There is nothing quite like submersing your body in the ocean, feeling the soft sand between your toes and basking in the glory of the sunshine. Each new place comes with a new culture to experience. It’s a dream wherever you are, but an even more elevated, luxurious experience when you’re traveling somewhere exceptional – the best Mediterranean islands we’re about to show you are just that.
The number of Mediterranean islands is seemingly uncountable, and they’re all breath-taking. How do you research them all? And how do you pick the dream vacation from a list of only dream vacations?
Well, you consider what matters to you and read through some insider tips and recommendations. That’s where we come in.
Though you might not be able to travel just yet, it’s never too early to start planning. Bucket list destinations exist for a reason.
Get ready to explore the best Mediterranean islands right here, including the one-of-a-kind landmarks that you must check out while you’re there, along with must-see beaches, where and what to eat and everything in between — all the ways to ensure you have the most memorable trip.
The four best Mediterranean islands that you must visit in your lifetime
Though many people opt to visit Italian cities like Rome, Venice, Florence and Milan, we think the beautiful island of Sicily has them beat.
Sicily is a diverse, lively island with beaches, mountains, historic landmarks, archeological sites, volcanoes and much more to see, as well as delicious foods and wines to enjoy. Whether you’re filling your belly or sight-seeing, there’s never a dull moment.
Speaking of sight-seeing, some interesting, beautiful and historic places to visit are the Cathedral of Monreale, Valley of The Temples, Villa Romana Del Casale and Taormina. There is also an active volcano on the island, Mount Etna, which is the largest in Europe and an excellent place to watch a sunset.
In fact watching the sunset from prime locations should be a nightly activity while staying on an island as the sunsets here are unbeatable.
Locals recommend checking out the charming towns around Mount Etna for a wide array of culinary traditions, unique souvenirs and memorable wineries.
If you’re looking to relax and soak in ocean views, some of the best beaches that we highly recommend visiting include:
- Isola Bella: Beautiful pebble beach located at the foot of a small island near Taormina.
- Mondello: Calm waters, soft pale sand and turquoise water.
- Magaggiari: Long white sand beach overlooking the Gulf of Castellammare.
- Fontane Bianche: Family friendly, spectacular sunsets and natural springs.
- San Lorenzo: Coastal stretch with large beaches and small coves.
Sicilians love dessert, especially the delectable cannoli (a fried pastry stuffed with sweet ricotta). Another sweet treat to try is the Sicily-specialty Frutta Martoran, a traditional marzipan in the form of fruits and vegetables.
What about dining with a view? Sicily has an abundance of unique cuisine within the Italian framework—from Greek to French, Arabic to Spanish. If you have expensive taste, you should visit Alle Terrazze. While the menu changes with the seasons, the view of Mondello Beach with it’s beautiful water is always the same level of captivating.
If you packed the right shoes and love the outdoors, we recommend hiking the trail between Taormina and Castelmola. Taormina, a hilltop town near Mount Etna, has beaches, ancient ruins and awe-inspiring views, giving you a variety of Sicilian scenery.
You can also visit the Vendicari Nature Reserve for additional hiking, coastal views, wildlife and beautiful scenery. This is our recommended place for a beautiful picnic. Get some fresh air, exercise and photos to keep forever and truly enjoy your time there.
Cyprus is filled with the Mediterranean charm that people long for—fresh seafood, beautiful beaches, ancient ruins and unique culture.
However, until recently, it was an overlooked gem, with most tourists choosing to visit more popular, overcrowded islands like Mykonos and Santorini. For a fraction of the cost and equal (if not even more!) appeal, we believe Cyprus is one of the best Mediterranean islands.
Cyprus is the third largest island in the Mediterranean and is deemed the “island of love” for its noteworthy landmarks and romantic nature.
One of the most romantic sights in Cyprus is Petra tou Romiou, also known as Aphrodite’s Rock. Legend has it that if you swim around the rock three times, you will be gifted with eternal youth and beauty. At the very least, it’s an incredible and popular place to snap a memorable photo and watch the sunset in the distance.
When it comes to sand and sunshine, you have to visit Nissi Beach, with golden sand and crystal-clear waters that seem to stretch out forever. If you’re visiting in the summer and looking for a move lively scene, you can look forward to weekly beach parties. Otherwise, enjoying the shallow, unique waters is more than enough. As you’ll see, there is a little something for everyone, regardless of age or interests. Which is exactly why it makes our list of the best Mediterranean islands.
Some other beautiful Cyprus beaches include:
- Lara Beach: Very secluded, and a natural habitat for green and loggerhead turtles.
- Konnos Beach: Rimmed with pine trees, soft white sands, and is popular for families and watersports.
- Fig Tree Bay: Great for snorkeling due to lots of visible sea life and clear waters.
Some leisurely but exciting activities on Cyprus include cycling, camping and enjoying wildlife. The Akamas peninsula is an environmentally protected natural park that is accessible via bicycle. The Troodos Mountains is a great hiking destination with some wonderful trails.
