When you think of Europe, the first thought that comes to mind isn’t usually, “Where should I go snorkeling or swimming?” Europe is most well-known for its famous landmarks, culture, food, and beautiful old towns and cities to explore.
However, Europe has a ton of coastline, too. Usually, when you think of snorkeling, the Caribbean Islands or any other tropical destination might come to mind. But you don’t only have to visit these warm, remote destinations to see tons of colorful fish.
Europe has some great snorkeling destinations worth checking out. While Europe receives millions of tourists each year, most don’t try snorkeling while visiting, but it’s a great way to get to know the underwater world in Europe.
On your next European vacation, be sure to check out the coast. It’s quite beautiful, and there are great places for swimming and great places to snorkel in Europe.
But, even if you’ve been to the coast or swam in the Atlantic or the Mediterranean, you might not have even known you had great opportunities for snorkeling.
It’s not widely known or advertised because, let’s face it, most people come to Europe for different reasons and save their swimming and snorkeling for a tropical destination.
But we’re here to tell you that you can have it all! You can enjoy a historical, sightseeing, food-eating vacation and a relaxing, calming, slow-moving vacation all in one.
That is what makes Europe so special; it offers the best of all worlds with its diverse landscape.
Top Places to Snorkel in Europe
Keep reading to learn more about the best places to snorkel throughout Europe. Snorkeling is great because it doesn’t require much equipment, and is easy to pick up.
You can often rent gear, bring your own or purchase some for pretty cheap. All you need is goggles,a snorkel breathing tube, fins, and maybe a life jacket.
Some companies will take you on snorkel tours to help you spot as much as possible, but you can also go out on your own if you’re safe about it and know where to go.
1. Crete, Greece
There are many great places to snorkel along the Greek Islands, but the island of Crete has to be one of the best snorkeling spots.
Elafonisi Beach in Crete is one of the top snorkeling destinations in Europe. The clear blue water makes it easy to see deep into the ocean, and there is colorful marine life everywhere.
Elafonisi beach is also known for its pink-hued sand, and a shelter is a common place for loggerhead sea turtles to lay their eggs, marking the beach a Natura 2000 reserve.
Another great spot in Crete is Balos which is a lagoon and peninsula. You can enjoy the wonderful ocean view both in front of you and behind you.
You will also find rare species of flora and fauna here as well as marine animals. From Balos, the best way to go snorkeling is to take a boat tour.
Some tours will provide gear you can borrow, but be sure to find out ahead of time so you know if you need to bring your equipment with you or if it’s included.
The Greek islands are great for snorkeling because there is virtually no current, so you can aimlessly explore without worrying about being swept away.
2. Nisida Syvota, Greece
Another great snorkeling spot in the Greek Islands is the Blue Lagoon on the island of Nisida Syvota. This is a very small island not far from Corfu.
It’s not a popular tourist spot so you can expect an authentic experience and great snorkeling opportunities. The beach at the lagoon can only be reached by boat, and it’s one of the most beautiful and pristine beaches because it’s so secluded.
You’ll never find this beach crowded or plagued by umbrellas and chairs; instead, you can enjoy its natural beauty.
From the beach, the seabed is shallow, and the lagoon allows the water in this area to be sheltered, creating the perfect snorkeling scenario. If you’re staying on the island of Corfu, which is more popular for tourists, you can easily take a boat to this lagoon to go snorkeling.
3. Caprera, Italy
Near the island of Sardinia, Caprera is an island that is part of Italy. It’s also part of the National Park of La Maddalena Archipelago and a Natura 2000 site, a group of protected areas in the European Union.
Because of this, the cove of Cala Coticcio is completely uncontaminated and preserved. The cove has created a natural swimming pool, making it great for snorkelers.
It’s the dream landscape of snorkelers, and of course, there is rich marine life too. Not only is this an excellent place for snorkeling, but it’s also a popular scuba diving spot.
4. Comino, Malta
Malta is a small European country comprised of three inhabited islands and a few smaller uninhabited islands.
They’re all great spots for snorkeling, but Comino is especially great because of the Blue Lagoon. The shallow bay of the lagoon protects the area from currents.
This is an unforgettable place for snorkeling; from the white, pure sand, to the turquoise waters, to the marine life of every shape and color, it will truly feel unreal to snorkel here.
There are a ton of fish that call this quaint lagoon home, and even without snorkeling, you can see fish from above the water; that’s how clear it is!
