In Datça, Turkey, the Ultava Houses hotel consists of four traditional village homes that have been updated with amenities like private rooftop pool terraces.

Summer of Dupes: Alternatives in the Aegean

Between Turkey and Greece, there are plenty of spectacular spots for a seaside vacation. So why not go beyond the usual suspects? Here are five lesser-known choices.

In April, Princess Cruises told passengers that it was canceling a scheduled stop in Santorini, Greece, citing congestion. Four cruise ships were already anticipated to arrive on the same day in June, and were it to join, the ships would have brought some 17,000 visitors to an island of 15,500 residents.

In the Aegean Sea, more than 1,000 islands fill the waters between Greece and Turkey, and the coastlines are lined with spectacular bays. Both countries set tourism records last year, a boon for two fragile economies, but one that follows and in turn fuels frenzied development that threatens local livelihoods, cultural heritage and ecological balance, particularly on the Greek islands.

With plenty of whitewashed islands and historic coastal towns offering the same charms as their neighbors, it’s time to look beyond Mykonos and Marmaris to lesser-known spots that might benefit from more visitors. Whether you’re in search of a hiking adventure, a cultural excursion or seclusion in rugged beauty, here are five destinations that offer distinctly Aegean experiences, without the crowds.

When Michelin expanded its Turkey guidebook last year, the quiet district of Urla, near the port city of Izmir, stole the spotlight. On a windy peninsula with clay-heavy soil, the hilly region has a rich winemaking tradition that dates back 6,000 years. A near-total government monopoly on winemaking stymied production for decades, but recently boutique makers and chef-driven restaurants have carved a path for themselves and put Urla on the gastronomic map.

Newer wine producers like Hus focus almost exclusively on indigenous grapes, joining longtime innovators along the Urla Vineyard Route, which winds through rolling fields, olive groves and nine wineries, two of which have beautiful guest rooms, including 2 Rooms hotel at Şarapçilik (from $230). Each producer is no more than a 20-minute drive from the next.

At Vino Locale, the heart of a local artichoke is boiled in a fragrant broth of herbs and citrus.

In addition to the listed alternatives, travelers can also explore the stunning coastal town of Bodrum in Turkey. Bodrum offers a mix of ancient history, beautiful beaches, and a vibrant nightlife scene. Visitors can explore the ruins of the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, or relax on the sandy beaches of Gumbet and Bitez. The town also boasts a bustling marina filled with luxury yachts, trendy bars, and seafood restaurants serving fresh catch of the day.

Overall, the Aegean region offers a diverse range of destinations for travelers seeking alternatives to the popular tourist spots. Whether you choose to explore the wineries of Urla or soak up the sun in Bodrum, there are plenty of hidden gems waiting to be discovered in this picturesque corner of the world.