raise an eyebrow.

Black Sand Beach in Iceland was crowned Europe’s best beach in this year’s ranking. The stretch of coast, where the volcanic landscape meets the North Atlantic, is also known as Reynisfjara. It isn’t just home to jet-black sand and pebbles – the beach is surrounded by some stunning basalt columns, too. No wonder it was used as a filming location for Game of Thrones. 

Other European destinations include Lake Lucerne, which isn’t just a dazzling spot but is also integral to Swiss cultural folklore, and Elia Beach, which is the longest stretch of sand on Mykonos and has a rep as a popular spot for gay travellers. 

These are the best beaches in Europe

  1. Black Sand Beach, Iceland
  2. Omaha Beach, France
  3. Cap d’Agde, France
  4. Lake Lucerne, Switzerland
  5. Barceloneta Beach, Spain
  6. Playa d’en Bossa, Spain
  7. Elia Beach, Greece
  8. Bacvice, Croatia
  9. Praia Dona Ana, Portugal
  10. Paraga Beach, Greece

Take a look at the full list of the 100 best beaches in the world on the Beach Atlas website.

Beach to their own

Summer’s fast approaching, and what better way is there to bask in the rays than on a beachy European getaway? Whether you’re an adventurous beach-goer who’s after some snorkelling or scuba diving tips, or you just need a knock-out background for your feed, we have you covered. 

Did you see that these are the new beach rules to know when visiting Greece?

Plus: It’s now much, much easier to travel to these underrated European countries

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