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3 Secret Sun, Sea and Sand Destinations in Europe

If the idea of a summer spent basking in the sun on sandy beaches during the day and dining on seafood under the stars at night sounds great, but sharing it all with hordes of tourists doesn’t, then these little-known European destinations are for you.

Book your flights, sort out your international travel insurance, pack your bags, but do it quickly as these little-touristed European seaside gems won’t stay that way for long.

Cilento, Italy

Cilento Italy
Photo: Asgl

As long as you avoid August, when the Neapolitans troop to the area en masse for their annual beach holiday, the Cilento National Park is a delightfully tourist-free, typically southern Italian seaside idyll.

So much so that UNESCO recently named Cilento one of only four regions in Italy where you can still find the classic dolce vita – that means amazing food, beautiful beaches, sun-soaked days, and plenty of Italian vino!

Of course, the area is already listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its historical and cultural importance, including the remains of two major ancient cities.

Just an hour south of the Amalfi Coast, Cilento is an area covered with olive trees, featuring 100km of coastline dotted with sandy beaches and cosy bays, all framed by spectacular mountains.

And, other than the sleepy locals, you’ll have it all virtually to yourselves.

Bozburun Peninsula, Turkey

Bozburun Peninsula Turkey
Bozburun Peninsula

Lying a good two hours from Dalaman airport means that the area is avoided by most package holiday tourists, but the Bozburun Peninsula, protected by heavily enforced conservation laws, is well worth the drive.

Offering a stunning coastline, with turquoise waters dotted with traditional Turkish guluts, hidden coves and craggy cliffs, plus heavenly scented pine forests and villages virtually unchanged for centuries.

Just one very windy road traverses the cliffs, ending abruptly at a small harbour from which boats can be hired and it is entirely possible to drive the whole way without encountering another vehicle.

This is Turkey as it was once was – see it now before it disappears.

Emporda, Spain

The village of Calella de Palafrugell (Costa Brava, Catalonia, Spain)
The village of Calella de Palafrugell (Costa Brava, Catalonia, Spain)

Mention the Costa Brava and images of sunburnt Brits swigging lager and eating full English breakfasts probably come to mind.

However, turn east instead of south when you leave the airport and you’ll come to an entirely different Costa Brava in Spain.

You’ll find no brash water parks, no paintball centres and no lines of quad bikes attempting to overtake you in Emporda.

This wine-soaked region is, instead, lined with craggy cliffs, hidden inlets and spectacular clifftop paths and, best of all, it is still very Spanish.

You have your pick of beaches too – two miles of sand at Platja de Pals at the base of the hilltown of Begur, followed by a seemingly endless stream of pretty coves all the way to La Fosca, each more empty and remote then the previous and each with its own charm and character.

More Europe Travel Ideas

Do you know any other hidden secrets of Europe?

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13 thoughts on “3 Secret Sun, Sea and Sand Destinations in Europe”

  1. Will - Gap Daemon

    Hey guys! Fantastic round-up. Other parts of Spain are less-visited too and offer good bang for the buck away from the tourist crowds. One can still find places in Andalusia that are relatively unvisited except for a handful of Spaniards.

    1. Thanks for the tip. I went to a beach way down south, but I can’t remember the name. This was back in 97, but it was away from the crowds, had beautiful sunsets and was so chilled. We camped on the beach and had a bonfire party- very memorable

  2. It’s safe to say I’ve never heard of any of those destinations, but they all look incredible. The Bozburun Peninsula photo looks like some sort of secret pirate cove.

  3. Cilento and a true dolce vita sounds just right! Although Bozburun Peninsula definitely seems to be the most interesting of the list!

  4. Very good selections. Each one has very similar characteristics.. People, climate and ofcourse the taste of Mediterranean foods. Bozburun, Turkey is a must see place.. Fresh fish and good wine in the village is just a perfect choice for a supper. If you think a long trip, there are weekly gulet cruises from Bodrum allow to visit whole part of Gulf of Dorian (Hisaronu) that Bozburun village is one of the spot enroute.

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