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Europe's top beaches of 2022 revealed (and other watery 'Bests')
Wednesday, May 11, 2022 @ 7:55 PM

SET A TOURIST to catch a tourist is, in these days of social media and online reviews, a holiday destination's best marketing strategy – although a few million euros' worth of publicity helps, too.

Reserve champion: Bolonia beach in Tarifa, Cádiz province, came second in the top 22 ‘Best European Beaches 2022’ ranking (photo: Cádiz provincial tourism board)

Marbella has achieved both, coming second in the European Best Destination 2022 poll and topping the list of the continent's 10 'Most Exclusive' – a selection made entirely through public votes, among those who have visited the idyllic sites, on the website founded in Brussels in 2009 in conjunction with the European Commission's EDEN (European Destination of Excellence Network) – and, by netting top-three slots, has earned advertising campaigns in the likes of Forbes, the Condé Nast élite magazine range, Yahoo and Geo, worth in excess of €2 million.

And the other annual poll, winning heaps of prestigious media coverage for those at the summit, is European Best Beaches 2022, showing the crème of coastal towns on the continent.

Of course, the very nature of it automatically excludes certain nations – Switzerland, Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and other land-locked countries are unlikely to be contenders – although these days, the trend towards inland and urban beaches means this is not a given. After all, a handful of Spain's blue-flagged beaches are a long way from the nearest coast or even in provinces or regions which do not have one; two of these are in Extremadura, and another is in Madrid.

But as the hitherto-unbeaten world leader for the most blue flags on its beaches – quite a feat, when you consider just how much coastline there is on much larger countries, many of which are established tourism hotspots – we would have been shocked if Spain had failed to enter this year's ranking on for its paradisical sandy shores.

Spain has more blue-flagged beaches than anywhere in the world…and always has

So the fact Spain has a whole five on the leaderboard is nothing newsworthy.

'Best beaches' is, clearly, a highly-subjective assertion and, even though the list of 22 is hand-picked by people who have experienced them, visitors from outside the country might not know of too many of them. Your local coast might be completely off the tourism trail, or perhaps only known to staycation regulars, holiday-home owners or caravan enthusiasts, but it could be that, even allowing for your personal bias, it really is the closest to seaside heaven on the continent.

After all, the Spanish beach chosen among the world's top 25 on TripAdvisor – Mallorca's Playa de Muro – does not figure in the 'European Best Destinations', and quirky ones known more for their scenery, such as Sakoneta in the Basque Country and Gulpiyuri beach in Llanes, Asturias are two of the most unusual and oft-photographed in the country. 

Then there's the Almería-province beach which became scenes in the hugely-watched 1980s' film version of The Neverending Story.

Or Galicia's Os Catedrais, with its cathedral-shaped rocks, and a smaller version in Benitatxell, northern Alicante province.

But what we can promise you is that there's no chance of any beach making the 'European Best' list unless it's practically perfect, so heading for any of these five this summer is a very safe bet.


Playa de Bolonia, TarifaCádiz province

Stretching along Spain's aptly-named Costa de la Luz ('Coast of Light') to the west of Gibraltar, Bolonia beach in Tarifa is described as a perfect choice for anyone seeking 'tranquillity' and to 'discover uncrowded wild beaches'.



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