Best Beaches in Eastern Europe

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Twenty years ago the idea of taking a beach holiday in Eastern Europe might have seemed ridiculous. Back then the first thing that sprung to mind when mentioning countries like Bulgaria, Croatia and Albania would be the somewhat depressing vision of grim post-communist austerity or war-torn Yugoslavia. However, 20 years on, this could not be further from the truth.

The coastline of the Balkans in particular has beaches to rival those of any other Mediterranean country such as Greece or Italy, but often without the crowds and at budget prices. Think crystal clear, azure waters, forest and mountains rising up from sandy beaches and friendly beach bars - that's the Adriatic Coast of Eastern Europe. Whilst travellers are beginning to discover the best beaches Eastern Europe has to offer there are still plenty that remain off the radar.

Here we have listed some of our top picks from the many fantastic beaches of Eastern Europe so please enjoy.

  • Šunj (Lopud Island) // Croatia

    Šunj (Lopud Island)

    Located on the island of Lopud, one of the Elaphite Islands close to Dubrovnik, Šunj Beach offers an enticing tranquillity amid rich blue waters, Mediterranean forest, and appealing sands with a shallow draft into the sea. Famously, visitors to Šunj can have to walk up to 100 metres to reach a depth where it is possible to swim, making the beach a tip-top destination for families with younger children, as well as adults looking for a paddle without getting soaked.

    Close to one kilometre in length, much of Šunj's solitude comes… read more »

  • Gjipe Beach // Albania

    Gjipe Beach
    ©Ross Helen

    Gjipe beach is set along the same stretch of the Albanian coast as some of the other most popular, highly rated beaches on the Riviera. Located between the resort beaches of Drymades and Himara the beach at Gjipe has barely been touched by development.

    Obscured by the mountainous terrain, the beach here sits at the end of the Gjipe Canyon, an impressive natural feature with the rock formations reaching up to 70 metres high in some places. If you fancy it you can hike for a couple of kilometres up the canyon,… read more »

  • Zlatni Rat // Croatia

    Zlatni Rat

    The beach of Zlatni Rat is one of Croatia's best known with the most familiar view probably being from above. From here you will be left in very little doubt as to why the beach is often referred to locally as the "Golden Horn". Zlatni Rat juts out into the Adriatic Sea forming a triangle of beach fringing pine forest which is home to the ruins of a Roman villa.

    Over time the exact shape of the spit of land shifts shape and the furthermost tip of the beach will… read more »

  • Mogren Beach // Montenegro

    Mogren Beach

    Making up a particularly pleasant stretch of the Budva Riviera are the twin beaches of Mogren. Stretching for around 400 metres the beaches of Mogren 1 and Mogren 2 are connected by a cave-like tunnel through a small headland. It is worth walking the extra bit to the second beach.

    Despite being just around the corner from the busy resort town of Budva itself Mogren beach remains comparatively peaceful.The cliffs behind are covered in lush Mediterranean vegetation with pine and oak forests leading to the hills beyond. The beach… read more »

  • Sveti Jakov // Croatia

    Sveti Jakov

    Within a stone's throw of Dubrovnik's Old Town a the beautiful bay which is home to Sveti Jakov Beach. Beyond the translucent, sapphire waters are views to Dubrovnik's Old Town itself. This makes it a great spot for escaping the crowds and basking in the afternoon sun after a day's sightseeing in the city.

    More local sites include the historic Sv. Jakov Church, which sits atop a large cliff with a long staircase descending right down to the beach. Once you reach the beach, you'll be able to take in its… read more »

  • Primorsko // Bulgaria

    © / CC BY

    One of Bulgaria's premiere beachside resorts, Primorsko also has an illustrious history stretching back to the Bronze Age. The town also served as a medieval fortress and valuable port between Western and Ottoman traders. That legacy of international exchange remains vivid in Primorsko's vibrant café and nightlife culture.

    Regardless of the areas historic credentials, these are just a backdrop to Primorsko's natural beauty. Long stretches of verdant green frame the surrounding area before tapering off into this sun-kissed, sandy peninsula. 

    Primorsko's picture postcard appeal continues once you reach those sandy… read more »

  • Grama Bay // Albania

    Grama Bay
    ©Silva.arapi / CC BY

    Situated on Albania's Ionian Sea coast Grama Bay is a small but beautiful cove almost surrounded by high, rocky cliffs. This semi-secret little beach is one of the real gems of the Albanian coast and as of yet completely untouched or spoiled by mass tourism. If you do make it here you won't be disappointed; the crystal clear azure water rivals anything Greece has to offer and the colour is amplified by the white of the beach and cliffs before they give way to the green of vegetation.

