While many tourists focus on the classic beach destinations in southern Europe, such as Spain, France, and Italy, the Balkans’ beaches are often overlooked. Many of the best beaches in the Balkans, listed below, are among the very best in Europe and deserve a little more attention.
Many Balkan countries are known for their immense natural beauty, making the area a backpacker and sunbathers’ dream. From rugged mountain ranges to gorgeous waterfalls and spectacular beaches, this region is where to go for both exciting outdoor adventures and peaceful sunbathing.
We’ve chosen these beaches in the Balkans as they are located in or near a beautiful historic coastal town, which adds to their appeal and makes for a well-rounded Balkan vacation.
Best Beaches In Croatia
Banje Beach, Dubrovnik, Croatia
Perhaps the most well-known and most visited of all Balkans cities, Dubrovnik in Croatia is one of the world’s most breathtaking historic towns.
With an Old Town that is UNESCO World Heritage and a setting between the blue Adriatic Sea and the Dinaric Mountains, this should be one of your absolute priorities when traveling around the Balkans. There are several beautiful beaches in Dubrovnik, but Banje Beach, just to the south of the Old Town, might be the most photogenic one.
Sveti Jakob, Dubrovnik, Croatia
Located just south of the main center of Dubrovnik, this small but gorgeous beach is ideal for getting away from the crowds, especially during the peak months of July and August. The beach is around a half an hour’s stroll from the Old Town, and you do have to walk down more than 100 steps to get to it. The end result is worth it; trust us!
The beach is pebbly and has an on-site cafe serving refreshments and light snacks. There is a lot of shade on this beach for those who want it as the pine trees roll down to the shore. You can also see Dubrovnik’s city walls from the sand, providing a stunning backdrop.
Makarska Riviera, Croatia
Featuring exceptional white beaches, pine forests, a magnificent seafront promenade, and lively nightlife such as in Brela. Makarska is a superb off-the-beaten-track beach destination on the Adriatic coast.
Zlatni Rat, Bol, Croatia
Situated just west of Bol’s harbor town on the island of Brač, Zlatni Rat Beach might be the most remarkable beach in Croatia. After its narrow triangular shape, the beach is often referred to as the Golden Horn or Golden Cape.
It is regularly mentioned in lists featuring the best beaches in the Balkans, Europe, and even worldwide. If you’re looking for an extraordinary place to spend your summer holiday, this would be a good bet.
Bačvice Beach, Split, Croatia
Found right in Split’s city center is one of the most well-known beaches globally: Bačvice Beach. There is something for everyone at this beach. While it’s not the most beautiful beach in Croatia, it definitely ranks as one of the most fun. Bačvice has plenty of activities going on during the day, while at night, the beach comes alive when all of the bars and clubs lining the shore open their doors. The local sport of picigin originated at Bačvice Beach, and you’ll see loads of locals playing.
Stiniva Beach, Vis, Croatia
In recent years, the island of Vis has become increasingly popular with tourists looking for a destination not swarming with summer crowds. Stiniva Beach is a beach for those of you prepared to put in a little work. You’ll need to earn the right to visit this little slice of heaven by descending a goat track. If you happen to have a boat, you can somewhat cheat and pass through the rocky Stiniva gateway, opening up into a grand stone amphitheater. The beach is stony and the sea magical. Stiniva is a real treasure and an unforgettable beach experience.
Pupnatska Luka, Korcula, Croatia
For some of the bluest sea you will ever see in your life, this particular beach is where it’s at! There are many small coves and beaches south of Korcula, which is undoubtedly one of the best. A pebbly beach, it lies below a thick forest. The pebbles are blinding white, which makes the water look even bluer than it already is. The contrast from the green forest also looks impressive in the pictures you will take here.
This is quite a sheltered spot so that you won’t find many crowds. You could even call it a hidden gem. There are a few upmarket restaurants just off the beach, serving delicious salads and seafood dishes.
Queen’s Beach Nin, Croatia
Queens Beach in Nin is one of the top beaches on the northern coast of Croatia. This part of the country tends to get slightly overlooked, overshadowed by the Dalmatian coast and its amazing islands and towns.
