The Mediterranean Sea is a treasure trove of stunning coastlines and idyllic islands, bordered by three continents and embraced by 22 countries. While some popular beach destinations can get crowded, we’ve scouted out the best-hidden gems that promise both tranquility and affordability. Travel with us beyond Europe to North Africa and the Middle East for unforgettable beach getaways, carefully curated by our Mediterranean-based travel writers.
1- Morinj, Montenegro: A Hidden Balkan Jewel
While Montenegro is gaining popularity among travelers, many flock to the bustling resorts around the Bay of Kotor, overlooking the hidden gem of Morinj. Morinjska plaža, a natural pebble beach, boasts crystal-clear waters and a serene ambiance, surrounded by lush greenery, chestnut, and pine trees providing refreshing shade. The beach offers all necessary amenities, including a beach bar, restrooms, and rentable sun loungers. As you relax, you’ll be enchanted by the picturesque stone houses lining the shore, remnants of the area’s Venetian past.
2- Tangier, Morocco: Where Two Worlds Meet
Tangier stands at a unique crossroads where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Mediterranean Sea. Its expansive city beach offers a spacious retreat with fine white sand and thatched parasols. Take a leisurely stroll along the palm tree-lined corniche, passing bustling cafes, to reach the newly developed marina boasting chic lounges and Ibizan-style restaurants. Don’t miss the delectable ruby-red tuna tacos at Chiringuito. For a respite from the sun, wander through the labyrinthine alleyways of the ancient medina or relax with a mint tea at the tranquil Petit Socco. And of course, witness a mesmerizing sunset at Café Hafa, offering breathtaking views of the Straits of Gibraltar.
3- Tropea, Italy: The Pearl of Calabria
Perched atop a cliff in southern Italy, Tropea is an enchanting destination embraced by two expansive sandy beaches. The powdery white sand, crystal-clear waters, and awe-inspiring sunsets make this beach a true paradise for beach lovers. Beyond the shore, Tropea’s charm extends to the town’s historic palazzi and quaint trattorias hidden within delightful outdoor courtyards. Take the opportunity to explore the seaside monastery of Santa Maria dell’Isola for a bird’s-eye view of the beach. While most of Tropea’s beaches are free, treat yourself to a comfortable lounger at Lido Isola Bella or Lido Calypso while savoring a delightful local lunch. Don’t forget to sample the famous Tropea red onions during your visit.
4- Sète, France: Where Culture Meets Coastline
Nestled in the Occitanie region, Sète is perfectly positioned to enjoy the vast white sands of Southern France. However, there’s more to this city than its beachfront. Known for Gilles Peterson’s edgy Worldwide Festival, the city also hosts the Fiest’à Sète, offering a more relaxed atmosphere with captivating performances from renowned artists. Immerse yourself in the rich cultural heritage of the city at Espace Georges Brassens and Musée Paul Valéry, both inspired by notable figures with roots in Sète. Don’t miss the chance to savor the spicy pie known as tile sétoise, filled with octopus and tomato, a delicious taste of the region. With so much to explore, you’ll find it hard to leave the city behind for the beach.
5- Ksamil, Albania: A Glimpse of Ancient Beauty
The ancient Greeks had an eye for beauty, and their choice of the Ksamil peninsula in southern Albania as a beach destination speaks volumes. Holm oaks and olive trees embrace the landscape, while sandy beaches, rocky coves, and offshore islets form a protective barrier around the vast, shallow lagoon, famous for its abundant shellfish. Nearby, the ancient ruins of Butrint, a town established by the Greeks, offer a glimpse into the region’s storied past. Today, Ksamil enchants visitors with multiple beaches, spectacular sunset views of neighboring Corfu, cliff-top walking trails, and an array of seafood delicacies to savor.
These five exquisite Mediterranean beaches hold the promise of unforgettable experiences for travelers seeking both relaxation and cultural enrichment. Venture beyond the usual destinations and discover the allure of these hidden coastal treasures. Embrace the Mediterranean’s stunning diversity, and let the sun, sand, and sea weave their magic on your 2023 holiday.