We all love a Mediterranean vacay. Especially now that most countries in the basin have dropped all entry requirements, Europe’s favorite sunny destination is more accessible than ever. One major downside? Overtourism is back, and you don’t want to be fighting for a beach spot in jam-packed Santorini or Ibiza. But don’t worry: we are bringing you 3 alternatives that are just as incredible and what’s more, without the crowds that have been known to spoil even the most perfect of summers.
Once you’ve seen all that these severely underrated places have to offer, you’ll want to book the next flight out straight away:
Instead Of Amalfi, Try The Albanian Riviera
The Amalfi Coast has become nearly synonymous with a Mediterranean vacation, and it’s not hard to see why. With the scenic twisting roads following Southern Italy’s rugged coastline, picturesque seaside towns, and of course, Positano, we can forgive unseasoned travelers for thinking Amalfi is the best place to be this summer.
We’re sorry to break it to you, but it is in fact one of the very last. Italy may have removed all entry curbs, but the horde of tourists it once struggled with is now back again, and Amalfi is everything but the celebratory romantic escapade you and your partner are looking for post Covid. The list of reasons is endless, but we will keep it short:
Why you should skip Amalfi
- Yes, the towns are insanely pretty, but they’re hardly quaint or enjoyable to walk when thousands upon thousands of tourists are all headed to the exact same spot
- Driving in Amalfi will change as of this summer, when an alternate car plate restriction will be introduced based on weekdays – unfortunately, you don’t get to pick the plate for your rental car
- Prices in Italy have gone through the roof in the wake of the 2022 economic crisis, and like many nations in Western Europe, it is getting prohibitively expensive to visit
On the other hand, we have the equally beautiful Albanian Riviera, just across the sea from Italy on the Balkan Peninsula. Same crystal clear waters, but no crowded beaches. Seaside villages that are even more charming, except you won’t be struggling to find a great photo spot. Lastly, a cultural offer that is as vast, and comparatively rich, as Italy’s.
We recommend you rent a car and drive the whole extent of Albania’s Southern Coast, which starts in the modern city of Vlore and ends in Sarande, close to the border with Greece. In between those places, you will find some of the most breathtaking scenery in Europe, as well as some hidden gems, such as Dhermi, a mountain village with whitewashed houses with more than 30 churches.
Why you should visit the Albanian Riviera
- Albania is probably one of Europe’s less visited countries, for no reason other than being criminally underrated, so you’ll find almost no crowds at all
- Here you will get the same beaches you would in Italy – it’s the same sea! – and hotels at a much cheaper rate
- Albania is just a much cooler, trendier place to visit right now. Like, how many of your friends can say they have been to beautiful Albania?
Instead Of Dalmatia, Try Slovenia’s Coast
Don’t get us wrong: the Dalmatian Coast is one of our favorite places to visit in Europe. Running for miles on end from the northernmost Croatia, passing briefly through Bosnia and Herzegovina, and ending in Montenegro, it is a macroregion encompassing different countries with similar cultures and pretty homogeneous dialects.
Perhaps sadly, the once-obscure Dalmatia has gained some unprecedented traction in recent years, and places like Dubrovnik and Kotor are no longer the idyllic, fairy-tale cities they used to be. Cruise tour groups usually cram in their every corner throughout summer, making it almost impossible to have a truly relaxing vacation. It is living hell.
Why you should skip Dalmatia
- If you think Amalfi is busy, wait until you’ve seen Split at the peak of the tourist season
- Dalmatia is getting ‘posher’ every passing year, and the imminent entry of its leading country into the Eurozone will only push up prices further, besides leading to more gentrification
- Dalmatia can be extremely hot from June to August, and the unforgiving sun can make simple activities like sightseeing extremely challenging – you don’t want to be strolling Dubrovnik’s hilly, humid streets when it’s 42 degrees out, trust us
We bet you didn’t know the tiny Central European country of Slovenia had a coast – let alone on the Mediterranean. That’s right: although it is rarely included on one of those countless top Medi hotspots lists, Slovenia actually has 29 miles of coastline within the basin. It may be perhaps the second narrowest sea access after Bosnia, but it is landmark-packed.
Once you’ve seen Piran’s unique cityscape, adorned with traditional Istrian-Balkan architecture, or Izola’s quiet, clear water beaches, you will be swapping Dalmatia for Slovenia in a heartbeat. Need some further encouragement? This country is conveniently nestled between both Italy and Croatia, making it an ideal stopover on your Mediterranean roadtrip.
