Discover the 10 Best Places to Snorkel in Europe

Discover the 10 Best Places to Snorkel in Europe

August 27, 2021 0 By Kerry

A beach holiday or vacation in coastal Europe is not complete without swimming in the ocean, searching for sea life. There are many beautiful European countries, so how will you know which has the best snorkeling destinations? Well, that’s where I come in. Discover the best places to snorkel in Europe, including the beautiful beaches where you can snorkel alone versus incredible snorkeling tours.

Best Places to Snorkel in Europe Contents

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1. Amoudi Bay, Santorini, Greece

By Monique at Trip Anthropologist

Best places to snorkel in europe - Amoudi Bay Santorini
Best snorkelling in Europe, Amoudi Bay Santorini

On the Greek island of Santorini in the Aegean Sea is the island’s most beautiful village, Oia. Oia is perched high on the red cliffs that plunge down the caldera to the Aegean Sea. The journey to the ocean involves 300 wide-cut steps that lead down from Oia to Amoudi (or Ammoudi) Bay.

Seafood tavernas that sell the freshest fish and octopus jut out to the very edge of the sea, where you can take a snorkeling or kayaking tour. Catamaran cruises begin or end at Amoudi Bay in time to see the sunset.

The best snorkeling on Santorini is around this tiny but beautiful bay. You can snorkel on either side of the port. Amoudi bay has some of the best snorkeling in Europe because, to the right, there is an underwater shipwreck to explore. If you’re lucky, you’ll also see an octopus lurking below the large rock you snorkel around to get to the wreck.

Most people snorkel on the left side of the tiny port, taking the rocky path to the little coves across from the little island of Saint Nicholas with its church and diving platform. The deep and clear turquoise water and large clusters of rocks mean lots of small colorful fish schooling around and between the rocks and many sea urchins.

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2. Benagil Beach, Algarve, Portugal

By Victoria Heinz from Guide Your Travel

Best places to snorkel in Europe, Banagil Beach, Algarve, Portugal
Benagil Beach is not only beautiful but its great for snokelling

Benagil Beach is one of the most famous places in the Algarve and all of Portugal. The beach has a connected sea cave that is an absolute tourist hotspot. The area around the cave and beach is perfect for snorkelling. The water is crystal clear, and the underwater world is fantastic.

You can rent snorkelling gear from the beach if you don’t have your own. Just make sure to avoid coming here on weekends or midday, as this spot can be incredibly crowded. You could also consider a boat tour if you want to go to the famous Benagil Beach cave. Most of them include several snorkelling spots to enjoy plenty of time on the water. Prices start at around 30€ per person, which is reasonable for Portugal.

Definitely add Benagil Beach to your Portugal road trip if you’re looking for the best beaches to snorkel in Europe.

Check out the deals on hotel accommodation and tours below: 

Also Read: The Best Water Parks in Europe (which includes some of these fabulous locations)

3. Azores, Portugal 

By Megan Starr 

Best places to snorkel in Europe, the Azores
Some of the best snorkeling in Europe is in the Azores

One of the most underrated places to go snorkeling in Europe is the Azores, an archipelago of islands that are part of Portugal in the middle of the Atlantic.

The Azores are rocky and volcanic islands – containing some of the most diverse waters in the world. Because of the volcanic topography, you will also find some of the most interesting undersea landscapes in the Atlantic Ocean.

Different islands have distinct advantages for Azores snorkeling on their respective beaches. Sao Miguel, for example, is known for its anchor graveyards, while Santa Maria is known for its sea turtles. One of the best places for snorkeling in the Azores is the Islet of Vila Franco do Campo. Close to Ponta Delgada, this gorgeous rocky island restricts numbers heading out there, and you must book a tour or an excursion in advance.

Another top spot for snorkeling is Praia Porto Prim on Faial island, where you will see a sheltered cove with waters brimming with colorful sea life.

When enjoying the Azorean waters, please pay attention to the flags as they will indicate the water’s conditions and any potential hazards, such as jellyfish and more.

There are plenty of places to stay throughout the islands, and if you find yourself on Sao Miguel, head to the Santa Barbara Eco-Resort on the north of the island.

Check out the deals on hotel accommodation and tours below: 

4. Calanques National Park, France

By Nadine Maffre from Le Long Weekend

Best places to snorkel in Europe, Calanques National Park, France
Visit Calanques National Park for great snorkelling

The Calanques National Park is an area of immense diversity. It encompasses a 20km stretch of land, sea, and the urban regions between France’s second city, Marseille, and the small fishing village of Cassis. Its proximity to some of the most visited places in the south of France makes it a popular spot for hiking and water sports, but its marine reserve status means it’s also an excellent place for snorkeling.

