1. Himarë, Albania
It’s only about 50 miles east of Italy, but the beaches of Albania that sit on the Adriatic Sea could not be more different from the Italian Riviera. Beachfront hotels for $50, easy access to postcard-worthy ancient ruins like Butrint and Himarë Castle, gorgeous beaches (try Gjipe or Jali), and laid-back locals make the Albanian Coast good to go. Plus, it’s weird. Thanks to its Communist years, in some areas Cold War-era bunkers dot the coast, barely held up by the white sand.
The easiest way to get to Himarë is to fly into Athens, then take a short bus to Vlorë or to Himarë, where you can dive right into the blue Ionian Sea — not a soul in sight.