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Two of the world’s top beaches are in Europe – but not Spain or Greece

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Omaha Beach has been named one of the top 10 beaches in the world. (Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Two of Europe’s beaches have been crowned among the 10 best in the world, but their destinations might be rather surprising.

British tourists usually flock to Spain and Portugal for their beaches, and for good reason.

Combined, the two countries have more than 1000 Blue Flag beaches, with the Algarve in southern Portugal home to one of the densest concentrations of Blue Flag shores in Europe. 

While beaches in Portugal, Spain, Greece, Montenegro, and even England made it into the top 100, it was two unexpected contenders that ranked within the top 10.

The beaches were ranked by a team of travel experts, influencers, bloggers and journalists, after being shortlisted by Beachatlas’ AI-powered algorithm. 

All the beaches on the list were chosen not just for their beauty – although that was very much a draw – but also their nightlife, lifestyle offerings, value to their local community, diversity and inclusion, cultural significance and natural diversity. 

Europe’s best beaches

Based on the criteria, two of Europe’s beaches made the cut — one in France and one in Iceland.

Both the beaches made into the top 10, which is impressive considering they beat beaches in Thailand, Australia and California’s iconic Venice Beach. 

Here’s everything you need to know about Europe’s two best beaches…

Reynisfjara, Iceland

Not your average beach (Picture: Getty Images)

Reynisfjara beach, in Iceland, claimed the sixth spot on the list, thanks to its ‘surreal’ which has captured the hearts of the culture, having been featured in Game of Thrones and Vikings.

‘Reynisfjara, with its iconic black sand, is a testament to Iceland’s volcanic heart,’ reads the listing. 

‘Formed by the clash of lava from the Katla volcano and the cold North Atlantic, its shores tell a story of natural forces.’

The world famous beach, on the South Coast of Iceland, is also one of the most dangerous due to its infamous sneaker waves.

The beach, which is about a 2.5 hour drive from Reykjavik, is also the subject of folklore: The beach’s basalt columns, so the story goes, were once trolls trying to lure ships in the night, but the trolls went out too late and were turned to solid stone by the morning sun. 

Omaha Beach, Normandy, France

Omaha Beach in Normandy, France. (Picture: Getty Images)

Coming in at number 10 was Normandy’s famous Omaha Beach, a historic WWII landing site during the D-Day invasion by Allied forces.

Omaha beach was chosen for its rich history and peaceful shore.

‘Now peaceful, the beach still holds remnants of German bunkers, marking its storied past,” Beachatlas writes.

‘A striking stainless-steel sculpture, Les Braves, stands on the shore as a tribute to American soldiers, offering a deep dive into the events that unfolded on this significant stretch of coastline.’

This comes after a European beach beat out the Maldives to be crowned the beach with the world’s bluest sea.

Europe dominates the list of beaches with the world’s bluest water, and one hidden gem in Albania has claimed the top spot.

Pasqyra Beach, around 13 minutes’ drive from the resort of Sarandë in the southwest, beat out the likes of Bondi Beach, Bora Bora and even the Maldives in securing the title.

It’s nicknamed ‘Mirror Beach’, thanks to its clear, turquoise water that visitors say has a ‘magical’ quality.

And the best part? You can get there for just £39 return.

Meanwhile, nearby Greece occupied both second and third place, featuring seven times in the top 30, the most of any country.

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