There’s nothing like spending a sunny day at the beach in Europe. During the summer, millions of tourists from around the world flock to beaches in popular destinations like Italy and the South of France. But many of the most famous sandy spots, like Cannes or San Remo, are too pricey and have little to offer budget-conscious travelers.
But don’t despair: there are still plenty of nicely priced options for Cheapos who crave a bit of sand and surf on their European vacation, and there are even ways to save at some of the most popular beaches in Europe.
Related beach tips:
• Best affordable seaside escapes in Spain
• Beating the heat in Rome: 4 Beaches easily accessible by train
• Four beach trips close to Lisbon
Below we’ve listed six of our favorite budget beaches in Europe, with plenty of tips to help you save.
With its beautiful coastline, Montenegro is becoming popular with the Russian jet set, with yachts galore docking in the fancy new Porto Montenegro marina in Tivat. However, the area remains largely undiscovered by Western tourists, and there are still plenty of bargains to be had.
Some great places to check out are the town of Herceg Novi, located at the entrance of the Bay of Kotor, and Ulcinj, which has a lovely old town with a distinct Ottoman flair.
• Hotels: Hotel rooms with easy beach access can go as low as $30 a night for a double room. Search and book over 5,300 hotels in Montenegro.
• Eating cheap: Food and drink, including excellent local beer and wine, is very cheap throughout the country.
• When to go: If possible, try to visit during the warm shoulder seasons from May to June and September to October, with an average high of around 70 degrees. The area gets very crowded in July and August and prices can easily double in some places.
Located in the southernmost area in Portugal, Algarve is very popular with beach-loving tourists from Europe and beyond. Besides frolicking in the waves and lounging in the sand, tourists in Algarve can indulge in a little lively nightlife, some of it directly at the beach, like Restaurante Bar | Caniço, a lively hangout which is nestled between two cliffs in a seaside cove in Portimão.
If you need a break from the beach, Algarve also has many charming villages such as Santa Luzia, famous for its octopus fishermen, who still use traditional fishing methods to catch “polvo” (Portuguese for octopus), a popular delicacy in the country. Algarve is also well-known as a family-friendly destination, so feel free to bring along the tots and sand toys.
• Hotels: Algarve does have a number of hotels catering to budget tourists. If you want to splurge, there are vacation homes available with a swimming pool, so you can still take a quick dip even if you decide not to trek out to the beach every day. Search over 5,000 hotels in Algarve
• When to go: July and August are busy and pricier months to visit, so if you would like to visit during this time, make sure and book well in advance or the best deals will be gone.
Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain
The largest of Spain’s Canary Islands, Tenerife is also the most popular with tourists, catering to everyone from the luxury traveler to the bare-bones backpacker. With nearly 7.5 miles of beautiful coastline stretching from Costa Adeje, Playa de las Américas, and Los Cristianos, beach lovers have plenty to choose from.
However, choose your beaches wisely, as the price for sun lounger rentals varies greatly. To save, make sure you choose a beach in the yellow zone, not the green zone, where sun loungers cost 20 percent more. Better yet, spread a towel out on the sand old-school style for an absolutely free experience.
For day trips, check out the old town and African market in the island’s capital city, Santa Cruz. And make sure to pack your hiking boots along with your sandals: No trip to Tenerife is complete without a visit to Mount Teide, the world’s third largest volcano, which you can reach easily by bus.
• Getting around: One of the best ways to explore the island is by car, and luckily rental cars on Tenerife are inexpensive. However, be sure and book before you go to snag the best deals. Use CheapoSearch to find rental car prices.
• When to go: Although Tenerife belongs to Spain, the island is located off the coast of Morocco, so you lots of sunny days and warm temperatures throughout the year. The average high dips down to 68 degrees from December to February, stays in the mid-70s in spring and late fall and rises to around 80 degrees from July to September.
