Travelers falling in love with Sicily is nothing new. Who could resist such a beautiful place with well-preserved ruins, beaches and one of the highest active volcanoes in Europe? Thanks to the second season of White Lotus, everyone seems to be buzzing about the largest Mediterranean island more than ever (especially the resort where the season was filmed, Four Seasons San Domenico Palace). But, if you’re looking to live the Sicilian dream for a few days but don’t necessarily feel like dealing with the tourism surge or sky-high prices, consider these less trendy—though equally alluring—stand-ins that deliver a taste of the sweet life.
10 Vacation Spots Like Sicily (But Way Less Crowded)
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- Why We Love It: Ligurian cuisine, beaches, apertivo
- Where to Stay: Hotel Blu di Te (from $210/night), Villa 1900 (from $279/night), Villino Chiara (from $530/night)
Nestled in Golfo Paradiso, a tiny stretch of northern Italy’s Ligurian coastline, Santa Margherita Ligure is favored by Genoa locals looking for a carefree coastal escape—though it still flies under the radar of most international tourists who flock to the nearby celeb sweetheart of Portofino. This means travelers get to catch rays at the beach clubs, savor authentic Ligurian cuisine, sip negronis and local wine at the aperitivo bars and comb the racks at the stylish boutiques away from the crowds.
- Why We Love It: landscape, hiking, boat charters
- Where to Stay: Borgo Smeraldo (from $154/night), Palazzo Doglio (from $222/night), Villa La Bella Seafront Villa (from $705/night)
The second largest island in the Mediterranean is second to none when it comes to scenic landscapes. It's a true charmer with ceruleum tides, more than 1,240 miles of coastline, sandy beaches—a rarity in the region—mountainous hiking trails and nuraghi, Bronze Age stone ruins shrouded in mystery. After spending the day exploring, travelers can unwind at a really nice hotel with a pool and spa that might even give the fictional White Lotus a run for its money.
- Why We Love It: history, trullo houses, low-key vibe
- Where to Stay: Charming Trullo (from $97/night), Villa Fransisca (from $125/night), Trulli Holiday (from $102/night)
On the heel of Italy’s boot sits the low-key region of Puglia. Its stock has risen in recent years with tales of its relaxed vibe, stunning scenery and ancient architecture being espoused by influencers. But the reality is that even with its social media buzz, the maze-like hilltop village of Alberobello still retains an off-the-beaten-path charm with cobblestone paths and traditional domed trullo houses that makes it a fairytale alternative to the typical Italian tourist route.
- Why We Love It: beaches, harbor, food
- Where to Stay: Apartment 'Carlo V' (from $69/night), Hotel Don Ferrante (from $171/night), Il Melograno (from $247/night)
A hidden gem on Italy’s southern Adriatic coast, the quiet port town of Monopoli looks photoshopped with its sandy coves, narrow winding alleys, ancient churches—notably the Baroque Monopoli Cathedral—and fishing boats floating in the photogenic harbor. Hungry? Head to one of the cozy trattorias or authentic pizzerias. It’s sort of impossible to believe that a place this naturally pretty, tasty and interesting isn’t overrun with tourists. (It’s probably because all the holiday goers are snapping photos in nearby Polignano a Mare.)
- Why We Love It: Croatia-meets-Italy vibes, beaches, sunset cruises
- Where to Stay: Adriatic Hotel by Maistra Collection (from $194/night), Monte Mulini Hotel by Maistra Collection (from $290/night), Luxury Seafront Palazzo (from $334/night)
Located on the Istrian peninsula, Rovinj was actually part of Italy from the end of WW1 until 1947. That stretch of time left an indelible mark on the Croatian fishing port and coastal resort town. The food, attractions—including the pebble beaches and hilltop Church of St. Euphemia—and just general vibe feels very on-brand for its boot-shaped neighbor. Restaurants along cobbled lanes serve handmade pasta, pizza and fresh-caught fish. For an experience you won’t soon forget, book a sunset cruise.
- Why We Love It: olive groves, vineyards, local cuisine
- Where to Stay: Guest House Lovric (from $92/night), Aminess Korcula Heritage Hotel (from $120/night), Hotel Korsal (from $128/night)
The second most populous Adriatic island after Krk, Korčula sits just off the Dalmatian coast of Croatia. There are sandy beaches, attractive little villages to check out, fragrant pine forests, olive groves and verdant vineyards that grow local varietals you’d be hard pressed to find anywhere else such as Pošip. So, you can live out your own White Lotus-inspired wine-tasting fantasy (though, ideally less drunk and awkward). Don’t leave without sampling homemade traditional tubular-shaped pasta called žrnovski makaruni.
- Why We Love It: ancient archaeological sites, beaches, local cuisine
- Where to Stay: Casa Blu (from $99/night), Asterion Suites & Spa (from $200/night), The Theodore Boutique Hotel (from $269/night)
The largest and most populous island in Greece, Crete has all the Mediterranean flair of Sicily but with a Greek spin. You’ll find plenty of vineyards for wine tasting, fragrant olive groves, authentic tavernas that serve local dishes, plus ancient archaeological sites such as the Minoan palaces of Knossos, Phaistos, Malia and Zakros. It’s also home to some spectacular beaches. Be sure to explore the quaint towns and buzzing cities. And carve out some time to hit the museums and monasteries.
- Why We Love It: hiking, coastal villages, local cuisine
- Where to Stay: A Vigna Caseddu A Punta (from $184/night), Hotel L'Acquale (from $232/night), Hotel A Piattatella (from $256/night)
Despite having been part of France since 1768, Corsica very much holds onto its distinct Italian culture. With incredible local restaurants, there’s no chance you’re doomed to repeat the poor dining choices of the guests in White Lotus who inexplicably eat at the hotel every night. The staggeringly gorgeous Mediterranean island is a place where time stands still as visitors fall deeper in love with its coastal villages, yacht-filled harbors, dramatic forested peaks, rocky gorges and sparkling beaches.
- Why We Love It: beaches, tradition, local cuisine
- Where to Stay: Almyra (from $226/night), Amara (from $278/night), Anassa (from $406/night)
Sicily and Cyprus might seem like quite different destinations, however, both Eastern Mediterranean islands actually share common genetic heritage. While there are certainly cultural and geographical distinctions, visitors will also notice a lot of similarities—including a dedication to tradition, warm hospitality and incredible food that focuses on locally grown ingredients (though you will be trading handmade pasta for Cypriot classics like halloumi). Breathtaking beaches, mountainous hiking paths, enchanting hilltop towns and well-preserved ancient ruins also add to the appeal.
- Why We Love It: historical sites, landscape, weather
- Where to Stay: Casa Ellul (from $177/night), Domus Zamittello (from $243/night), Cugó Gran Macina (from $255/night)
Situated between Sicily and the North African coast, Malta—which for reference is considered part of Southern Europe—presents a mix of heritage, warm weather and awe-inspiring scenery that’s made the tenth-smallest country in the world a popular filming location for movies. Because it was ruled by the Romans, Moors, Knights of Saint John, French and British, the historic sites run the gamut from UNESCO-listed ancient temples and shipwrecks off the coast to the 16th-century Grandmasters Palace and St. John's Co-Cathedral.