Although nothing says Riviera better than the charming coastal region between the Alps and the blue clear waters of the Mediterranean that stretches from southeast France to northwest Italy, the Italian term with medieval roots has spread all over the world, becoming very popular among numerous coastal destinations around the world.
However, the authentic Riviera comprises only two sides – the famous Cote d’Azur and the Italian shoreline between La Spezia and the French frontier, both of them facing the Ligurian arm of the Mediterranean.
Once with the development of tourism throughout Europe’s amazing coasts, people have begun to use the word Riviera in order to spot certain areas similar to Cote d’Azur and so Europe has come to boast today at least 12 stunning Rivieras.
Kicking off the concept of modern resort, French Riviera has played an essential role in the 18th-century travel, when it became one of the most popular destinations among the British aristocracy. Now, after almost 200 years, French Riviera still boasts some of the most fashionable resorts in the world.
Home of the famous Cannes, Saint Tropez, Nice and Monaco’s stunning travel spots, the iconic French Riviera combines the unparalleled natural beauty of the place with what people call a lifestyle of the Rich and Famous with plenty of party, lavish accommodations, glamorous yachts, celebrities galore, high fashion and VIP treatment.
But, beyond all that, French Riviera boasts a rich heritage, which can be soaked and touched everywhere around its lovely old towns like Nice or the perched villages of Eze and Gourdon.
Although technically there’s no such thing like Spanish Riviera, travel websites usually use the term when they talk about Spain’s magnificent beaches, and thank God, the Iberian country is blessed with plenty of them.
So, if there would be a Spanish Riviera, this would probably include most of the country’s flanks, as Spain is almost entirely surrounded by beautiful coasts kissed by the Mediterranean and the Southern Atlantic.
Moreover, starting with Costa Brava, Spain’s “wild coast” that stretches from the French border to the north of Barcelona and melts beautifully in Costa Dorada, the country boasts a plethora of wonderful beaches. Further, the Mediterranean draws three more famous shores: Costa del Azahar, Costa de Valencia and the legendary Costa Blanca, all of them belonging to the autonomous community of Valencia.
Costa Blanca is followed by the scenic Costa Calida in the province of Murcia, from where it begins the Andalusian spectacle with its four superstars: Costa Almeria, Costa Tropical, Costa del Sol and Costa de la Luz, in this particular order. Then, on the far North West corner of Spain, on the Atlantic shore it lies the unspoilt Costa de Galicia, followed by the stunning Costa Verde in the Principality of Asturias and the charming Costa Vasca in the Basque Country.
So what do you say, does Spain deserve the honor of having a Riviera of its own?
Formerly known as Ligurian Riviera, the Italian Riviera continues the French Cote d’Azur, slinking among the Mediterranean, the Maritime Alps and the Apennines until it reaches Capo Corvo near Tuscany.
With a center in Genoa which divides it into two sides, Riviera di Ponente and Riviera di Levante, this Italian splendor has a charm of its own, standing out by an amazing background, ancient harbors and charming fishing villages such as Portofino or the wonderful ones belonging to the coastal area of Cinque Terre.
Just like Spain, Turkey doesn’t have a real Riviera, either. The term is used to describe the beautiful coastline in southwest Turkey. Also known as the Turqoise Coast, the area comprises world famous destinations such as Antalya, Bodrum, Kusadasi, Marmaris, Fethiye or Kalkan.
Besides the incredible variety of beaches, from pebbled marvels to miles of golden sand, the stunning Turkish Riviera prides itself with mighty archaeological ruins, priceless architecture, incredibly clear waters, fashionable marinas and even world’s wonders such as Mausoleum of Maussollos at Halicarnassus (Bodrum).
Part of the idyllic Albanian coast, the Albanian Riviera stretches between the Ionian Sea and the Ceraunian Mountains in the province of Vlore.
Maybe the most underrated piece in my list, this Riviera enjoys an amazing setting, being named the 2012 Top Value Destination by Frommer’s. Moreover the area encompasses a fine selection of Mediterranean villages, castles, churches, caves and lovely beaches.
Budva Riviera is a charming 35km-long coastline around the city of Budva in Montenegro.
Boasting some of the best beaches in the Mediterranean, this place is a perfect destination for travelers in search of culture, adventure, watersports, history or romantic experiences.
