Holidays with teenagers: the best 10 beaches in Europe

Have teeners had plans for this summer vacation yet? Travel and explore are always activities that teeners love. Here are the most beautiful 10 beaches in Europe will make you can not be ignored in this summer.

1. Caneiros, Algarve, Portugal

Caneiros is a godsend for families with children where there is a big age gap: here you’ll find activities for action-hungry teenagers, oversized day beds for sun worshippers, powdery soft sand for bucket-and-spade toddlers and safe water for all swimmers.

There are pedalos and kayaks to rent and caves to explore. The chic Rei das Praias restaurant on the beach is a great place to set up camp (you can even order a massage at your sun lounger). Stay at Casa Rei das Praias, a tranquil, 10-room guesthouse with a spa, which opened in 2011, and offers breakfast and snacks by the lovely pool. A five-minute walk takes you to Caneiros beach and the hotel’s sister restaurant.

2. Ribadesella, Asturias, Spain

If you hanker after the bucket-and-spade seaside holidays of your childhood, you will like Ribadesella in Asturias in northern Spain, which spans the Sella river.

Teenagers can hone their watersport skills, particularly kayaking, surfing and windsurfing. On the eastern side, medieval lanes are lined with no-nonsense bars and restaurants that serve the best fish from the day’s catch.

To the west is the lovely Santa Marina beach, flanked by elegant mansions that were built by locals who had migrated to the Americas in the late 19th century and flaunted their wealth on their return with grand homes. On the first weekend in August, more than 1,000 canoeists race down the Sella river from the mountains to Ribadesella, celebrating their feat with a huge street festival.

3. Kaş, Turkey

Kaş, Turkey

Kaş, Turkey

The former Greek fishing village of Kaş, located on Turkey’s spectacular south-west Lycian coast, may lack golden sand. But for active families with hard-to-please teens, the array of watersports and outdoor activities on offer more than compensate. There’s scuba-diving and sea-kayaking, canyoning in mountain gorges, paragliding from cliff-top eyries (Bougainville Travel offers all the activities;bougainville-turkey.com), or you could try the downhill mountain biking or hiking the Lycian Way.

The Turquoise Coast's rugged topography ensures that Ka? is little more than an overgrown village  Photo: Alamy

And Kaş, full of simple restaurants, cafés and bars, is the kind of place most parents will be happy to let their offspring explore on their own in the evening.

The small town beach of Küçuk Çakil is fine for sunbathing and swimming; nearby Büyük Çakil is even better. For golden sands, take the local minibus out to Kaputaş cove, or drive 30 minutes to Patara, one of the longest, least developed beaches in the Med.

4. Bol on Brac, Central Dalmatia, Croatia

Bol on Brac, Central Dalmatia, Croatia

Bol on Brac, Central Dalmatia, Croatia

Lauded as Croatia’s most-photographed beach, Zlatni Rat lies a 20-minute walk along a tree-lined promenade from the village of Bol on Brac’s south coast. A rare geomorphologic phenomenon, this 1,500ft long peninsular of fine pebble shifts form, depending on winds and tides.

Zlatni Rat is the ideal beach for active teens  Photo: Alamy

Ideal for active kids, it offers jet skis, peddle-boats and banana boat rides, while on nearby Borak beach you’ll find Big Blue organising windsurfing, sea kayaking and cycling, plus scuba diving (big-blue-diving.hr). Directly behind Bol, a marked trail leads up the rocky slopes of Vidova Gora (2,550ft); from the top, you have great views of the beach, the sea and the islands of Hvar andVis. Nearby, visit the 16th-century Blaca Hermitage, built in the cliffs above the coast, and the bizarre Dragon’s Cave.

5. Vouliagmeni, Athens Riviera, Greece

Vouliagmeni, Athens Riviera, Greece

Vouliagmeni, Athens Riviera, Greece

One great way to get teenagers interested in history is to bring it alive with site visits. Combine a trip to the Acropolis with a few days of sandy beaches and water sports, and you’ve achieved an educational holiday that no one could object to.

 Head to the Athens Riviera for culture and sun: a trip to the Acropolis, followed by a few days spent sunbathing on glitzy Astir beach  

The Athens coastal suburb of Vouliagmeni (16 miles from the city centre by bus) offers swimming in the deep blue waters of the Saronic Gulf, palms trees, a yachting marina and smart hotels. The glitzy Astir beach has water-skiing, jet-skiing, windsurfing and beach volley – in the Sixties Christina Onassis, Joan Collins and Brigitte Bardot graced its golden sands. Nearby, there’s the less expensive public beach, overlooking a sheltered bay. Stay at the Divani Apollon Palace & Thalasso. It has interconnecting rooms ideal for families, lovely sea views, and the best spa in Athens.