You can do many snorkeling tours within the Calanques National Park, with most departing in either Marseille or Cassis. But it’s entirely possible to go it alone too. You can either leave Port Miou via kayak (they’re available to rent if you don’t have your own) and paddle around to Port Pin or the famous Calanque d’En Vau to explore the underwater world around you. Or follow the Mediterranean coastline and jump into the water whenever you fancy.

Alternatively, there are several hikes you can take within the park to secluded beaches that make excellent places to snorkel also. Calanque de Sugiton is a local favorite, as is the family-friendly Calanque de Sormiou. In addition, there are many hidden underwater caves in the park, such as the Blue Cave in Morgiou or the Capélan Cave, which you can swim to via an underwater arch. 

To explore the Calanques National Park, you could stay near the old port in Marseille at Hôtel La Residence Du Vieux Port or in Cassis at Hotel Particulier Cassis (HP Suites). 

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5. Cap de Creus, Costa Brava, Spain

Best places to snorkel in europe - Cap de creus, catalonia
Best snorkelling in Europe, Cap de Creus, Catalonia

Cap de Creus National Park, located in the north of Catalonia, near the French border, is truly one of the most beautiful natural parks in the country. Besides being a protected area for birds and picturesque landscapes, it is also famous for its important marine life. This natural beauty makes snorkeling in the Mediterranean incredibly worthwhile.

Its unique coral and algae fields make Cap de Creus an absolute must-see, especially for biologists and underwater lovers worldwide. But, of course, there is also some colourful fish or other marine life to discover here.

Besides the aquatic life, the rock formations are a real highlight. Due to the mixture of saltwater and strong winds, ingenious shapes and unique constructions have been created here over the years, which you probably won’t find anywhere else.

Like other beaches on the Spanish Costa Brava on the Mediterranean coast, the water is crystal clear. That’s why Costa Brava is so popular with snorkelers from all over the world. Places like Palamós or the coastal region of Girona are also perfect for snorkeling.

You can visit Cap de Creus on a day trip from Barcelona or book accommodation nearby Cadaqués. Hotel Carmen in Roses is a great hotel, and it only takes around 30 minutes to drive to Cap de Creus.

Check out the deals on hotel accommodation and tours below: 

6. Asinara Island, Sardinia

By Claudia Tavani from Strictly Sardinia

Best places to snorkel in Europe, Asinara Sardinia Italy
Asinara, Sardinia Italy is a great spot for snorkeling

Asinara is a small island off the north of Sardinia that provides great snorkeling in Italy. A National Park since 1997, the island was a penal and leper colony, so very few people lived there regularly, which helped protect its environment. The intention to keep it pristine was a founding reason for the national park’s creation once the penal colony was finally closed. You will only see service cars on the island, and nobody lives there regularly except for the rangers, which contributes to giving Asinara a lost paradise aura.

Several beaches in Asinara are now nesting points for marine turtles – however, they are not accessible to visitors. However, several spots along the coast are the best beaches to snorkel in Europe. A boat tour is the best way to fully enjoy the local marine life – although swimming off the beach (Cala Sabina or Cala del Detenuto are perfect for this) is also an excellent way to appreciate it!

There are only two places to stay in Asinara. One is a very modest hostel where you’ll find dorms of various sizes and shared bathrooms and will be eating communal meals; the other is a boutique hotel called La Locanda del Parco, with just a few rooms that serve meals prepared with locally caught fish. They are both located in Cala d’Oliva village. 

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7. Navagio Beach, Zakynthos, Greece

Best places to snorkel in Europe, the blue caves and lagoon around Navagio beach, Zakynthos, Greece
Snorkel at the various blue caves en route to Navagio Beach

Zakynthos is a fantastic summer destination on the Ionian Ocean in Greece. While Zakynthos has many beautiful coastlines, one that attracts attention above all others is Navagio Beach.

Navagio Shipwreck Beach is an island, so you will need a boat to get there. While you can take a boat trip direct to the beautiful beach, you’d miss out on some of the best snorkeling in Europe.

Several tours are available, but make sure you book one that includes a snorkeling adventure around the blue lagoon’s and cave’s pristine waters. Not only do the azure waters give you brilliant visibility of the sea life, but you can also snorkel inside the blue cave. The natural caves are white, but the turquoise waters give them their name. They’re truly unique.