Another insider tip is to visit the stunning village of Kakopetria near the mountain range, where you can stop for coffee or enjoy a home cooked meal at a local taverna.
Looking for a scenic picnic spot? The stunning Ayii Anagyri Picnic Site at Cape Greco National Forest Park has spectacular sea views.
Without a doubt, Sardinia is one of the most striking places in the world. Best known for its turquoise water and gorgeous beaches, but also for its food and wine, it’s a must visit place.
People here enjoy the astonishing scenery and live life to the fullest. Anyone with the luxury to visit here will be equally inspired and ready to return as soon as possible.
Sardinia is one of the five so-called Blue Zones recognized around the world, where people live the longest, healthiest lives. Specifically, life on the island revolves around eating a lean, plant-based diet accented with meat, putting family first, taking walks, laughing with friends and drinking a glass or two of wine daily. Immersing yourself in this lifestyle, even for a short amount of time, will do nothing but good. It almost sounds too good to be true.
Depending on where you are in Sardinia and how long you’re staying, you’ll have to plan and adjust travel accordingly. For a panoramic view of stunning, sparkling waters, eat at Ristorante Lu Impostu, where you can savor exceptional pasta, seafood dishes, locally sourced salads and fresh vegetables.
Another one of our recommendations is to visit agriturismi, farmhouses that are seasonally open to the public with locally grown produce, homemade wine, handmade pasta, slow-roasted meats and fresh breads that you’ll dream about for weeks after.
But as your on a Mediterranean island you definitely need to spend some time on the beach! Some of the best Sardinia beaches include:
- Tuerredda Beach: Great for swimmers with water in shades of blue, green and turquoise.
- La Cinta: Shallow waters that are popular for paddle boating and kitesurfing.
- Rena Bianca: White sand that slopes gently into green water.
- Cala Luna: Reachable by boat with a gorgeous sea cave beside the beach.
- Porto Giunco: Pure white sand with clear, pale-blue waters and pink flamingos!
Potteo Beach is another wonderful destination, especially if you’re looking for a good place to take some photos during sunset. Right near the area, you can also visit the Molentargius Nature Reserve to observe wildlife and watch birds, including the gorgeous pink flamingos.
An alternative is Capo Marrargiu Marine Biopark near Bosa, where you can admire the griffon vulture, peregrine falcon, golden eagle and other species.
Near Calamosca Beach, you can take a short hike up to a lovely lighthouse or soak in the view from the Sant’Ignazio abandoned fortress.
The town of San Teodoro is another must-visit if travel and time permit. It has a bustling night market from June to September and a range of campsites that we highly recommend you check out if you’re into the outdoors and exploring the area outwith staying in luxury hotels.
Out of the islands on this list, Ibiza is the “party island” of the bunch. However, Ibiza has the best of both worlds, as it also sports a relaxed, peaceful side. It is a very versatile island for any kind of traveler—from the young to the old, there is something for everyone. Which is exactly why it makes our list of the best Mediterranean islands.
Though you can find nightlife on other islands, it’s much easier to do so (and much more well-known) in Ibiza, where you will multi-level dancefloors and famous DJs. Ibiza Town is a bustling and famous nightlife spot, alongside the Playa d’en Bossa and San Antonio resorts- must-visit clubs include Pacha, Sankeys, Amnesia and Privilege.
Ibiza Town is also visually stunning, with cobblestone streets, a walled fortress and magnificent water views.
In general, Ibiza is regarded as one of the best places to watch a sunset in the Med, so can’t really go wrong when it comes to views. However, you will find some of the most breathtaking sunsets in Ibiza at Sunset Strip or San Antonio Bay.
To watch the sunset on the water, check out one of the many beaches below. You’re sure to find one that suits your desires and is perfect for a day trip too.
Some of the best Ibiza beaches include:
- Cala Jondal: An interesting, mostly pebbled beach near Ibiza Town with golden-colored sands on the south end and bright turquoise waters.
- Benirrás: Beautiful sunsets, white sand, crystal clear water, and a famous drum circle.
- Ses Salines: Powdery soft sand, surrounded by restaurants, music venues and shops.
- Pou des Lleo: Horseshoe-shaped cove surrounded by low red cliffs, clear water, popular for scuba diving and snorkeling.
If you’re looking for more family friendly or relaxing outings, Ibiza has various guided hiking and walking tours, as the island is surrounded by mountains and valleys that offer picturesque views of the Spanish seas and countryside.
If you weren’t sold on the previous beaches, we think Cala Gracio has an incredible picnic spot with a small recreational area and an unmatched sense of privacy and tranquility.
To eat some delicious foods and find some goodies to take home, visit the San Juan Market on a Sunday. The market, located in the village town of Sant Joan de Labritja in Catalan, prides itself on eco-friendly products and foods, ranging from natural soaps and toiletries to locally sourced produce.
There’s a “hippy culture” in Ibiza that’s pretty interesting and if you want to immerse yourself in it then visit the variety of hippy markets. For instance, Las Dalias, the first market of this kind, has over 200 stalls filled with quirky clothing, jewelry and authentic Iberian products.