10 Underrated Beach Towns in Europe To Visit In Summer 2023

by | May 15, 2023

It’s that time of year again, when the weather starts to warm up and thoughts turn to summer vacations. If you’re like most Americans, you’re probably thinking about the usual suspects for your summer getaway: the French Riviera, Ibiza, Positano and Capri, or maybe the Greek Islands.

But what if you’re looking for something a little more off the beaten path?

Europe is full of hidden gems, and there are plenty of exotic beach towns that have yet to be discovered by most tourists. That’s why we put together a list of 10 majorly underrated European beach towns that you’ve probably never heard of.

1. Sesimbra, Portugal

Sesimbra, Portugal is a picturesque town located just south of Lisbon, known for its rugged coastline, charming streets, and delicious seafood. Despite its many charms, it remains largely unknown to tourists, making it a great destination for those looking to escape the crowds and enjoy a peaceful summer vacation.

In addition to its natural beauty, Sesimbra has a rich cultural heritage, with a number of historical landmarks and attractions to explore. The town is home to the Sesimbra Castle, a medieval castle that offers panoramic views of the town and the surrounding coastline. Visitors can also take a walk along the town’s charming streets, which are lined with colorful houses, shops, and restaurants.

Like many destinations in Portugal, Sesimbra has top-notch seafood restaurants that offer delicious dishes made with fresh, locally-sourced ingredients. The town is known for its delicious seafood such as locally-caught fish like sea bass and dentex. In addition to seafood, Sesimbra is also home to excellent pizzerias that offer wood-fired pies made with locally-grown ingredients. No matter what you’re in the mood for, Sesimbra has something to satisfy every appetite.

Sesimbra, Portugal is one of the most picturesque European beach town towns located just south of Lisbon.
Sesimbra, Portugal is a picturesque beach town town located just south of Lisbon. Photo by Vitor Oliveira.

2. Llafranc, Spain

Llafranc, Spain is a small town located on the Costa Brava, known for its beautiful beaches and crystal-clear waters. It’s a hidden gem that’s just waiting to be discovered by tourists.

In addition to its natural beauty, Llafranc has a rich cultural heritage, with a number of historical landmarks and attractions to explore. The town is home to the Sant Sebastià Church, a Romanesque church that dates back to the 12th century. Visitors can also take a walk along the town’s charming streets, which are lined with colorful houses, shops, and restaurants.

Spain is a paradise for foodies and Llafranc is no exception. It boasts a variety of excellent dining options to choose from. The town is known for delicious seafood which can be found at many of the town’s seafood restaurants using fresh, locally-sourced ingredients in their dishes.

Llafranc, Spain in the Costa Brava is known for beautiful beaches and crystal-clear waters. A fantastic spot for summer in Europe.
Llafranc, Spain in the Costa Brava is known for beautiful beaches and crystal-clear waters. Photo by Isidro Jabato.

3. Obidos, Portugal

Obidos is a charming medieval town located in the heart of Portugal, known for its cobbled streets, whitewashed houses, and beautiful beaches. It’s a real hidden gem that’s perfect for those looking for a romantic getaway.

In addition to its natural beauty, Obidos has a rich cultural heritage, with a number of historical landmarks and attractions to explore. The town is home to the Obidos Castle, a well-preserved medieval castle that offers panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. Visitors can also take a stroll through the town’s charming streets, which are lined with colorful houses, shops, and restaurants.

Obidos is also home to a number of excellent dining options, including traditional Portuguese restaurants that serve dishes made with fresh, locally-sourced ingredients. The town is known for its delicious pastries, including the famous “Pasteis de Nata,” a creamy custard tart that is a must-try for visitors to Portugal. Obidos is has some excellent wine bars that offer a selection of local wines, as well as traditional Portuguese taverns that serve hearty meals of grilled meats and vegetables.

Obidos, Portugal
Obidos is a charming medieval town with beautiful beaches located in the heart of Portugal.

4. Cesme, Turkey

Cesme, Turkey is a coastal town located in the western Aegean region, known for its crystal-clear waters, sandy beaches, and charming streets. It’s a popular destination for both Turkish and foreign tourists, offering a mix of relaxation and cultural experiences.

In addition to its natural beauty, Cesme has a rich cultural heritage, with a number of historical landmarks and attractions to explore. The town is home to the Cesme Castle, a well-preserved castle that dates back to the 15th century and offers panoramic views of the town and the surrounding coastline. Visitors can also take a walk through the town’s charming streets, which are lined with colorful houses, shops, and restaurants.

