Lido Mazzaro, Taormina, Sicily
Lido Mazzaro is a sea-bordering strip of sand once frequented by Hollywood's starlets. A 15-minute cable-car ride down from the medieval town of Taormina, the beach is packed during the summer, with plenty of drinking dens on hand for a sun-downer.
West Sands, Scotland
West Sands beach in St Andrews is said to be one of Scotland's busiest beaches. It offers miles of wide sandy beach, with an impressive backdrop of the historic university town and world-famous golf course. Reliable wind conditions make it an ideal spot for sports such as wind- and kitesurfing.
Golden Sands, Bulgaria
Reputed to have some of the finest sand in Europe, this resort sits 16 kilometres from the city of Varna, a town filled with lots of good-value hotels. The beach has received numerous awards for environmental awareness, with regular screenings for toxins and solar-powered transport.
Grand Plage, Biarritz, France
Two swanky casinos, tuxedoed waiters, chic waterfront boutiques and finely ageing hotels line the beach at this veteran resort. Alongside the moneyed bathers, expect to see a new breed of scruffy, sun-kissed surfers, all tucking into tasty Basque cuisine come lunchtime.
Kampen, Sylt, Germany
This floury white-sand beach, with its backdrop of red cliffs and some seriously bracing air (especially in the colder months!), is on the fashionable North Sea island of Sylt. Go native and grab yourself a Strandkorb (giant wicker beach chair) to soak up the rays.
Sagres, Algarve, Portugal
This stunning beach stretches for miles, surrounded by dramatic landscapes of plunging cliffs, standing sandstone formations and super-clear sea. Enjoy some crowd-free sunbathing, with impressive waves offering great surf for adrenaline seekers.
Navagio Beach, Zakynthos, Greece
Also known as Shipwreck Bay, this cove is the trademark of the island and one of the most famous in Greece, its huge vertical cliffs and white sands creating postcard-perfect surrounds. Navagio can only be reached by boat from Porto Vromi, so it’s perfect for avoiding Greece’s summer crowds.
Patara, Turquoise Coast, Turkey
This rare stretch of conserved beach is backed by golden sand dunes and the Taurus mountains, meaning you can enjoy an unspoiled beach with nary a building in sight. This tranquil retreat also attracts Loggerhead turtles, which lay their eggs between May and October.
Bonj ‘Les Bains’, Hvar, Croatia
This super-cool beach club on Croatia’s trendiest island is about scene rather than sand — keep your eyes peeled for A-listers including Kevin Spacey and Giorgio Armani. Stroll along the 1930s colonnade shaded by scented pines and enjoy the stunning views of the surrounding Adriatic isles.
Las Salinas, Ibiza, Balearics
Located in a nature reserve, this mile-long stretch of beach has long been a favourite with the island’s hippies and hipsters. From yacht-dwellers to club dancers, it’s the perfect place to pitch up for a jug of sangria and some serious people-watching.