The allure of Mediterranean islands is truly captivating. Offering some of the most pristine beaches in the world, a wealth of historical wonders, and an abundance of beach bars and guaranteed fun times, they provide everything you could desire for an unforgettable holiday.
The whole Mediterranean region boasts sheer beauty, delectable and healthy cuisine, and a multitude of attractions that trace their roots back to the ancient world. However, among the many Mediterranean Islands, here are the islands that deserve the top spots on your list.
The Most Stunning Mediterranean Islands
The Spanish island of Ibiza is known worldwide for its vibrant nightlife and wild party scene. Made even more famous by Mike Posner’s song “I Took a Pill in Ibiza,” this Mediterranean island is the definition of a party haven with plenty of upscale clubs and bars to drink and dance the night away.
However, there is a lot more to Ibiza than just music and clubbing. Its golden sand beaches, luxurious island resorts, tranquil forests, and crystal-clear aquamarine waters make for the perfect setting for a relaxing romantic getaway.
The tiny island nation of Malta is located in the central Mediterranean and is best known for its incredible cultural heritage. Those that have a love for history and a fascination for traveling to unique destinations will simply adore Malta for its many historic sites, stunning architecture, and scenic beauty.
The island is also home to three famous UNESCO World Heritage Sites, which include the ancient walled capital city of Valletta, the Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum, and the Megalithic Temples of Malta.
The largest of the Balearic islands of Spain’s Mediterranean archipelago, Mallorca is famed for its incredible beaches, picturesque coastline, and the rolling Serra de Tramuntana mountains in the north.
Palma, the capital of Mallorca, is a thriving city that offers plenty of things to see and do for tourists and provides all the amenities you would expect when living in Mainland Spain. Unlike the other major Balearic islands – including Ibiza, Menorca, and Formentera – Mallorca is much bigger, more populated, and packed with art, culture, and history.
It’s a well known Spain fact that they have loads of islands. The most rugged and wildest of the Balearic Islands, Menorca is an adventurer’s dream destination. Home to numerous untouched beaches, unspoiled nature, turquoise blue waters, and quaint coastal settlements, this is the best island for those that prefer to be closer to nature than to people.
The island’s incredible landscape offers plenty to explore while the cities of Ciutadella and Fornells welcome tourists with their alluring charm, scenic views, and enchanting atmosphere.
Being one of Greece’s most luxurious islands it is a hotspot for tourists wanting to relax and unwind in a serene and picturesque coastal setting. Some top attractions on the island include Santorini Caldera, one of the finest black sand beaches on the island, and the archeological remains of the ancient port city of Akrotiri Village.
This beautiful Italian island is the largest in the Mediterranean and has something to offer for everyone. Situated just by the toe of Italy’s boot, the island is home to the Valley of Temples, a must-visit UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Sicily also contains the highest active volcano in Europe, Mount Etna, which towers over the landscape overlooking the island’s sublime beaches, charming villages, quaint towns, ancient ruins, and the picturesque cities of Palermo, Catania, and Syracuse.
Another island nation located on the Eastern side of the Mediterranean, Cyprus is a place that offers incredible history, scenic views, gorgeous weather, and mouth-watering cuisines making it the ultimate Mediterranean holiday destination.
Just off the coast of Turkey, this island nation offers a mix of European and Turkish cultures that can be fully experienced in its capital city of Nicosia.
Cyprus is also famous for its local wine and ancient ruins such as the Kato Paphos Archeological Park and the Tomb of the Kings, as well as Cape Greco, one of the best Cyprus beaches. It’s easy to spend a long time on this island as there is plenty for tourists plenty to do and experience.
In terms of size, Sardinia is the second largest island in the Mediterranean Sea after Sicily and is a nature lover’s dream destination.
This gorgeous island is full of natural wonders from white sand beaches to rugged mountain landscapes with plenty of unique rock formations. You will also find plenty of ancient megalithic ruins, known as nuraghi, spread across the island inviting you to explore every inch of Sardinia’s 2,000 km coastline.
Situated on the northwest coast of Greece, Corfu is an underrated island destination in the Ionian Sea. The ancient island is home to some fabulous golden sand and pebble beaches, quaint towns and villages such as Sidari and Old Perithia, and several architectural and cultural attractions that make it one of the most unique destinations in the world.