When you arrive at Navagio beach, you will have time to explore the enormous shipwreck that takes center stage on the shore. Snorkeling in the Mediterranean is a memorable experience and you’ll be able to snorkel around the coastline at your leisure. 

The shipwreck beach is in the North-East of Zakynthos, and typically, people will stay towards the southeast of the island.

Also Read: Best Zakynthos Beaches

Check out the deals on hotel accommodation and tours below: 

8. Malta, Gozo & Comino Islands

By Ania James from The Travelling Twins

Best places to snorkel in Europe, Malta, Gozo & Comino Islands
The Maltese archipelago is one of the best places to snorkel in Europe

Many people think that the best snorkeling in Europe is in Greece. However, Malta and Comino in the Mediterranean sea offer fantastic opportunities for snorkelers to explore. The water is warm year-round, making it an ideal destination for travellers who enjoy this activity all year. In addition, you’ll find plenty of marine life stingrays, squids, parrotfish, or moray eel.

Malta has beautiful coral reefs and crystal clear waters that acquire a mesmerizing teal tone in the sunlight. These beautiful reefs make for some truly stunning photographs!

Malta provides great snorkeling in the Mediterranean. Of course, the most accessible areas are next to sandy beaches like Paradise Bay or Golden Bay. But one of the most beautiful with crystal clear turquoise waters is in Blue Lagoon on Comino Island.

Malta is a small island, and Comino is even tinier and has only one hotel – Comino Hotel and Bungalows. If you decide to stay here, you will feel like you own the island and all the snorkelling sites if you visit them before or after all the excursion boats are gone.

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Related Reads: 

9. Silfra Fissure in Iceland

By Victoria Yore from Follow Me Away

Best places to snorkel in Europe, Silfra Fissure Iceland
Silfra Fissure is a unique place to snorkel in Europe

The Silfra Fissure In Iceland is one of the best places for snorkeling in Europe! Silfra Fissure is located in the Golden Circle In Iceland and is one of the unique places to snorkel worldwide! You are snorkeling between a crack in two tectonic plates.

The clean water is pristine and crystal clear. You can choose between diving or snorkeling, depending on your interest. To snorkel at Silfra Fissure, you must wear a dry suit and go on a tour to have proper training on how to swim in a dry suit. Everything is covered except for your face!

It is best to book in advance as these tours often book up quickly. Also, make sure to take a GoPro or some other form of underwater camera to capture this once-in-a-lifetime snorkeling experience!

When you finish, stay at the nearby Icelandair Hotel Fludir. Alternatively, you could head back into Reykjavik if that is where you are staying and stay at Hotel Alda in the heart of downtown! 

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10. Crete, Greece

By Chelsea Evans from Chelsea Explores

Best places to snorkel in Europe, Crete Greece
Crete is a fantastic Greek Island for Snorkelling

Crete is the largest island in Greece and the best place to snorkel in Europe. It’s the ultimate summer vacation spot for families and solo travellers.

The island is reachable by plane or ferry. Crete is among the most reachable Greek Islands, with three airports and six ports. The snorkelling destination also offers breathtaking beaches, diverse marine life, incredible wine, and ancient ruins.

One of the best places to go snorkelling in Crete is Elafonisi Beach. The remote beach is located on an island, separated from the southwest coast of Crete. Elafonisi Beach is known for its crystal clear waters and white and pink sand made from thousands of tiny seashells it contains.

This exotic snorkelling paradise is home to many rare plants and wildflowers, a shallow lagoon with loggerhead sea turtles, and colourful fish.

The best time for snorkelling in the Mediterranean is during fall in Greece (September to October). Children will be back at school, and fewer tourists will explore the island.

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Where is the best place to snorkel in Europe?

By now, you’ve discovered some of the best places to snorkel in Europe. There are different islands, coastlines, tropical fish, underwater caves, blue waters, and amazing beaches to explore. So whether you’re looking for a popular spot or a hidden gem, make sure you grab your snorkeling gear, plan where to go snorkeling spot and book a Europe trip.  

If you’re looking for flights, hotels and everything in between, check out the best travel resources online for links and recommendations, all in one place.

I’d love to know which destination catches your eye the most for snorkelling Europe. If you’ve already snorkelled in any of these places, how did you find it? Let me know in the comments, or connect with me on social media.

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