It’s a phenomenal spot for snorkeling. It’s easy to take a boat tour to the lagoon and snorkel with a tour company that will ensure you see the most unique sea life possible.
5. Lérins Islands, France
The Lérins Islands are made up of four islands in the Mediterranean in the French Riviera. The islands are located near Cannes, France, and are only a short boat trip away.
It’s a great way to spend hours away from the crowds in places like Nice and Cannes and explore the underwater world.
The marine life loves the rocky seabed in this area, and there is high visibility which allows you to see to further depths.
The Lérins Islands is also home to Estérel Natural Park, which is a member of the Natura 2000. This means it’s protected and preserved and gives you the best chance of seeing the most marine life possible.
6. Azores, Portugal
The Azores is underrated for their snorkeling. The islands are located in the mid-Atlantic and have tiny fishing villages, beautiful landscapes, and wonderful snorkeling opportunities.
The Azores are characterized as being rocky and volcanic, which also creates one of the most unique underwater landscapes.
Different islands in the Azores offer different snorkeling opportunities. Santa Maria is known for its sea turtles, and Faial Island has a great cove.
No matter what island you visit, you’ll have the chance to snorkel, and you’ll leave mind-blow by everything you got to see.
Keep in mind that these islands are over 800 miles away from Portugal, so it’s not a day trip. You’d need to stay on the islands in order to enjoy snorkeling here.
These remote islands are well worth the trip and are a great place to spend your vacation. Between March and May, you may even get to see blue whales!
7. Calanques National Park, France
This national park encompasses both land and sea. It’s located near Marseille and some of the best places to visit in the south of France.
It’s a beautiful place if you love the outdoors. Of course, you can snorkel, but you can also hike, partake in water sports, swim, and explore.
The national park has snorkel tours that depart from Marseille or the small fishing village nearby, Cassis. You can also go out snorkeling on your own if you don’t want to take a tour.
8. Cap de Creus, Costa Brava, Spain
Another great place to snorkel is in Cap de Creus National Park, which is in Costa Brava, the coastal region of Catalonia, Spain.
This national park is known for its unique birds and picturesque landscape. There is also a ton of unique marine life in this area, which makes snorkeling even more special.
The coral and algae fields attract colorful fish and make snorkeling so much fun. The water is crystal clear here, too, so don’t worry about not seeing anything.
You’ll see more marine life than you thought possible. The rocky area is also home to live sponges, starfish, eels, and other unique marine life. It’s also shallow around the cove, making snorkeling even easier.
9. Lake Silfra, Iceland
Iceland is probably not the first place you think of snorkeling at all. It’s cold and not at all tropical like the places where you’ll often find bright, colorful fish.
However, the Silfra Fissure in Iceland is one of the best places to snorkel in Europe. Here, you can snorkel between the crack of two tectonic plates.
The water is crystal clear and super clean, and it’s a great place for both snorkeling and diving. Lake Silfra is located in Thingvellir National Park, which is also a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The rift was created in 1789 by earthquakes and is now a popular snorkeling destination. This is truly a once-in-a-lifetime snorkeling experience, and if you get the chance, you should take it!
This water also has the most visibility in the world at over 300 feet.
10. Makarska Riviera and Buza Beach, Croatia
Makarska is a town on the coast of mainland Croatia. It has some of the best beaches and the most accessible snorkeling on this list.
Right on the Dalmatian Coast, there are plenty of small bays and caves to explore. You’ll spot unique sea life, and if you’re lucky, maybe you’ll even find a seahorse!
You can explore all the tiny beaches along the coast and snorkel while on the hunt for the most unique sea life. Buza Beach is another excellent snorkel spot in Croatia.
It’s easy to get to right from the city of Dubrovnik. The rocky terrain attracts tons of marine life. The islands off the coast of Croatia offer great snorkeling opportunities as well.
Croatia is a place well worth exploring.
As you can see, there are so many great places to snorkel in Europe. It might not have crossed your mind in the past as a top snorkeling destination in the world, but there are some wonderful spots worth checking out.
So, next time you’re in Europe and near the coast, be sure to look into the snorkeling opportunities near you.
You won’t be disappointed once you’re submerged and enjoying all the colorful marine life of all shapes and sizes.
It will both humble and amaze you. Snorkeling is a great way to remind you how large this world is, both beneath and above the surface.
There is so much beauty to experience and appreciate, and it’s never too late!