The remote Sutherland beach, home to the Am Buachaille sea stack, is about five miles south of Cape Wrath, and was used by the Vikings as a stopover point.
Sandwood Bay was also said to be home to a mermaid, sighted in the year 1900, as well as the ghost of a shipwreck victim who used to knock on the windows of an old cottage on stormy nights.
The Scots beach placed ahead of Cala Macarella in Minorca; Voutoumi in Greece and Lithuania’s Curonian Spit.
Montenegro’s Jaz Beach came top, while the rest of the top 10 was made up of Peniche Beach in Portugal; Corsica’s Rondinara Beach; Cale Goloritze in Sardinia; Iceland’s Vik Beach and Bantham Beach in Devon.
But there were no Scottish entries in the top ten best places in Europe for family holidays, with Kent in England, County Kerry in Ireland and Germany’s Black Forest taking the top three spots.
The so-called Garden of England was chosen as the best family destination by compilers of Lonely Planet’s Best in Europe 2015, with County Kerry in Ireland in second place.
Two other UK destinations - the island of Skomer off Wales’s Pembrokeshire coast and the nearby Marloes Sands - were combined by the compilers and took ninth place in the ten-strong family holiday list.
Kent was seen as being “full of opportunities for time travel to intrigue curious young minds”.
Singled out were the resort of Broadstairs, which was once home to Charles Dickens, the White Cliffs of Dover and the seaside town of Margate which has become “gentrified without losing its personality”.
Kerry in Ireland was described as a destination which “appeals to the imagination of travellers of all ages”.
The Ring of Kerry road trip around the country offers “attractions every few miles”, while Killarney National Park also gets a mention.
Skomer, sitting in a marine nature reserve, was seen as “sure to enthral young visitors” while Marloes Sands, a mile-long sweep of beach “does a vanishing act at high tide”.
However, no UK destinations were chosen in the ten best European places table which was headed by Icelandic port and fishing centre, Akureyri, with Leipzig in Germany second and The Azores in the mid-Atlantic third.
Top European beach was Jaz Beach in Budva, Montenegro, with Peniche Beach in Portugal third.
Lonely Planet editorial director Tom Hall, said: “The destinations have been chosen by our team of European experts. Some may be surprising, some are definitely under the radar, but all of them are great places to visit right now.”