Hidden Gems and Seaside Villages of the Mediterranean
Hidden Gems and Seaside Villages of the Mediterranean
Posted on
April 30, 2024

Each year, the number of travellers who bee-line straight to the Mediterranean, grows  exponentially. They are seeking sun, charm, beauty, adventure, food, wine and maybe even  romance. But they are not alone. Indeed, some southern European hotspots are struggling  under the influx. Venice, for example, has just imposed a €5 tax to any tourists visiting the city even if just for the day to raise funds that will go to maintaining and preserving a city whose  splendour and integrity is at serious risk. And so, perhaps it is time to give a break to the usual  world-famous destinations and favour the off-the-beaten-track gems which the Mediterranean is thankfully still full of. As temperatures start to rise, and summer plans are forged, discerning travellers who seek authenticity and an escape from the maddening crowds can look no further. Here is a list of some slightly more secret gems that dot the coastlines and make for the perfect summer getaway in the Med. 


Tuscany is famous for its rolling hills, its Renaissance gravitas, and its flurry of medieval cities which are sprinkled across the region. Florence, Pisa, Lucca, Siena and Chianti are the usual bucket listed hubs, but Tuscany’s coastline is a path less trodden. What is even more unknown is a tiny island which requires a 3-hour ferry from mainland Italy to reach it. The magical island of Capraia is home to just 500 inhabitants, and is made of a tiny port town, a little village just  above it, and the rest is magnificent natural landscapes. Among the rugged scenery, locals have reaped the land establishing vineyards, farms, orchards, and more. Summers can be spent diving into sapphire waters, taking boat trips along the pristine coastline, dining among the  locals in one of the few restaurants, and simply escaping the rest of the world. This is a side of Tuscany which you will likely have never encountered but one which shouldn’t be missed. 


The Cyclades complete the classic vision of Grecian Island life; sugar-cube buildings are stacked one on top of the other, gleaming white structures crowned with bold blue roofs which match the pristine skies and seas. By now, Mykonos, Santorini and Milos are known the world over but there are a few neighbouring islands which are surprisingly untouched. One of them is Tinos, a little island with a lot of substance. For travellers wanting to search for one beautiful  beach after another, swim in secluded coves, sprawl out on sandy stretches, stroll through sleepy towns, and stumble up impressive mountains, they will find their paradise in Tinos. What is more, if lucky, many of these natural wonders can be enjoyed with not a single other soul around.  


There seems to be a trend with these hidden coastal gems; they are not easy to get to but those who make the effort, will be greatly rewarded. Many inhabitants on the island of Madeira - which is found off the western coast of Portugal - consider themselves to be a state entirely independent of their mainland which lies over 1000km away. Often labelled as ‘the Hawaii of  Europe’ for its tropical weather, its laid-back island living, its jaw-dropping hiking routes and its  surfable waves, Madeira’s identity is entirely its own. In one day, you can scale mountain-ranges which surpass the clouds, explore dense woodlands of winding, twisting, curving trees, visit wineries producing Madeira wine (a fortified Portuguese alcohol), and ride some gnarly waves at  sunset! Thankfully, the island does share one important detail with mainland Portugal; rest assured that even in Madeira, you will find an abundance of pastel de nata!


Corsica is a beautiful oxymoron. It is a French island which lies in Italian waters, and despite almost kissing the northern coast of Sardinia, it remains relatively unknown. As such, it is blessed with 1000km of completely unspoiled coastline and 200 beaches lying in wait to be  enjoyed. For the crème de la Corsican crème, head to Palombaggia beach; sparkling white  sand and the bluest waters. Nearby, is Porto Vecchio, a port town which feels like what St Tropez  must have been like in its hey-day. If you can ever drag yourself away from the crystal seas,  Corsica has acres of wild landscape to explore and hiking through its hinterlands will uncover a  world of wonder. 


Calabria is slowly unveiling itself as another one of Italy’s dream summer destinations, yet international tourism still remains relatively low…at least for now. Therefore, almost anywhere you go in Calabria will feel authentic and rugged. The town of Tropea is arguably the most  famous place in Calabria but ever so slightly further down the coast, lies Capo Vaticano. You might not quite believe the beauty of these southern shores; impossibly blue waters lap against  dramatic rocks, hidden sandy coves are followed by umbrella-lined bays, and beach bars sell fresh watermelon and ice-cold beer, what else do you need? You have to stay at Capo Vaticano all day because the final spectacle comes at sunset. As the sky turns dramatically orange, you  watch the sun drop into the water and illuminate Stromboli, the volcanic island which lies just a few miles away from the Italian mainland.

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Words by Antonia Fest

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