This makes this region all the more desirable if you’re looking for a quiet beach holiday. The beaches of Nin are a simple car or bus ride outside of Zadar. Awarded Blue Flag status, these sandy shores are great for both sunbathing and water sports. Bring a sand-free beach towel when visiting this beautiful beach!
Zrce Beach, Island Of Pag, Croatia
Anyone looking for a beach party simply must check out Zrce Beach on the Island of Pag. This spot is nothing short of world-famous for its epic summer music festivals, sunset party cruises, open-air nightclubs, and 24-hour parties.
Baska Beach, Krk Island, Croatia
Krk Island in the Kvarner Bay is Croatia’s largest island, home to many exceptional beaches. Arguably the best beach on Krk is Baska Beach, situated near the town of Baska, which lies at the far southeastern terminus of the island’s main road. There are several beaches around the town; the most accessible and largest is Baska Beach. It’s almost two kilometers long; it’s lined by many bars, restaurants, campgrounds, and hotels.
Mali Bok Beach, Cres Island, Croatia
This is one of those beaches in Croatia that require some effort to get to it. Once you get there, though, you will be rewarded with unparalleled beauty. Rocky cliffs surround Mali Bok on Cres, one of the Kvarner Region islands, an excellent beach for you who like snorkeling or dive.
The Adriatic Sea gets deep at this beach quite quickly, but there is no need to fear the deep blue Adriatic. There are no Great Whites in this neck of the woods!
Sakarun Beach, Dugi Otok, Croatia
Some call it the Croatian Caribbean because the sand on this beach is incredibly white and the sea as crystal-clear as the Caribbean Sea. This beach always makes the “Croatian best beaches” list because it’s freaking awesome! Sakarun is 800 meters long, so there is plenty of room for you to lay down your towel and claim your little piece of beach paradise.
The beach is on Dugi Otok, so many small charter boats will take you for a day trip to Sakarun Beach for a reasonable price if you are in Zadar.
Proizd, Vela Luka, Croatia
Near Vela Luka, the main ferry port on Korcula Island, lies the tiny islet of Proizd. Home to a few absolutely gorgeous rock beaches, it’s reachable by water taxi from Vela Luka, making for an ideal day trip. As a naturalist beach, it’s one of the best quiet beaches in Croatia for snorkeling and skinny-dipping.
Best Beaches In Montenegro
Sveti Stefan Beach, Montenegro
One of the Balkans’ most photogenic coastal towns, Sveti Stefan, is set on a peninsula connected to the mainland by a narrow isthmus. The entire old village on the peninsula is now a luxury resort—you can literally stay in a centuries-old building—but you can admire it from the mainland beach.
A pleasant coastal walk offers additional astonishing views of this most picturesque of towns. This is a mandatory stop on any itinerary along the coast of the western Balkans.
Murici Beach, Lake Skadar, Montenegro
Murici Beach, on the shore of Lake Skadar, is the only beach on this list that’s not located on the coast. Lake Skadar is a must-visit destination for anyone traveling across Montenegro, a region characterized by historic monasteries, great vineyards, and beautiful nature. This beach is an ideal spot to relax after kayaking on the lake, hiking in the surrounding hills, or exploring the old, authentic lakeside villages.
Beaches Of Budva, Montenegro
Petrovac Bay Beach, Budva
The waters found on this stunning beach are so aqua-blue, it will take your breath away! Located on the beautiful Budva Riviera, this beach is ideal for those who want a traditional beach break, with plenty to see and do when you want to escape the beach.
Petrovac Bay is one of the more lively beaches in Montenegro, and they have plenty of cafes and restaurants on the promenade above the beach. The sand is golden, clean, and great for families. This is one of the best beaches in Budva, which is one of the greatest beach destinations in the western Balkans, for sure!
Mogren Beach, Budva
This beach is unique because it isn’t just one beach; it’s actually two, separated by the mountains that roll down lazily towards the shore. There is also a cave which you can have a wander into if the mood takes you!
Ideal for those who like something a little unusual, the sand is golden, and the water is super-clear. The beach is also in the town center of Budva, so you don’t have too far to wander. This is one of the best beaches in Montenegro for those who don’t want to travel to enjoy a sandy beach.
