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Sure, London’s ace when it’s sunny. But sometimes, when the temperatures start sizzling, all you really wish for is soft sand to push your toes into, and bright blue water to jump in.

Luckily, you can rest happy in the knowledge that there are a whole host of sensational beaches within three hours’ journey from the Big Smoke – and let’s face it, we’ve had bad commutes that took longer than that.

So hop on a plane and before you know it, you’ll be soaking up some rays, getting your surf on and sod it, even ordering a pina colada in a coconut, if that’s what tickles your fancy (note: this is only an acceptable drinks order if you’re actually on a beach).

Here’s our top pick of the best European beaches that are practically on your doorstep.  

Best for partying: Ibiza, Spain

If by ‘holiday’ you mean ‘excuse to crack open your first beer of the day before noon’ then you’d better head for one of the planet’s top party destinations – Ibiza.

Some people choose to stay in quieter parts of the island for relaxed days before heading into Ibiza Town at night to hit superclubs Pacha, Space and various other hedonistic hotspots. But if you’re one of those round-the-clock types, Playa d’en Bossa is the beach for you.

Lined with trendy beach clubs and cafe-cum-bars, you can have cocktails delivered to your lounger from many locations along the beach. This is also the home of infamous beach club Bora Bora, where there’s a party atmosphere with drinking, dancing and DJs from midday onwards.

Events often serve as both pre-party and after-party, depending on how many vodka-Red-Bulls you put away. Expect to tie one on with clubbers still going strong from the night before, or getting an early start.

Flight time: Two hours and 15 minutes. 

Get there: Fly from London Gatwick to Ibiza from £130 return with easyJet.


Best for sunbathing: Nice, France

The Baie des Anges (Bay of Angels) is where healthy skin cells come to die. Beautiful, deeply tanned bodies sprawl out along the coast, slathered in SPF-nothing sun oil from morning to sunset. It’s a proper poser’s beach – you’ll see Missoni bikinis, Tom Ford trunks, Gucci sunglasses and a whole other array of designer beachwear on display here.

But don’t be alarmed if all you’ve got are ratty old togs. All you really need to enjoy yourself is a good thick towel so you can make yourself comfy on those pesky pebbles while you enjoy the textbook Mediterranean view of palm trees, glistening blue sea and boats a-plenty.

Flight time: One hour and 50 minutes.

Get there: Fly from London Gatwick to Nice from £46 return with easyJet.


Best for surfing: Lagos, Portugal

Surfers flock to the southwest of the Algarve each year because, within a small region, there’s enough variety of beach, reef and point breaks to suit anyone – perfect if you’re travelling with mates of mixed surfing ability. It’s turned into a bit of a party hotspot too, with fin-jockeys rocking up at the start of the summer to stay for months on end, hitting the waves by day and bars of the small town by night.

Lots of surf schools and camps have set up over the past few years, and many offer tours of the top surf spots for first-timers to the area, so ask around when you arrive. Praia do Amado is one of the most popular surfer’s beaches because of the consistent break, courtesy of the wind protected beach. It’s a recommended spot for beginners and lots of surf camps are based nearby too.

Flight time: Two hours and 25 minutes.

Get there: Fly from London Luton to Faro with Monarch Airlines from £212.



The best beaches in Europe: Pumping parties, surf breaks and baking hot sand
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