Europe is one of the world’s best vacation destinations, with a wonderful combination of cultured cosmopolitan cities and beautiful relaxing beaches. For those who are looking for a vacation that involves more time sunbathing and less time wandering through museums, we’ve picked out the best beach locations that Europe has to offer.

Playa de las Catedrales, Ribadeo, Spain

Named the “Beach of Cathedrals” by locals, this stunning northern Spanish beach is an extraordinary place to visit. The rocky coastline and fascinating rock formations create the appearance of ruins, thus the reference to cathedrals, and the entire beach is consumed by the ocean during high tide. Visit during low tide to explore the beautiful rock pools and wade through the warm water. This beach is especially fun for families with children to explore.

Iztuzu Beach, Dalyan, Turkey

Iztuzu Beach is famous amongst environmental conservationists thanks to its population of loggerhead sea turtles, who use the beach as their breeding ground. The region is also a beautiful and popular tourist destination thanks to its sandy warm beaches and dramatic coastal views. This stunning and unique beach is a great choice for families with an interest in wildlife and conservation efforts- you can learn all about turtle conservation and the life cycles of loggerhead turtles while exploring the beauty of the coastal bays.

Balos Beach, Crete, Greece

Kissamos has the perfect combination of historical archaeology and stunning beaches, so it’s a great choice for families who want to mix some culture in with their relaxation time. What sets Balos Beach apart from the many other gorgeous beaches of this region is its stunning lagoons. Families can paddle and swim in the clear blue lagoon and enjoy the warmth and shelter from the wind that the beach offers.

Eggremni Beach, Lefkado, Ionian Islands

For some tourists, the busy beaches of the Ionian Islands can be too crowded and bustling for their liking. The long length and more remote location of Eggremni Beach makes it perfect for travellers looking for some peace and quiet while they enjoy their vacation. The water is perfectly clear and warm, so it’s ideal for a long, relaxing swim. Eggremni Beach is also overlooked by towering cliffs, so make sure that you take plenty of pictures of the dramatic scenery while you sunbathe.

Fig Tree Bay, Cyprus

If you’re visiting Cyprus with your family this year, you can’t afford to miss the stunning scenes at Fig Tree Bay. This beach is incredibly popular for a reason- it has something to offer everyone, from beautiful views to exciting water sports. The water is so clear that you can see all of the tiny fish swimming around in the bay, which the kids will love. Avoid the high season during the summer if you want a more secluded beach experience, but prepare for plenty of fun at any time of the year. Children can swim in the shallow waters and adults can dive with snorkels into deeper areas for a truly memorable vacation experience.

Praia da Falesia, Albufeira, Portugal

Praia da Falesia is an unspoiled paradise on the coast of Portugal, offering spectacular views and beautiful weather all year round. This beach is far quieter than many of the more popular beaches of the Algrave, and is ideal for travellers who prefer to explore the natural world and take long rambling walks. There are plenty of coves to explore, beautiful shells to hunt for and fresh water springs, amongst other intriguing natural wonders. The currents are fairly strong so be careful if you head out for a swim, but the clear blue water is perfect for spotting underwater wildlife.

Image credit: Balos Beach by Yann Pinczon du Sel on Flickr.