8 of the World’s Most Beautiful Coastal Towns

Stunning views of the cliff, with gorgeous beach houses dotting the coastline and narrow highways meandering close to the rocks beneath – Coastal towns bring a whole new meaning to seaside lifestyle.

There is a certain allure about these coastal towns, be it in Africa or Australia; their elegance and disarrayed beauty tend to make you fall unknowingly for their charm.

What’s special about them is their geographical edge blessed by forces of both nature and man, making them unique and visually enticing.

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1 – Positano, Naples – Italy

Perched on the steep slopes of the stunning Naples, Positano is one of the many coastal towns littered along the Amalfi coast. Featured in many romance movies, Positano is the perfect setting for a dreamy rendezvous. Driving along the zigzag highway towards the town, you are embraced by breathtaking views of the coast and typical Italian seaside architecture.

A playground for the rich and famous, Positano can be a costly place to visit, with its high-end hotels and exquisite restaurants offering a view to die for. Full moon nights on the main beach of Positano can be quite an experience for you and your loved one.

How to: Take a Circumvesuviana train to Sorrento, and then continue by the SITA bus to Positano. It is easily connected to Salerno, Sorrento and Naples by ferry in summer.

>> Find hostels in Positano and learn more about Naples

2 – Apollo Bay, Melbourne – Australia

The Great Ocean Road offers one of the most scenic drives in Australia. Only in this Southeastern part of the country will you be able to enjoy views of the treacherous coastline made famous by the 12 Apostles. Also unique to this region, are the koalas in the wild, curled high up in the eucalyptus trees. Try to spot some near Kenneth River along the way!

Amongst many of the gorgeous coastal towns along the coast, Apollo Bay has a great reputation for the leisure parks, sizzling barbies (Aussie slang for ‘barbeques’) and its proximity to some of the best surfing spots in Australia. It is also bigger than neighboring towns, with many conveniences at your doorstep.

How to: VLine buses provide weekly service to Apollo Bay and nearby Warnambool (worth taking a look!) from Melbourne city center.

>> Learn more about beaches in Australia and find flights to Melbourne

3 – Kamakura, Kanagawa – Japan

With technology taking over the entire Japan, a traditional town like Kamakura is a rare gem these days. Just one hour away from Tokyo, it is after all, not the best kept secret. Still, with its slapping waves thundering against the coast, and impressive monuments against the backdrop of Mount Fuji, it is no wonder Kamakura is top on the list. Besides its coastal charm, there is just so much history and culture in this town.

Kamakura is of course most famous for the Great Buddha of Kamakura – a bronze statue of Amida Buddha built on the grounds of Kotokuin Temple. It stands majestically as the second largest statue in Japan. The Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine is the spiritual heart of the coastal town, along with the torii-gates (signature red gates of Japan) welcoming you into the town center. Come in April, and you sure will find beautiful pink cherry blossoms lining the the Dankazura Street that runs parallel.

How to: Take the JR Shonan- Shinjuku Line from Shinjuku railway station, a 1-way ticket costs 890 Yen (US$9) to Kamakura.

>> Read about the beaches of Okinawa, Japan

4 – Sidi Bou Said, Tunis – Tunisia

With the entire town made up of white-and-blue Mediterranean architecture, it is hard to believe that one is in North Africa. Although lacking a tad bit of originality, Sidi Bou Said never fails to impress with its pure whitewashed walls, beautiful porcelain stalls and its hilltop location. It is after all a stark difference in comparison with the brown-dusted capital city of Tunis, where mosques and souks line the dusty streets.

With Tunisians donning their traditional djellabas walking through the Med-style pathways, it looks strangely befitting yet intriguingly mismatching. Somehow, you might get the feeling that Sidi Bou Said is nothing but a reconstructed Disneyland for the rich Mediterranean tourists; but deep in its narrow alleys, you can still find the soul of an enchanting coastal town.

How to: Catch a TGM Train from Tunis to La Marsa, and continue on the Light Railway to Sidi Bou Said. One-way tickets cost less than 1 euro!

>> Read our Tunisia travel guide or look for cheap flights to Tunisia

5 – Sausalito, California – USA

Driving along the Golden Gate Bridge with Sausalito in the distance is one of the most romantic getaways in the USA. The coastal town is sandwiched between the cliffs of the Marin Headlands and the shore of San Francisco Bay. The art galleries and souvenir shops along Bridgeway and the soothing cafés along Caledonian Street make Sausalito somewhat atypically American.

For the outdoor lovers, Sausalito also offers excellent hiking trails from Spencer Avenue up to the Marin Headlands zigzagging along the coast. The best thing about Sausalito? It’s a great day trip from San Francisco for the urban dwellers, and the best way to get away from the crowd, and soak in some Californian sun. After all, some say it’s the reason why they built the Golden Gate Bridge!

