From the pebbles around Brighton Pier and unspoiled Welsh coves to Greek Islands and Spanish beaches where the party never stops, September is a great month to enjoy the best European beaches.
Whether they’re gay beaches with a strong LGBT presence or are somewhere off the beaten path are thus perfect for a romantic adventure with your partner, we’ve got sea and sand sorted.
These are the 10 best European beaches to enjoy in the summer:
1. Cala Balmins / Playa de la Balmins, Sitges, Spain
The gay town of Sitges, a 40-minute train ride south of Barcelona, has everything you might want from a holiday destination: romantic cobbled streets, boutique shopping and a variety of nightlife, with the warm Mediterranean Sea and golden sands never more than a few hundred meters away.
The jewel in Sitges’ crown, however, has to be Cala Balmins / Playa de la Balmins, with its rocky outcrops, reasonably priced beach bar and — come Sitges Bear Week — more naked hairy men frolicking in the water than you could imagine possible on one strip of sand.
2. Strandbad Wannsee, Berlin, Germany
Yes, you read that right. Berlin, not known for its coastline (because it doesn’t have one), does have a pretty awesome gay beach by a lake.
It’s a bit of a trek, but well worth it when you reach this pristine beach with white sands brought in from the Baltic, surrounded by pine forests. Head to the nudist area on the north side, near the terrace.
3. Maspalomas, Gran Canaria, Canary Islands
The Canary Islands off the coast of West Africa are a Spanish territory that have sunny skies all year round, offering Europeans a place to escape their winter woolies for some beach time.
Walk along the shoreline from the lighthouse until you reach Bar 7 and you’re at the gay area. If you’re feeling more adventurous, head through the dunes, which are also a popular cruising spot.
Winter Pride Maspalomas runs from Nov. 6–12.
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4. Super Paradise Beach, Mykonos, Greece
Arguably the most popular gay location in Greece, Super Paradise Beach can be reached by local bus, taxi or river-taxi. In peak season this small cove can be frantically busy with a hedonistic atmosphere. Gay soup, anyone?
Like the rest of the island, it’s pretty expensive. Outside of the high season, prices are slightly lower and you’ll have more space to relax. Come October, you may well have the whole beach to yourself!
5. Rhosilli, The Gower, Wales, UK
On the edge of an area of outstanding national beauty known as The Gower, Rhosilli has often been voted one of the top 10 beaches in the world. Make sure you get a picture next to Worm’s Head, a rock formation worthy of any Game of Thrones kingdom.
It’s about a two-hour drive from Cardiff, the capital of Wales, which has a vibrant gay scene for a city of its size. It’s worth a visit during any trip to the UK. Welsh men also make great boyfriends.
6. Mar Bella Beach, Barcelona, Spain
Barcelona’s Mar Bella chiringuito (which translates as ‘snack bar’) is perhaps at its craziest during the Matinee Circuit Festival, when guys from around the world drink, dance and flirt until sunset for two weeks solid.
For the rest of the year, Mar Bella Beach acts as a social hub for gay Barcelona. It’s a relaxed place to grab a beer mid-week or to let your hair down Catalan-style on the weekends. If you’re on a budget, bring snacks and drinks with you and lay on the sand. Everybody else does!
7. Brighton Beach / Brighton Pier, Brighton, England, UK
You won’t find much sand here at all — it is a pebble beach, after all — but what you will find is plenty of laughs and friendly British boys and girls who’re just as likely to share a beer with you as a flask of tea (depending on the weather).
If it does turn wet and wild (in the cold and dreary sense), there’s Brighton Pier with its famous fairground games and rides to keep you and your friends occupied until it’s time to hit the pub. (Which is any time in Brighton.)
8. Diamond Beach, Jökulsárlón, Iceland
Iceland is one of Europe’s most gay-friendly travel destinations. Home to spectacular natural scenery, it’s also a great stop-over location when flying to or from North America.
Whether you’re in the postcard-cute capital Reykjavik for its lovely Pride celebrations or for one of the island’s many music festivals, it’s worth checking out the otherworldly beauty of Diamond Beach.
It’s close to the popular Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon on the Southern Coast, and you’ll be able to get up close to chunks of diamond-like glacier ice.
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9. Beach 19, Costa Da Caparica, Lisbon, Portugal
The largest gay naked beach in Europe is part of a pristine nature reserve on the outskirts of Lisbon. It’s called ‘Beach 19’ because you’ll need to get off at the same number stop when riding the small beach train to find it.
This beach is nudist (by law), but you can also get away with wearing a swimsuit. If you’re visiting Portugal for next year’s Eurovision song contest, make sure you check this stunning section of coastline out, too.
10. G Beach, Gallipoli, Italy
Gallipoli in Southern Italy is becoming a popular gay destination, yet it’s still largely unspoiled by mass tourism or huge crowds. If you like Italian guys, you’ll do well here as it’s popular with gay men from all around the country.
This area is also part of a nature reserve, the “Punta della Suina.” Known as the “Italian Ibiza,” this part of the coast has great food and a chic, elegant crowd.