Whether you’re a seasoned traveller hankering for some sandy respite from busy cities, or you’re just looking for a one-off seaside holiday destination, we all love beautiful beaches.

And with so many awesome beaches out there in so many different countries, it can be hard to narrow down your search for the best beach around.

Luckily, we’ve come up with this blog post to help you decide on your next incredible beach destination. Read on for five must-visit countries with gloriously picturesque beaches. Enjoy…

1.   Greece

If you’re visiting Europe, there are plenty of unique countries rich in culture and steeped in history — that are also home to some incredible beaches. The Portuguese coast offers some amazing surfing in the Atlantic and fresh seafood to match, and need we mention how gorgeous the French and Italian Rivieras are, with their sun-drenched sandy beaches, glamorous resorts and dazzling yachts?!

However, if it’s gloriously picturesque beaches you’re after, you really can’t do better than Greece — famed for its endless coastlines and sandy shores.

As well as the mainland  — where you’ll find ancient capital Athens and indulgent foodie mecca Thessaloniki — Greece is made up of thousands of beautiful islands scattered throughout the Aegean and Ionian sea.

Popular picturesque destinations include the beautiful Santorini (check out this article to find out the best way to spend a long weekend on the island) or the cobbled streets and quaint coves of Mykonos.

If these beloved islands feel a bit too touristy for you, then you can seek some peace and quiet on more chilled islands like Naxos, Ithaca or Kythira — all of which have plentiful picturesque beaches. Sigh.

2.   Brazil

Brazil is a vast country with such a long and varied coastline that it can be hard to know where to start.

Travellers sticking to the Gringo Trail will be pleased to know that there are many gloriously picturesque beaches not far from Rio de Janerio in the form of tropical retreat Ilha Grande and its surrounding islands.

These sandy tranquil options aren’t as built-up and crowded as city beaches like the Copacabana and Ipanema — although these are, of course, well worth a visit for the pure “wow” factor of the sheer mountains, city skyline and long stretches of city beach, where you can sip caipirinhas while watching locals playing beach volleyball.

Travel north from Rio and you’ll find some incredible tropical islands (like Morro de Sao Paolo — a two-hour catamaran ride off the coast of Salvador) rich in Afro-Brazilian culture and covered in golden sand and palm trees. Heaven.

Head even further north past Fortaleza to the state of Ceará, and you will get to Jericoacoara — a small fishing village turned hippie beach resort in recent years. The streets are sandy, the stray dogs are adorable and chilled, and the beaches are beautiful. It’s also a mecca for kitesurfers, so don’t be surprised if it’s a little breezy at times.

3.   Costa Rica

If Central America isn’t on your travel list already, you should definitely add it. Exotic wildlife, a laidback lifestyle, and a mind-blowingly beautiful landscape make this a must-visit region.

In particular, Costa Rica is an incredible travel destination — especially if you’re looking for gloriously picturesque beaches fringed by tropical rainforests. This small but mighty country has coastlines on both the Caribbean and Pacific and is home to some incredible beaches (for more detail, check out this list of Costa Rica beaches).

Costa Rican beaches have the perfect balance of tranquillity and activity, depending on what you want from your vacation or travels. So if you want to spend your time relaxing, sunning yourself and watching the ocean gently lap at the golden shore, you can. And if you want to dive beneath those turquoise waves with a snorkel or scuba gear to explore coral reefs and observe marine wildlife, there are plenty of opportunities.

The surfing situation is pretty cool too, with beaches like Playa Tamarindo and Playa Santa Teresa being top surfing destinations in Costa Rica for both beginners and experienced surfers.

4.   Bali

Travelling around South-east Asia and looking for a beautiful beachy destination? Aim for Bali, and you won’t be disappointed.

Although Bali isn’t technically a country (it’s an Indonesian island), it’s such a stunning must-visit location for beach-lovers that we thought it deserved its own place on this list.

If you want incredible beach landscapes, there are all sorts of picturesque options for you in Bali — whether you want wild waves and a surfer’s paradise, shallow family-friendly bays or your own private cove to find your zen. Think golden sun-kissed sand, inviting warm waters, and abundant marine life — perfect for diving or snorkeling too!

The best beaches to head for are gloriously picturesque Pandawa Beach and Padang Padang Beach (which appeared in the movie “Eat, Pray, Love”), but there are many options to explore.

5.   The Maldives

This group of around 1,200 natural coral islands in the Indian Ocean truly is a beach-lover’s paradise.

Home to stunning white sandy beaches, clear blue lagoons and incredible coral reefs, the Maldives has to be pretty high up on anyone’s list of dream destination.

The warm waters and coral reefs contain some of the most diverse marine wildlife in the world; from colourful tropical fish in shallow waters to turtles and manta rays in the deep. And if you’re lucky — and you visit at the right time of year — you might even see some bioluminescent plankton from the beaches at night.

Sounds perfect, doesn’t it?

If you’re looking for gloriously picturesque beaches, you can’t beat these five must-visit countries. Each has their own distinct feel, culture and wildlife, so whichever beaches you end up choosing, you know you’re going to have an amazing time relaxing and exploring!

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