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In the Benelux you’ll find wide, windy beaches along the southern edges of the English Channel and the North Sea, pounded or lapped, depending on the sea’s mood, with steel gray waves. Inland are gentler lakeside retreats where you can enjoy the sight and sound of water with not quite so much drama.
The westernmost beaches in the Benelux are along the Flemish coast, beloved by the Belgians - and many of the dogs that live here - for the fantastic, lung-expanding walks you can take along the wild, grassy dunes. Since it’s Belgium, you will then be able to treat yourself to a delicious and restorative meal in one of the seaside towns. Knokke-Heist is also known for its designer shops, while Nieuwpoort and Zeebrugge are seafood havens. The best spots for sporting activities are at Blankenberg and Middlekerke. Take the tram along the coast to scout out your best beach.
Continue along the coastline to Holland’s southern delta and you’ll find great wide stretches of sandy beach – some popular with shark teeth collectors! Further north are the Wadden Islands, long strips of land buffeted by wind and wave, where there is abundant natural life to appreciate in addition to the wonderful long walks you can take on the beach. You can even waddle if you want. Locally, this means walking on the seafloor when the Waddensea tide is all the way out – something to do only with a trained guide. What an experience!
There is yet another type of beach in Holland, and you won’t find it at the coast. The growing trend to build temporary beaches along canals and rivers in cities, complete with sand, beach chairs, and suntan (optional and weather permitting) has definitely reached Amsterdam, where among its almost dozen urban beaches you’ll find one several storeys up!
Yes, you can enjoy waterside leisure in Luxembourg. The primary places you’ll find a sparkling liquid landscape are at the forested Echternacht recreation area and at the lakes of the Haute-Sûre National Park, Weiswampach and Remerschen. After a leafy walk, bike ride, or a turn in a paddleboat, a refreshing splash and some sunbathing will finish off a day outdoors rather nicely.
The Pyrenees Mountains straddle the border between Spain and France.
Come along on our overview of the islands of no fewer than 18 European countries.
Warm Mediterranean hospitality will linger in your memories.