Holidays & Travel

The world’s ‘best beaches’ have been revealed and the top three are in Europe

If you’re dreaming of escaping the dreary weather for a long stretch of sand, here’s some inspiration.

Some of these glorious shores are not too far away
Praia da Falesia with white sand beach and turquoise water at Algarve Portugal Some of these glorious shores are not too far away (Alamy Stock Photo)

The most beautiful beaches across the globe have been announced by Tripadvisor – and the winner is closer than you might have thought.

Beating the famous sandy shores of the Caribbean, Australia and Hawaii is the Praia da Falésia in Portugal’s Algarve – less than three hours’ travel from the UK.

The golden stretch, with clear blue water and distinctive orange cliffs, just a 45-minute drive from Faro airport, took the top spot in the website’s Travellers’ Choice Awards 2024.

It’s a whooping 8km long, from the relaxed town of Olhos de Água to the booming resort of Vilamoura, famous for its marina and excellent golf courses.

The orange cliffs of Falesia Beach, Portugal
The orange cliffs of Falesia Beach, Portugal The orange cliffs of Falesia Beach, Portugal (Alamy Stock Photo)

The orange cliffs are due to deposits from an old alluvium – loose clay deposited by running water – from a stream. A nature park runs behind the cliffs, protecting the area of natural beauty from development. And with lower hotel prices and fewer crowds, spring is considered an ideal time to visit.

Spiaggia dei Conigli, on the island of Lampedusa, Italy – also known as Rabbit Beach, said to be due to the colony of rabbits living nearby – took second place.

The beach is only accessible by boat or foot via a 15-minute trail, and it’s famous for being a site where loggerhead sea turtles lay their eggs. It’s off limits at night during peak nesting season for this reason.

Lampedusa Island Sicily
Lampedusa Island Sicily Lampedusa Island Sicily (Alamy Stock Photo)

In the summer, Lampedusa becomes more accessible than other times of the year due to direct flights from mainland cities, as well as a ferry service from Sicily.

San Sebastián’s large crescent of sand, Concha Beach, came in third place. The name comes from its remarkably regular shape all the way around. The picturesque Spanish city it sits against is known for being a Michelin star restaurant hotspot.

La Concha Beach with views towards Monte Urgull, San Sebastian, Spain
La Concha Beach with views towards Monte Urgull, San Sebastian, Spain La Concha Beach with views towards Monte Urgull, San Sebastian, Spain (Alamy Stock Photo)

These beat the white sand and crystal clear sea of Ka’anapali Beach in Maui, Hawaii – also good for wildlife sightings – and the famously turquoise waters lapping the shore of Grace Bay Beach in Turks and Caicos, which came in fourth and fifth place.

The top 10 also featured Anse Lazio, in the Seychelles, Sydney’s Manly Beach, Eagle Beach in the Caribbean island of Aruba, Florida’s Siesta Beach and Varadero Beach in Cuba.

Sandbanks beach, Dorset
Sandbanks beach, Dorset Sandbanks beach, Dorset (Alamy Stock Photo)

The UK wasn’t ignored completely, though. Sandbanks Beach in Dorset was named as travellers’ favourite most sustainable beach by Tripadvisor, and Saundersfoot Beach in Pembrokeshire came in third for being environment-friendly.

Sustainability was measured by a number of factors including the Blue Flag programme, sustainable transport options, waste disposal and water quality.