Where do you go if you want black sand beaches, live volcanoes, horse riding on the beach, unusual natural beauty and the sense that you’re in another world altogether? Hint: it’s not Hawaii. It’s Iceland! Perfect for little travelers to go exploring before a picnic are the intriguing beaches of Vatnsnes in the north or the sandy sweep of Longufjorur in the south.
In Norway head for the Jæren beaches; these long stretches of sand dunes are protected as a conservation area for the benefit of the unique plants and animals that call it home, to the benefit of visitors who can revel in its unspoiled scenery. Explore the Blue Flag beaches, some just outside Oslo, in Asker, Kristiansand and Bærum to enjoy the most environmentally attuned beaches in Norway. Near Funurlunden are lovely beaches of granite slabs interspersed with sand.
Cross over to Sweden and right away, in and around Malmö is an array of lovely sandy beaches to walk off any urban angst you may have acquired. Further along the coast, long, smooth swathes are punctuated with rocky outcrops, all catching the fresh ocean breezes. The get-away islands of Gotland and Öland are well worth the trip for outstanding beauty and gorgeous beaches. Ingmar Bergman lived on Gotland for years and even shot parts of movies here. Öland is a magnet for beach bunnies in high season, owing to its lovely shore, and nature lovers for its UNESCO listed natural sites, unique orchids, and the Ottenby bird station.
Beach enthusiasts will find the best stretches of sand on Finland’s West Coast, along the Gulf of Bothnia, starting with the huge archipelago in the south and up towards the undulating northern region. Vary your days on the beach by taking advantage of the many active water and land-based activities you can enjoy, all in the famously pristine Finnish countryside.
Denmark has loads of beaches, mostly soft, sandy, and child-friendly, with all the facilities and seashore snacking you could want. Among these, over 200 Danish beaches have earned the Blue Flag designation for meeting strict environmental criteria. The idyllic Danish island Fanoe is just 12 minutes from Esbjerg by ferry. Enjoy child friendly beaches, a soothing dune landscape and strolling down narrow cobbled streets in picturesque villages in search of that perfect ice cream cone.