The historic Corfu Old Town is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is flanked on either side by two Venetian fortresses and the grand palaces of St. Michael and St. George.
Another Italian island located in the Bay of Naples, Capri is renowned for being a playground for the rich and famous. Featuring plenty of incredible natural attractions, luxurious grandiose villas, and exclusive designer shops on cobblestone streets, Capri is unlike any other island on this list.
Must-visit attractions in Capri include the Blue Grotto, a large natural cavern where the waters are a spellbinding electric blue, and the Villa Jovis, which was once the home of the Roman Emperor Tiberius.
Located in the northern Aegean Sea, just off the coast of Turkey, Lesbos (also referred to as Lesvos) is one of Greece’s most scenic islands. Hidden amongst its rugged landscape are olive groves, white rock headlands, green forests, and natural turquoise blue water bays.
The city of Mytilini on the island’s eastern side is the cultural and historic hub of the island featuring plenty of museums and art galleries that portray the works of renowned Greek artists and the famous female Greek poet Sappho.
The birthplace of Napoleon Bonaparte, Corsica is one of France’s most popular holiday destinations. This mountainous island is famous for its majestic sandy beaches, pristine waters, abundant hiking trails, and charming French towns straight out of the pages of history.
The city of Bastia is the main tourist hub of Corsica and it is divided into three popular districts, the old town (Terra Vecchia), the citadel, and the old harbor. Each district has its charm and appeal with the old harbor being the most popular for first-time visitors.
This ancient island lies just 10 km from the coastal Italian town of Piombino and was the home of French Emperor Napoleon during his years of exile. Part of the Tuscan Archipelago National Park, the island offers stunning natural beauty with plenty of hiking trails and outdoor activities to partake in.
Portoferraio is the largest town on the island and offers attractions such as the Medici Fortresses, Napoleon’s Villa, and a historic center where one can learn about the island’s ancient history dating back to the Paleolithic era.
The smallest of Spain’s Balearic islands, Formentera is a hidden gem that is often overshadowed by Spain’s other popular Mediterranean islands, such as Ibiza and Mallorca.
If you are not one for rave parties and youthful exuberance and are looking for an island that offers tranquility and long stretches of white sand beaches you simply can’t go wrong with spending a few days in Formentera. The laid-back vibes and the fact that you can bike around the entire island makes Formentera worth the visit at the very least!
Part of Greece’s Dodecanese island group, Patmos is best known for being the place where Apostle John (St. John the Theologian) wrote the Book of Revelations based on the visions he saw in the Cave of the Apocalypse.
As such, Patmos is a significant pilgrimage site for Christians but is also stunningly beautiful with plenty of small, picturesque villages, whitewashed villas, and hidden coves waiting to be explored. The mystical energy of the island combined with amazing Greek food and wine make for a truly memorable stay.
Located in the Ionian Sea, the exotic Greek island of Zakynthos (or Zante) is an unspoiled natural gem that is home to stunning white sand beaches, turquoise blue waters, and endangered marine species such as the Loggerhead and Caretta-Caretta sea turtles.
Top attractions on the island include Shipwreck Beach, Keri Caves, Zakynthos Town, and the Zante Marine National Park. The majestic natural landscapes, quaint hilltop villages, and towering cliffs make it Greece’s most popular and scenic islands.
The largest of the Dodecanese island group, Rhodes is the sunniest of all of Greece’s islands. Apart from the sunny weather the island also offers plenty of beautiful beaches to explore as well as historic and cultural attractions in the medieval town of Rhodes.
The town in itself is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and features ancient archeological attractions such as the Colossus of Rhodes, the Acropolis of Lindos, and the medieval stronghold of the Knights of St. John.
The island of Gozo is one of the 21 Mediterranean islands that make up the Maltese archipelago. The tiny island is less developed than the main island of Malta and is known for its rugged scenic beauty and Neolithic Ġgantija Temple ruins.
The reason why Gozo is on this list is because of the Wied il-Ghasri gorge that is located on Gozo’s northern coast. The spectacular gorge is a hidden gem that features extravagant rock formations and dazzling turquoise waters that one can swim and snorkel in during hot summer days.
The stunning island of Milos or Melos in the Aegean Sea is another volcanic Greek island that features magical beaches, picturesque white-washed buildings, and ancient ruins, such as the statue of the Greek Goddess Aphrodite.
