Begur, Costa Brava, Spain
If you know where to look, the Costa Brava is a revelation with picturesque towns, pebbled coves with crystal clear waters, and mountain views. This summer season, we’re heading for Begur, a hilltop beauty surrounded by some of the area’s best beaches and fantastic restaurants serving up Catalan cuisine. The best address in town is La Bionda, an intimate boutique hotel set in a thoughtfully restored 17th-century house where the design nods to illustrious women of the 1930s. There are beautiful spaces to enjoy the moment, think breakfast in the greenhouse with your fellow guests, or a glass of wine on the rooftop. There is so much to explore and La Bionda’s tips are the best: make time for lunch and a swim at Toc al Mar on Aiguablava beach; and vermouth aperitifs at C-Roack, a bar in a lush garden in town. For those that want to explore, hire a scooter.
Menorca, Balearic Islands, Spain
Menorca continues to be the understated rising star of the Balearics, with its unspoiled beaches, cool hotels, and new cultural status thanks to the opening of a Hauser & Wirth outpost on an islet off Mahon. Bed down at the newly opened Son Blanc Farmhouse for restored finca vibes, or in the Cristine Bedfor for a townhouse experience in the heart of the capital. For dinner, make a reservation at farm-to-table Nonna Bazaar. More in our Menorca Insider Guide.
Mallorca, Balearic Islands, Spain
Mallorca is always a chic idea for summer, but this year, its credentials are set to soar further with the opening of Son Net in the foothills of the UNESCO Heritage Tramuntana Mountains. Twenty minutes from Palma and its slick tapas bars and sun-drenched piazzas, this grand new hotel sits nestled within a vast 17th-century estate, on a hill above Puigpunyent village. From the team behind Andalusia’s Finca Cortesin, this transformed Mallorcan manor house will have 31 suites, magnificent views — as well as bucolic Mediterranean gardens with orange and lemon trees, a vineyard producing Malvasia white wine for the cellar, and an olive press for private tastings.
St-Paul-de-Vence, Côte d’Azur, France
A beautiful and sleepy hilltop village in the glorious south, medieval St Paul de Vence sits back from the French Riviera and feels a world away from all the flashiness and mega yachts. Conveniently close to Nice airport and the beach for a quick weekend getaway, it is also a magnet for gourmands and art lovers. As well as its 16th-century ramparts and undulating cobbled streets, one of its main draws is the family-run auberge La Colombe d’Or, which has played host to myriad artists, writers, and poets over its 100 years. An Alexander Calder mobile installation looks over the pretty pool, there is a Picasso in one corner and a Matisse in another; all guests cultivated by the Roux family, who have kept this unassuming inn just as it has always been. We highly recommend playing boules across the street at Cafe de la Place, visiting the Fondation Maeght, and having an aperitif at Le Tilleul before returning to La Colombe d’Or for its spectacularly romantic dinner.
Read more about La Colombe d’Or here.
Le Marche, Italy
An unsung hero, there are few greater hidden treasures than central Italy’s Le Marche region. Overlooked by Italians as well as visitors, it marries languorous beach days with ancient small towns and peaceful countryside — dotted with delicious agriturismos. One such stay is the romantic Villa Luca: an old stone farmhouse surrounded by arcadian views and bathed in sunlight, which gives way to minimalist interiors with swathes of light wood and natural linens. The villa is the perfect base for a large gathering (it sleeps up to 11 people), with its sleek turquoise swimming pool and outdoor kitchen for summer BBQs — all enjoyed with a glass of Vernaccia di Serrapetrona, the local sparkling red wine. Make sure to explore nearby Treie, a fortified village, as well as the UNESCO-listed Renaissance town of Urbino and its Palazzo Ducale. Le Marche’s coastline is also worth the trip; make for Sirolo’s Urbani Beach — backed by limestone cliffs and ringed by the clear, calm waters of the Adriatic, it’s a locals’ favorite.
Noto, Sicily, Italy
In the sun-drenched southeastern corner of Sicily, is the beautiful Baroque masterpiece of Noto. Once a sleepy little town, it is fast becoming one of the island’s hotspots. A UNESCO heritage site, its centerpiece is a resplendent 18th-century cathedral, while we also love its restaurants, cafes, and bars — start your day with treats from Caffe Sicilia and end it with dinner at Il Cantuccio, a traditional trattoria. Noto is also an easy launchpad for exploring nearby the honey-stone towns of Ragusa, Modica, and Syracuse, and some of the island’s best beaches are also within reach, including Spiaggia di Eloro where there are 7th-century Greek ruins. Stay at Jacques Garcia Noto, where you feel immersed in a thousand years of history and culture, and shaded by ancient olive trees. A collection of villas with an artistic sensibility, they are the brainchild of the namesake interior designer behind Hotel Coste in Paris and Marrakech’s La Mamounia.
Read More about Noto in Our Local Guide.
Patmos, Dodecanese Islands, Greece
Still, relatively under the radar, Patmos has long been a low-key favorite with the art and fashion set. With a rich Byzantine heritage that has shaped its architectural vernacular, this Dodecanese Island is all about the scene in its whitewashed Chora. Perched on a hill with cobbled lanes and energetic squares for morning coffees and pre-dinner drinks, it is the place to see and be seen on Patmos. Stay at Pagostas, a diminutive guesthouse in the Chora’s citadel that dates back to the 16th century — we love its roof terrace overlooking the sea. Make time to climb the steps of the 11th-century Monastery of St John and explore the island’s bays by boat. When it comes to dinner, Benetos near Skala is a must.
Read more about Patmos here.
Mani Peninsula, Greece
It’s tempting to dive straight into Greece’s hundreds of idyllic islands, but the mainland should be on your radar too – particularly the Mani Peninsula in the Peloponnese. Like stepping back in time, it is a rural region steeped in history, myth, and legend. Just off its southernmost tip, you will find Kyrimai Hotel, a 19th-century stone property that is set right on the water’s edge in the good-looking port of Gerolimenas. Days here are best spent slowly and simply: sleep, eat, swim, and repeat. We like the romantic Master Suite, which occupies the house’s old library and has a balcony that seems to kiss the sea and a jacuzzi bath with a view. If you do tear yourself away, the area is rich with caves, sleepy fishing villages, historic tower houses, and Byzantine churches.
84 Rooms recommends: The Best Sailing Destinations In The Mediterranean, and 8 Must-Visit Destinations In The Mediterranean This Summer.