As packs of linen-clad tourists hit the beaches of St. Tropez and Positano, we’ve compiled a list of equally enchanting Mediterranean destinations you must visit.
Villefranche-sur Mer, France
Often outshined by it’s famous neighbour, Nice, Villefranche-sur Mer is an exceptional village that encapsulates what travellers have loved about the French Riviera for years: charm, authenticity, and luxury. Whether you’re staying on a boat or on land, the hike around Phare-du-Cap-Ferrat is not to be missed – best enjoyed at sunrise, its idyllic winding path allows you to see every perspective of the peninsula. The town itself has much to offer – post-hike, check out La Mère Germaine for a spectacular seaside meal (and don’t miss the chocolate soufflé!) Don’t miss your chance to stay at Grand-Hôtel Du Cap-Ferrat, one of the most spectacular destinations on the Riviera.
Swap the photogenic streets of Capri and Amalfi, for Northern Italy, which holds its own special charm. An old port city on the Ligurian Sea, Genoa’s stunning architecture and historical significance cannot be underestimated. Unlike the packed art museums in other Italian city counterparts, here in Genoa the museums are calm (and just as impressive). In the Palazzo Bianco and Palazzo Rosso, cultural spectators can see works by Caravaggio, Van Dyck, Rubens, Durer, and Veronese. Genoa is also the perfect home base for those with a penchant for day trips – explore surrounding coastal towns, like Bogliasco, Portofino, and Santa Margherita. Spend a night living like Italian royalty in the Belmond Splendido Mare, tucked away in the Portofino hills.
Valletta, a French, Italian, and Middle Eastern amalgamation, is unlike anywhere else we’ve visited. The pinnacle of decadence (and queen of oceanic chill), Valletta has a little something for everyone. Stroll through cobbled streets to unearth town squares bustling with locals and tourists alike, stopping to drink ice-cold Negroni’s and listen to buskers performing in the sun. If you want to dip your toe into Maltese culture, take the Barrakka Lift to the Upper Barrakka Gardens. If you are looking to embrace your adventurous side, a day tour to the neighbouring Blue Lagoon is the perfect way to spend an afternoon. Plan to stay at Iniala Hotel, a grand and atmospheric hotel that combines all the pleasures Malta has to offer.
Palma de Mallorca, Spain
Palma de Mallorca is one of those destinations that you never really get your claws out of; when you’re not there, all you do is dream of when you can next return. With the perfect balance of city and sea, here you can party, shop, sail, and sightsee your days away. The beach club scene in Mallorca is second to none: Gran Folies being the crème de la crème, about an hour outside of the main city centre. If you want to stay more local however, Assaona and UM Beach Mallorca are close seconds (and thirds). Another selling point for Palma is its food. Local hot spots like Ritzi, Rialto Living, and Ombu offer fresh, memorable dishes that will have you Instagramming before you even taste the food. For after-dinner drinks, the Gothic ambiance and unique cocktails at Bar Abaco make it a must. The Can Bordoy offers the perfect setting for in-town accommodation, with modern amenities and a Balearic flare that fuses island glamour and city sophistication.
Only and hour outside of Lisbon city centre, Cascais offers a more relaxed take on the Portuguese coast. On day one of your trip, amble on the smooth running and walking trail that winds all along the outer coastal shore. In the heart of town you’ll find a wonderful assortment of local restaurants, all of them good and reasonably priced. Cascais’s highlight lies within its central town square, where we suggest you lounge about for an afternoon sipping on organic Portuguese wine and watching the world go by. This is a perfect place for the whole family as well, with a stay at Martinhal right in town which allows for incredible amenities for both parents and children.
Korcula, a small island off the Croatian coast, is a welcome escape from the droves of tourists who have inhabited Dubrovnik ever since Game of Thrones sky-rocketed the small city to international fame. Nicknamed “Little Dubrovnik” because of it’s similar old city centre and Medieval palaces, Korcula offers that old-world charm that Croatia has become synonymous with. A great way to arrive here is by sailboat, so you can explore the hidden enclaves of uninhabited beaches and forest hikes that are scattered throughout the island. Bask under the sun at Tara’s Lodge, which combines sea and sand for the most relaxing of stays.
Greece and summer go together like peanut butter and jelly; it’s a natural fit. However, namesake destinations like Santorini and Mykonos often get the most tourist traction. Instead, venture out beyond the expected spots and into the Argo Saronic Gulf via ferry (only two hours from Athens) to reach the quaint island of Hydra. Fun fact about Hydra: it’s carless! Just like the ancient Greeks did, you will have to get around via donkey, or by foot. But we digress… this island has it all: hiking, swimming, exploring, just to name a few. It also offers the upscale comforts of the mainland in its port towns of Kaminia and Vlichos. Come suppertime, try Castello, a restaurant located in a renovated 18th-century castle, right on the seafront. Book your stay at Cotommatae for the ultimate luxury accommodation, situated right near the port.
Rising out of the Med like a mythic legend, Ischia is iconic by all standards. Rubbing shoulders with its flashy neighbour, Capri, Ischia highlights a more rustic southern Italian glamour. While here, stay at the Mezzatorre Hotel, a hotel which has flooded social media as the quintessential Italian getaway. Leaning into the mysticism of its surroundings, Ischia is also known for its powerful and healing thermal pools. As such, the Aphrodite Apollon is worth a visit – take a swim in the water of the gods.