The unusual volcanic landscape, quaint fishing villages, such as the hilltop capital of Plaka and Mandrakia, hidden coves, and turquoise blue waters make Milos a must-visit destination when exploring Greece’s Cyclades group of islands.
Part of the southern Cyclades group of islands, Folegandros may not be as popular as popular tourist hotspots such as Santorini and Mykonos but is just as spectacular nonetheless.
Like all of Greece’s islands, Folegandros is home to beautiful whitewashed houses, majestic sunsets, fantastic beaches, blue waters, and enormous rocky cliffs just waiting to be explored. In the center of the island, you will find the historic towns of Chora and Ano Meria which offer their own unique charm and historic attractions.
Located in the Ionian Sea, Lefkada is connected to the mainland via a man-made causeway which makes it easily accessible from Greece. It is a beautiful and underrated island that is home to white limestone cliffs, dense green forests, world-famous beaches, amazing wine, and delicious Greek food. Lefkada town, Nydri, and Vassiliki are all amazing places to stay, each offering its unique charm and memorable attractions.
The largest island of North Africa, Djerba is a lesser-known Tunisian island that has been influenced by a mix of Arabian, Jewish, Berber, and African cultures making it one of the most unique destinations on this list.
The island features numerous white sand beaches, whitewashed domed buildings, rich history and culture, and a dramatic desert landscape. The main cities to stay in Djerba are Houmt Souk which has some amazing handicraft markets and a 16th-century fortress overlooking the blue waters of the Mediterranean.
The largest island of the Cyclades group, Naxos is yet another gorgeous Greek island that doesn’t quite get the accolade it deserves, as it’s one of the most beautiful Mediterranean Islands. Visitors to the island are greeted with typical whitewashed houses, long sandy beaches, perfect weather for windsurfing and sailing, and fertile valleys with plenty of local agricultural produce and fine wine.
The island also features quaint mountainside villages and numerous archeological sites such as the colossal Portara – the door to the temple of Apollo.
Aeolian Islands, Italy
The Aeolian islands are part of the volcanic archipelago in the Tyrrhenian Sea just north of Sicily. The entire archipelago is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and boasts unparalleled natural beauty and pristine blue waters.
There are seven Mediterranean Islands in total; Lipari, Vulcano, Salina, Stromboli, Panarea, Alicudi, and Filicudi. Lipari is the largest island with the largest town and plenty of luxury resorts and upscale restaurants. Each island features volcanic landscapes with Stromboli being home to an active volcano that erupts every night with red lava being spewed into the night sky.
The most popular and sunniest island destination of Croatia, Hvar is renowned for its vibrant nightlife, picturesque buildings, stunning beaches, vineyards, hidden coves, and lavish marinas that are a playground of the rich and famous.
Hvar town is also a UNESCO World Heritage site with an old Spanish fortress and narrow winding streets that hosts luxury hotels and fine dining restaurants. Further inland, you will find quaint villages such as Vrboska which are worth exploring.
One of the most famous Mediterranean Islands for party goers and young people is Mykonos. Yet another island that is part of Greece’s famous Cyclades island group, Mykonos is most recognizable for its iconic whitewashed windmills that are perched on top of the beautiful Mykonos town.
The island is regarded by many as a summer party destination with plenty of nightclubs, cocktail bars, and beach-side resorts where the party doesn’t stop even after dawn. Home to 42 stunning beaches and gorgeous sunset that will leave you breathless this is a Greek island destination you don’t want to miss out on!
Egadi Islands, Italy
Made up of a group of tiny mountainous islands, the Egadi archipelago consists of five islets, three of which are inhabited (Favignana, Levanzo, and Marettimo) while the other two (Formica and Maraone) are wild and relatively untouched.
The largest of these Mediterranean Islands is Favignana, which is shaped like a butterfly with rugged beaches and turquoise blue waters. Marettimo along with Formica and Maraone are a lot more wild and rugged making them the ideal destination for nature lovers and hiking enthusiasts. Levanzo is the smallest and dreamiest of the Egadi islands, known for its picturesque, whitewashed holiday homes.
Arguably one of the prettiest islands of Greece’s Dodecanese islands, Kos is blessed with countless sandy beaches, numerous historical landmarks, and scenic mountain views. The island has a rich history and has been inhabited for over 10,000 years.