• Off-season: Because of the weather, the island is perfect for off-season budget travelers in search of warmth throughout the year as well as high season summer travelers who prefer the thermometer to stay well below 100 degrees.
• Meals: To save on dining, do as the Spanish do and eat your larger meal at lunchtime when prices are lower.
• Hotels: Search more than 2,800 hotels in Tenerife
Located in the Gulf of Antalya, Antalya boasts a beautiful stretch of Mediterranean coastline in southwest Turkey, an area known as the Turkish Riviera. Although technically in Asia, this area is incredibly popular with tourists, and many cheap flights are available from across Europe. The place is famous for mega-resorts, with a network of pools and gigantic buffets, which can be booked at a variety of different price classes.
Be sure and take a break from the beach to have a stroll through Antalya’s old town to take a walk through history. Many of the city’s winding streets and buildings hail from the Ottoman Empire and there are also many Roman Era highlights, like Hadrian’s Gate, which was built in the 2nd century.
• When to go: Although highs in Antalya from July to September usually range in the mid-80s, the water also matches the temperature outside at this time, so don’t expect a swim to cool you down.
• Politics: The current political situation in Turkey these days has reportedly been very hard on the Turkish tourism industry, so this likely a good time to find some truly great deals. However, be sure to keep abreast of political tensions and travel warnings before you do.
• Hotels: If you’d prefer something in town, check out White Garden Hotel or Hotel Twenty, a budget hotel located six minutes from the beach. Want more options? Search over 390 hotels in Antalya.
Mallorca Island, Spain
Mallorca is particularly popular with British and German tourists, with hotel high-rises catering to their sun-starved populations since the 1960s. For Germans, it’s also a popular place to retire; in some places, you’ll be just as likely to see signs in German as in Spanish.
Unless you’re in the mood for some spring break-like partying, be sure and avoid places like El Arenal and Cala d’Or. However, if you are in the mood for lively nightlife to mix in with baking in the sun, Cala d’Or is the better choice.
Make sure and take a stroll through the old town in the island’s capital, Palma de Mallorca. A ride on the old wooden train to Soller and Valldemossa is also a fun outing and well worth the price.
And if you rent a car, be sure to check out the island’s east coast, where German jet-setters dock their yachts and have million dollar homes tucked away in the cliffs. This side of the island has some of the most breathtaking views as well as many less crowded, rocky beaches favored by locals.
• Getting around: Like Tenerife, one of the best ways to see Mallorca is by car, and thanks to the great tourist infrastructure on the island you should be able to rent one with ease for a nice price. Check rates for rental cars.
• Hotels: Many budget priced hotels are available in the area, such as Hostal Tbaida. If you prefer to avoid the crowds, try for a place on the less touristy northern side of the island, like Sa Boronia in Banyalbufar, which is a five-minute walk from the beach.
• Search hotels: Know your dates? Search over 5,000 hotels in Mallorca.
Related: Beyond the beaches in Mallorca and Sun, sea & schnitzel in Mallorca
Kos Island, Greece
A European beach guide is simply not complete without a shout out to Greece, so here we go. Famous for its sparkling blue, gentle Aegean sea, Greece has many options for beach-loving budget travelers.
• Just ‘Kos: Our favorite Greek island beach? Kos Island. Some recommended and budget-friendly places to stay include Ilios and Irene and Philippos Studio & Apartments, which is located almost directly on the beach and is less than five miles from Kos International Airport.
• Ferry tickets: If you decide to do some island hopping, be sure and book your ferry ticket in advance to save.
• Choosing islands: Although Santorini and Mykonos are among the most beautiful of the islands, they are also the priciest, and therefore better for short day trips.
• Day to avoid: If you can, try to avoid traveling to Greece on August 15. This is a major holiday in the country, and prices always skyrocket.
• Search hotels: Know your dates? Search over 375 hotels on the island of Kos.
Your favorite budget beaches in Europe?
Have an affordable beachy escape to add to our list? Tell us about your favorite budget beach in the comments section below!