Looking for the best places to snorkel in Europe? I have collaborated with other travel writers to bring you some awesome destinations with the best snorkeling in Europe! From the Mediterranean, to the Atlantic and the North Sea, there are a variety of locations to choose from!
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Best Snorkeling in Europe
Best Snorkeling in Europe
Cape Greco, Ayia Napa
Pollock Holes, Kilkee
Isola Bella, Taormina, Sicily
Blue Lagoon, Comino
Cala d’or, Mallorca
Nerja, Costa Del Sol
Orkney Islands, Scotland
Suggested by Abbey from Trips On Abbey Road
Some of the best places to snorkel in Europe are at the beaches of Pag Island. Pag is 5th largest island in Croatia and is usually less crowded than the other islands along the Adriatic Sea. Most people head over to Pag either by ferry or driving the short hour from the Zadar airport.
No matter what beach you head to you can guarantee that the water is crystal clear and full of colorful fish. There are a few places on Pag to buy snorkels like the Konzum store in Novalja, or you can try the souvenir shops on the main road. If you are a serious snorkeler and want high-end gear, you will want to bring it along with you.
For a simple snorkel that you can reach by yourself, you can head straight to Bosana Beach. This beach is in the middle of the Velebit mountain and offers plenty of shade. You will have to walk down a bit of steep walkway to get to Bosana, but the short hike is absolutely worth it. Bring your own gear, food, and water here because once you arrive there is nothing but a natural and pristine beach.
Photo Credit: Abbey from Trips on Abbey Road
Another wonderful place to snorkel on Pag Island is on the very tip of the Island known as the Olive Gardens of Pag. Here you can drive all the way down to the rocks where you will find a lovely walkway with stairs leading down to the water.
If you come to the olive groves in the early morning you may get to see dolphins playing in the water. This lesser-known beach is a perfect place to enjoy the quiet and stunning landscapes of the Olive Gardens of Pag, keep your eyes out for the cute wild sheep that munch on olive trees. No matter which beach you choose on Pag Island you are going to encounter at least a few fish!
Cape Greco, Ayia Napa
Suggested by UK Everyday
Cape Greco is a beautiful area in Cyprus that offers great opportunities for snorkelling. It is one of the countries with the cleanest water in Europe which makes it a perfect spot to see various fishes or turtles.
One of the best things to do in Cyprus is to explore sea caves, which Cape Greco has in abundance. The vibrant marine life will astound you and caves in Cyprus will provide a unique environment for adventure seekers. Limestone geology in Cyprus has created a series of sea caves which are a perfect spot for both beginners and experienced snorkelers.
Photo Credit: UK Everyday
There are many different companies that offer snorkelling trips to Cape Greco, so it is easy to find one that suits your needs and budget. Cape Greco tours include not only snorkelling but also sightseeing at this beautiful National Park. You can also get to Cape Greco by car just 15 minutes away from Ayia Napa.
*Snorkel equipment provided for a refundable deposit
Suggested by Caleb from The Pazook Travel Journal
The Greek Islands contain some of Europe’s most beautiful turquoise water and beautiful beaches. And the largest island in the country, Crete, is actually one of the best (and most overlooked) places to go snorkeling in Europe.
The major cities in Crete are located on the island’s northern coast, including Chania, Rethymno, and Heraklion. You don’t HAVE to book a tour to go snorkeling in Crete, but it can definitely make things more convenient since they provide transportation to the snorkeling location and the snorkeling gear (if you don’t have your own).
Photo Credit: Caleb from The Pazook Travel Journal
Multiple snorkeling tours leave from each city, and this tour from Chania is one of the best. On this tour, you can see tons of different fish species, crabs, coral reefs, and sometimes octopuses while snorkeling in Crete.
The southern coast is best if you are looking for a place to snorkel right offshore. We recommend checking out Kedrodasos beach, Preveli Beach, Souda Bay, or Preveli Beach.
Some things to note are:
– Wear Reef Shoes. Sharks and jellyfish are rare in Greece, but sea urchins are everywhere.