Why you should visit Slovenia’s Coast
- Slovenia is one of the most affordable countries in the Eurozone, and even though it is not immune to the crisis, it is yet to see the huge price hikes both Croatia and Montenegro are experiencing
- The coastal stretch is only 29 miles long, meaning it can be fully explored in a single weekend
- It is an original, off the beaten path destination pick not many people will ever think of visiting, and because it receives less tourists, it is arguably far more authentic
- Slovenian summers are still lovely and warm, but not unbearably hot as the Southern Balkans’
Instead Of A Greek Island, Turkey’s Mediterranean Coast
Greece is probably one of the priciest places you can visit in Europe right now. Even before the economic upheaval, traveling to Mykonos and Santorini was the type of luxury vacation that required long-term planning in advance and sizable savings. Regretfully, things have only got worse after Covid, mirroring a trend seen elsewhere in Western Europe.
Unless you wanna be charged 600 euros for drinks and a tray of crab legs on your weekend trip to Mykonos, we strongly suggest you avoid the Greek islands altogether until after the situation has stabilized. That’s not to mention the millions of visitors making it their goal to get the classic blue dome church shot in Oia and completely ruining the Greek island experience. Yeah, hard pass for us.
Why you should skip the Greek Islands
- It’s a high-cost vacation when the price of travel is already skyrocketing by itself
- You won’t find the more traditional side of Greece in any of the main touristy islands
- The landscape is usually tarnished by a swarm of Instagram people lining up for the perfect picture
Did you know Turkey and Greece are very close neighbors? Some of these Greek islands can be seen with the naked eye from the coast of Turkey, and we honestly don’t get why a majority of travelers would prefer paying 18x more on a trip when they can bathe in the exact same sea, in less packed sandy beaches, that are literally only 2 km away on the Turkish mainland.
Turkey’s coast has a league of world-class cities ready to be explored, from the metropolitan Izmir on the shores of the Aegean, to the summery Antalya, in the Eastern Mediterranean. In Marmaris, travelers can even live quite comfortably off of only $33.69 a day. In this crazy world we live in right now, it does not get any cheaper than that.
Why you should visit Turkey’s Mediterranean Coast
- Turkey’s coast is dotted with Ancient Greek sites, like Ephesus and Troy – when visiting them, you will feel like being in Greece without the unnecessary burden of paying for an overpriced water bottle
- Turkey has been named one of the Top 5 most affordable summer destinations in Europe this year
- This is the same sea and the same warm, turquoise waters you will find in Rhodes, Lesbos and Samos – the difference is, you’ll just be on the other side of an imaginary line
Ready for the Mediterranean vacation of your dreams? Make sure you get insured for flight cancellations and delays ahead of traveling, now that Europe is being plagued by the worst disruption it has seen in years, and follow all of our summer travel tips for dealing with the Medi heat. Alright, we’ll see you in Albania! Or Slovenia. Perhaps Turkey.
We know, it’s gonna be a tough call.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com
Monday 18th of July 2022
i lived in saranda, albania for a year. i would NOT recommend this country. I cant tell you the amount of times people tried to scam me and other americans i knew. im very surprised albania made it on this list. im starting to question this site a but.
Tuesday 19th of July 2022
Question this site? That is a little too far for a place you personally didn't like - not every site on the internet is going to align with your personal preferences. As the editor-in-chief for this site, I personally love Albania and recently spent 1 month touring the entire country. It is sensational and always one of my top recommendations to our readers and to my personal contacts. I'm returning in September and I cannot wait to be there again.
Saturday 16th of July 2022
This is a terrible article. Lots of hyperbole.
Albania does not have “a cultural offer that is as vast, and comparatively rich, as Italy’s.” Showing a picture of a Greek town (Sarande or Derme) in Albania does not make Albania really that diverse.
I’ve been there. Beautiful scenery, yes. Vast and rich? No.
Greece has a lot of affordable islands, including mainland spots. “Unless you wanna be charged 600 euros for drinks and a tray of crab legs”. This is very rare and in chic places. Funny the author doesn’t tell you to travel to other Greek isles, but to skip them altogether. Terrible advice.
Also not sure why the huge Russian tourist swarms in Antalya create an authentic experience.
And for some of us, it’s not just about going very cheap. It’s also about ethics. Do you really want to give your money to aggressive countries with terrible human rights violations year after year for decades and decades, and getting worse? That’s what that imaginary line separates.
By all means, check out Slovenia, Turkey, and Albania … and dozens and dozens of less touristy places in Greece, Spain, and southern Italy. It’s worth the extra few bucks.