The Ionian Island of Corfu is the closest Greek island to the UK. Tourists have flown into the airport in the capital, Corfu Town, for decades to enjoy the island’s sunshine and beaches, and parts of the island, notably around the south coast, are heavily over-developed. Meanwhile, the smart money has headed to the north-east coast, where the steep slopes are covered in the "black gold" of centuries-old olive trees. Opposite, the hills of Albania work as a convenient shelter for the calm, clear Ionian Sea.
Messing about on a boat is the ideal way to pass the time on Corfu. Hire a small boat and find a deserted shingle cove to picnic on or moor at a seafront tavern for a long lingering lunch of fresh fish and wine. Conservative leader David Cameron and his young family did just that, spending a summer holiday there in 2006 and entering into relaxed island life.
New property has been built recently but most are attractive villas in keeping with the older stone houses. Helpful landscaping from fast-growing plants – big pines, fig and lemon trees, jasmine and eucalyptus – help to make even the very new blend into these green, green hills.
Above the harbour in Kassiopi, on the north-east coast, this three-bedroom villa has views across the headland and reflects traditional Corfiot design with a vaulted wooden ceiling and whitewashed walls. There is a large verandah, swimming pool and irrigated gardens that include an olive grove. For sale for €795,000 (£608,200) through Aylesford International (www.aylesford.com; 020 7351 2383).
British buyers have flocked to The Republic of Cyprus since the country entered the EU in 2004. In its European Housing Review 2007, The Royal Institute for Chartered Surveyors reports that prices on the Mediterranean island doubled in the five years to 2007, with buyers choosing Cyprus for its low cost of living, excellent climate and good public facilities. In addition, English is widely spoken and property laws are based on English Law.
On New Year's Day Cyprus adopted the euro, which, along with good economic forecasts and a growing population, means the future looks bright for Cypriot property, despite a large amount of new-build homes.
This month sees the launch of Minthis Hills, a planned resort of 600 two- to five-bedroom villas in western Cyprus 15 minutes from the UNESCO World Heritage town of Paphos. The resort will have an 18-hole golf course, tennis courts, a spa and a clubhouse with restaurants and bars. Developer Pafilia says only two per cent of the total 1,200-acre site will be built on, the rest will be planted with 50,000 indigenous trees and plants. Property design is inspired by local village architecture, featuring stone walls and open-air courtyards, while modern touches include floor-to-ceiling glass walls and infinity pools. Construction is set to start later this year; off-plan prices start from €525,000 (£401,650). Contact Minthis Hills (www.minthishills.com; 0800 085 0870).
The vast land mass of Turkey sits mainly in Asia; only three per cent, the south-west corner, makes it into Europe. This three per cent has been a popular destination for tourists and house-hunters, who are drawn to the combination of value and style.
Building is booming, and while some areas are certainly being spoiled by developers aiming for quantity over quality, there are good opportunities for buyers prepared to house hunt wisely.
Look to the Bodrum peninsula, where the traditional square white houses have a contemporary feel. This buzzing town is home to good facilities and ancient ruins, including King Mausolus's tomb, one of the Seven Wonders of the World.
Further south, Fethiye has vibrant restaurants and bars, as well as a quiet coastline easily reached on the wooden gullets that pack the charming marina. The mix of old and new makes this coast so interesting, and with property priced from £50,000 and increasingly liberal property laws, Turkey is attracting adventurous buyers looking for a sunshine destination.
In Bodrum, overlooking the gullets moored on Kucukbuk Bay, Savills is selling Sea View Villas. The three-bedroom semi-detached and detached houses, with private gardens and communal pools, are a five-minute walk from the beach. Prices are from £204,000 to £225,000, through Savills International (www.savills.co.uk/abroad; 020 7016 3740).
As one of only three countries in the world with both an Atlantic and a Mediterranean coast (along with France and Spain), Morocco has a 1,140-mile coastline. However, it is the inland city of Marrakech that has attracted most international interest. French and British buyers have been the main ones to push prices up, keen to have nine months of perfect sunshine along with a distinct Moorish culture and five-star facilities.
The standard of work in Marrakech is excellent, and mosaics and tiling are still hand-crafted by skilled workmen. There is extensive use of tadelak, a polished plaster mixed with marble dust that produces smooth, glossy walls.
Located in a secluded, mature olive grove in the newly sought-after Ourika Valley 11 miles from Marrakech, Le Ferme de Saladin is an off-plan development of six houses each with their own private swimming pool and garden. The riad-style houses have four bedrooms and sit on a 1.2-acre plot with views of the Atlas Mountains. Prices from €1 million (£765,000), through Aylesford International (www.aylesford.com; 020 7351 2383).