Becici Beach, Budva
Located close to the busy area of Budva, Becici Beach is a quiet yet fun beach, with plenty of space to roam and one of the best Budva beach choices.
The mountains provide the background, with the crystal clear water lapping at the shore. There are many water-sports options here, so this beach is ideal for active holidaymakers or those with older children who like to enjoy some adrenaline during their beach days.
You’ll also find numerous restaurants and cafes along the main promenade, which are ideal for cooling down and grabbing an ice cream.
Jaz Beach, Budva
Located in Budva, Jaz Beach is a busy stretch of sand with plenty of life going on around it. The beach in Budva is “the place” to be seen at. This beach is quite long, so there is always space, even on the busiest days of summer.
The beach isn’t sandy; instead, it’s pebbly – but very clean and beautiful. There are many water-sports options here, as well as jet skiing and windsurfing if you want to try your hand at one of those adrenaline sports!
During the summer months, there is also the Sea Dance Festival, which attracts countless visitors and brings a lively vibe to an already fun-filled area.
Mala Plaza, Ulcinj, Montenegro
This beach is a small gem that is actually sat on the most southern point in the whole of Montenegro. You can easily reach the historic town of Ulcinj from here, but if you prefer to kick back and relax, the beach is ideal, with white sand and plenty of space to roam.
If you have children who love to sit and make sandcastles, splashing around in the sea, this beach is a good choice and is usually relatively quiet too.
Best Beaches In Albania
Saranda Beaches, Albania
The unofficial capital of the Albanian Riviera, Saranda, is an unassuming coastal city in southern Albania during most of the year. Come summer; however, the place transforms into a charming yet vibrant beach destination. Attracting large crowds of vacationers, Saranda has plenty to offer, from a busy and beautiful beach to a seaside promenade and plenty of restaurants, bars, and clubs.
One of the absolute best beaches in Saranda is Ksamil Beach. Overlooking the Greek island of Corfù, Ksamil is just a few kilometers away from the border with Greece and one of the greatest places to visit near Saranda. The sandy beaches and turquoise waters rival those in Greece and are not as crowded. If you really look, you can also find some secluded spots to enjoy quiet time.
Local Tip: In Ksamil Bay, there are four tiny islands that you can reach by swimming or rowing. They are great destinations to escape the crowds at the main beach.
Mirror Beach (Pasqyra)
Another superb Saranda beach is Mirror Beach, a gorgeous small beach flanked by huge rocks. The reflection of the afternoon sunshine on the shimmering water is why locals call this “Plazhi Pasqyra,” translated as Mirror Beach in English. And the water is, indeed, amazingly clear here, featuring a stunning turquoise color. Additionally, what sets it apart from other Saranda beaches in Albania is that there are no resorts or hotels in the area. Its’ just peace and quiet, you and the waves here.
In addition to Mirror Beach, many other smaller beaches such as Central and Liman offer some more seclusion in this busy region.
Dhermi Beach, Albania
Dhermi is often named as Albania’s best beach destination. It’s easy to see why the town is home to some of the Balkans’ best beaches. Many spectacular beaches line the coast in this gorgeous region. Here, you’ll find pebble and sand beaches, rocky coastlines, azure-blue waters, and abundant sunshine.
Borshi Beach, Albania
Measuring seven kilometers (about 3.4 miles) in length, Borshi Beach is one of the few Albanian beaches that continue to be unspoiled by tourism and untouched by development. This is the longest beach on the Ionian Sea coast, a peaceful place surrounded by mountain ranges, olive groves, wineries, and goat farms.
Dhraleo Beach, Albania
One of the northernmost beaches on the Albanian Riviera, Dhraleo Beach, is also among the most exotic and peaceful. Backed by the towering cliffs on the Albanian coastline, this sand and pebble beach slowly, gradually runs down into the crystal-clear Ionian Sea.
It’s about 1.5 kilometers long, a noticeable stretch of white amid green hills and blue water, and located below the spectacular Llogara Pass in Llogara National Park. While it’s all about stunning natural beauty now, some historians claim that it’s played a significant historical role as well. It’s known that Julius Caesar traveled across the Llogara Pass during his war with Pompeii, and, some historians say, this very beach was where he and his legions landed.
