It is the holiday destination chosen by millions of Britons every year and the Mediterranean coast boasts some truly spectacular beaches.
But if you want to get away from it all, where should you be setting down your towel to enjoy the most jaw-dropping stretches of sand?
The Ionian Islands offer some of the most staggeringly beautiful sandy coves imaginable, surrounded by towering limestone cliffs, while the Albanian Riviera is a little-known slice of paradise, infused with a local ethnic Greek influence.
No matter what your budget, there’s a beach holiday for you.
It’s hard to believe that no Instagram filter was used for this image, but it’s true: the stunning turquoise water is really just this impossibly blue.
Located on the south-western coast of the island of Lefkada in Greece, Egremni has become one of the most popular tourist destinations – despite its remote location.
2- Cala Mitjaneta – Menorca, Spain
This picturesque cove is, unsurprisingly, one of the most popular beaches for both tourists and locals in the summer.
With its shallow, calm waters, the fairly secluded favourite, which is located on the southern coast close to Cala Galdana, is revered for its clear snorkeling and swimming conditions.
Parking does fill up rather quickly, so it’s advisable to arrive early.
3- Navagio Beach – Zakynthos, Greece
Also known as Shipwreck Beach, this exposed cove on the coast of Zakynthos in the Ionian Islands is accessible only by boat.
Sometimes referred to as ‘Smugglers Cove,’ the sandy strip, which is surrounded by stunning limestone cliffs, got its nicknames back in 1983, when the Panagiotis ship was wrecked on the beach while transporting cigarettes.
While many are content to simply lie on the gorgeous white sand beach, the area is also a renowned BASE jumping destination to visiting adrenaline junkies.
4- Elafonissi Beach – Crete, Greece
Elafonissi is perhaps best known as being a tiny island of white sand separated from the shore by a lagoon that is no more than a metre deep.
But its mainland beach is widely recognised as one of the most beautiful in all of Crete thanks to its white sand, shallow water and all of the shells that give the ocean just the subtlest hint of silver.
Best of all? You can quite literally walk to ‘Deer Island’ on a nice day, all the while admiring the views of the nearby Chrissoskalitissa Monastery, which is perched on a large rock.
5- Monterosso Beach – Cinque Terre, Italy
As the area’s only sandy waterfront, the town of Monterosso el Mare along the Italian Riviera is a must-visit for all beach lovers.
One of the five villages that make up Cinque Terre, this western-most beach, which runs along most of the town’s coastline, is located in the centre of a small natural gulf.
For those planning a holiday, it’s worth noting that the beach is extremely popular during the summer months, so early June or late August is preferably if you don’t want to have to wait for a sun lounger.