Top historic attractions include an ancient theater that dates back to 274 BC, a 15th-century Neratzia Castle, the ancient Agora ruins, and the 3rd-century Casa Romana Villa. There is no shortage of natural beauty as well with the Western Archaeological Zone and the beautiful Plaka Forest attracting close to a million tourists annually.
Fethiye Bay Islands, Turkish Riviera
Part of the Turkish Riviera, the Fethiye Bay Islands consist of twelve islets, many of which are completely uninhabited. The Mediterranean Islands are all grouped fairly close to one another and the best way to explore them all is by chartering a private boat from the port city of Fethiye, which is home to some of the best beaches in Europe.
If what you seek is a remote island paradise with quiet and sandy beaches, deserted bays, hidden coves, and spectacular untouched natural beauty, the Fethiye Bay Islands should be at the top of your list.
There is a reason why so many of the islands featured on this list are in Greece, as when it comes to beautiful Mediterranean islands, the Greeks are blessed with plenty.
Paros is another island of the Cyclades group of islands and like most Greek islands is best known for its stunning whitewashed buildings, party atmosphere, quaint villages, and beautiful golden sand beaches.
It is also a lot less touristy and more affordable than other more popular destinations such as Mykonos and Santorini.
Have you ever come across the mention of Ithaca, the Greek Island? It’s often associated with Homer’s Ithaca, the legendary home of Odysseus and the backdrop for the epic Greek tale, The Odyssey.
Compared to other Greek Islands, Ithaca isn’t as widely recognized or frequented by tourists. Embarking on a journey here to explore all the wonderful attractions and activities it offers will provide you with a unique experience, particularly if you’ve previously visited larger and more bustling Greek Islands.
In Ithaca, you can relish in the exquisite bays and beaches, picturesque drives, and delectable feta cheese without the hustle and bustle of crowds. While it requires some effort to reach this island, I assure you that you’ll feel immensely content sipping a glass of wine among the friendly locals.
Situated in the Ionian Sea, just off the coast of nearby Kefalonia, Ithaca is a small Greek island. It ranks as the second smallest among the seven primary Ionian Islands, with Paxi being the first. Spanning a mere 96 square kilometers and inhabited by fewer than 4,000 people, Ithaca offers an opportunity to escape to a distinct Greece—one that you may have longed for but couldn’t quite find on more popular islands such as Corfu and Zakynthos.
Hydra Island, also known as Ydra or Idra, is a breathtaking Greek island located just off the coast of the mainland. Despite its small size, Hydra offers a plethora of activities and attractions for all visitors. It’s the ideal Greek island retreat, where you can unwind, indulge in delightful meals, and revel in the beauty of its pristine beaches.
Whether you choose to spend a single day or an entire week, Hydra will captivate you, ensuring you never experience a dull moment. We guarantee that, regardless of the duration of your stay, you’ll leave with a profound sense of satisfaction.
Pronounced as Ýdra (similar to ee-dra), this island belongs to the Saronic Islands group in Greece and ranks among the country’s top destinations. It is separated from the Peloponnese by a narrow waterway, and you can easily reach it from the mainland in less than an hour by ferry.
Hydra is a favored Greek island among both locals, particularly Athenians, who frequently take day trips from Athens. Renowned for its artistic atmosphere, numerous galleries, charming whitewashed houses, and absence of motorized vehicles, Hydra showcases a scenic allure that’s truly unique.
Yes, you heard correctly. The island strictly limits internal combustion vehicles to a few city-owned trucks and a fire truck. Apart from that, getting around Hydra entails walking, using donkeys, or relying on sea taxis.
Mediterranean Islands Map
Mediterranean Islands FAQ
What are the biggest Mediterranean islands?
Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, covering an area of about 25,711 square kilometers. Sardinia is the second-largest island, Cyprus is the third, next is Corsica, and then Crete, the largest Greek Island.
What are the countries that surround the Mediterranean?
The Mediterranean Sea is surrounded by 22 countries. These include Montenegro, Albania, Spain, France, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Greece, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Palestine, Egypt, Libya, Monaco, Italy, Slovenia, Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco; Malta and Cyprus are island countries in the sea.
How many Mediterranean islands are there?
It’s estimated that there are roughly 3,000 to 6,000 islands in the Mediterranean Sea, with between 200-300 of them being inhabited at some time in history.
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