There aren’t many places left on this planet that are truly hidden gems, untouched by tourists’ hands. However, there are a few almost secret spots that discerning travelers can find if they know where to look.
Knowing where to look is the key. Fortunately, these days, we don’t need to rely on well-thumbed guidebooks or TV travel programs. Social media is there to help you pick the perfect experiences in each place you visit. So pack your Horizon 50 suitcase, and let’s go! Our first stop is the Silver Coast in Portugal.
1 Silver Coast, Portugal
The internet has a wealth of information on beautiful coastal spots, including travel backwaters, remote locations, and plenty of roads that haven’t been well traveled and places only accessible by private jet charter. The birthplace of Cristiano Ronaldo, Lawrence of Portugal (famous explorer), and artist Vasco Fernandes, Portugal is usually home to many thousands of tourists beating the well-worn track down to the Algarve. While the Algarve is beautiful, it’s nowhere near as charming and, more importantly, genuine as Portugal’s Silver Coast.
The Silver Coast runs from Cascais in the south right up to Averio in the north, taking in the most stunning and underutilized coastline in the western part of mainland Europe. At least it was until Netflix released ‘100 Foot Wave’ about the Silver Coast, particularly Nazaré.
Surfing may or may not be your thing, but the Silver Coast can’t fail to inspire. Nazaré is busy from October to May, but the summer is peaceful. Only those in the know visit the windy Atlantic coastline. When you know, you know!
Stop by Peniche for white sandy beaches and an average temperature of 22 degrees Celsius; not roasting hot, just perfect for sardinhas assadas con polvo à lagareiro, all washed down with a white port spritz.
If you get bored of the sun, surf, and empty beaches, you can always head to Lisbon, a dynamic city full of culture and possibilities and not so full of tourists in the summer months.
2 The Albanian Riviera
Staying in Europe, but this time, we head to Albania in the Balkan Peninsula. Albania sits north of Greece and next to Northern Macedonia, but the place we are interested in is fondly referred to as ‘the Albanian Riviera’.
Following the Adriatic Sea to Ksamil in southern Albania, you could be forgiven for thinking you were in Greece or Corfu. The coastal town of Ksamil is only a short ferry ride away from Kassiopi Corfu. Still, Ksamil has nothing like the crowds, and what’s more, food, drink, and accommodation are considerably better value and quality.
Ksamil sits within Butrint National Park, so expect stunning scenery on top of delicious food and welcoming hospitality. Moving up north up the coast, visit Sarandë and on to Borsh, and, if you’re feeling adventurous, stop by the Castle of Porto Palermo to enjoy dramatic history with a sea view.
The Albanian Riviera is a hidden gem that only a few travelers see. A hidden secret that the locals keep to themselves. The long expanse of sandy beaches, deep blue sea, all empty, even in peak vacation season — what’s not to love?
3 Cefalù, Northern Sicily
Italy is not an unusual place to holiday. After all, who doesn’t want gelato, pizza, Juventus, and Dolce & Gabbana? However, Tuscany, Lake Como, and the Amalfi Coast are full of tourists all year round.
If you want authentic, beautifully worn, and deliciously real, head for Cefalù and the beaches of Settefrati and Mazzaforno. Here, you can immerse yourself in culture and history without the holiday crowds and the inflated prices that tend to accompany them.
Cefalù is an ancient fishing village that has existed since roughly 1550 B.C.E. Cefalù sits on a 360-degree view of the Mediterranean, and you’ll find history at every turn. Explore Roman mosaics in the Duomo di Cefalù Cathedral and Saracen Towers just off the beach, among many other historical wonders.
Eat seafood and drink Amaro Averna while the world goes by in a haze of romance and just a little terror (kids on mopeds are a common sight here!). Cefalù is the place to go if you want to escape it all. Just don’t tell anyone!
4 Camino Island, Malta
Have you ever heard of Camino Island? Not many people have. Situated between mainland Malta and Gozo, Camino is a tiny island — only 3.5 kilometers wide with a no-car policy — just visitors and wildlife surrounded by clear water and white sand beaches.
Camino is paradise: with only two full-time residents, you couldn’t get further from the madding crowd if you tried. There is only one hotel but three gorgeous beaches: Santa Marija Bay, San Niklaw Bay, and the Blue Lagoon.
With more beaches than residents, Camino just might be the secret spot you’ve been searching for.
So if you’re looking for tranquility, the places mentioned here are just a few secret spots that can offer an alternative trip, a break from the norm. From the Silver Coast in Portugal to Camino Island in Malta, there’s something for every traveler, from adventure to relaxation, hidden gems, and even pizza! Just don’t share these spots with everyone: when the secret’s out, it’s OUT.