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Nice, French Riviera - Cote d'Azur, Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur, France, Europe

Although some of Nice's beaches are owned privately by hotels and resorts, there is also a good offering of public beaches. No need to worry about getting sand in your hair--there is no sand on these beaches, only pebbles. Nice's seaside is just another taste of France's diversity.

Santorini, Cyclades, South Aegean, Greece, Europe

While most of the beaches on these geologically new Greek islands are black due to their volcanic creation, Santorini's most famous is probably Red Beach near Akrotiri. Perissa Beach on the main island’s west and Kamari Beach on the east are both long, black, spectacular and very popular with tourists.

Corfu, Ionian Islands, Greece, Europe

Villages of whitewashed houses, Byzantine churches, Venetian fortresses and vibrant nightlife lure visitors from the resorts and beaches of the most popular Ionian island. Ermones beach attracts many from Corfu town, while picturesque Paleokastritsa, 17 miles Northwest, is definitely worth the drive.

Crete, Greece, Europe

Although Crete is Greece's biggest island, its popularity has caught up with it and caused some overcrowding on its east coast. Those who venture farther west and south will find unspoiled beaches, low-key resorts and 300 days of sunshine to worship each year."

Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain, Europe

Part of the Canary Islands, Tenerife is largely a resort island with brilliant man-made beaches of fine black shingle or golden sand. With calm, clear waters and an almost constant wind, Tenerife in a windsurfer's dream. You can also sunbathe, swim, snorkel and scuba dive along the beautiful coastline.

Marbella, Costa del Sol, Province of Malaga, Andalucia, Spain, Europe

On the southern coast of Spain, Marbella is a favourite resort town for beachgoers who want to see and be seen. Miles of sunny beaches, casinos and marinas circle the glamorous and cosmopolitan Costa del Sol. Enjoy sunbathing and every possible sporting activity.

Mykonos, Cyclades, South Aegean, Greece, Europe

Famous for its golden sandy beaches and its crystalline waters, Mykonos offers something for every type of beach-goer. The populated south beaches are perfect for partying, while the secluded north beaches offer quiet and relaxation. Enjoy a wide variety of activities from skiing, jet-skiing and windsurfing to horseback riding and parasailing.

Palma de Mallorca, Majorca, Balearic Islands, Spain, Europe

Palma, the economic and cultural hub of Majorca, is a delightful base for exploring the island's many beaches. Considered one of the best places in Spain to live, Palma offers you picturesque beaches of gold sand as well as alabaster-white beaches bustling with activity.

Malaga, Costa del Sol, Province of Malaga, Andalucia, Spain, Europe

A flotilla of decidedly different beaches line port city Malaga's coastline on the Costa del Sol. Stretching 25 miles and ranging from bustling city sand strips to remote strands, this Andalucian destination has been popular with British and German sun seekers since being developed in the 1950s.

Ibiza, Balearic Islands, Spain, Europe

Well-known as a fun and exciting place to party, Ibiza boasts more than 100 miles of coastline with some 50 beaches. Larger beaches offer restaurants, bars and an enviable array of water sports while more tranquil beaches let visitors relax in the sun or shade.

Cannes, French Riviera - Cote d'Azur, Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur, France, Europe

The crowning glory of the French Riviera, Cannes is the place to be seen on the beach even when it's not film festival time. Inviting sands and 300 days of sunshine a year make sunbathing a popular sport, and you can even rent a yacht for a week if you're really out to impress.

Lagos, Faro District, Algarve, Portugal, Europe

More than a half-dozen beautiful beaches line the shores of Lagos in Portugal's Algarve region. Quiet sandy coves sandwiched between dramatic cliffs and calm, clear water have natural appeal, while Meia Praia offers a 2.5-mile expanse of sand and facilities for every imaginable water sport.

Nerja, Costa del Sol, Province of Malaga, Andalucia, Spain, Europe

Positioned at the eastern tip of the Costa del Sol, Nerja boasts nearly 10 miles of powdery beaches featuring activities like water skiing, scuba diving and sailing. Although tourist-oriented, it hasn't been overtaken by high-rises, and its huge promenade delivers panoramic Mediterranean views.

Amalfi, Amalfi Coast, Campania, Italy, Europe

Precipitous limestone cliffs plunge into the blue-green Mediterranean along the Amalfi coast, better known for views than its pebbly, gray-sand beaches. Among the best basking spots are the sunbed-lined beach at Maiori and the tiny, more charming sandy nook at Minori, an easy boat trip from Amalfi.

Saint-Tropez, French Riviera - Cote d'Azur, Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur, France, Europe

Since Brigitte Bardot frolicked on the beaches of St. Tropez in the '50s, it's been associated with sexy glamour. Most of the sandy hot spots sit southwest of town on the Baie de Pampelonne. A few public, family-friendly spots mingle with upscale private beaches featuring lounges, DJs and restaurants.

Cadaques, Costa Brava, Province of Girona, Catalonia, Spain, Europe

Tiny, hidden bays line the coast around sleepy Cadaques, creating a series of private beaches near the French border. Thanks to their boat-only access, an afternoon of swimming and sunbathing without crowds is as simple as hiring a skiff and cruising the rocky shoreline.

Menton, French Riviera - Cote d'Azur, Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur, France, Europe

Relaxed beaches flank the sunny resort town of Menton, known as "the pearl of France," and its most temperate locale. Nearly a dozen private beaches offer bar service and lounge chairs. The free public beaches are kid-friendly with plenty of aquatic sports to inspire a plunge into the Med.

Monterosso al Mare, Cinque Terre, Italian Riviera, Liguria, Italy, Europe

Crystalline water, plentiful restaurants and small hotels and the area's only sandy beach make Monterosso al Mare the most resort-oriented stop of the Cinque Terre. Day beds and umbrellas are available for rent on the crowded strand, popular with both tourists and locals, especially midsummer.

Brighton, East Sussex, England, United Kingdom, Europe

One of the first seaside resorts of Europe, Brighton has a long history of entertaining holiday-makers with its pebble beach and Brighton Pier, an amusement park that extends over the sea. Eat, drink, play carnival games or just soak up some sunshine on deck chairs.

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