Perhaps the words affordable, beach, Europe, and summer in the same sentence seem like a dream come true. Yes, the countries of Europe offer endless coastlines, with beaches ranging from wild and rocky to pristine white sand. It’s a well-known fact that there is no shortage of beaches in Europe to visit, from world-famous destinations to more underrated off-the-beaten-path gems.
However, most travelers know that the beaches of Europe are, more often than not, expensive to visit. Last summer saw prices skyrocketing for beach loungers in popular seaside resorts in Italy, to higher costs across the continent for beach access. While prices are rising, there is still hope for those who are looking to spend their days seaside without breaking the bank and without being surrounded by people packed in like sardines.
For those looking to escape the crowds and save some money this summer, there are certain countries in Europe to check out, most specifically the Balkan states. Croatia, Montenegro, Albania, Bulgaria, and Macedonia all offer some stunning beaches at a fraction of the price of their more popular neighbors or Italy or Greece.
5 Affordable Beach Destinations In Europe To Visit This Summer
Albania has been exploding in popularity since the pandemic, with many travelers finally realizing how beautiful and affordable this destination is. Albania is making waves for its stunning mountains and coastline, and the Albanian Riviera’s popularity is only increasing each year. The Adriatic and Ionian coastlines of this country make for some truly epic shorelines and water that might be the clearest you have ever seen in your life.
While picturesque Ksamil and nearby party town Saranda are known as the popular beach towns, both tend to get pricy and crowded as soon as the season starts. Travelers in the know will head to the smaller, more laid-back villages along the coast, with Dhermi and Himare being two of the best options. Both villages offer different vibes, so do you research and choose what fits your style best, although they are only about 30 minutes away from each other so you can easily spend time at both.
The Bulgarian coast has been enjoying a tourism boom recently, and more and more tourists are heading to the Black Sea coast. For many travelers, the popular tourist towns of Sunny Beach, Varna, and Sozopol might be just what they are looking for; the beaches are full, the beers cheap, and the parties go late. Other areas, such as Sveti Vlas and Nessebar, are a bit more upmarket, and prices are higher here, but the vibes are a bit more chill.
Those who are looking for an off-the-beaten-path and cheaper experience will hop in the car and head to many of Bulgaria’s other beaches along the coast. There are a few wild beaches that have been spared development so far, and Irakli beach is one of the more well-known ones left. Another option is Silistar beach, a favorite among locals near Burgas, offering wild camping on the rocky coast. Kara Dere and Pasha Dere are both good options for untouched beaches, as is Arkutino beach as well.
One more favorite that isn’t totally untouched is Bolata, a small cove surrounded by red limestone rocks. This is also a good beach for diving in the Black Sea as well. Most of these mentioned beaches have no amenities, so remember to bring your cooler and umbrellas when you visit.
This tiny Balkan country boasts about 294km of coastline along the Adriatic sea and some remarkable beaches for visitors to enjoy. Checking out Montenegro's many beaches can give you just another reason to add this beautiful country to your bucket list this year. Some of the most popular favorites include Ulcinj, Stari Bar, Sveti Stefn, and the popular Budva. While these are nice, they get crowded and costly very quickly in the high season.
Those who are looking for a truly stunning and unique beach experience should look to the Bay of Kotor, and the over 100km of coast that surrounds it. Now, the bigger towns here are not affordable by any means in the summer months, but if you look a bit harder, you can find many options in the nooks and crannies around the bay at lower price points and with fewer crowds as well. There is simply no end of places to dip into the bay, and tiny beaches can be found around every turn.
Some suggestions include Fashion Beach in Risan, in the northern part of the bay, and Spila beach in Radovići. Although the best suggestion is just to grab your towel and start exploring the little public areas with no name that you come across.
Easily the most popular and also the most expensive option on this list is the stunning seaside country of Croatia. After all, Croatia has over 700 islands dotting the shores of its over 3,000km of coastline to choose from. While hotspots such as Dubrovnik and Split are notoriously expensive, there are many choices for beaches here that will offer a quiet and cheap alternative. One example is Brač Island, located just a short ferry ride from Split and containing some stunning sand and pebble beaches. One famous choice here is Golden Horn (Zlatni rat), a popular postcard-worthy spot.
There are many fishing and smaller tourist-friendly villages lining the shores of Brač, all of which are surrounded by small beaches for you to enjoy. Finding accommodation here at a lower price point than in other areas in Croatia is not very hard, and the local villages and crystal clear water will tempt you to stay much longer than you had planned.
One important thing to remember for those who plan to visit Croatia this year is that the country recently joined the Schengen zone, meaning new rules apply to the length of stay and visa regulations.
It might seem odd to include a landlocked country on the list for beach destinations, but when you realize that North Macedonia’s vast Lake Ohrid has over 90km of shoreline, you can see why it makes the list. Lake Ohrid is positively beautiful, and all around its shores, you can find small beaches to dip into the crystal clear water.
The town of Ohrid itself is a destination that travelers absolutely shouldn’t miss out on for many reasons. The ottoman architecture and small tavernas around every corner make for a truly memorable visit. While there are a few small beaches in the town, they fill up very quickly and can cost a bit more than other, more rural areas. A good idea is to head out of town and find one of the many small villages lining the lake, most of which are centered around small beaches. One suggestion is Trpejca, a tiny village that has a nice beach and some delicious restaurants.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com
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