– Visit between May – September for the best ocean conditions and the most transparent water.
Suggested By David & Intan From The World Travel Guy
The island of Kefalonia in Greece is famous for its nice beaches and coastline, and it also has a lot of good snorkeling opportunities too, with clear turquoise water almost anywhere you go!
Without booking a tour, you can snorkel from the beach at places like Assos Village and Lagadakia Beach, where you have a good chance of seeing lots of fish, calm blue water, and occasional sea turtles.
Photo Credit: David & Intan From The World Travel Guy
Renting a car is a great idea in Kefalonia, because it’s a relatively big island (compared to smaller Greek islands like Santorini), and there are so many hidden beaches to find if you do a bit of exploring. Bring your own snorkel gear, as not all places have rentals.
It’s easy to get to Kefalonia with direct flights or ferries from Athens, and there are lots of nice hotels scattered all over the island, including some hotels near the best beaches and snorkeling spots! If you want to spend your summer in the water, Kefalonia is one of the best places to snorkel in Europe!
Pollock Holes, Kilkee
Suggested by Emer & Nils from Lets Go Ireland
One of the best snorkelling spots in Ireland is the Pollock Holes in Kilkee, County Clare. The waves from the Atlantic Ocean wash over these pools twice a day and constantly deliver a new assortment of marine life.
The deep clear pools are named after the small pollock fish that frequent them for large amounts of the year. Many other marine species are also found here including a variety of fish, urchins, corals, sea hares and crabs and starfish.
The calm waters of the Pollock Holes are very sheltered and are only between 1 and 2.5 m in depth. This makes it a popular location in summer especially when the water temperature can reach about 20 °C (68 °F).
Photo Credit: Emer & Nils from Lets Go Ireland
The Pollock Holes are located about 2 km (1.2 miles) outside of the seaside town of Kilkee. There are snorkel gear rental possibilities, as well as accommodation options available in the town. Plan your trip with the tide times as the Pollock Holes are only accessible when the tide is low. To reach the pools, it is necessary to cross over the rocks, which can be slippery at times.
For some more snorkeling activities in breathtaking locations on the west coast of Ireland head to the Mannin Bay Blueway and the stunning Glassilaun Beach in Connemara.
Suggested By Lisa from Travel Connect Experience
Elba Island is located off the port city of Piombino in northern Tuscany. The island is part of the Tuscan Archipelago National Park, which is a protected area also because it has some of the most intact seabeds on the Italian coast. But the reason this destination receives so many visitors during the summer is its fantastic beaches.
First and foremost, Elba’s beaches are many, about a hundred, and very diverse: golden sandy beaches, pebble beaches, secluded bays, and beaches near the most picturesque villages. With such a clean sea, it is natural that among the most satisfying things to do here are snorkeling and diving.
Photo Credit: Lisa of Travel Connect Experience
The most suitable places on the island for snorkeling are:
The bays in the northern part, such as Seccione Beach and Le Ghiaie Beach in Portoferraio.
The western part. At Pomonte Beach you will also find a wreck that you can explore with fins and a mask.
Among the fishes you may encounter while snorkeling on Elba Island are: urchins, octopuses, red mullets, sea breams, starfishes, damselfishes, scorpionfishes, and sunfishes. In the villages on the island, you will undoubtedly find stores that sell snorkeling equipment. Or, rent it from the Bluelba Diving Center at the Rosselba Le Palme Camping near Portoferraio.
To reach the island of Elba, take a ferry in Piombino to Portoferraio, Rio Marina, or Cavo. The trip takes less than an hour.
*Snorkeling equipment included
Isola Bella, Taormina, Sicily
Suggested by Taylor from Brown Eyed Flower Child
One of Europe’s best places to snorkel is Isola Bella in Taormina, Sicily. Isola Bella is also known as “The Pearl of the Ionian Sea,” making it the perfect location to relax and explore! The best time to take a Sicily vacation and enjoy this stunning island off Taormina’s coast is between June and September.
The best way to get to Isola Bella is by taking a cable car on via Pirandello to Mazzaro. The closest airport to Taormina is Catania Airport. You can get to Taormina by bus or rent a car from the airport.
