Flights from Ireland to the top 7 beaches in the world
Praia de Albandeira, Algarve, Portugal – from €58 return* in May
There are gorgeous beaches all around the Algarve. But this one is special – a hidden cove in which to live out your castaway fantasies. Golden cliffs curve around a tiny bay, creating a sheltered spot free of waves. It’s a favourite with canny locals, who don’t want to share their sand with too many tourists. Don’t expect lots of facilities, but in a way that’s the whole point. Praia de Albandeira is all about the simple pleasures of sunlight, sea water and a sense of space.
Don’t miss: The chance to relive your childhood with a spot of rock pooling.
Where to stay in Algarve
Suites Alba Resort and Spa is a few minutes walk from the beach, with a heavenly saltwater infinity pool overlooking the sea; rates start from around €109 a night in April 2019. Albandeira is a 50-minute drive from Faro Airport.
Check out five more stunning beaches near Faro.
Elafoníssi Beach, Crete, Greece – from €85 return* in April/May
You don’t need to fly to the Bahamas for a pink sand beach – your rose-tinted dreams can be answered by a short hop to Crete. At Elafoníssi, the sands jut out into the turquoise waters to form an oblong peninsula, with sand dunes and hidden coves. If you want real seclusion, you can walk through the shallow lagoon to find a private spot (ideal if you’re working on an all-over tan).
Don’t miss: The windsurfing and kitesurfing are excellent for those who like their beach with a side order of adrenaline.
Where to stay in Crete
Base yourself back in Chania – Irish flights tend to fly into Chania airport, and the old Venetian harbour is a beauty. Porto Veneziano is a cute hotel right on the harbour, about a 90-minute drive from Elafoníssi. Rooms start from €122* a night in April.
Porthcurno Beach, Cornwall, UK – from €68 return* in May
Cornwall is a beach lover’s dream, and direct flights from Dublin and Cork to Newquay make it easier than ever to get there. Porthcurno is one of its finest strands – tucked away between tall cliffs on a wiggly road west of Penzance, and deliciously quiet on either side of the main summer holidays. The sheltered waters are good for swimming and even better for snorkelling. You mightn’t spot the technicolour fish of tropical waters, but expect to see some crabs and starfish.
Don’t miss: The open-air Minack Theatre is built into the cliffs. It’s open all year for visits, and throws out stupendous views along the coast.
Where to stay in Cornwall
This is a land of cute, well-kept B&Bs, and the Old Post House B&B is one of the most affordable in Penzance, only a 20 minutes’ drive from the beach. Rooms start from €92* a night in May. Porthcurno is an 80-minute drive from Newquay Airport.
Zlatni Rat, Brač, Croatia – from €83 return* in May/June
The beach at Zlatni Rat, on Brač island, is one of most popular in Croatia – and with good reason. It reaches out into azure waters in a long, narrow triangle – fringed with trees and backed by distant mountains. There’s no sand, but the tiny pebbles underfoot are oddly comfortable to lie on.
Don’t miss: A bowl of Dalmatian fish soup in the restaurant Mali Raj, just around the corner. And don’t hold back when you drizzle olive oil over your bread. The Croatian stuff is like nectar.
Where to stay in Croatia
A 15-minute stroll from the beach, Villa Daniela has a whitewashed Mediterranean vibe; rates from around €50* a night in May. From Dublin, Split is the best airport to aim for. The ferry from Split to Bol on Brač island takes about 70-minutes, and from the town centre, Zlatni Rat is a 20-minute walk.
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Praia As Catedrais, Galicia, Spain – from €73 return* in October
Want a little more than white sands and blue water? This beach on the north coast of Galicia is one of the most striking spots in Spain. You’ll need to get there at low tide – when the waters recede you’ll get the best view of the spectacular rock formations known as the “cathedrals” that give the beach its name.
Don’t miss: A glass of the local Galician wine, Albariño, with a side of Pulpo Gallego (octopus with paprika) at Restaurante La Solana in Ribadeo.
Where to stay in Galicia
The Parador de Ribadeo overlooks the water and is just a 10-minute drive from the beach; rooms start from €90* a night in October. As Catedrais is a 100-minute drive from Santiago de Compostela Airport.
Planning a trip to Europe this summer? Discover six of the best secret beaches in the Mediterranean for summer 2019.
Anse Source d’Argent, La Digue, Seychelles – from €508 in November
Frequently topping the lists for most beautiful beach in the world, this stretch of perfect white sand is the stuff that tropical fantasies are made of. Giant boulders are stacked along the shoreline, fringed with dense tropical rainforests, and the shallow waters are so immaculate you can watch the fish swim between your feet without even needing a snorkel. An added bonus? The island of La Digue, on which it’s set, is one of the finest in the Seychelles, with a laid-back, rustic charm and barely a car to be seen.
Don’t miss: A cocktail shaken up at one of the roadside shacks, with fresh juice (and a hefty glug of rum).
Where to stay in Seychelles
The Hotel L’Océan is a cute, unpretentious island lodge, about a 30-minute cycle from Source d’Argent; rooms are around €140* night in November. The journey from Mahé Island (home of the airport) to La Digue takes around 90 minutes by catamaran.
Crane Beach, Barbados – from €573* in November
Barbados certainly isn’t short on beaches, but they are more varied than you might expect – from the rugged, windblown stretches of the east coast to the picturesque tropical bays of the west. At Crane Beach, you have a meeting of both worlds. Fine pink sands are fringed with palm trees and fallen coconuts, with limestone cliffs forming a dramatic backdrop. Though there is a coral reef barrier, the waves are good enough for boogie boarding (there’s a more protected cove further along the beach for those who like their water flat).
Where to stay in Barbados
The super-swish Crane Resort is on a cliff overlooking the beach, accessible by a glass-front elevator; rooms from around €205* a night in November. Crane Beach is a 15-minute drive from Bridgetown Airport.
7 of the best beaches in the world
|1. Praia de Albandeira, Algarve, Portugal|
|2. Elafoníssi Beach, Crete, Greece|
|3. Porthcurno Beach, Cornwall, UK|
|4. Zlatni Rat, Brač, Croatia|
|5. Praia As Catedrais, Galicia, Spain|
|6. Anse Source d’Argent, La Digue, Seychelles|
|7. Crane Beach, Barbados|
*Updated April 2019. All flight prices mentioned in this article are estimates of the cheapest prices as found using Skyscanner’s flight search tool, for return flights from Ireland, cheapest month, 1 person, economy. These are subject to change and were correct at time of writing on 24th April 2019.