Antigua Family in the Ocean Waving to Mom

TOP 10 MAGNIFICENT MEDITERRANEAN ISLANDS TO VISIT

Exploring these heavenly islands is a great way to see the Mediterranean with your friends or a loved one.




The Mediterranean is a diverse region. While there's turquoise water, dazzling nature, fascinating traces of old cultures and tasty dishes on most of the islands, each one of them also has its own character. Greece has the largest number of islands, followed by Croatia, Turkey and Italy, while the islands of Malta and Cyprus are great choices, too. Pack your sunglasses, sunscreen and flip-flops when you go to one of these top places to visit in the Mediterranean.





1. Mljet

Croatia Mljet Island Aerial

This island may be best known to mythology buffs as the locale where Odysseus was said to be held captive for seven years. Croatia has over a thousand islands, so it can be hard to choose where to go, but Mljet, the southernmost large Croatian island, is one of the most beautiful Mediterranean islands to visit and is less crowded than some of the others, making it a perfect choice.

Explore the national park on the western part of the island, where dense forest stretches around the saltwater lakes Veliko Jezero and Malo Jezero. Meanwhile, the picturesque Romanesque church and Benedictine monastery, each with Renaissance and Baroque features, are located on Saint Mary, the small island in the middle of Veliko Jezero. This is a lovely spot for swimming in the clear sea, or you can visit Saplunara Beach at the southern end of Mljet.

Snorkeling or diving is great here, too — there are numerous Greek amphorae and shipwrecks along the coast. Or you can go sea kayaking or canoeing to see the impressive rugged coastline. There are also walking and cycling tracks, which are located in the shade. Be sure to admire the ruins of a Roman palace at the village of Polače's waterfront as well. It was built around the fifth century and is one of the largest Roman ruins in the country. And before you leave, don't forget to sample some of the island's wine, goat cheese and olives.



2. Korčula

Croatia Korcula Island Coast

This Croatian island located next to the Pelješac peninsula is another treasure in the Adriatic Sea. A trip to Korčula is one of the best things to do in the Mediterranean for couples and it's a great place to avoid the crowds, as fewer people make it here than to the more northern islands of Hvar and Brač or to Dubrovnik, to which Korčula is often compared.

Korčula is one of the best-preserved medieval centers in the Adriatic and has marvelous squares, churches, palaces and houses. Stroll through the town gate and admire the city walls and St. Mark's Cathedral or you can visit the house that is thought to be the birthplace of Marco Polo.

Next, visit some of the small villages, like Lumbarda or Smokvica, which are surrounded by vineyards, olive groves and dense pine forests. Enjoy the clear, turquoise water at the Pupnatska Luka pebble beach on the south coast and try some of the best Croatian white wines.



3. Büyükada

Turkey Buyukada Victorian Street Historic Island

This island, which means "big island" in Turkish, is the largest of the nine Princes' Islands. It's a short ferry ride from Istanbul and makes a pleasant escape from the busy capital. Visiting the island is one of the best things to do in the Mediterranean for couples, so try to visit outside the busy summer weekends if you can.

You disembark at the Ottoman-style ferry dock, which dates from 1915, and soon reach the town center with shops, cafes, restaurants and Büyükada's landmark clock tower. The white-walled Splendid Palace Hotel is worth seeing, as are the 19th-century timber villas, which were built in the Ottoman style during the Victorian era.

You can hike through the pine forests to reach the excellent Adalar Museum, which has information about life on the islands. Take a dip in the Sea of Marmara and join the locals for freshly-caught fish at one of the outdoor restaurants overlooking the sea and some Turkish tea, or try a salty yogurt drink called ayran. Instead of walking, you can rent a bicycle or take a horse-drawn carriage (prices are fixed by the municipality). Private motor vehicles are not allowed here and that includes taxis.





4. Rhodes

Greece Rhodes Island Temple

This large Greek island, located just off the coast of Turkey, is one of the top places to visit in the Mediterranean. It's known as the island of the knights and is named after the Knights of Saint John of Jerusalem, who ruled Rhodes from 1310 to 1522 and built the magnificent fortifications. Construction on the city began in 407 BC and Byzantines, Greeks, and Ottoman Turks all left their mark here. Only in 1947 did Rhodes officially become part of Greece.

A good way to start your visit is with a walk on the city walls, which offers awe-inspiring views. Then stroll along the cobblestone Street of the Knights in the atmospheric Old Town, which is one of the best-preserved medieval settlements in the world.

Admire the Palace of the Grand Master of the Knights of Rhodes, which was originally a Byzantine fortress built at the end of the 7th century A.D. and is now a museum, and explore the Turkish district with the Mustafa Pasha Mosque and the 16th-century Turkish Baths.

The picturesque town of Lindos with its ancient Acropolis is also well worth a visit. Or go hiking around the green valleys, admire the views over the turquoise bays and relax on the sandy beaches with their crystal-clear waters. Then why not enjoy the buzzing nightlife with your friends?



5. Santorini

Greece Santorini Island Blue Roof

This mythical Greek island is definitely one of the most beautiful Mediterranean Islands to visit. Picture-perfect Santorini, known as Thera in Greek, is part of the Cyclades island group in the Aegean Sea, between Athens and Crete.

