Son Bunyola Hotel in Mallorca, Spain.
Photo: Courtesy of Son Bunyola Hotel

6 Stylish Spots to Avoid the Crowds in Europe This Summer

While hordes flock to Santorini and Saint-Tropez, these chic, lesser-visited locales offer an equally glamorous getaway

Similar to the yachting circuit, following the sun from the Mediterranean in late spring to the Caribbean in winter, well-heeled travelers tend to gravitate toward a handful of stylish European islands and coastal enclaves around the same time each summer. And while Slim Aarons-made-famous spots like Il Pellicano on the Tuscan coast or Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc in Cap d’Antibes on the French Riviera will never fall out of fashion, there are plenty of other places just as chic yet a lot less crowded worth adding to your seasonal rotation.

From a car-free island off the coast in the South of France to what’s touted to become Greece’s “new Mykonos,” here are six stylish places to add to your list this summer.

Les Fermes de Marie. Photo: courtesy D. André, L. Di Orio, M.P. Morel, T. Shu, F. Paubel, DR

Le Chalet des Renards, part of Les Chalets des Fermes collection. Photo: courtesy of F. Paubel

1. Megève, France

A lower-key (and French) alternative to flashy St. Moritz, the Rothschilds secured Megève’s status as a mountain escape that Parisians have been flocking to each winter since the 1920s. The Haute-Savoie mountain town, located about an hour’s drive from Geneva, may be one Europe’s haute options for skiing, but ask any of the locals (who are the definition of quiet luxury) the best time of year to visit and they’ll quickly respond, “summer.”

If you’ve already cycled Provence or hiked the French Pyrenees, add Megève to your summer circuit. Traditional wooden chalets and farmhouses open up to rustic-chic boutique hotels like spa escape Les Fermes de Marie and Zannier Hotels’s Le Chalet. Nearby Mont Blanc watches over in the distance—and is one of the handful of surrounding peaks you can explore hiking, rock climbing, paragliding, or tobogganing on a summer sledge.

Boutique hotel Andronis Minois in Paros, Greece. Photo: Courtesy of Andronis Minois

2. Paros, Greece

Stray from tourist-heavy Santorini, where honeymooners and cruise ship passengers vie for sunset views, and sail over to a Greek island with vibrant nightlife and restaurants that’s on its way to becoming the “new Mykonos.” Paros and villa-laden sister island Antiparos have been a haven for the jet-set for some time now thanks to their laid-back luxury vibes (think tables in the sand and French-influenced restaurants), but now a more diverse group of well-traveled visitors are heading to the island—and some are even staying to live for the summer season.

Post up near the bustling village of Naoussa in Paros’s first true five-star hotel, Cosme, a Luxury Collection Resort, or book one of the 44 suites (some of which are designed like private villas—plunge pools included) at boutique hotel Andronis Minois, on the opposite side of the island near the car ferry to Antiparos. Here, you can fall asleep to views of the sea—which you can reach on a five-minute trail walk from the property. If you want fine-dining, Paros now has that, too, with Nobu’s Matsuhisa Paros at Avant Mar.

Fondation Carmignac, which will mount the exhibition “The Infinite Woman,” curated by Alona Pardo featuring works by Botticelli, Judy Chicago, and Lee Bul, among others, on view from April 27 through November 3. Photo: Laurent Lecat

Jean Denant, La Traversée, 2018 installed at Fondation Carmignac. Photo: Camille Gasser

3. Porquerolles, France

Once you’ve lunched at Le Club 55 and danced into the evening at Les Caves du Roy, slip away from Saint-Tropez’s see-and-be-seen atmosphere for a place with a lot less flash but beaches just as beautiful. Nearby, a ferry or catamaran ride off the coast of artsy town Hyères (considered “the original French Riviera”), les îles d’Or, or the Golden Isles, are one of the few spots in France with Caribbean-style, powdery white sand.

On the car-free island of Porquerolles, navigate the pine forest-shielded paths by bike en route to tucked-away beaches (Plage Notre Dame often tops the list of Europe’s most beautiful), wine estates like Domaine de l’Ile, and contemporary art museum Fondation Carmignac. Given the size (Porquerolles measures four miles long and two wide), accommodation options are limited to a few studios and tiny hotels. But one spot whose legacy is legendary is terracotta-colored Le Mas du Langoustier, a Provençal country home-turned-boutique hotel that stands proudly on its own on the western edge of the island.

Son Bunyola Hotel in Mallorca, Spain. Photo: Courtesy of Son Bunyola Hotel

4. Mallorca, Spain

The largest of Spain’s Balearic Islands doesn’t get the same kind of love—or foot traffic—as Ibiza, but Europeans love to bask on balmy beaches that range from rugged to refined, with big-name beach clubs and sprawling resorts. Land in capital Palma de Mallorca for coffee on a terrace in the old town and shopping at markets sprawling along the labyrinth-like cobbled streets. Plan lunch on the water at seasonal tasting menu spot Béns d’Avall in Sóller or opt for something more low-key, like seafood favorite Ca’s Patró March, which hovers on a cliffside overlooking the sea in Deià. Overnight in Richard Branson’s first property in Spain, the newly opened, 27-room Son Bunyola Hotel, a restored, 16th-century finca perched on a 1,300-acre estate in the Tramuntana Mountains.

Maslina Resort in Croatia. Photo: Courtesy of Maslina Resort

5. Hvar and Korčula, Croatia

Ever since Game of Thrones placed Croatia in the international spotlight, Dubrovnik’s stone walls (the backdrop for King’s Landing) and UNESCO-protected Diocletian’s Palace in Split swell in summer with tourists and cruise ships. Once you land in either city, start island hopping to nearby Korčula, utilizing one of the six suites at Relais & Châteaux Lešić Dimitri Palace—an 18th-century palace propped over the sea—as home base. After eating your way around what’s arguably Croatia’s most gastronomic island (don’t miss Michelin-starred LD Restaurant in the old town or the hillside Konoba Maha), cruise over to Hvar.

While this jetset favorite attracts celebrities and yachts, there’s a quieter side of Hvar most never make it to: Stari Grad. A 20-minute stroll from the 2,400-year-old town, Maslina Resort is like a piece of Provence tucked into the lush Mediterranean pines and olive groves lining the Adriatic Sea. Call this your spa escape, unwinding with treatments incorporating organic Dalmatian herbs and daily yoga or meditation classes before lounging at the resort’s bohemian-chic A•Bay beach bar built into the rocky coastline.

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Borgo Egnazia in Puglia, Italy. Photo: Courtesy of Borgo Egnazia

6. Puglia, Italy

This region in the heel of Italy’s boot may not be a secret for Italians, but the whitewashed hilltop towns and cliffside beach bars are far off the country’s tourist trail of usual summer suspects like Capri and Portofino. Don’t let the rustic, centuries-old masserie, or farmhouses, fool you—inside they’ve been revamped and transformed into design-driven boutique hotels with all the luxuries you’d expect from a private villa.

Of course the grand dame of the region is the limestone, village-like Borgo Egnazia, a former family castle swathed in breezy, eggshell-colored linen. Linger at one of the three outdoor pools (there’s also a kids-only option, if you’re traveling with children in tow) or cycle down to the Cala Masciola Beach Club for freshly caught fish sourced from local fishers each morning. When you’re ready to venture out to the surrounding vineyards or elf-like trulli homes in Alberobello, hop in a vintage convertible and cruise the coast and winding hillside roads in full Sophia Loren fashion.

Cover: Son Bunyola Hotel in Mallorca, Spain.
Photo: Courtesy of Son Bunyola Hotel


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