6. Lefkada, Ionian Islands, Greece

Lefkada, Ionian Islands, Greece

Lefkada, Ionian Islands, Greece

Sporty teenagers will love Lefkada, on the Ionian Sea, with its dramatically beautiful beaches and challenging water sports. Avoid the touristy east coast, and head instead to the more isolated west coast, where the village of Agios Nikitas overlooks the spectacular turquoise sea.

 Lefkada's challenging water sports and beautiful beaches will offer something to every member of the family  

Nearby you have Kathisma (2.5 miles), a popular pebble beach with cafés and tavernas, and low-key Milos pebble beach (served by boat). On the south coast, Vassiliki offers excellent conditions for wind surfing and scuba-diving, while Agios Ioannis, near Lefkada Town, is the top site for kite-surfing. For pure sand and sea, the remote beach of Porto Katsiki, backed by plummeting cliffs, is the most photographed, while Egremni is lovely, too, though you’ll need to check accessibility, after the 350 steps down to the beach were damaged in the November earthquake last year.

7. Argelès-sur–Mer, Pyrénées-Orientales, France

Argelès reckons it’s European HQ of camping. Given 55 campsites, and a ten-fold increase in the 9,000-strong population in summer, the claim is plausible. It also means there’s only a dull moment if you want one. Otherwise, it’s non-stop. Argelès is tooled up to cope. The beach is five miles long, and wide enough to accommodate all of Europe’s towels. I’ve galloped a horse along it in August and struck no one.

Beauty is built-in; we are at the exact point where the flat Languedoc coast rises to the dying sighs of the Pyrenees. So, if your teenagers can’t find happiness with the beach, sea and beach clubs, you might send them into the mountains for hiking, biking or horsing. Or perhaps to one of many adventure parks. I’d go for Canyoning Park, which reproduces wild canyoning brilliantly (canyoning-park.com). As the sun goes down, the warmth stays up with more entertainment in town, on the beach or in the campsites, than a normal body can handle.

8. Cavalaire-sur-Mer, Provence, France

Cavalaire-sur-Mer, Provence, France

Cavalaire-sur-Mer, Provence, France

Cavalaire is the family person’s St Tropez. It’s nearby, shares the same sun, sea and insouciance, but with no hint of excruciating A-list exclusivity. Granted, Cavalaire’s not quaint – it’s mainly post-war – but palms, pines and sunlight attenuate the effect.

 Cavalaire would suit families with children of all ages

And the splendid three-mile beach is a family magnet. If teenagers are not knocked out by nightfall, they’ve not been trying. The Maison-de-la-Mer, between the beach and port, is the one-stop shop for information. It offers offer kayaking, sailing, windsurfing, snorkelling and every other maritime activity short of whaling.

And should your adolescents tire of Cavalaire beach, take the free shuttle along to Gigaro beach and the coastal path through wild Med scenery. Or climb into the Maures hills directly behind. Evening-tide has its moments, too. The best beach restaurant is the Terre de Sable off the Avenue de St Raphaël; the best restaurant is Fabien Trivero’s Delicatessen on the Promenade de la Mer. Look out, also, for concerts and shows through the summer.

9. Île de Ré, France

While it will be monstrously busy in the peak summer months, the Île de Ré is pretty flawless as a family seaside holiday spot. The island’s south coast is flanked by many miles of continuous, dune-backed sandy beaches (wide at low tide, reduced to thin strips at high tide), where the waves offer good body boarding. But for the best strand, head out to the far west to Conche des Baleines, a vast, exhilarating arc of golden sand backed by pine woods.

Other Île de Ré enticements include ubiquitous cycle lanes through a pancake-flat landscape of vineyards, marshes and saltpans – perfect for teenagers craving independence – as well as sensationally pretty towns and villages, and gourmet food markets.

10. Forte Village, Sardinia, Italy

Sardinia has some of the best beaches in Europe, which makes it wildly popular with Italians – and Germans and Scandinavians – so book well in advance. Note that August is an especially crowded time; the island is at its best in May and June, and even July is less crowded; book early. We like the chic, family and couple-friendly 116-acre Forte Village resort on the island’s south-west coast.

Facilities are unrivalled on the island and include tennis, cycling, basketball, rugby, cricket, swimming, netball, boxing, table tennis and the Chelsea Football Academy. The hotel can also arrange golf, water sports, diving. There are also high-end boutiques and an on-site disco. If you’re more inclined to relax in the sun there’s an impressive pool and an expansive beach.

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