The Best European Destinations to Visit by Sea

Europe offers a diverse range of countries, each with their own unique history, terrain, climate, and experiences.

From the icy waters and barren mountains of Norway to the green hills and sandy beaches of Greece, there is something to suit every taste. And much of this land can be explored via its coastlines and waterways.

Europe has almost 70,000 kilometres of coastline encompassing beaches, cliffs, islands, and deltas. The continent is also home to 27,000 kilometres of inland waterways, like rivers and canals, that can be traversed by boat. Canal holidays are still a popular way for people to enjoy countries like Holland and the UK.

But to see the greatest range of sights in one trip, travelling by sea is the best way to get around. Whether on a commercial cruise on by chartering a private yacht through a company like BorrowABoat, there are options to suit all budgets. If you love the idea of sailing around Europe but haven’t decided where to make a stop, this quick rundown of some of the best coastal features and towns should give you plenty to choose from.

Palombaggia Beach, Corsica


The fourth largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, Corsica is situated between France and Italy, making it ideally placed for warm weather. White beaches meet the clear, turquoise sea under swaying umbrella palms – it’s the very picture of paradise. Palombaggia beach is one of the best, and more popular, on the island, and for very good reason.

The wonderful views combined with the pure sand and Mediterranean sun make this a wonderful place to relax.

Under the water lies a whole other world inhabited by colourful fish and coral reefs – it’s a favourite place for people to go snorkelling. If you are lucky enough to have your own vessel you can snorkel or SCUBA further out – the crystal-clear waters give you great visibility even when deep, and you will be able to see underwater landscapes that very few others have ever seen.

The Riviera, France


A hugely popular destination for sailors, the French Riviera is peppered with chic cities and marinas where you can moor up for a couple of days and explore the mainland. From Saint-Tropez to Monaco, via Nice and Cannes, you’ll get a little taste of luxury and feel like one of the many celebrities and millionaires who lives along this stretch of coast.

It’s a well-travelled route and you’ll see plenty of other yachts and cruisers along the way. A charter down the Riviera is going to be fast-paced and full of socialising, top-notch restaurants and shopping in upscale boutiques. The south of France is known for it’s warm and sunny climate and it’s the perfect place for sunning yourself on the bow or nipping overboard to cool down with a quick dip in the ocean.

Cala Millor, Majorca


This purpose-built holiday resort was born in the 1950s and his since developed into the perfect family resort. With sunny beaches, shopping outlets, and a wide variety of restaurants, there’s plenty to keep everyone entertained. The beaches are also home to every water sport imaginable, and you’ll be hard pushed to sample them all in one trip.

There’s plenty to see inland as well, but the advantage of arriving by boat is that you have the ability to hop over to the neighbouring island of Menorca, or up the coast to the bay of Alcudia, another wonderful tourist destination.

Sporades Islands, Greece


When you think of Mediterranean sailing routes, the Greek islands are often number one on the list. A very popular sailing route there are 11 different islands to visit in all, and if you want to geta decent amount of time on each you’re going to need a few weeks, or more than one trip.

All the islands have their own different personalities and atmosphere. Some, like Skopelos are known for their natural beauty with verdant tropical flora and clear blue waters. Others, like Skiathos, are livelier and more known as a party destination. But all are full of traditional Greek culture and architecture, with delicious food and drink and a warm welcome from the locals.

Norwegian Fjords


Europe has its fair share of colder climates too, and the scenery here can be more spectacular than the tropical beaches. Norway is well known for its striking snowy coastlines with craggy cliffs and evergreen forests. The provincial villages are like travelling back in time and have a warm and cosy feel.

Away from the towns, the coastal villages offer unparalleled views of the night sky with thousands of visible stars and of course, the Northern Lights. Viewing them from a boat in the middle of the ocean is a sight not to be missed.

Mykonos, Greece


Mykonos in Greece is one stunning and sunny island that combines centuries of different histories. On this island, visitors have a chance to enjoy numerous beaches that comes with untouched nature and ideal sixteenth-century windmills. They can admire the romantic sunset, vivid nightlife, and magnificent Cycladic architecture. Some of the most popular beaches that you should visit here include Paradise Beach, Ornos Bay, and Psarou. You can party on the beach the whole day, sunbathe and dive through the crystal clear waters. Mykonos’ magical appearance will seduce you since it provides a truly exotic experience.

Ayia Napa, Cyprus


Ayia Napa is one of Cyprus’ most popular destinations and one of the most attractive beaches in entire Europe. If you decide to visit this dreamy destination, you can expect nothing more than while sanding coastline and crystal turquoise water that sparkle on the sun. There are so many exclusive facilities on the beach for tourists that you can enjoy as well. Nissi is undoubtedly Ayia Napa’s most iconic place. This especially counts for lovers of water sports.

Nissi is very crowded in the summer period since it provides a lively clubbing experience at night and paradise relaxation during the day.

Sicily, Italy


Sicily is a destination in Europe that can literally be called paradise on Earth. It has a scenic and magnificent appearance. This is not so urban place, so if you like to enjoy relaxation and peace, this can be an ideal destination for you. Sicily actually comes with a rich history of several millennia and it holds amazing and breathtaking ruins from the Greek and Roman periods.

There are so many different magical beaches, beautiful towns that you can visit as well as the most active volcano in Europe called Mount Etna. Cefalù, Syracuse, Trapani, and Taormina are just some of the most charming seaside towns on the main island that should be on your bucket list. If you are looking for more fun and entertaining side of Sicily, you can visit Sicily’s Aeolian Islands

Comino, Malta


Even though it is so small, Malta surely has a lot to offer to its visitors. In fact, it is considered the underrated beach destination in Europe. f you like to visit Malta, you should definitely head to the attractive place called Comino. This is a small island that hides untouched beauty with a stunning turquoise lagoon. Blue Lagoon is one of the most beautiful beaches in Europe and it leaves a huge impression on visitors due to the peaceful vibes it gives.

Ibiza, Spain


We could not talk about the best destination you should visit by the sea and not mention Ibiza in Spain. Ibiza is a destination for the ones who are looking for a clubbing experience and it is definitely one of the wildest islands in the entire Mediterranean. However, this place gives so much more than just entertainment and a fun experience. The long coastline and stunning beaches are real paradises. The hidden coves such as Cala Blanca are for instance of the most famous places where you can swim and relax in the sun. Also, you can practice scuba diving activity.

In Summary

Chartering a boat around Europe will give you an amazing experience that will stay with you for the rest of your life.

It’s a great break from the usual beach or city breaks, but still manages to encompass aspects of them both. And with so many destinations to choose from, you’ll get a different experience every time.

About Carolyn Lang