You’ve got to hand it to the Europeans. When it comes to vacationing, they know how to do it properly. They don’t think twice about taking off for three weeks in the summer, nor leaving their clothes behind with their laptops.
If you’re not quite ready to live clothes-free for a couple of weeks but still fancy losing those tan lines, spending time on a nude beach is the way to go. There is no end to beaches in Europe where you can strip it all off without embarrassment or fear of arrest. A search on the Internet will leave you drowning in possibilities; however, before grabbing the sunscreen and slipping into your flip flops and out of your bikini, make sure the beach is designated as naturist and that being nude will not get you an interview with a judge.
An easy giveaway is if the beach is actually designated “Nude Beach”, “Plage Naturiste”, “Playa Nudista,” or simply “FKK” (the German Freikorperkultur -- literally Free Body Culture -- which established the movement of living and exercising as a nude community). Countries like Greece, where the Orthodox church has a strong influence, have very few official nude beaches, whereas in Spain, practically every beach is clothing optional. Having said that, there are thousands of miles of secluded pristine beaches, coves, islands, and bays all around Europe’s coastline where naturists can gather to worship the sun. Not all beaches have to be secluded either -- on many public beaches, a naturist area, even if not signposted, is often established away from the main stretch. So, if you walk away from the crowds, you’ll start to find people with fewer and fewer clothes.
What makes a good nude beach? It depends. Ask a hundred people, and you’ll get a hundred different answers. But here are some of my favorites based on personal experience over the years. Without a doubt, France and Spain top the list with their open and relaxed attitude to naturism, miles of wonderful coastline, excellent climate, and, of course, food and wine second to none.
Best Nude Beaches For Families
1. Montalivet Les Bains, France
The Atlantic coast of western France is a beach-goers’ paradise. From Brest in the north to Bayonne in the south, this 500 miles of coastline is almost one continuous sandy beach. While there are many places to find a quieter spot for some sunbathing, here are a couple of favored places that are just perfect for families with children and grandchildren.
Approximately 50 miles west of Bordeaux, Montalivet Les Bains is a small seaside town of 3000 that grows considerably in the summer as visitors flock to its wonderful beach. Known for its cleanliness (it has received the Blue Flag award) and being over seven miles long, this stretch of wide, golden sandy beach is backed by dunes and a large pine forest and is popular with both clothed and nude visitors. Even on the busiest days, there is plenty of room for kids to run around safely on the beach. Part of the beach is supervised by lifeguards, allowing everyone to play with confidence in the shallow water. For more experienced swimmers and surfers, the Atlantic rollers provide some head-spinning fun.
It’s not surprising that three of the world’s largest, and arguably best, naturist resorts are located in this area and that all of them have large swaths of the beach designated Naturiste. The world’s first naturist resort, CHM Montalivet, was established here in 1950 and is still going strong. Just five miles north of Montalivet, is another large naturist center -- Euronat. Similar to CHM but a little more up to date, this is another perfect bed-to-beach location where you can roll out of bed and walk directly to the beach without so much as glancing in the mirror. Head 30 miles south on the same coast and you’ll find La Jenny Naturist resort. More modern than CHM or Euronat, it also has direct access to the beach and, since there are no towns close by, the beach here is almost exclusively used by naturists, so you can walk for miles wearing nothing more than a smile.
2. Leucate Plage, France
On the Mediterranean coast, 20 miles from Perpignan, lies Leucate plage with its wide expanse of fine gold sand and calm Mediterranean waters lapping the shore. The beach has a large naturist section that is clearly signposted and is popular with families and those who prefer a more sedate time on the sand. There are a couple of restaurants right on the beach as well as a lifeguard station.
Aphrodite Naturist Village sits on the naturist section of Leucate Plage and guests can go from bed to beach without ever getting dressed.