Even though there are no hotels on the island, there are plenty of accommodations, ranging from all budgets, along the coast of Taormina. If you’re looking to splurge, then the Four Seasons San Domenico Palace is a breathtaking place to stay. A great budget property is Villa Fiorita.
Photo Credit: Taylor from Brown Eyed Flower Child
During a trip to Isola Bella, you can bring your own snorkel gear and equipment and discover Sicily’s underwater world or do a morning or afternoon snorkel tour with Nike Diving Center. All tours are an hour and a half long and include refreshments. It costs €40 for adult snorkeling 13 years or older, €35 for children 12 and under, and €70 for one adult and one child combined. All equipment is included in the price.
The tour takes off from the heart of Isola Bella through a dinghy boat. The leading diving and snorkeling spots are only minutes away from the shore. You can explore the incredible Blue Grotto, the southern Isola Bella, the Roman Columns, and the Gorgonians. The sea life you can spot while snorkeling around Isola Bella is Dusky Grouper, Parrotfish, Sargo, Red Starfish, and more. Be careful of the purple jellyfish!
Other great things to do in Taormina are strolling the charming Corso Umberto and enjoying the breathtaking views, shopping, checking out the Greek Theatre, savoring delicious seafood and cannoli, and seeing the Duomo.
*Snorkel equipment provided
Blue Lagoon, Comino
Suggested by Moumita and Sankha from Chasing the Long Road
Located on a tiny island called Comino, Blue Lagoon is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Malta. With crystal clear turquoise water, secluded beaches, stunning natural sceneries and unique rock formations, Blue Lagoon is like a tropical paradise. It is one of the best scenic snorkelling spots in Europe. This small island is also a great place for swimming, cliff diving and exploring sea caves.
From Malta mainland, you can take a ferry to Blue Lagoon from the Cirkewwa Ferry Terminal, which has a direct bus connection to Valletta, the capital city. There are various tour operators running boat services to this island. Also, you can hire a private catamaran for the day.
Photo Credit: Moumita and Sankha from Chasing the Long Road
It’s better to bring your own snorkelling gear. Other than a small shop selling drinks and snacks, there are not many facilities available here. There are also jellyfish at the Blue Lagoon, so be careful when you’re swimming around.
The waters are quite shallow. So, snorkelling here is easy and gentle. Also, it is a perfect way to see the local marine life. If the Blue Lagoon gets a bit too crowded, you can also visit the Crystal Lagoon nearby.
*Snorkel equipment provided for a deposit
Suggested by Lowri from Many Other Roads
If you’re looking for the perfect destination to experience some of Europe’s best snorkelling, look no further than Gozo Island near Malta! Home to crystal clear waters and an abundance of marine life, this Mediterranean island paradise is a must-visit for any snorkelling enthusiast.
Gozo is particularly well-suited to snorkelling, thanks to its shallow and protected bays. The calmer waters make it ideal for newcomers to the sport, while more experienced snorkelers can venture further out into deeper areas in search of more exotic fish and coral.
Photo Credit: Lowri from Many Other Roads
One of the best spots for snorkelling in Gozo is the Azure Window. This natural archway of limestone, which has become a popular attraction among tourists, provides an amazing view of the Mediterranean Sea below.
If you want to experience the best-hidden spots Gozo offers, make sure you book a boat trip. With a local guide, you will be able to find the safest and most beautiful spots to swim in that you wouldn’t be able to find without a local.
The waters in Gozo are pretty warm and safe all year round but in the Summer you may see more jellyfish so be prepared!
Suggested by Campbell from The Algarve Family
The small, picturesque town, of Sagres in the western Algarve is known for its pristine beaches, dramatic cliffs, and diverse landscape. Surfing in Sagres is world-renowned, and the town also offers some of the best snorkeling and scuba diving in the Algarve.
Two coastlines, the west coast and south coast, come together at Sagres, and beaches on the south coast are protected from the wind and the large oceanic swells. Praia de Mareta is a long sandy beach located in a bay flanked by cliffs on both sides right in the middle of Sagres town.
