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How to get that beach bum feeling without leaving Europe
With winter in Europe fast approaching, check out the best places in southern Europe to head for some winter sun that will give you that beach bum feeling
With winter in Europe fast approaching, and the prospect of long distance travel to escape the cold weather seeming like a far off fantasy (for now), it’s comforting to know that Europe has some amazing beach destinations that have seasonable weather all year round. Let’s take a look at a few of the best places in southern Europe to hea d for some winter (or summer!) sun that will give you that beach bum feeling, without leaving the continent.
Though these islands are geographically in Africa and not Europe, they are still very much part of Spain, and so make for a perfect destination to hit the beach and soak up some sun any time of year. With average temperatures in the mid to high 20s all year round, there really isn’t a bad time to visit the Canary Islands.
Gran Canaria, the most popular island, is a great choice if you’re after a mix of city and beach life in Las Palmas, as well as the option to go on more adventurous hiking trails and other activities inland from the sea. On the southern tip of the larger island of Fuerteventura, Sotavento (below), is probably the most beautiful beach in all of the Canaries with almost 10km of fine and golden sand stretching along the largely undeveloped coastline facing Africa. For something really remote, try Playa de las Conchas on the small island of La Graciosa just off the northern tip of Lanzarote, the least developed off the islands.
This Mediterranean island nation between Sicily and Libya consistently has average temperatures in the 20s and 30s between April and November, making it a pretty reliable option for a beach holiday for more than half of the year. Valletta, the capital, has a typically European Mediterranean feel, but with many influences from elsewhere mixed in: red British mail boxes and telephone booths are a remnant of British rule for more than 150 years until 1964, French culinary influences, and of course the language which is actually closely related to Arabic.
On Gozo, the smaller of the two main islands making up Malta, the best beach spot is probably Ramla Bay, with its impressively vibrant and extremely soft yellow sand and all the conveniences of a well-established beach spot without being overly crowded. It has the additional draw of being right next to a series of Roman ruins and several coastal hiking trails, should lounging on the beach not excite you enough!
The largest of the Greek islands, Crete is also one of the southernmost islands in the Mediterranean, meaning it has pretty amazing weather all year round, similar to Malta. With a huge amount to see and do, it’s a great place for adventurers, families, solo travellers and couples alike. Crete’s history goes back to the Paleolithic Age and was home to Europe’s first advanced civilizations, the Minoans, who lived on the island around 4,700 years ago.
After learning about some of the island’s history in and around Heraklion, the capital (specifically by visiting the ruins at Knossos and the Heraklion Archaeological Museum), you’re spoiled for choices of amazing beaches. Perhaps one of the best is Elafonissi, a gorgeous beach in the southwest corner of Crete: with pink sand, turquoise water and stunning coastal views, it’s a slice of paradise that will easily transport you to the tropics. Other great beach options are Balos and Matala, but really any stretch of coastline along the island is likely to offer some secret little cove if you look for it!