The Algarve alternative
Jaz Beach, Montenegro
Though one of the longest beaches in the area surrounding Budva, the veritable poster child of Montenegrin tourism, Jaz Beach is distinctively low-key compared to some of its hectic neighbours – particularly remarkable given that the beach has hosted concerts by stars including The Rolling Stones and Madonna. In spite of this relative tranquillity, the extensive bay of sand and pebbles boasts enough beach clubs, cafés and restaurants to ensure a spot on a comfy sunbed and satisfy any cravings for meaty ćevapi with vibrant red pepper ajvar. A popular spot for families, Jaz Beach has child-friendly, calm shallows and extensive water sports opportunities – why not head out on a kayak, or a water trike? What’s more, you’re only a 10-minute drive from the medieval old town of Budva.
How to do it: Stay just steps from the beach at Hotel Poseidon (00 382 33 463 134; poseidon-jaz.com) for £35 a night, on a half board basis.
Barbados on the Baltic
Stuck choosing between a city break and a beach escape? Do both when you visit the Latvian capital, Riga. A half-hour train ride away from Riga’s Central Station, Jūrmala is home to 21 miles of silky, white sand beach, set against a backdrop of fragrant pine forest. The resort had its heyday during the USSR, with numerous Soviet-era sanatoriums (and some more modern additions) providing an alternative to the sometimes refreshing (read: chilly) waters of the Baltic Sea. After a dip or some time in the sauna, take a wander to admire the charming, and at times quirky, Art Nouveau seaside villas. To extend your Latvian beach odyssey, check out the sandy stretches at Liepāja and Ventspils.
How to do it: The seafront Baltic Beach Hotel & Spa (00 371 67 771 400; balticbeach.lv) offers guests refined rooms, four eateries and two pools, plus a spa and beach access. Rooms start at £97 a night.