Photo Credit: Campbell from The Algarve Family
Snorkeling along the cliffs at the east side of Mareta Beach you can see a lot of fish and nice rock formations. Snorkel with a buoy with a flag. There can be strong currents so snorkel with a buddy. Martinhal Beach, a long sandy beach located in the shallow Bay of Baleeira about 2 km from Sagres town, is a great spot for scuba diving and snorkeling.
The Martinhal Islets (Ilhotes do Martinhal) just offshore are limestone structures with plenty of caves and caverns to explore underwater. A huge variety of marine life makes these awesome structures their home. It is a long swim to the islets from the beach, but you can stay with or contact PuraVida Divehouse near Mareta beach for a guided snorkeling trip.
Suggested by Megan from Megan Starr
The Azores Islands, a small Portuguese archipelago, offers some of the best snorkeling in the world. Despite being in the Atlantic, the water surrounding these islands is a nice swimmable temperature and are full of sea life and fascinating underwater landscapes, due to the volcanic heat coming from below.
The best way to reach the island chain is to fly into the capital, Ponta Delgada, and ferry or fly to other islands. There is fantastic snorkeling in the Azores across all of the islands, so wherever you choose to base yourself, there will be opportunities nearby.
Photo Credit: Megan from Megan Starr
On Sao Miguel, try to get one of the limited day tickets to the Islet of Vila Franco do Campo, a small collapsed crater full of fish that boasts some of the most pristine snorkeling waters around. On Santa Maria, Praia Formosa has an impressive sunken ship. Keep your eyes peeled for octopus, rays, sea turtles, and jellyfish among the huge variety of fish.
You can snorkel with your own gear or rent it on the island, or you can join a snorkeling tour, where gear is provided. The best time to visit the Azores for snorkeling is June to September, when the water is the warmest.
*Snorkeling equipment provided
Cala d’or, Mallorca
One of the best places to snorkel in Europe is in Cala d’Or Mallorca. A cala is a name for a small bay or cove, so if you’re looking for the best beaches for snorkeling in Europe, Cala d’Or has 5! All with lovely golden sand and clear turquoise waters.
Of the Cala d’or Beaches, Cala Gran is the largest, however Cala Ferrera great for snorkeling. The waters are calm and in the deeper areas there are lots of fish and sea grass. Lots of fish swim around the rocky areas along the edge of the cove. Several locations have steps so you can access the water straight in the deeper area. During the summer, watch out for jellyfish as they sometimes get ‘trapped’ in the cala.
The beach has facilities such as toilets, showers and a beach bar. Sun loungers and umbrellas are available to rent, with each umbrella having a safe. This is great for storing valuables while in the water. A short walk away are plenty of shops selling snorkel equipment, or you can take your own.
Alternatively, the Starfish Glass Bottom Boats depart from Cala Ferrera and offer a variety of cruises. They stop at nearby Cala Mondrago Natural Park for swimming and snorkeling, however gear is not provided. For those that may not feel comfortable snorkeling themselves, the catamarans have underwater glass viewing pods!
Nerja, Costa Del Sol
Suggested by Victoria from Guide Your Travel
Nerja is a beautiful town located on the Costa del Sol in the Andalusia region of southern Spain, and it’s a great place for snorkeling. The town is easily accessible by car or public transport, with the nearest airport being Malaga Airport, located approximately 60 kilometers away. There is a wide variety of hotels and rental apartments available in town, making it easy to find accommodation near the best snorkeling spots.
Snorkeling in Nerja can be done from the beaches, but we recommend taking a boat trip to fully experience the underwater beauty of the area. There are several tour companies offering snorkeling excursions, which include pick up from your hotel or a designated pick up point in town. The tours usually include a visit to the stunning cliffs and caves, and spending plenty of time at the beach.
Photo Credit: Victoria from Guide Your Travel
It’s important to be aware of the weather conditions and strong currents, especially during the winter months. It’s too cold to snorkel during the winter, and the best time to go is between June and September. Snorkeling gear can be rented from the tour companies, or you can bring your own equipment.
