The Algarve alternative
Jaz Beach, Montenegro
Though one of the longest beaches in the Budva area, the true flagship of Montenegrin tourism, Jaz Beach is decidedly low-key compared to some of its bustling neighbors — particularly notable as the beach has hosted concerts by the likes of The Rolling Stones and Madonna. Despite this relative calm, the sprawling bay of sand and pebbles has enough beach clubs, cafes and restaurants to snag a spot on a comfortable sun lounger and satisfy any craving for meaty ćevapi with bright red pepper ajvar. A popular family spot, Jaz Beach offers kid-friendly, calm shallows and extensive water sports – why not head out in a kayak or water trike? Also, you are only 10 minutes drive from the medieval Old Town of Budva.
How it goes: Stay just a few steps from the beach at Hotel Poseidon (00 382 33 463 134; poseidon-jaz.com) at £35 per night half board.
Barbados on the Baltic Sea
Do you have a choice between a city break and a beach holiday? Do both when you visit the Latvian capital, Riga. Half an hour by train from Riga Central Station, Jūrmala is home to 34 km of white sand beach against the backdrop of a fragrant pine forest. The resort had its heyday during the USSR, with numerous Soviet-era sanatoriums (and some more modern additions) offering an alternative to the sometimes refreshing (read: chilly) waters of the Baltic Sea. After a swim or time in the sauna, take a stroll to admire the charming and sometimes quirky Art Nouveau seaside villas. To extend your Latvian beach odyssey, check out the sandy beaches in Liepāja and Ventspils.
How it goes: The seafront Baltic Beach Hotel & Spa (00 371 67 771 400; Ostseestrand.lv) offers guests elegant rooms, four restaurants, and two pools, as well as a spa and beach access. Rooms start at £97 per night.