It’s been a long old year already and if you’re already wishing spring away to your summer holiday, join the club.
With online searches for beach breaks at an all-time high, Secret Escapes has revealed the 10 most popular European destinations perfect for some much-needed R&R in 2017.
1. The Canary Islands
Probably no surprise that the number one spot is the perennially sunny islands of the Canary, where the archipelago of Lanzarote, Fuerteventura and Tenerife are the most popular European beach breaks booked by Secret Escapers in 2017.
Insider’s tip: If you’re looking for an abundance of sandy beaches and plenty of all-inclusive and family friendly resorts, head to Fuerteventura. Be sure to visit the tiny Lobo Island, just a 10-minute ferry journey away from Corralejo. This nature reserve is protected, so there are plenty of secluded beaches and great snorkelling spots.
2. Crete, Greece
With white-washed houses and sparkling blue seas, Crete is the stuff of legend. Here you’ll find an enchanting mix of ancient hilltop villages and smart, modern hotels.
Insider’s tip: Visit Vai beach, the famous backdrop to the ‘Taste of Paradise’ Bounty bar advert filmed in the 1970s. With its golden sands, Vai is home to one of the largest natural palm groves in Europe.
3. Cote D’Azur, France
If your style is more old-school glam, pop to the luxury destination of Cote D’Azur.
Insider’s tip: For stretches of bright soft sand, head to Pampelonne Beach, made famous by Brigitte Bardot in the film And God Created Woman, while sailing fanatics can eye up the superyachts harboured in exclusive Monte Carlo.
4. Mykonos, Greece
Mykonos has garnered its reputation as one of Greece’s best destinations for non-stop glitz and glamour with bars and clubs stacked onto one another in this formidably cosmopolitan island bordered by bustling beaches that light up come sunset.
Insider’s tip: Start your holiday as you mean to go on with the buzzing bars of Little Venice, catch a late-night film under the stars and taste a shot of local Ouzo at a snazzy club overlooking the sea.
5. Dubrovnik, Croatia
Granted the accolade of Unesco World Heritage Site status in 1979, Dubrovnik is an absolute must on any travel wish list.
Insider’s tip: With a charming Old Town to while away the hours and its proximity to the crystal blue sea, this ancient city is a destination that will inspire both culture vultures and beach bunnies alike.
6. Balearic Islands, Spain
It’s considered the party capital of the world, but away from the busy resorts, you can’t ignore the sheer beauty of Ibiza’s coastline from gorgeous sandy shores to tranquil hidden coves in the north of the island.
Insider’s tip: Those in search of ocean views should fit in some time for cycling around Mallorca, while sun seekers should head to Menorca, home to the second largest natural harbour in the world.
7. Rhodes, Greece
The ‘Emerald Island’ of Rhodes is the largest of the Dodecanese islands. Steeped in history, this island oasis belonged to the sun god Helios in mythical times. Legend has it when Helios fell in love with a charming nymph named Rhodes, he shone a light onto her and she transformed into the island that we know and love today.
Insider’s tip: The best beaches are situated on the east coast, where there is less wind, although surfers can be found catching waves on Prasonisi in the South.
8. Sardinia, Italy
Sardinia draws holidaymakers back time and again thanks to its 2,000 kilometres of gorgeous coastline, archaeological sites and pure Italian culture.
Insider’s tip: Away from the beaches, you'll find scenic hiking trails and a gorgeous capital city which boasts an instagram-worthy medieval quarter.
9. Halkidiki, Greece
With 45 Blue Flag beaches to its name, it’s no wonder Halkidiki is one of the most sought after shores of 2017. Rumour has it the region is home to 300 days of sunshine, so you’re virtually guaranteed a sunny break.
Insider’s tip: Head to Sithonia, a picturesque peninsula further north, where you can easily spend hours discovering secluded coves and snorkelling the beautiful reefs.
A favourite with the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh (who lived in Malta for the first two years of their marriage), Malta offers something a little different for those wanting a memorable beach break.
Insider’s tip: Snorkelling fans should head to the Blue Lagoon, an area of perfectly clear blue water set over bright white sand located just off the island of Comino.
Where will you be jetting off to this summer? Tell us in the Comments box below.