When it comes to food, Cesme has a lot to offer. One of the more unique dishes that you can find in Cesme is “çökelek,” a savory snack made of grilled lamb offal. You can also try “tavşan dili,” which is rabbit liver cooked with onions and peppers. For dessert, be sure to try “helva,” a sweet made of sesame seeds, sugar, and butter that is popular throughout Turkey.

Cesme, Turkey
Cesme is in the western Aegean region of Turkey known for its crystal-clear waters and sandy beaches. Photo by David Broad.

5. Jūrmala, Latvia

Jūrmala is a small beach town located only about a half-hour drive or train ride from Riga, Latvia. While Latvia might not be the first country that comes to mind when you’re thinking of a beach for Euro Summer, summer in the Baltics is a hidden gem — and you’re only minutes away from everything happening in Latvia’s picturesque capital.

In addition to its natural beauty, Jūrmala is home to plenty of fashionable restaurants, comfortable resorts, and bars. While traditionally popular with visitors from Scandinavian countries and Russia, it’s expected that the town will see fewer Russians as Latvia has taken a strong stance against Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified invasion of Ukraine.

That means that visitors to Jūrmala in 2023 will be able to experience a night out without having to deal with crowds of Russians decked out in gauche neon logos. In other words, this is a great summer to plan your trip to Latvia and include some time on this beautiful piece of the Baltic coast.

Jurmala LV - beach towns,summer,europe

6. Rovinj, Croatia

Rovinj, Croatia is a charming town located on Istrian peninsula on the Adriatic coast. It’s known for its picturesque streets in a stunning old town, beautiful beaches, and delicious seafood. It’s a hidden gem that’s perfect for those looking for a summer getaway that’s off the beaten path.

In addition to its natural beauty, Rovinj has a rich cultural heritage. The region has its own indigenous language, Istriot, now spoken by a total of about 400 people. The town and region is full of historical landmarks and attractions to explore. The old town is home to a number of churches and museums, including the Church of St. Euphemia, which features a stunning Baroque altar. The Croatian beach town tells its history at the Rovinj Heritage Museum, which houses a collection of artifacts. And, from May to September, the town gets more than 10 hours of sunshine every day.

Rovinj is also a paradise for foodies, with a number of excellent seafood restaurants and pizzerias that offer delicious dishes made with fresh, locally-sourced ingredients. Croatia‘s beach towns are known for its delicious seafood, including dishes like grilled octopus and squid, as well as locally-caught fish like sea bass and dentex. In addition to seafood, Rovinj is also home to a number of excellent pizzerias that offer wood-fired pies made with locally-grown ingredients. No matter what you’re in the mood for, Rovinj has something to satisfy every appetite.

Rovinj, Croatia
Rovinj, Croatia has a stunning old town and beautiful beaches on the Adriatic Sea.

7. Ksamil, Albania

Located on the stunning Ionian coast, Ksamil, Albania, is a small town known for its beautiful white-sand beaches and crystal-clear waters. Some people even call it the Maldives of Europe. It’s a hidden gem that’s perfect for those looking to escape the crowds and enjoy a peaceful and relaxing summer vacation.

In addition to its natural beauty, Ksamil has a rich cultural heritage, with a number of historical landmarks and attractions to explore. The ancient city of Butrint, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is located just outside of the town and features a variety of ancient ruins, including a Greek theater, a Roman forum, and a Byzantine basilica. Visitors can also take a boat trip to the Ksamil Islands, a group of small islands located just off the coast that are known for their stunning beaches and crystal-clear waters.

Ksamil has a range of dining options that cater to every taste. Guests can savor a leisurely meal while admiring the breathtaking views of Albania‘s Ionian Sea at one of the town’s seafood restaurants or pizzerias, which offer dishes made with fresh, locally-sourced ingredients.

Ksamil Albania - beach towns,summer,europe
The islands of Ksamil and their crystal clear blue waters are often called the Maldives of Europe.

8. Maiori, Italy

Maiori, Italy is a small town located on the stunning Amalfi Coast, known for its beautiful beaches and crystal-clear waters. It’s the perfect destination for a peaceful and romantic summer vacation, away from the crowds of more well-known tourist spots like Positano or Capri.