Jalë Beach, Albania
Jalë is a beach home to restaurants, bars, camping, and even disco clubs. Still, though, you can also enjoy a very relaxed vibe here. Tourism in Albania hasn’t fallen victim to the mass crowds (yet!), so even when you choose an equipped beach over secluded heaven, you still won’t find dozens of tourists crowding the water.
Moreover, there are many tiny coves in the surrounding area that you can reach only by boat. So, being totally relaxed is just one rowboat away.
Vlorë Beach, Albania
The city of Vlorë is the northern starting point of the Albanian Riviera and is one of Albania beach holidays’ most popular destinations. You’ll find many remarkable beaches in southern Albania and around the city, including Vlorë Beach, which is sometimes also spelled Vlora Beach.
Just south of Vlorë lies the Karaburun-Sazan Marine Park, a phenomenal destination for snorkeling and scuba diving. The park protects a section of the Albania coast as well as an area of the Ionian Sea. It encompasses both the Karaburun Peninsula and Sazan Island, which is where its name comes from.
Gjipe Beach, Albania
Possibly the best-kept secret of the Albanian Riviera. You do need to take a 30-minute walk (around 1.5 kilometers) to reach Gjipe Beach. Don’t worry, though; you’re walking under the bathing sunlight along a red soil path. Just keep in mind that you’ll need to walk back later.
Gjipe is my favorite beach on the Albanian Riviera. It has a wild, simple, and kind of alternative atmosphere, clear emerald water, and a majestic stage. It is nestled among the rocky cliffs whose colors range from red to gray and white, dotted with the green shrubbery.
This is one of the beautiful beaches just south of the Karaburun Peninsula, part of the National Marine Park. Hence, why it’s preserved and so well-taken care of.
Best Beaches In Bulgaria
Nesebăr & Sunny Beach, Bulgaria
Sometimes described as the “Pearl of the Black Sea,” Nesebăr was awarded the “World Heritage Site” status in 1983 by UNESCO because of the numerous and well-preserved historical buildings in the old town.
The city has historically been under Greek, Byzantine, and Ottoman rule. This mix of cultures and architectonical styles turned Nesebăr’s old town into one of the most romantic ones on the Bulgarian coast. Built around narrow streets, nowadays the centenary buildings serve as pubs and gift shops for tourists.
About 3.5 km away from Nesebăr, Sunny Beach has become the most popular beach among tourists and locals. Thanks to the 8 kilometers of fine golden sand, Sunny beach is considered the country’s largest and most fabulous beach.
Sunny Beach also has some of the country’s last remaining natural sand dunes, making the surroundings even more spectacular.
However, it is not the best place when looking for a relaxing stay. Loads of restaurants, water sports, hire tents, and some of the craziest nightclubs in the country are lined up one after another along the promenade.
Sozopol Town Beach, Bulgaria
Sozopol is one of the country’s oldest and most charming towns in Bulgaria. It is located just 35 kilometers south of Burgas.
Wandering the historic old town streets, built on an artificial peninsula jutting out to sea, it feels like traveling back to the 17th century. Following the Black Sea’s architectural style, Sozopol has kept the original stone-paved streets, and the wooden buildings remain intact.
The city is also home to the wide Harmani Beach and the smaller Town Beach, two of the top Black Sea beaches. Town beach is the most popular beach among tourists because of the panoramic views of the old town. It can be easily reached from the main city promenade.
The seafront walkway, filled with souvenir shops and open-air restaurants, is the best place to enjoy the traditional Bulgarian “shopska salata” (шопска салата). All things considered, this might just be the best place to go in Bulgaria for couples looking for a relaxing beach vacation.
Varna Golden Sands Beach, Bulgaria
Varna is a must when visiting Bulgaria. There are plenty of wide avenues, a legacy from the Bulgarian Communist years, and building facades that follow architectural styles imported from Western Europe.
One of the premier Bulgarian Black Sea resorts, Varna is also called “the Black Sea capital” for cultural and economic significance.
The city also has a black sand beach with more than 3 kilometers of sand full of bars and terraces right next to the “Primorski” green area. However, locals prefer to drive 15 kilometers to get to the 4-kilometer-long Golden Sands Beach (Zlatni Pyasatci), one of the most popular Bulgaria beaches.
