Now that we've found New Zealand's best beach, our quest for greatness continues. Jane Jurgens finds some of the best beaches in Europe, perfect for planning ahead for a winter getaway.
1. Villefranche-sur-Mer, France
If Nice is a bit too busy for your tastes, find a quiet alternative in Villefranche-sur-Mer. One of the French Riveria's best beaches, it's a favourite local spot for a picnic. This charmingly authentic fishing village sits between Nice and Monaco, with its Old Town filled with colourful 12th- and 13th-century buildings. Relax and enjoy the beach, admire the traditional fishing boats in the harbour, or enjoy the French lifestyle and local produce and wine in the markets.
2. Zlatni Rat, Croatia
Frequently named one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, Croatia's Zlatni Rat — otherwise known as the Golden Horn or Golden Cape — is a long pebbly beach that stretches out into the Adriatric Sea. Its unusual shape continually changes due to wind and sea currents. Located two kilometres from the town of Bol, this beach is a spectacular place to relax and watch the sunset — or, for more active types, it's also a popular spot for surfers and kite-surfers. There's also no shortage of places to try some authentic Croatian food.
3. Lyme Regis, England
It may not have the white sand and long sunlight hours of its Spanish and Greek counterparts, but you can't beat the picturesque town of Lyme Regis for a classic English seaside holiday. Known as the "Pearl of Dorset", the town is located on the Jurassic Coast and is famous for its geology and fossils. There are a variety of small beaches to suit everyone's tastes, with opportunities for mackerel fishing and diving trips from the Cobb Harbour. Grab some fish and chips in the town, or sit down for a traditional pub meal.
4. San Sebastian, Spain
San Sebastian cemented its reputation as a resort city more than a decade ago, favoured as a holiday spot by the Spanish royals. It still has a glamorous reputation, with luxurious mansions lining La Concha beach. Stretching for 1350m, it's perfect for an evening walk along the sand, or on the boardwalk. And if that leaves you with a healthy appetite, San Sebastian is also a gastronomic paradise of Spanish cuisine and has 15 Michelin stars spread across seven restaurants.
5. Parga, Greece
This small seaside town is situated in a secluded bay of the Ionian Sea and its amazing natural beauty has made it one of the most popular summer destinations in Epirus. With traditionally colourful Greek housing lining the slopes of a mountain, it's like something out of a picture-perfect postcard. Formally owned by Venice, there's also a lot of history here — explore ancient fortress ruins, visit the hilltop Ali Pasha castle, or stroll around the charming old quarter. At the end of the day, relax for a meal and a drink at one of Parga's seaside taverns.
Where's your favourite international beach? Let us know.