Europe’s beaches have inspired legends and myths, from tales of Atlantis to Homeric epics to the fiction of Jules Verne. They've even brought Westeros to life in Game of Thrones episodes. These stories have also encouraged crowds of sun-seekers to beaches that were formerly celebrated for their remoteness and calm.
Here are 20 less-trodden alternatives to tourist-heavy hotspots such as Santorini in Greece and Split in Croatia. A few of these spectacular coastal havens—including deserted beaches on France’s far-flung islands and shores above the Arctic Circle that offer Northern Lights views—are so off-the-grid you’ll need GPS (or a helpful local) to find your way.
Lane Nieset is a freelance journalist from Miami who currently calls Nice, France, home. Follow her travels on Twitter and Instagram.