    The bay is… read more »

  • Dhërmi Beach // Albania

    Dhërmi Beach
    ©Linda Saitos

    Dhërmi beach is often cited as the finest beach in Albania - hard to argue with this when this is where Albaninian prime ministers allegedly come to holiday! It isn't hard to see why. Set in a small bay, the village clings to the high sloping cliffs which rise up from the beach.

    The beach here is everything you would expect from the Ionian coast. The water here is warm, crystal clear and a pure turquoise - perfect for taking a cooling dip or snorkelling. Whilst the beach itself is made up of… read more »

  • Sunny Beach // Bulgaria

    Sunny Beach
    ©Boby Dimitrov / CC BY

    There is little doubt which of Bulgaria's beaches is best known (and liveliest). Sunny Beach (Slanchev Bryag to the locals) is legendary for its golden sands and entertainment, both on and off the beach. The resort is extremely popular with Europeans and tourists from further afield looking to sun themselves in the day and dance the nights away at one of the many nightclubs nearby. It is also regarded as a family-friendly destination with all ages catered for. 

    For as crowded as it can get, Sunny Beach is more than big enough… read more »

  • Sutomore Beach // Montenegro

    Sutomore Beach
    ©Luca Conti / CC BY

    Sutomore is one of the most developed resorts on the Montenegro coast. Situated between the cities of Bar and Petrovac, its long stretch of sandy beach is a magnet for beachgoers from far and wide. Sheltered from wind by the surrounding pine forests and mountains beyond the area has an innate natural beauty depite the beachfront developments. You will have no shortage of amenities from food and drinks to sunbeds and umbrellas. You can also rent catamarans, take a ride on a water banana, or go scuba diving.

    From the… read more »

  • Stiniva (Vis Island) // Croatia

    Stiniva (Vis Island)

    Croatia's beaches and coastline are beginning to get a little more attention, and rightfully so. They are among the most stunning and sun-kissed in all of Europe with a growing number of accolades to back this up. Stiniva Beach was voted Europe's Best Beach in The Guardian a few years back, and with good reason.

    First and foremost, it is quite breathtaking. Generally speaking Croatia's beaches are famous for their white pebbles and sparkling azure water, but this slice of paradise takes the cake. It has an absolutely incredible feel with… read more »

  • Jaz Beach // Montenegro

    Jaz Beach

    Jaz beach is one of many fine beaches on Montenegro's Budva Riviera. Within easy walking distance of the historic town of Budva itself the beach at Jaz has a bit of something for everyone.

    Whilst on the one hand you will find plenty of opportunity to relax on a sunlounger, get a massage and take in the views of the clear, blue Adriatic Sea there are also plenty of water based activities on offer. There are many reasons why Jaz beach is one of Montenegro's most popular so don't imagine… read more »

  • Sinemorets // Bulgaria

    ©Marcin Szala / CC BY

    Set close to the Turkish border Veleka Beach is one of two beaches in Sinemorets, and by far the nicest. In fact it is one of the most striking and iconic beaches in Bulgaria consisting of a narrow strip of soft white sand which juts out across the mouth of the Veleka River as it empties into the Black Sea. This creates a beautiful beach with the sea to one side and a lagoon behind.

    Until the 1990s this area was off limits to outsiders with… read more »

  • Sveti Stefan // Montenegro

    Sveti Stefan

    The islet of Sveti Stefan (Saint Stephen) lies just a few kilometres along Montenegro's Adriatic coast from Budva. With such a stunning backdrop the beaches here wouldn't have to be up to that much to still get the thumbs up. However, with crystal clear turquoise waters, pink sand and backdrop of pine forest and mountains make Sveti Stefan a magical beach to spend a day on the beach.

    Back in the 15th century the little island was a fortified to defend from the threat of the Turks and pirates. It… read more »

  • Brela Beach // Croatia

    Brela Beach

    Brela is a charming little town on Croatia's Adriatic coast roughly midway between Split and Makarska. With the backdrop of the Biokovo mountains and lapped by the crystal clear azure waters of the Adriatic this largely unspoilt stretch of coast is quite stunning.

    There are a number of separate coves that make up the 6km stretch of Brela Beach. All are fringed with an abundance of pine trees and formed of the same coarse, but lovely, sand. Just off the main beach of Punta Rata is the Kamen Brela. A… read more »