In addition to its natural beauty, Maiori has a rich cultural heritage, with a number of historical landmarks and attractions to explore. The town is home to the Church of Santa Maria a Mare, a 13th century church that features stunning architectural details and a beautiful frescoed ceiling. Visitors can also explore the ruins of the Castello di Maiori, a medieval castle that offers breathtaking views of the surrounding area.

Maiori is also known for its excellent local cuisine, with a number of seafood restaurants. Like any town in Southern Italy, it has excellent pizzerias that offer delicious dishes made with fresh, locally-sourced ingredients. Visitors can enjoy a leisurely meal while taking in the stunning views of the Mediterranean Sea.

Maiori Italy - beach towns,summer,europe
Maiori is a less-known but still stunning town located along Italy’s iconic Amalfi Coast.

9. Lahinch, Ireland

Lahinch, Ireland is a small town located on the west coast of the country, nestled between the Atlantic Ocean and the Burren region. Its stunning beaches and rugged coastline make it a popular destination for those seeking a peaceful and relaxing summer vacation. The town is known for its excellent surf conditions, and is home to a number of surf schools where visitors can learn how to ride the waves.

In addition to its natural beauty, Lahinch has a rich cultural heritage, with a number of historical landmarks and attractions to explore. One of the most popular is the Lahinch Golf Club, which has hosted numerous professional tournaments and is considered one of the finest links courses in the world. The town is also home to the Clare Heritage Centre, where visitors can learn about the region’s history and culture. It’s also located just minutes away from the famous Cliffs of Moher.

Despite its many charms, Lahinch remains largely unknown to tourists. That makes it a great destination on your next trip to Ireland if you’re looking to escape the crowds and enjoy a peaceful summer vacation. Whether you’re looking to surf, golf, or simply relax on the beach, Lahinch has something for everyone.

Lahinch, Ireland has to be on the list while choosing a beach town to visit
Lahinch, nestled between the Atlantic Ocean in the Burren region, offers beautiful beaches and surf waves just minutes from the famous Cliffs of Moher.

10. Punta Secca, Sicily

Punta Secca, Sicily is a small fishing village that exudes a laid-back charm and is surrounded by stunning Mediterranean beauty. Its crystal-clear waters and pristine beaches make it a perfect destination for those seeking relaxation.

In addition to its natural beauty, Punta Secca has a rich cultural heritage and offers a number of historical landmarks and attractions for visitors to explore. The House of Inspector Montalbano, a museum dedicated to the popular Italian TV series, is located in the town. Visitors can also stroll through the charming streets and discover local shops and markets that sell traditional Sicilian products such as olive oil, wine, and ceramics.

Punta Secca is a food lover’s paradise, offering a variety of seafood restaurants and pizzerias that serve dishes made with fresh, locally-sourced ingredients. Many of the town’s dining establishments have stunning views of the Mediterranean Sea. If you’re planning a trip, there are some great hotels in Punta Secca to choose from.

There are few better places in Europe for a beach escape than Sicily. Punta Secca is one such town and a great option.
Punta Secca is a small fishing village that exudes a laid-back charm surrounded by stunning Mediterranean beauty in the southern Italian island of Sicily.

Conclusion

Summer is a great time to take a vacation, and there are many beautiful beach towns in Europe to choose from. While some destinations like the French Riviera or the Greek Islands may be well-known, there are also many hidden gems that are worth exploring — sometimes within the more famous regions!

These off-the-beaten-path beach towns all offer stunning natural beauty, rich cultural heritage, and delicious dining options. These towns may not be as well-known as some other European destinations, but they have a lot to offer for your next summer getaway. And who knows, it could be at a fraction of the cost of the popular hotspots!

Have you been to any of these spots? Or do you have another spot you would recommend? Let us know!

Frances Benaglia

ad516503a11cd5ca435acc9bb6523536?s=150&d=mm&r=gforcedefault=1 - beach towns,summer,europe

Frances Benaglia is an Italian-American native of Milan, Italy. After earning her degree from Bocconi University during which she did an ERASMUS exchange in Stockholm, she embarked on a journey of discovery and took a gap year to travel to over 20 countries. She's now a management consultant and is known for her meticulous planning research skills, making the most of her time off by finding the perfect places to unwind and relax.

Frances Benaglia is an Italian-American native of Milan, Italy. After earning her degree from Bocconi University during which she did an ERASMUS exchange in Stockholm, she embarked on a journey of discovery and took a gap year to travel to over 20 countries. She's now a management consultant and is known for her meticulous planning research skills, making the most of her time off by finding the perfect places to unwind and relax.
All posts by Frances Benaglia

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