Ideal for your next weekend getaway on the continent, a little off the beaten path.
It’s a balancing act few places in the world are well poised to pull off. But when we’re asked whether we prefer a ‘beach holiday or city break’, well…can’t we just say ‘both’?
The problem, of course, is that we want it all. We’d love to recline on deserted golden silica, cool off in celestite seas and stroll with sand between our toes straight into a high-end restaurant or bar which isn’t a beach shack. Sure, Barcelona might tick these boxes, and Crete caters to both whims, but really, we just want to eat sardines, not be packed in like them.
With that in mind, today we’re taking a look at some of Europe’s less well trodden seaside destinations, which really do provide something for everyone. So, let’s get far from the madding crowd, and check out these 4 stunning coastal towns in Europe, IDEAL for your next weekend getaway on the continent, a little off the beaten path.
CEFALÙ & CASTELBUONO, SICILY
A one hour drive from Palermo, along Sicily’s varied, devastatingly beautiful Tyrrhenian Coast roads, and you’ll find Celafu, arguably the island’s prettiest town. If you’ve ever pondered photos of Sicily’s beaches, then you’ve probably already laid eyes on Celafu’s gorgeous bay; all sheer faced, pastel shaded buildings and calm, crystal waters. The backdrop of Rocca di Cefalu mountain certainly ramps up the picturesque nature of the place; brave its ascent for panoramic views of the town and bay below.
The quaint, cobbled, winding Medieval streets surrounding the beach, just inland, are equally gorgeous. Don’t let that languid, laid back vibe fool you; there’s sophisticated drinking and dining to be found here, too. Perhaps the pick of the bunch is Michelin recommended Locanda del Marinaoi, which does elegant plates showing off the catch of the day, every day (except Tuesdays).
Alternatively, just a 9 mile drive south of Cefalu is the foodie mecca of Castelbuono, which boasts a string of fine restaurants in its historic town. Two, namely Nangalarruni and Palazzaccio, boast Michelin Big Gourmand awards, recognising quality cooking with value to match. Who said you couldn’t combine a beach break with exemplary dining? Belissima!
Bugibba is a small town in the northwest of Malta which sits right on the Mediterranean sea, in prime position on St. Paul’s Bay’s 3 mile stretch of uninterrupted coastline. Though the beach isn’t exactly the kind of pristine sand you can build castles out of, its more rugged nature doesn’t prevent sunbathing and frolicking; there are lidos dotted just beneath the town’s main promenade, and sun loungers on the rocks for maximum chilling.
What’s more, Bugibba boasts a manmade, sandy beach created just above the rocks, named Buggiba Perched Beach owing to its position above sea level. Access to the ocean is possible via adjacent wooden bridges.
Buggiba’s attractive central square is just a short walk from the beach, and has some cute cafes and seafood restaurants grilling the best of the sea’s bounty straight from it. Result! If you want to get more of a feel of what the town has to offer, check out the detailed article about Bugibba Malta over here.
SANT JOAN DE LABRITJA, IBIZA
We know what you’re thinking; Ibiza? Far from the madding crowd? A little off the beaten path? You tell that to the 21 year old me, sleepless and sozzled in the sweaty throngs of Playa d’en Bossa.
But the White Island has plenty to offer beyond the parties, and caters equally dexterously to those looking for a more laid back affair.
It’s the island’s northern side which offers seclusion and serenity; relatively, speaking, of course. The village of Sant Joan De Labritja fits the bill for what we’re seeking succinctly; peaceful, rugged, untapped by overt displays of tourism, and just a couple of kilometres from Cala Xuclar, a horseshoe-shaped bay which is said to be the last vestige of proper sand-based solitude to be found on the White Island.
And if you are looking for something more lively, then the Fiesta de Sant Joan, held each year on 23rd June, sees the usually more sedate side of Ibiza get rowdy with bonfires, fireworks, traditional folk dancing and of course, drinks. A lovely way to see the true heritage of Ibiza, we think.
Kas is the jewel in the crown of the Turquoise coast; a bohemian, laid back town with a lively centre, great cuisine and a globally renowned scuba diving scene. That doesn’t mean Kas has sold its soul to tourism and development; it retains an untroubled air, with shisha bars, coffee shops and charcoal grills lining the cobbled streets, and little to no Western chains to be seen anywhere in the area. We don’t know about you, but that’s music to our ears when we’re on holiday.
With more than 50 dive sites within just half an hour’s boat ride of the town’s port, and 15 accredited diving centres within it, Kas attracts keen divers all year round, though particularly from April to November. Assi Island, around twenty minutes from the port by boat, has a reef with octopus, barracuda and even sea turtles calling it home. Or, for the eternally curious, the Cotton Wreck is found at a depth of 20 metres; the remains of the Dmitri steel coaster which crashed in 1968. Fascinating stuff. Or, if it’s beach rather than deep ocean you’re after, then the stunning Kaputas beach is just a thirty minute drive from the town.
Back on dry land, we’re in love with the food of this part of the world, and Kas offers some superb Turkish cuisine. Lahmacun, those deliciously spicy minced lamb flatbreads, are found all over town, the finest made fresh to order and kissed with smoke from the tandoor. Of course, being a coastal town, Kas also has its pick of the Mediterranean’s bounty and you’ll find hawkers in the pretty central square peddling battered and deep fried mussels and freshly shucked oysters. Heaven!