You Don’t Need To Get Dressed When You Leave This Beach
3. Vera Playa, Spain’s “Naturist Capital,” Costa Almeria
Located between Garrucha and Villaricos on Spain’s southeastern coast, Vera Playa is a long, wide beach that is backed by many naturist apartments. With a climate that is hotter and drier than other parts of Spain and lasts almost year-round, this part of southern Europe is a draw for naturists from all over. The beach has sunbeds for rent, a beach bar, and a volleyball set up for the more active. The area across from the beach is designated a “Zona Naturista,” which means you can walk from the beach down the street to your accommodation without needing to cover up. This setup just makes things so easy -- what better way to start each day than to slip out of bed, grab nothing but your yoga mat, and walk to the beach to watch the sun rise while listening to the gentle lapping of the waves? Then back for breakfast without any thought about what to wear.
There is ample beachside parking for those who want to visit just for the day.
4. Pizzo Greco, Italy
Pizzo Greco is perhaps the only place in Italy where you can go bed-to-beach without dressing. Access to the beach is a bit more challenging as this more rustic naturist resort has a steep climb down to the beach below. However, there is a beach restaurant and for 50 Euro cents you can get a ride back up the hill to your accommodation.
5. Riva Bella, Corsica, France
Popular with German and French visitors, this naturist resort sits on a long curved strand of white sand with some accommodation right on the beach. The water is calm and crystal clear, sun loungers and umbrellas are available for rent, and the long beach is ideal for long naked walks. This beach is ideal for those with small children or who have mobility issues. There is also a beach bar which is open for lunch. (Note, you must be covered if eating in.)
Beaches Where Naturists And Textiles Happily Coexist
Sometimes considered “clothing optional” beaches, these can be the best. Why? Because everyone mingles and is comfortable no matter what they are or are not wearing. However, these beaches can often be out of the way requiring scrambling over rocky headlands or enduring a long walk to the end of the beach.
6. Cala Del Bordenares And Cala Del Sombrerico, Mojacar, Spain
The sandy brown beach is a bay backed by steep cliffs and located well away from any buildings. The beach is officially designated a nude beach and can get quite busy during the summer season with people of all age groups. Access is by vehicle only along a winding, dirt track road down to the beach. There is plenty of parking, and it’s a short hop to the beach. There are no facilities on this beach but a short hike over the headland brings you to Cala Del Sombrerico -- another nude bay where there is a bar serving meals. Whilst toplessness is common all over Europe, here the majority of people had no tan lines.
7. El Playazo Beach, Cabo De Gata Natural Park, Spain
In the same area is El Playazo Beach. Just a couple of miles from the town of Rodalquilar, it’s a wide, large, clean beach with fine sand framed by mountains on one side and an impressive 18th-century fort on the other. There is ample parking right at the beach but no amenities. What makes this beach so special is that all generations (from toddlers to grandmothers) share the same space -- some fully clothed, others topless, and others nude -- and no one cares. It doesn’t get better than that.
8. Plakias Beach, Crete
A large sweeping bay with cliffs as a backdrop make this long golden beach, located at the southern end of Plakias town, an ideal place to top up the tan. Easy walking access from the town along with a shore that slopes gently into the sea make this a very convenient beach for families with small children or those who don’t wish, or cannot, trek far. Naturists tend to gather at one end of the beach but there is no clear divide. Umbrellas can be rented. For active sun-worshippers, Micro Amoudi Beach -- a small bay found between nearby Amoudi and Damnoni beaches -- is a naturist’s haven. It’s a reasonably strenuous climb up and down the cliffs so not for the unsure of foot. But those who venture over the headland are rewarded with sharing a small cove with warm, crystal clear water with many other like-minded folks who don’t have a stitch of clothing between them.
So What’s The Best Beach For You?
For first-time naturists, stripping off on a designated nude beach where you are just one nudist among many is likely the easiest introduction to clothes-free fun. On a clothing-optional beach, you could be in a small minority of nude beach users and feel more self-conscious in disrobing. Whichever option you choose, you’ll wonder what took you so long.
For more naturist inspiration, consider