If emerald waters, rugged coastlines and breezy seafront cafes appeal to you, pause your plans for the Caribbean or Mexico and consider taking your next beach vacation in the Mediterranean.
There's an abundance of coastal towns and port cities in Spain and France, but that's just the tip of the iceberg. A seemingly endless supply of resort villages hugs the entire Mediterranean coastline.
Watch our video to get a taste of how lovely a beach vacation in the Mediterranean would be.
Low-Key Seaside Bliss
Some of our favorite towns include Tarragona, home to ancient Roman ruins and lush gardens, and Sitges, a vibrant coastal town with rows of towering palms and a lively beachside promenade.
The seaside village of Blanes, just an hour from Barcelona on the Costa Brava, boasts long, sandy beaches divided by an iconic rocky promontory called Sa Palomera. Its cliffside Jardín Botánico Marimurtra impresses with subtropical gardens housing more than 4,000 plant species.
Most American tourists have probably never heard of Javea, close to Alicante in the Costa Blanca, but its relative obscurity is a good thing. Even its most popular oceanfront promenades are never too frantic, and there are plenty of rocky, unmanicured stretches and mountain hiking trails to explore.
You'll feel like a millionaire walking the streets in Monaco, and no doubt you'll rub elbows with a few if you take a dip at Larvotto Beach. Get the best views of the city-state by climbing the stairs up to the Rock of Monaco, which overlooks the port and the sea.
Long Beaches, Late Nights
While smaller towns have mastered the romantic beach town experience, larger cities like Barcelona, Marseille and Valencia are fierce competition with their nightlife, cultural institutions and diverse cuisine.
Surrounded by tapas bars and late-night hangouts, Barcelona's Barceloneta Beach is the city's most famous — and most packed. A short train ride can get you to calmer and prettier beaches just outside of the city lines.
Marseille, founded by the Greeks around 600 B.C., boasts an enchanting stretch of coast south of the city center. But to discover its breathtaking hidden coves, head to the Calanques, a collection of grand promontories and narrow inlets in a national park reigning over the city's southernmost end.
In Nice, travelers choose between relaxing hours on pebble beaches and long afternoons exploring the Old Town's maze of streets. Nearby Avenue Jean Medecin is a shopper's dream, lined with high-end stores, brasseries and coffee shops.