Let’s face it: not everyone can afford to stay in 5-star hotels, or dine in Michellin-reviewed restaurants—and even those who can sometimes refuse to do it out of principle. After all, why spend thousands of dollars on a single trip, if all you want is to spend a week on a sunny beach with a good book in one hand, and a nice, cool drink in the other? The good news is, not only is it entirely possible to unwind on your summer vacation without breaking the bank, but you’ll, in fact, be visiting some of the most breathtaking seafronts in Europe if you choose one of the following destinations.
Just off the north-east coast of Greece, this beautiful, olive tree-covered gem in the Ionian sea has much to offer to the budget traveler. Corfu’s many beaches, with their fine, golden sand, and clear, calm, emerald waters are mostly free—all you need to do is bring a towel and some cool drinks in a camping fridge. Food and drink in northern Greece is more than affordable by Western standards, especially the delicious Gyros pita and Retsina white wine. And even though accommodation can get quite expensive in high-end hotels, if you shop around, you will have no trouble finding decent apartments, with all the basic amenities, for a reasonable price.
On Croatia’s Dalmatian coast between Split and Dubrovnik lies a small, horseshoe-shaped bay with a gorgeous, sandy beach, backed by a grove of fragrant pinewood. Even though Makarska is a proper town with a small, but bustling nightlife scene, the beach remains its main draw. And as long as you don’t count not having a room with a sea view among your deal-breakers, plenty of quaint, private accommodations await near the town square, just a short walk from the beach. Some of these offer a very good continental breakfast, featuring locally cured meats and cheese, for a reasonable price. There are also quite a few cheap options for day trips, including catching a boat to one of the nearby islands, or visiting Dubrovnik, with its impressive 16th century Old Town.
Portugal is, overall, one of the most affordable countries in Western Europe, but it’s Algarve’s unique and beautiful beaches, with their myriad of content that really give budget travelers some serious bang for buck. Right off the bat, Algarve is only a 30-minute drive from Faro airport, which serves many low-cost companies that can get you to Portugal for a ridiculously small fee (provided you buy your tickets a few months in advance). Private accommodation is generally comfortable and affordable, with plenty of rentals being fully equipped, AirBnB style apartments that will make you feel right at home. If you don’t intend to eat out frequently, food and drink will not set you back by much either. There are several supermarket chains that offer cheap, but tasty pastries, salads, sandwiches, and even ready-made lunches. All you need to worry about is applying your sunscreen and deciding which beaches you want to lounge on, because Algarve has it all: from giant rocks to powdery sand.
There you have it: three inexpensive beach destinations in Europe. If you’re a family, be sure to check out these top 5 destinations wi kids. If you’re a recent high school grad, see our post on taking a gap year to travel the world!