From such a stunning country like Greece I would’ve expected to be home of a never-ending Riviera, but according to Wikipedia, Greek Riviera comprises only the island of Spetses and the town of Porto Heli.
Spetses is a cosmopolitan island in the Saronic Gulf, 10 miles away from Athens. On a rich historic background, the island draws some incredible crystal waters alongside lush timbered landscapes. With bikes and horse-drawn carriages being the the most popular means of transport in the area, it’s now wonder people compare it with a fairy-tale.
Moreover, the island of Spetses was the setting of Fowles’s famous novel “The Magus”, which coincidentally, is one of my favorite books.
On the other hand, Porto Heli lies on the Greek Peloponnese peninsula as a sophisticated oasis of culture, diversity, sandy beaches and natural beauty.
Consisting of 22 miles of spectacular coastline, the English Riviera entails three delightful coastal towns: the picturesque Torquay, Paignton and the fishing village of Brixham.
Still wearing the vibe of Agatha Christie’s enthralling novels and the traces of a high-class Victorian society; the area features an amazing shoreline with plenty of fine beaches, parks and public gardens, as well as picturesque harbors stepped in history.
Part of the Istrian Peninsula, which by the way is shared by three different countries (Slovenia, Croatia and Italy), the Slovenian Riviera stretches along the Adriatic Sea in the Golf of Trieste, comprising the cities of Koper and Piran as well as the region of Izola.
Most popular resort along Slovenia’s tiny Riviera (46 miles) is Portoroz (Port of Roses), an enchanting spot filled with award winning beaches, plenty of bars and restaurants, a stylish marina and a romantic Italian feel.
Besides Portoroz, the coast boasts two charming medieval towns: Piran and Koper, both of them providing plenty of opportunities for sightseeing, culture soaking, sailing, swimming, and many other activities.
Who knew Russia has a Riviera? I didn’t, but it seems that neither the locals were so eager to promote it. Russian Riviera or Sochain Riviera is the Black Sea coast that stretches along the city of Sochi, the longest city in Europe (145 km).
Formerly known as Soviet Union’s premiere resort, Sochi lies in Krasnodar Krai in the south of Russia. Apart from being a sunny destination, the city still enjoys its own distinctive charm and a privileged location along the foothills of the Caucasus Mountains, which allows tourists to come here in the summer, as much as it invites them in the winter.
Moreover, after many decades of sitting in the shadow, Sochi has all the chances to be selected this July to host the 2014 Winter Olympic Games, a good opportunity for Russians to restore it. In fact the refurbishment has already begun and the former Soviet extravagance is about to melt into an even greater display of power and money.
Mainly known for its breathtaking mountains and the Viennese Waltz, Austria is also the home of some amazing alpine lakes such as the beautiful 16 km long Lake Worthersee, a place that Austrians call the Austrian Riviera.
Located in the south of the country, this place used to be an exclusive summer hideaway for the high-class Viennese society in the middle of the nineteenth century. In a way, its reputation of Austria’s Monte Carlo has been kept over the years, the destination being always considered a hot spot for high quality tourism and activities such as golf or horse-riding.
However, Lake Wörth enjoys an amazing scenery with picturesque medieval villages along its high mountains, tranquil waters and luxuriant flora.
Last but not least, here it is the Romanian Riviera – a 275 km coastline along the Black Sea dotted with a plethora of resorts. Better known as the Romanian seaside, the shoreline stretches from the picturesque Danube Delta all its way to the Bulgarian coast.
The main city in the area is Constanta, Romania’s largest port, followed by Mangalia and Sulina – the easternmost point of the continental European Union.
However, the pearl of the Romanian seaside is and it has always been Mamaia, a beautiful resort that has converted from an ideal family destination into a smaller Ibiza. With an exciting nightlife, a fine selection of clubs, bars and restaurants, plenty of festivals taking place in the area and a flamboyant clientele, Mamaia in not far from becoming one of the best party destination in Europe.
The Black Sea doesn’t have the Mediterranean glow or its wonderful beaches, so Romanian seaside’s charm lies in the diversity of its resorts. From the exclusive Mamaia and the forever-young Costinesti to the hippie Vama-Veche and the rural 2 Mai, there’s nothing you can’t find here.
This is the story of the 12 Stunning “Rivieras” of Europe, I hope you all enjoyed it.