A colossal volcanic eruption gave Santorini its current shape as well as the towering cliffs along the east side. Unsurprisingly, this island, with its whitewashed buildings, multi-colored cliffs, volcanic-sand beaches and stunning sunsets is on many travelers' bucket lists.

Enjoy a leisurely stroll from the capital, Fira, to the villages of Firostefani and Imerovigli. Or travel further to charming Oia to watch the sunset. Rent a boat or hop on a day cruise to discover the mesmerizing wild landscape of the island of Nea Kameni. You can also explore the caves that are located on the island, where you'll find various churches and stairs that were used for mining excavations. On the island of Palia Kameni, take a dip in the sulfurous hot springs.



6. Ibiza

Spain Ibiza Island Beach Coast

This magical Spanish island, part of the Balearic Islands, has become well-known for its nightlife and, since the 1990s, the electronic dance music played in the clubs. Whether you join the many partygoers that arrive each summer or not, Ibiza has much to offer. It's a melting pot of cultural influences and is also known as a refuge for free thinkers, hippies and artists. The island has a secluded north coast, phenomenal sunsets and a rich history and heritage, making it one of the top places to visit in the Mediterranean.

Be sure to explore Dalt Vila, Ibiza's picturesque Old Town with narrow, steep cobblestone streets. You can also enjoy the stunning beaches with their turquoise water, including Cala d'Hort and Es Pou des Lleó, or hike around one of the outstanding natural parks like Ses Salines or Es Vedrà.



7. Sicily

Italy Sicily Santa Flavia Coast Island

Be seduced by one of the largest islands in the Mediterranean Sea, which is also one of the most beautiful Mediterranean islands to visit. It is separated from the Italian Peninsula by the narrow waters of the Strait of Messina and the traces of the people from various countries who have left their mark here over the island's history can be found not only in the architecture, as seen in the vibrant capital, Palermo, but in the mouthwatering Sicilian cuisine. Be sure to sample some of the timeless recipes, which are made with ingredients like couscous, shellfish, tuna, pistachios, ricotta and citrus fruits.

One of the highlights here is Mount Etna, the largest active volcano in Europe, which is located on the east coast of the island. The landscapes that the eruptions have created over the centuries are breathtaking. Also interesting are the dammusi (old stone houses).

There are several UNESCO World Heritage sites on the island, including the Archaeological Park of the Neapolis in the eastern town of Syracuse, an ancient Greek colony. Don't miss the magical hilltop town of Taormina, which has sights like the Greek Theatre and the 13th-century Cathedral of Taormina.



8. Sardinia

Italy Sardinia Rocky Coastline Aerial

Visiting this Italian island, located south of the French island of Corsica, is one of the best things to do in the Mediterranean for couples and friends. The island's landscape is extremely varied, with white sandy beaches and rocky coastlines, high mountain peaks and forests. In addition, Sardinia is home to no less than four million sheep.

Take a boat or walk the challenging trail to the crescent-shaped bay of Cala Luna and its golden beach or explore some of the island's thousands of mysterious Bronze Age towers, settlements and tombs. Some of these can be found at Su Naraxi, which is on the UNESCO World Heritage List. In addition, you can see wild horses at the basalt plateau of Giara di Gesturi and blue-eyed albino donkeys in the unspoiled national park on the small island of Asinara, north of Sardinia.

If you want to go swimming, try one of the lovely beaches like Costa Smeralda, which is located near the village of Porto Cervo. When you're ready for dinner, Sardinia's distinctive pastas, breads, cheeses, wines, and desserts are a perfect way to end your day.



9. Malta

Malta Coast Colorful Fishing Boats

On Malta, you can explore thousands of years of living history, admire the scenery and join in the nightlife. A visit to this sunny island is perhaps one of the best things to do in the Mediterranean for couples and friends traveling together.

The gorgeous capital, Valletta, was built by the Knights of St John in the 16th century. The fortress-like hilltop towns of Mdina and Victoria and the village of Gozo with its many impressive churches are all also worth visiting. You can see the prehistoric miniature sculptures of "fat ladies" at the National Museum of Archeology in Valletta or visit Hal Saflieni Hypogeum, a mysterious 5,000-year-old underground necropolis (book in advance).

Relax on the red-gold beaches or go snorkeling or diving, exploring underwater caves and shipwrecks. The fishing boats you'll see are often painted with eyes like the boats of the Phoenicians.



10. Corsica

Corsica Island Beach Coast Aerial

Set sail to this mesmerizing French island located between France and Italy. Despite being close to these countries, Corsica's character, cuisine and language differ from the mainland — the island is known for its wild, unspoiled beauty, geographical diversity and various holiday options and is thus one of the top places to visit in the Mediterranean.

Explore the magnificent orange Calanques de Piana cliffs, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, on the west coast, where there are several well-marked walking trails. You'll find dazzling green valleys and dense forests only a few hours' drive away. Of course, you can also relax on the superb sandy beaches.

Charming Sant'Antonino is said to be the oldest village on Corsica. Also visit the inland town of Corte, which has an impressive fortress and cobbled alleys. The landscape around it is a staggering array of granite mountains and rivers.

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