Advent Calendar Day 8: 21-Year Old Whisky and Cuban Cigars
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Whether you’re looking for a secluded getaway on the sleepy island of Paxos or full-on partying in Ibiza, Gentleman’s Journal has created the ultimate shortlist of short-haul beach destinations for your summer holiday. Switch off your emails and enjoy some much-needed peace and quiet on some of Europe’s most stunning coastlines.
If you’re after turquoise waters and long golden stretches of pearly white sand, undisturbed by hordes of tourists, you can’t go wrong with Egremni, widely accepted as the most beautiful beach on the quiet island of Lefkada. After an earthquake last year the beach is now only accessible by boat, meaning that it’s more cut off from the world than ever.
Ibiza may have a reputation for sex, drugs and Avicii, but parts of the island also have a refreshingly relaxed and low-key vibe. Benirras is one of Ibiza’s most picturesque beaches, with exotic turquoise seas and a backdrop of tall pine trees. Don’t miss the Sunday evening ritual, when hippy bongo drums celebrate the magnificent mediterranean sunset.
This tiny strip of golden beach between Isola Bella island and the mainland is one of the most stunning features of the Sicilian coastline, and a haven for locals and tourists alike. Isola Bella is especially pleasant in September and October, when peak tourist season is over and the sea is gorgeously warm. Sip a cocktail from one of the beachside bars, or bring a picnic from the fantastic food market in nearby Taormina.
An old favourite, this iconic beach on the northwest coast of the Greek island of Zakinthos (also known as Zante) features on every postcard and fridge magnet… but for good reason. A stunning view of the sheltered cove can be seen from the towering limestone cliffs above, but the beach itself is only accessible by boat. The beach became famous when the Panagiotis was shipwrecked here in the 1980’s, and is now a haven for snorkelling and BASE jumping for serious adrenaline junkies.
If its seclusion and nature you’re after, the long stretches of unspoilt white sand in northern Cyprus will tick all the boxes. Get away from emails and wifi, and explore mile after mile of this glorious coastline: expect ancient ruins, wild donkeys grazing nearby, and turtles laying their eggs on the beach. Golden Beach offers all the wildlife and picture-perfect views of the Maldives, without any of the crowds.
It’s hardly a well kept secret, but Pampelonne beach in glitzy Saint Tropez is still as charming as ever. In peak season, up to 30,000 people squeeze onto this three mile stretch of deck chairs, umbrellas and beach clubs in a single day. A beach for long boozy lunches and boat-watching.
Although big waves are not usually associated with the Med, the breakers on Praia da Adraga make the beach a popular spot for surfers. One of Portugal’s best beaches, Praia da Adraga is 30km from Lisbon and is the most westerly stretch of sand in mainland Europe. The sunsets are spectacular, and the seafood at nearby restaurant Azenhas Do Mar, built into the rugged cliffs behind, is well worth sampling.
One of the best known pebbly beaches on the sleepy Ionian island of Paxos, Monodendri is still delightfully un-touristy. There are a few wooden umbrellas and Ben’s Bar, a laid-back restaurant serving freshly grilled fish and local food. The crystal clear waters make it a perfect spot for snorkelling and diving, and Monodendri is home to an array of colourful sealife. If you want to get even more off the beaten track, take a boat to the tiny island of Anti-Paxos for sandy beaches and huge rolling waves. Vrika beach has pure white sand, and is regularly voted as among the best beaches in the Mediterranean.
Spiaggia di Chia in Cagliari is one of Sardinia’s most pristine beaches, and a favourite with locals and tourists alike. The beach is famous for kite surfing and wind surfing, and dolphins can often be seen swimming offshore.
Tourists tend to stick to the south coast, leaving the rugged northern tip beautifully untouched. Head to the local beaches in Calvi, where turquoise shallows are set against the backdrop of the ancient Genovese citadel. Kayaks, yachts and catamarans are available for hire, and the area is also renowned for diving.