8 picture-perfect countries like Greece
Escape to these seaside spots that rival the Mediterranean hotspot.
There’s something irresistible about the Greek Islands, with sun-splashed beaches, pastel-coloured stucco buildings and mouth-watering cuisine.
They're the perfect summer getaway destination, and frequent ferry services and flights to the mainland make island hopping an absolute breeze.
But if you can’t make it to Greece, or are just looking for somewhere new, check out these other seaside destinations that are sure to delight.
Dotting the eastern Adriatic Sea with more than a thousand islands and islets, Croatia is a cheaper alternative to Italy or Greece that doesn’t skimp on charm.
It’s easy to find quiet beaches and pristine coves for swimming, waterfront eateries where you can dine on fresh seafood and historic towns with cobblestoned streets.
- Top 5 places: Split, Dubrovnik, Hvar, Korcula, Bol
- Must do/see: Sail along the Dalmatian Coast; visit Zlatni Rat (also known as horn beach), which changes with the currents; walk along Dubrovnik’s city walls
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Greece’s neighbour across the Aegean brings to the table a unique mix of Europe and Asia, as it straddles the two continents. Find ancient Greek and Roman ruins just hours away from some of the world’s most well-known mosques. If you’re looking for beaches, head to the Turquoise Coast to find waters with colours true to the name
- Top 5 places: Istanbul, Gallipoli, Fethiye, Cappadocia, Pamukkale
- Must do/see: Take a hot air balloon ride over the fairytale landscapes of Cappadocia; hop on a traditional Gulet boat and explore the Turquoise Coast; relax in the thermal pools at Pamukkale
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Image: Tourism Italy
Varying greatly from the Dolomites in the north to the sun-soaked coasts of the south, the lower tip of Italy has you within an hour or so of the sea at all times and is far from the crowded tourist centres of Rome, Florence and Venice.
- Top 5 places: Amalfi Coast, Sicily, Sardinia, Capri, Sorrento
- Must do/see: Cruise along the Amalfi Coast; venture into the Blue Grotto in Capri; find a quiet beach and relax in Sardinia; sample southern Italy’s traditional Limoncello; wander around the ruins at Pompeii
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Treated to both an Atlantic and Mediterranean coastline, plus the stunning Balearic Island archipelago, the Spanish coast has it all. From the Guggenheim in Bilbao to the Alhambra in Granada, there’s plenty of interesting places to see. Similar to Greece, its hot, dry summers are ideal for beach breaks – and there are plenty of those too.
- Top 5 places: Andalusia, Ibiza, San Sebastian, Costa Brava, Seville
- Must do/see: Explore the Alhambra fortress; party until the sun comes up in Ibiza; wander around Park Guell in Barcelona, soak up the sun on the Costa Brava or Costa del Sol
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Thought whitewashed buildings with bright blue accents were only found in Greece? Essaouira and Larache, on Morocco’s Atlantic Coast, and Chefchaouen, just inland from the Mediterranean in the country’s north, look like they could have been plucked right from the Greek isles. Unlike Greece, you can wander around the bustling Moroccan bazaars or travel just a bit further and experience the sprawling Sahara Desert.
- Top 5 places: Essaouira, Chefchaouen, Marrakech, Larache, Sahara Desert camps
- Must do/see: Explore the desert on camelback; hang ten in Morocco’s surf capital Essaouira; shop in a maze-like Moroccan bazaar; live like a local and stay in a traditional Riad
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Image: Visit Albania
Greece’s neighbour to the northwest sees a mere 3.3 million international tourists per year compared to the 22 million that flock to Greece. But Albania certainly isn’t lacking similar charms; here you’ll the UNESCO-listed ancient ruins at Butrint and colourful coastal villages on an aquamarine coastline along the Albanian Riviera.
- Top 5 places: Butrint, Ksamil, Dhërmi, Sarandë, Bunec
- Must do/see: Climb to the castle overlooking the well-preserved Ottoman town of Berat; beach-hop along the Albanian Riviera
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Red Sea Coast, Egypt
Image: Experience Egypt
While the first things that come to mind for Egypt are ancient ruins and endless desert, the country also boasts more than 1,500 kilometres of Red Sea coastline. The dry climate and sunny beaches that have made the Greek Islands paradise for tourists are the perfect recipe for resort towns in Egypt too, which have sprung up along the Sinai Peninsula’s beaches. There’s also some of the world’s best diving at the offshore reefs.
- Top 5 places: Sharm el Sheikh, Hurghada, Luxor, Dahab, Aswan
- Must do/see: Explore the offshore reefs of the Red Sea; sail down the Nile in a traditional felucca; see the ruins of ancient pyramids and temples; lounge around on sunsoaked Red Sea beaches
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Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
Trade pitas for tortillas and venture to Mexico’s Pacific Coast. Reachable with just one stopover from Australia, the area is known for its beaches, colourful towns and nightlife. Travel a bit inland and you’ll have access to some of the country’s most impressive ruins.
- Top 5 places: Cabo San Lucas, Acapulco, Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca, Sayulita
- Must do/see: Surf the waves at Puerto Escondido; experience the nightlife in Cabo San Lucas; watch daredevils cliff dive in Acapulco
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Looking for places like Santorini, specifically?
For many, the image of volcanic islands and whitewashed buildings clinging to seaside cliffs is what pops into mind. And that can all be found on Santorini. If that’s the image you’re after, consider these places like Santorini that you’ll be sure to love.
Ibiza Image: Ibiza Travel
Spain’s Balearic Islands
Comprising of four main islands, Spain’s Balearic Islands sit in the Mediterranean just south of Barcelona. While some are known as party spots for the young at heart, others are family friendly and more relaxing beach break destinations, all featuring dry climates, brilliantly blue waters and pastel buildings.
- Top 4 places: Majorca, Minorca, Ibiza, Formentera
- Must do/see: Experience the nightlife in Ibiza; relax on a pristine Formentera beach; sail along the coastlines of each island or between them
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Situated in the deep south of Italy, Sicily is home to numerous Roman ruins, the active Mount Etna, and plenty of seaside towns. But if you’re looking for a spot that’s just like Greece, you’ll need to head just offshore to the island of Levanzo. This tiny island could easily pass for a Greek isle, with its bright white buildings, blue doors and window frames, and small fishing boats bobbing in the aquamarine waters.
- Top 5 places: Trapani, Taormina, Syracuse, Palermo, Levanzo
- Must do/see: See some of the island’s best ruins in Taormina or Syracuse; explore Sicily’s beaches – there are more here than any other region in Italy; try authentic Sicilian cuisine
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If you’re looking for other Greek Islands like Santorini, check out other places that are part of the Cyclades chain. Some of the islands in the chain include:
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