While snorkeling in Nerja, you can expect to see an array of marine life such as colorful fish, octopuses, and starfish. You’ll love that many of the fish aren’t scared of humans and will come very close to you if you stay still.
Apart from snorkeling, Nerja offers a range of water sports such as paddleboarding, kayaking, and scuba diving. The town is also famous for its picturesque old town, beaches, and cultural attractions such as the Nerja Caves. Don’t forget to drive up to Frigiliana, which is perfect for a day trip.
*Snorkeling equipment provided
Suggested by Valencia Revealed
The Valencian Community in Spain is a fascinating place to explore and discover the hidden secrets of the Mediterranean Sea. This region has three coasts – Costa Blanca, Costa de Valencia and Costa del Azahar, extending for a total of almost 600 km.
Along these coastlines, there are various snorkelling spots that allow visitors to explore the underwater habitat, including seagrass meadows, rocky floors covered with algae, sponges, starfish, and octopuses.
The snorkelling routes range from Alicante to Castellón and include a Roman quarry from the 1st century BC in Pilar de la Horadada, the Tabarca Island with its extensive seagrass meadows and marine biodiversity, and the archaeological site of Los Baños de la Reina in El Campello, where Roman fish bins are connected under the water. And this is to name just a few.
Photo Credit: Valencia Revealed
The Tabarca Island is a remarkable location for snorkelling, and it is accessible from both Santa Pola and Valencia. If you are in Santa Pola, you can rent a boat for a day to get there. Alternatively, if you are in Valencia, you can join an organised guided tours to visit Tabarca Island, which is considered one of the best day trips from Valencia.
Most of the snorkelling routes in the Valencia region have downloadable brochures and maps available at the tourist centres.
*Snorkel gear provided
Orkney Islands, Scotland
Suggested by Suzanne from Meandering Wild
Scotland is the perfect location for snorkelling in Europe and there are many places you can enter the water and explore. However, one of the best has to be the Churchill Barriers in the Orkney Islands. These concrete causeways between the islands were built during the war to stop submarines entering the sheltered waters of Scapa Flow and are now lovely snorkel sites.
Photo Credit: Suzanne from Meandering Wild
Parking is a small roadside layby and then entry is from the beach. The seabed is shell and sand and is really light making it a lovely snorkel on a sunny day. A short way off the shore is a shipwreck which is partially submerged. This was intentionally sunk to block the entrance before the barriers were built. There are small fish to be seen as well as anemones, sponges and dead man’s fingers.
Other water sports are limited and you need to bring your own gear. The islands are however, a haven for wildlife and are a UNESCO World Heritage Site for the Neolithic artefacts and sites that can be visited.
Suggested by Izzy from Norfolk Travel Guide
Sheringham is a traditional Victorian seaside town in the English county of Norfolk surrounded by the glorious North Norfolk coast – not somewhere you’d traditionally associate with snorkelling! But in 2016, a redundant Edwardian-era iron sewage pipe was discovered stretching 100 metres under the sands and into the North Sea from the Promenade, right in the centre of town.
Encrusted with seaweed and marine invertebrates, the pipe forms the start of the Sheringham Snorkel Trail, which helps snorkellers explore the ancient chalk reef below. Just a few metres under the sea’s surface, the largest chalk reef in Europe is more than twenty miles long and thought to be more than 100 million years old. This Marine Conservation Zone boasts a diverse range of colourful and interesting sea life including the threatened pink sea fan coral, lobsters and crabs.
Photo Credit: Izzy from Norfolk Travel Guide
A popular family holiday spot, there are cafes, public toilets and shops selling snorkelling gear along the Prom, which backs the long sandy beach, which is lifeguarded in summer. Winter storms here can be ferocious and visibility is generally poor during these times – Sheringham is definitely a summer snorkelling destination!
Thanks again to my contributors for this post!
*Make sure to double check that boat tours include snorkel equipment. Some do, some don’t. However at the swim stops you can snorkel with own equipment.
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