Your next home on the Mediterranean?
It was the healthy climate, fresh sea air and clean living that first attracted foreign visitors to spend time by the Mediterranean. Fast forward a century or two and those former ‘health’ resorts have blossomed into glamorous destinations, among the most desirable places to own a beach home anywhere in the world.
In the Med’s best boutique resorts, luxury beach properties come with access to every facility you could ever want. Here is our pick of the top places to buy a luxury beach home by the sparkling Mediterranean in 2020.
Côte d’Azur, France
Attracting international royalty, luminaries and artists since the 19th century, the Côte d’Azur – aka the French Riviera – needs little introduction as one of the world’s most glitzy stretches of coastline. Its list of celebrity homeowners includes megastars from the worlds of sport, music and film.
Stretching from Menton near the Italian border to Saint-Tropez (some say as far as Cassis) in the west, its famous towns include Nice, Cannes, Saint-Jean Cap Ferrat, Juan-les-Pins, Antibes and Villefranche-sur-Mer. Picturesque villages in the hills 10 minutes inland attract private owners who prefer the tranquillity of being away from the busy seafronts. Examples include Picasso’s old haunt Mougins, St Paul de Vence and Grimaud.
The French Riviera sets the benchmark for sophisticated living. The art galleries, Michelin-star restaurants, international boutiques, exclusive night spots and manicured beaches, including public and private, are complemented by international events, not least the celebrated Cannes Film Festival, boat shows and the Monaco Grand Prix.
Properties in the Cannes and Saint-Jean Cap-Ferrat are especially opulent. In the latter, palatial Renaissance villas set within landscaped seafront estates can range from €50million to €300million, a good example being the famous villa built by Belgian King Leopold, once described as the world’s most expensive house. For a well located villa or luxury apartment near the beach, a budget of €2million-€10million will give you a good choice.
Costa Smeralda, Sardinia
Tucked between the Bay of Arzachena and Gulf of Cugnana in north-east Sardinia, the 10-kilometre Costa Smeralda is named after the tantalising emerald colour of its waters. Today it is an exclusive enclave that attracts A-listers looking to combine the chic Italian lifestyle with unspoilt white beaches. It’s a handy place to moor up your yacht too.
It’s a relatively new destination but is held in equal regard to Italy’s other celebrity destination, Capri and the Amalfi Coast. The idea of turning this stunning stretch of Sardinian coastline into an elite tourist resort was hatched by a consortium led by billionaire the Aga Khan in the 1960s. Before then the area was largely a wild, untouched landscape.
The hub of Costa Smeralda is glitzy Porto Cervo, a custom built Mediterranean village based around a super-yacht marina with a promenade, boutiques and restaurants. Properties in Costa Smeralda rank amongst Italy’s most sought after, with prices for the most exclusive villas in Porto Cervo typically €10million-€20million. However, a €5million budget shouldn’t disappoint.
Golden Triangle, Portugal’s Algarve
Although on the Atlantic rather than the Mediterranean, the Algarve nonetheless has some of Europe’s most luxurious coastal properties, specifically in the area dubbed The Golden Triangle. This comprises the three resorts of Vale do Lobo, Quinta do Lago and Vilamoura.
Each is famous for their championship golf courses, but with stunning Atlantic beachfronts and all types of leisure amenities, non-golfers are just as at home there. Founded in the early 1960s, Vale do Lobo was the first tourist residential community in the Algarve and quickly became a world-class destination popular with international owners. In recent decades Quinta do Lago in particular has become the go-to second home resort for many TV and sports personalities, most of whom opt for contemporary villas.
Portugal has a favourable tax scheme (the Non-Habitual Residence scheme) for foreigners who relocate there, making high-end property in the Algarve even more appealing. For access to the most sought-after villas, you’ll need to spend €5million-€10million, but upwards from €1million will bag you a smaller property in a less exclusive address.
Mallorca, with its glorious bays and coastal scenery, has achieved cult status over the years, with numerous famous visitors and residents helping to make it one of the most desirable islands in the Mediterranean.
The south-west of the island, where the chic capital Palma is located, is top of the pile for exclusivity. It is home to Son Vida, an upmarket residential area dubbed the ‘Beverly Hills of the Balearic Islands’. Inaugurated by Monaco’s Prince Rainier in 1964, Golf Son Vida offers exceptional homes looking over the Bay of Palma and next to pristine golf courses.
Still in the south-west, Puerto de Andratx and the Santa Ponsa have a history of attracting Hollywood stars and today rank among the most expensive residential areas on the island.
The dramatic west coast is where the Tramuntana mountain range meets the sea. The scenery between the idyllic villages of Deià or Valdemossa, an area with ties to the former Archduke of Austria, is especially magnificent. There, highly sought-after villas tucked into the cliff-side looking straight out to sea and some with exclusive access to coves below, are the ultimate in private Mediterranean hideaways.
Budget from €3million for a luxury detached villa in hotspots like Puerto de Andratx, with prices reaching €10million-plus for the finest properties.
Zoologist and author Gerald Durrell helped put Corfu on the map, but this lush Greek island in the northern Ionian Sea was on its way to becoming a discreet upmarket second-home destination before the Durrell family turned up.
The sophisticated north-east is where the prize properties are located, attracting enough British owners over the years to earn the nickname Kensington-on-Sea. Many of the waterfront villas here are deemed the finest in Greece, including the imposing summer villa of banking dynasty family the Rothschilds.
The three bays of Agni, Kassiopi and San Stefano are the most sought-after areas. From €1million upwards will get you a detached villa with sea views, but for something really special, budget €5million-€10million.