The warm, turquoise waters of the Mediterranean Sea lap up against some of the world’s most celebrated harbors. While tourists flock in millions to picture-perfect Portofino, glitterati-filled St Tropez, Renaissance Venice or white-cliffed Santorini, Louise Simpson reviews five photogenic ports that you’ll want to keep secret. 

    1. Cassis, France

      With its brightly-colored fishing boats and pastel-painted houses, Cassis is one of the lesser-known delights of the Southern French coastline. No trip to the harbor would be complete without tasting the local bouillabaisse accompanied by a glass of Cassis AOC white wine. The majestic hidden bays of the white-cliffed calanques (sheltered inlets) lie within a half-day hike or boat trip.

    2. Göcek, Turkey

      The ideal way to reach Göcek is in a Turkish gulet (wooden motor-sailing boat). Surrounded by pine forests, this pretty resort is a sailing paradise with no less than six marinas, as well as hidden coves and islands. Although it’s quieter than neighboring Fethiye, Göcek still has numerous restaurants and shops.

    3. Porto Cervo, Sardinia

      With less than 200 inhabitants, this tiny Italian marina is the secret hideaway of the super-rich. Designed by the celebrated architect Luigi Vietti, Porto Cervo was created for the Prince Karim Aga Khan. Guests often arrive by private yacht, but nowadays an airport in nearby Olbia provides access for less golden-heeled tourists.

    4. Emporio, Halki

      Taste Metaxa liqueur at a local taverna as you watch the sun setting along Emporio piazza and you’ll understand the joys of life in the slow lane. This traditional Greek fishing port lies in car-free Halki, the smallest inhabited island of the Dodecanese archipelago.

    5. Valletta, Malta

      Valletta’s historic Grand Harbor is a striking vista. The backdrop of Valletta is a feast of Baroque architecture with its bastions, ravelins, palaces and gardens. Housing no less than 320 historic monuments, the old city has been an UNESCO world heritage site since 1980.

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