Bolata Beach In Kaliakra Cape, Bulgaria
More than a village, Kaliakra is part of a natural and archaeological reserve. Among those mentioned before, this is the northernmost beach of the Bulgarian Black Sea coast.
Kaliakra’s 60-meter-high cliffs stand to form a rocky peninsula and offer spectacular views over the Bulgarian coastline.
Bolata Beach is only about 4 kilometers from Kaliakra, and mainly local families go here. The beach is shaped like a little bay surrounded by rock massifs with cave openings that create a perfect semi-circular shape.
Saxa Beach In Burgas, Bulgaria
Burgas ranks as one of Bulgaria’s most important cities, and it is home to the largest loading port in the country. Connections by land and air with Burgas International Airport are making the city more and more accessible. Population, tourism, and industrial significance have been continuously growing over the recent years.
Burgas was named one of the most culturally active cities in the country, thanks to the wide range of museums on offer. It’s not just museums for all ages that are of interest in Burgas; the city also has some of the best Black Sea holiday resorts and some of the most exemplary diving spots, and one of Bulgaria’s largest beaches: Saxa Beach.
One of the best beaches in Burgas, Bulgaria, Saxa Beach, takes up most of the city’s coastline without question. Spread over more than 5 kilometers, the beach is full of cosmopolitan bars decorated with Caribbean settings.
Irakli Beach, Bulgaria
One of the only remaining truly wild beaches in Bulgaria, Irakli Beach, lies in a protected area about 5 kilometers from the town of Emona. The Chaya River meets the Black Sea here, splitting the beach into two parts and creating a beautiful lagoon. Both parts have another name, the northern area called Irakli and the southern area known as Chaya.
It’s a phenomenal beach for those looking for solitude, sand, nature, and even nudism. This is, after all, a nudist beach. So, if you’re looking to get tan all over, this would be an excellent place to go.
Free camping is also allowed on this beach, a super-fun thing to do on a hot summer’s night. Irakli Beach is one of Bulgaria’s best beaches for wildlife watchers, home to plenty of birdlife and sea creatures. At the same time, artists, activists, and naturalists are fond of this particular beach, too.
Best Beaches In Slovenia
Portorož Beach, Slovenia
Being Slovenia’s most popular beach destination, Portoroz Beach is awash with luxury seaside resorts, including shops, restaurants serving a vast range of cuisines, and an abundance of accommodation options. If you are looking for a lively atmosphere, Portoroz Beach is the place to be. The combination of white sandy beach, deep blue waters of the Adriatic Sea, and cloudless skies makes it the perfect place to relax and unwind.
Mesecev Zaliv Beach, Slovenia
Slovenia may not be the first place that comes to mind when thinking about the Balkans’ best beaches, but it does have a couple of excellent ones. One of them is Mesečev Zaliv Beach. Its name means Moon Bay Beach; this lovely beach lies within the Stranjun Nature Park and is only accessible on foot.
The hike is absolutely worth it, though, because of the beach’s wondrous setting underneath tall coastal cliffs. There’s plenty of wildlife to be spotted around this beach, while the sunsets aren’t too shabby either.
Mestna Beach, Koper, Slovenia
A medieval town with an abundance of intriguing history, Koper is the largest coastal town in Slovenia, accompanied by Mestna Beach. Being so close to the Italian border, there is an exciting mix of Italian and Slovenian culture. Once you’re done exploring the town, you can unwind on Mestna Beach, a classic pebbly Mediterranean beach. In the summer months, Mestna Beach is the perfect place to watch a beautiful sunset.
Now, all there’s left to do is pick a beach, grab your car, and explore the beaches in Slovenia!
Izola Beach, Slovenia
Izola is a small fishing and wine-making town with a romantic touch. This bustling town lies on the southwestern shore of the Gulf of Trieste. This quaint town’s extensive history has resulted in a wealth of architecture, monuments, and culture. Beyond the town is Isola Beach, lined with cafés, restaurants, and shops. From the beach, you can witness stunning sunsets and peacefully watch the fisherman pull in their catches.
Other Photo Credits: Pixabay & Bram