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Our Guide to the 8 Best Mediterranean Islands

From stunning beaches, delicious cuisines and spectacular sunsets - the Mediterranean islands have so much to offer
Written by
Kate Herz, Murray Mitchell & Melania Siriu

Published on: June 16th, 2023

Last modified: December 28th, 2023

The Mediterranean is one of the world’s most beautiful and fascinating regions. It encompasses 22 different countries, including some of the top destinations in Europe. And considering that it’s centred around the Mediterranean Sea, it’s no surprise that many of the area’s most sought-after spots are islands.

From the sandy shores of Sicily, to the scenic cliffs of Santorini, there’s a Mediterranean island for every type of traveller. The idyllic isles of Italy, Spain, Greece and Croatia offer romantic escapes for couples, fun-filled activities for families and an abundance of art, history, culture and cuisine – from fresh seafood to delectable desserts.

If you’re looking for the most beautiful beaches in the Mediterranean, head straight to Sardinia. Its crystal-clear waters and pristine stretches of sand make it the perfect place to soak up the Mediterranean sun. That said, places like Paros and Mallorca also promise some of the best beaches in Europe.

Luckily, all of these islands are relatively easy to reach, with plenty of direct flights from other European destinations. Gateway cities like Athens and Barcelona can be just as exciting as the islands, creating the perfect opportunity to add an adventure on the mainland to your trip.

Although this is a popular region among travellers, it’s possible to find secluded spots and hidden gems if you know where to look. With that in mind, our travel designers have chosen the best Mediterranean islands for an unforgettable holiday. Here are their top picks to help you get inspired for your next trip.

What’s the Best Time to Visit the Mediterranean Islands?

 

The best time to visit the Mediterranean islands is peak summer, the months of July and August. This is when temperatures are warmest and days are long and sunny. The shoulder season months of May, June, September and October also promise fantastic weather and attract smaller crowds for a more comfortable experience. 

Beyond the obvious allure of sun and sand, the best Mediterranean islands offer plenty of other attractions – many of which are best enjoyed in spring and autumn. In October and November, you can sample freshly harvested produce and visit spectacular vineyards. And if you want to experience local festivals, spring is one of the best times to visit Greece or Spain.

Which Mediterranean Islands to Visit?

 

The Mediterranean islands are lined with beautiful beaches, sandy coves and boast interiors awash with culture, history, cuisine and adventure. We’ve compiled a list of our favourite islands and what they are best for. We’ll mention our top tips for each island and some of our favourite hotels too.

1. Sicily – Best Mediterranean Island for Ancient Ruins

Sicily is not only one of the most beautiful islands in the Mediterranean; it’s also a haven of history and culture. Here you can visit the ruins of ancient Greek cities like Syracuse and Agrigento, then admire the cathedrals and castles built in the centuries since.

To see everything that Sicily has to offer, you’ll need at least a week. We suggest spending it at the opulent San Domenico Palace in Taormina.

2. Sardinia – Best Mediterranean Island for Beautiful Beaches

The Mediterranean is full of gorgeous beaches, but Sardinia is arguably home to the most beautiful beaches. Here you’ll find everything from soft white sand and sparkling waters to hidden coves and rocky cliffs.

Beyond its postcard-worthy coastline, this Italian island also boasts forests, mountains, ancient ruins and eclectic architecture. We recommend spending a week or more exploring it.

3. Mallorca – Best Mediterranean Island for Delicious Cuisine

Spain’s Balearic Islands are unlike anywhere else on earth, with their own distinctive culture and awe-inspiring landscapes. Mallorca is the largest among them, offering everything from deserted beaches to soaring peaks.

It’s also home to the bustling city of Palma de Mallorca, where you can visit the 14th-century Le Seu cathedral, sample local cuisine at world-class restaurants and stay at the elegant Sant Francesc.

4. Santorini – Best Mediterranean Island for Spectacular Sunsets

When you picture the Greek islands, it’s hard not to imagine the iconic vistas of Santorini. This legendary destination is known for its blue-domed buildings, windmills and dramatic cliffs – not to mention breathtaking sunsets.

 

Catamaran Santorini Greece Sailing around Santorini by catamaran is a great way to pass the time.

Santorini’s reputation as the most beautiful island in Greece is certainly well-earned. It’s easy to combine a few days here with another destination, especially since it’s only a five-hour ferry ride from Athens. One of our top picks for a great place to stay is Canaves Oia

santorini-blue-roofs

5. Crete – Best Mediterranean Island for a Family Trip

Crete may not be as flamboyant as some other Greek islands, but that’s exactly why we love it. It’s the perfect destination for families and active travellers of all ages, with a wealth of outdoor activities and cultural sites to discover.

Enjoy incredible ocean views from a luxury villa at Blue Palace or Domes Zeen Chania, both located conveniently close to fantastic beaches.

6. Paros – Best Mediterranean Island for a Romantic Getaway

It’s difficult to imagine a more romantic place than Paros, with its winding cobblestone streets, whitewashed houses and colourful flowers. Although it’s the second-largest Greek island, it feels refreshingly calm and cosy.

Paros is an excellent option for couples and honeymooners seeking a relaxing getaway – ideally at the incredibly chic Parilio or the lovely Cosme resort. And, just a short ferry ride away there’s the promise of utter seclusion on Antiparos and a stay at Rooster

7. Mykonos – Best Mediterranean Island for Vibrant Nightlife

Mykonos is world-renowned for its nightlife, with plenty of glamorous hotels, restaurants, bars and beach clubs where the party continues into the early hours. But it’s also bursting with impossibly picturesque windmills, whitewashed towns and red-domed houses.

Surprisingly, this buzzing island is one of the smallest in the Cyclades, but it truly makes up for it in character. It’s also an easily accessible island, either on a flight from Europe, or a ferry ride from Athens. Stay at Myconian O or Bill & Coo to fully enjoy it by night and by day.

8. Korčula – Best Mediterranean Island to Get Off the Beaten Track

Located off the coast of Croatia, the intriguing island of Korčula is a wonderful alternative to the more well-known Mediterranean islands. It’s famous for its verdant forests and vineyards, as well as a charming medieval old town that happens to be the birthplace of Marco Polo. 

Lesic Dimitri Palace is undoubtedly the best place to stay in Korčula, offering just six exclusive residences – each of which is decorated to reflect a different section of the Silk Road.

Luxury accommodation

There are many incredible places to stay on the Mediterranean islands. Here are some of our favourites, handpicked by our travel designers:

Ready to plan your adventure?
Whatever you want from your Italy tour, our team of expert travel designers are ready to help.