6 European Beaches You Should Visit in the Off-Season
We all dream of finding the perfect beach with shimmering sand, tantalizing views, and, most elusive, peaceful seclusion. In the off-season, you can turn the dream into a reality. Off-season travel brings many perks, most notably it’s less busy and less expensive. The weather might be a little more unpredictable than in the peak season, but whether you get a balmy beach basking day or a dramatic coastal walk, Europe’s beaches await. Enjoy a more intimate travel experience, get to know the locals instead of other tourists, and find your own slice of beach heaven. We’ve picked out six of the best European beaches that are perfect to visit in the quieter months.
Balos Beach, Crete, Greece
Balos beach can be found on the northwestern side of the island of Crete near the town of Chania. Balos is extremely popular in the summer with thousands of people arriving by ferries from Kissamos port. In the off-season, it’s a little trickier to get to, but the journey is just as exhilarating as the destination. Walk or cycle along the dirt tracks with views over the pink sands and turquoise waters of the lagoon. On your way look out for the many protected rare species of flora and fauna and when you get to the bay see if you can spot one of the endangered monk seals. The bay is exposed so be wary on windy days, but the shallow waters quickly warm up in a splash or two of sunlight.
Blue Lagoon, Comino, Malta
Comino Island’s Blue Lagoon in Malta is the perfect beach for swimmers. The secluded bay, nestled between two islands, is surrounded by rocks and lined by glistening white sand. It’s not a secret spot though, and in summer the water is packed to the brim with bikini-clad bathers. Luckily, Malta is the perfect destination for an off-season escape. Temperatures are mild in the winter and there are seven hours of sunshine a day, even in January. With no urban areas or cars on the island, you’ll feel truly at one with nature.
Mondello Beach, Sicily, Italy
Located just a short distance from the Sicilian capital of Palermo, Mondello offers a wonderful contrast to city life. The area used to be covered by swamplands but has transformed into a beach-lover's paradise. The stretch of soft white sand swoops along the coast sloping on a gentle gradient into the shallow turquoise waters. Decorative pastel-colored cabins, used as changing huts, line the beach. In the summer, Mondello has a reputation for being hot and overcrowded. In the off-season, on the other hand, it is balmy and charming, offering an exotic slice of Italian life without the crowds.
Fontinha Beach, Porto Santo, Portugal
Porto Santo, the lesser-known sister of Madeira, is one of Europe’s most remote and exotic locations. The island offers lush green landscapes and a never-ending sandy coast. However, unlike the man-made beaches of Madeira, Fontinha Beach in Porto Santo is every bit as natural as it looks. The beach makes up 720 meters of the over nine kilometers of beach on the island. During the winter and spring, whales and dolphins pass through the bay. If you feel lured into the clear blue water, there are some amazing dive sites giving you the opportunity to explore its depths.
Nissi Beach, Ayia Napa, Cyprus
The natural beauty of Nissi beach is undeniable. The large cove is made up of over 500 meters of pure white sand and shallow water that doesn’t reach above your waist. The beach takes its name from the bay’s ‘small island’ (‘nissi’ in Greek). At low tide, in winter and spring, a secret walkway opens up, unveiling a path across to the island that summer travelers miss. The uninhabited island is rich in vegetation, the perfect place for an idle dream of solitude. While Nissi Beach has a reputation for never sleeping in the summer, a clubber's paradise with beach parties galore, in the off-season it converts to a more traditional paradise. Balmy winter temperatures, coupled with the island’s protection from the elements, make Nissi Beach ideal for lazing in the sun.
La Concha Beach, San Sebastian, Spain
Although not always warm enough for beach bathing in the off-season, if you enjoy a peaceful beach walk then La Concha won’t disappoint. The beach is known as one of the most beautiful city beaches in the world. It has been a popular seaside resort for over a century since Spanish royals first started holidaying there. The shell-shaped Concha Beach is protected by the lush hillsides of the Urgull and Igueldo mountains. Enclosed within the bay is the Isla Santa Clara. If you time it right, when the tides are at their lowest in the autumn, you can even walk out to the island from the Comb Of The Wind sculpture at the western end of the bay.
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