How to: From neighboring San Francisco, it’s just a 30-minute ride on the Golden Gate Ferry from the Ferry Building or Blue and Gold Fleet from Pier 39.

>> Book a hotel in San Francisco of find airfare to San Francisco

6 – Oia, Santorini – Greece

Exactly like how one would picture the Mediterranean coast to be, Oia is littered with whitewashed blue-domed churches, and windmills perched on hilltops. These picture-perfect scenes look straight out of a postcard, and it’s hard not to fall for its charms, really. Oia is possibly the most elegant and scenic coastal town on the island of Santorini – with its narrow cobble-stoned paths running parallel to the coastline, right alongside quaint little artesian shops and cliff-edged cafes.

The perfect way to explore Santorini is renting a car at the foot of the hills (€20/day), driving up the steep slopes all the way to the top for a birds’ eye view, then spending a lazy afternoon on the black volcanic beaches enjoying a typical Greek salad with feta cheese and some ouzo (Greek aperitif), and finally strolling along the paths stretching through Oia, soaking in the Greek island life.

How to: Connected to Crete, Mykonos and Naxos by high-speed boats (can be quite expensive). From Athens, there are two flights per day (Olympic Airways) or catch the ferry from Piraeus, Athens (10 hours).

>> Read our guide to Santorini or book hotels in Santorini

7 – Knysna, Western Cape – South Africa

There are hundreds of unbelievably beautiful towns along the coastline of South Africa, from Cape Town following the coast to Port Elizabeth, with Knysna standing out thanks to its lush forest and peaceful lagoons. Knysna Heads must be the most striking geological features along the entire southern African coastline. The two great sandstone cliffs flank a deep channel through which the sea pours in to flood the wide and breathtakingly pretty estuary at the mouth of the Knysna River. Don’t forget to drive up to the Eastern Head lookout point for spectacular views of the lagoon.

The Knysna oysters are also reputedly among the tastiest in the world, with Knysna lagoon having its own oyster hatchery! Wildlife lovers would adore the Knysna Forest which is home to plentiful ancient plants and vegetation, as well as antelopes and Knysna elephants.

How to: If you’re a young backpacker, the best choice would be the Baz Bus which you could hop on and off from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth. Or catch the Outeniqua Choo-Tjoe train that goes on an amazing scenic route,including the Kaaimans River bridge (the most-photographed railway bridge in the world)!

>> Book a hostel in Knysna or find flights to South Africa

8 – Rovinj, Istria – Croatia

As the most talked about country in Eastern Europe, Croatia has a reputation for its picturesque coastal towns, medieval stoned paths and the ravishing Adriatic coastline. Instead of sandy beaches, the shoreline of Croatia is mostly rocky, giving it a ruggedly rough edge. In contrast with the wealthier French Riviera, in Rovinj, you will be met by overt friendliness and food that is splendidly rustic.

This coastal town in the Istrian Peninsula is softly embedded in a stunning bay, oozing a mythical charm that makes this a paradise for artists and poets. The country is extremely conscious of its history and culture; there are many monuments worth visiting in Rovinj, especially the Church of St Euphemia. Built at a hilltop, it’s the best spot to catch a view of the old town. It’s definitely worth visiting, especially if you climb the wooden staircase to the top of the 60m campanile.

How to: Fly to Pula International Airport, which is just 36km away. Rovinj is easily connected by bus to Zagreb, Rijeka or even Dubrovnik.

>> Learn about ferries in Croatia or find out more about Croatia’s beaches

Read more about beaches and coastal areas:

Read more about author Nellie Huang and check out her other BootsnAll articles.

Photos by: Phil GibbsRich in Kensington, tarawo, stelosa, culpfiction, Marcel Germain, slack12, Focx Photography,

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Older comments on 8 of the World’s Most Beautiful Coastal Towns

Anonymous
01 April 2009

We got married in Oia!

Craze_b0i
28 March 2009

Gave a thumbs up since on the whole it was a nice article.

I don’t like to nit-pick but there was one part that irked me a bit, the review of Sidi Bou Said.

“With Tunisians donning their traditional djellabas walking through the Med-style pathways, it looks strangely befitting yet intriguingly mismatching. Somehow, you might get the feeling that Sidi Bou Said is nothing but a reconstructed Disneyland for the rich Mediterranean tourists”

In actual fact Sidi Bou Said was built by moorish refugees fleeing from Andalusia in the sixteenth century. They settled in Tunisia and brought the building style of their homeland with them.

Anonymous
24 March 2009

Great article bella!! :)

Ian Rose
23 March 2009

Santorini looks gorgeous. Someday.