Forget rainy Britain — Carla Passino finds where the sun shines for longest in the Mediterranean.
Sardinia is virtually a synonym for pristine beaches, turquoise waters and secret bays, but Italy’s second-largest island has even more to offer. The countryside is dotted with medieval churches, prehistoric shrines and nuraghi – huge stone buildings left by a Bronze Age culture that’s unique to Sardinia.
On the coast, Roman ruins stretch at the foot of sturdy forts built to ward off pirates and, in cities such as Cagliari and Alghero, the rich architecture bears witness to the island’s tumultuous history at the crossroads of the Mediterranean. The weather is great, too, with 2,600 hours of sunshine a year.
Expert tip: The team at Christie’s International Real Estate suggests eating alfresco at Il Pescatore, in Marina di Porto Cervo
La Tiara di Cervo, from €5.9 million
Set on Sardinia’s Porto Cervo hillside, this is a serviced development featuring garden villas and penthouses.
More details: Christie’s International Real Estate.
The Algarve has the perfect combination of sunshine—about 3,000 hours each year —and golden beaches bathed by limpid waters. Add to this miles of lush countryside, picturesque towns such as Silves and Tavira plus fabulous food. The eastern Algarve is a golfer’s paradise, but the rugged west will suit wilder spirits.
Expert tip: Niki Riley of Savills recommends Maria’s Beach Restaurant in Praia do Garrão Poente: ‘The incredible deck lounge is the perfect place for relaxing.’
Quinta do Lago, €12 million
An eight-bedroom house with panoramic views of the south-course fairway and the sea beyond.
More details: Knight Frank
You’re spoilt for choice here: most areas enjoy between 2,700 and 3,000 sunshine hours every year. Among the top performers is the sherry centre Jerez de la Frontera, a maze of cobbled streets filled with rhythmic flamenco and clattering horses’ hooves. Don’t miss Córdoba, jewel of Moorish Spain, and fashionable Marbella, with golden beaches, sand dunes and elegant country clubs.
Expert tip: Sunset at the Roman ruins of Baelo Claudia fringing the beach at Bolonia, near Algeciras
Marbella, €1.56 million
Traditional style villa with six bedrooms and panoramic views plus gym, cinema room and private swimming pool.
More details: Knight Frank
Legend has it that Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and beauty, was born on Cyprus and much of her allure has rubbed off on the island. Crystalline waters lap perfect white beaches, ancient temples soar above the coastline and, inland, the mouflon plays hide and seek in the Troodos Mountains. For British visitors, the balmy climate is a huge draw: Cyprus enjoys about 3,300 hours of sunshine per year—more than twice the UK average.
Expert tip: Eleftheria Voskaridou of Limassol Del Mar recommends visiting Lady’s Mile beach: ‘You can always find space to relax in the sunshine.’
Limassol del Mar, from €1.3 million
This gated development will have sea-facing apartments with two to five bedrooms, plus outdoor and indoor swimming pools
(00 357 25 510 888; www.limassoldelmar.com)
Provence and Côte d’Azur, France
Sandwiched between mountains and sea, the coastline between Nice and Marseille is a suntrap, with more than 2,700 clear hours every year. That said, there’s a difference in temperature — and lifestyle — between the seashore and villages inland.
For glitz, glamour and warmth, nothing beats the yacht-studded bays of the Riviera, but for a more understated slice of France, head for the hills: you’ll trade a couple of degrees for bastides, lavender fields and the night sky that inspired Van Gogh. Tip Climb up to Le Trophée d’Auguste, in La Turbie — this Roman ruin overlooks the coast from Cannes to the Italian Riviera.
Les Parettes, €4.5 million
Once owned by Edith Piaf, this 19th-century bastide near Plascassiers has eight bedrooms, a tennis court and a heated pool.
Aylesford International (020–7351 2383; www.aylesford.com)