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4 Beautiful European Beach Destinations To Avoid The Summer Crowds

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Now that Europe has dropped all travel restrictions and tourists are back en masse, you may be wondering which European countries are your best bet for a crowd-free, relaxing summer vacation.

Sveti Stefan In Montenegro, Balkan Peninsula, On The Adriatic Section Of The Mediterranean Coast, South Eastern Europe

Italy, Greece, Spain, Croatia and the like are simply riddled with Instagrammable spots, and while there is nothing we love more than the scent of orange blossoms in the air, and the Mediterranean waves crashing against an ancient port, we know the gathering can get a bit much, particularly between the months of June and August.

Thankfully, these 4 postcard-perfect European beach destinations have not yet been spoiled by mass tourism, and other than being less crowded, their beauty will simply take your breath away:

The Montenegrin Dalmatian Coast

Many travelers mistakenly associate the Dalmatian coast with Croatia exclusively. That's understandable, seeing that the Croatian littoral encompasses this region almost entirely, but a little-known fact often ignored by visitors is that a second country is (partly) included in this sub-region.

Montenegro is a Balkan country sharing deep ties with Croatia, both due to its northernmost coastal province of Kotor being part of the Dalmatian coast and their common Yugoslav heritage — they formed, at one point, a single country.

Unlike its sister nation, however, Montenegro is still fighting for relevance as a Mediterranean power.

Aerial View Of The Town Of Budva, In Montenegro, Balkan Peninsula, South Eastern Europe

It has the same pebbly beaches and crystal-clear waters but far fewer tourists, and an up-and-coming resort scene that is yet to strip the neighboring Dalmatian towns of their authenticity.

History enthusiasts will want to take their time wandering the cobblestone alleyways of Kotor, and beach bums might want to hit those sandy crescents in Budva early in the morning before anyone else.

Looking for further inspo? Here are 7 reasons why you should add Montenegro to your bucket list this year.

blue water and town at spila beach montenegro

The Albanian Riviera

Yet another pearl of the Adriatic, Albania has an extensive coastline dotted with deserted swimming spots and picturesque villages where time has stood still for centuries.

Due to the lack of a coastal airport, and limited connectivity to the rest of Europe, the Albanian Riviera remains largely unspoiled by tourism.

Sarande, the main city on the Albanian Riviera, offers easy access to hidden beaches where frequented mostly by locals, particularly along the road to Butrint.

Our favorite, Ksamil, is an undisturbed patch of rocky sand bounded by the translucent waters of the Mediterranean, lined with a few restaurants and guesthouses.

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beach at himare albania

Recently, Travel Off Path named Albania the best European country for long-term stays.

Ohrid, Macedonia

If there's one thing we learned after swapping Tulum, in Mexico, for the lesser-known Lake Bacalar, it is that the summer holidays do not necessarily need to be synonymous with oceanside drives.

Lakeside beaches can be just as incredible and enjoyable, if not better.

Ohrid, in the Balkan country of North Macedonia, is one of those massively underrated inland sunny getaways.

Straddling the turquoise-blue Lake Ohrid, it is an ancient city dating back at least two millennia, originally established as a Greek colony.

A Small Boat On A Crystal-Clear Lake Ohrid, North Macedonia, Balkan Peninsula, South Eastern Europe

The city, only 42,000 people-strong, is still quaint without the usual Instagram hordes, though it is definitely postcard material, what with its Ottoman-era houses, ruined Greek theater, and iconic medieval church perched on a crag facing the lake.

Beyond its numerous museums and centuries-old churches, Ohrid has both sandy and pebbly beaches on the edge of the lake, where residents go for refreshing dips in summer or hang around with friends.

On the lake itself, tourist boats are a common sight, as well as sailboats.

Narbonne, France

Narbonne is a French city in the Occitanie region, located further inland than other destinations on this list but still only 15 km away from the sea, and a historical Mediterranean port whose relevance dates back to the Roman period.

While a majority of tourists will flock to the French Riviera, it is only a small section of the country's vast Mediterranean coast, which extends for a total of 600 kilometers.

Unfinished Cathedral In Narbonne, A City In Occitanie, Southwestern France, On The Mediterranean Coast

The provinces closer to the Italian border tend to see visitor numbers quadruple over summer, especially closer to the Italian border, where Nice, St. Tropez, Menton, and Antibes are located, but out West, approaching Spain, the atmosphere is much more relaxed.

Despite its cultural wealth, being home to numerous Roman-era landmarks and an unfinished yet impressive medieval cathedral, and the long, sandy plage lining the Mediterranean Sea, Narbonne is yet to be discovered by the foreign populace.

Wooden Lifeguard On A Sandy Beach In Narbonne, Occitanie Region Of France, On The Mediterranean Sea

Of the 8.8 million nights spent by tourists in the city in 2019, 69% of those were French citizens.

If you're looking to discover France off the beaten path this summer, Narbonne is one of your best bets.

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Saturday 24th of June 2023

Ksamil Albania is a few mile long uninterrupted string of beach bars and loungers. Might be 100 restaurants in the town.


Tuesday 18th of April 2023

I was just in Albania and Montenegro summer of 2021 and both countries were swamped with tourists. You are too late.


Thursday 13th of April 2023

I never heard before that Ohrid have been Greek Colony ever ?! You are wrong! Part of Macedonian kingdom ,yes ! But Greek never !


Tuesday 20th of June 2023

@Mike, Macedonian kingdom never exist.

live now

Wednesday 12th of April 2023

Please stop the obsession with Albania.


Wednesday 12th of April 2023

Have you ever assessed how much damage you have caused to the places you describe? It is a well known fact that tourists kill tourism. We change locals to a large degree and I think that your articles can have s negative effect.

Al LeFeusch

Monday 24th of April 2023

@Bill, I agree. I think it's ok to highlight some lesser known destinations, but it sure would be nice if "Travel Off Path" balanced their love of highlighting new places for the digital nomad/influencer crowd to spoil with articles about how to be a responsible and respectful traveler.