With its azure waters, rocky hillsides and ancient architecture, the Mediterranean coastline is home to some of the most beautiful landscapes and towns in the world. From Morocco to Monaco, Spain to Turkey, here are some of the most beautiful Mediterranean destinations you really need to visit at least once in your lifetime.
Famous for its white-washed houses that stand out against the brightly coloured volcanic cliffs that shape the island, Santorini is one of the most picture-perfect Greek islands.
Cinque Terre, Italy
A UNESCO World Heritage site since 1997, Cinque Terre – or ‘Five Lands’ – is a collection of five pastel-coloured fishing villages perched on the cliff edge and connected via a 19th century train track.
A picturesque port located at the border between Spain and France, nestled on the edge of Pyrenees mountains, Collioure has been an inspiration to many famous artists, including Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso.
Located on the southern tip of the French island of Corsica, Bonifacio – meaning ‘pretty face’ – is virtually dangling into the Mediterranean sea. Harbouring Medieval fortresses and Roman ruins, it is a city steeped in history and natural beauty.
The Catalan capital Barcelona is one of the most vibrant, historic, and exciting cities on the Mediterranean. The Gothic Old Town, the Modernist marvels and the awe-inspiring food markets are just some of the reasons you really need to see Barcelona at least once in your life.
Bay of Kotor, Montenegro
Presenting one of the most unique climates on the Mediterranean, the Bay of Kotor is one of the wettest places in Europe, and even features small glaciers in certain areas. Harbouring many important Medieval towns, the bay has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1979.
Famous for the Las Fallas firework and pyrotechnic festival which takes place each year, Valencia is the third largest city in Spain. Founded by the Ancient Romans, today Valencia is a thriving Mediterranean capital with an important Arts and Science Museum.
The birthplace of democracy, visiting Athens is like taking a step back in time to visit the cradle of European civilisation. Ancient temples, the Acropolis, the Parthenon… the list goes on in the epic Greek capital.
Known as the gateway to the ‘Turquoise Coast’, Turkey’s riviera, Antalya is a fishing town which boasts both an historic town centre known as Kaleiçi and some rather lively, modern bars and restaurants too.
The capital of the small island-nation of Malta, Valletta is a Baroque masterpiece built in large part during the 16th century by the Knights Hospitaller or Order of St John. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Valletta also boasts a number of well-preserved Modern, Neo-Classical and Mannerist landmarks.
Famous for its international film festival, Cannes is the heartland of the French Riviera. Lined with palm trees and overlooking the Mediterranean, the Boulevard de la Croisette is the place to be seen with its sumptuous palaces, designer boutiques, and luxury hotels.
One of the most visited cities on the Mediterranean, Dubrovnik is a must-see destination whatever the time of year. In summer the beaches attract sun-worshippers and party-goers, while the colder months are the perfect time to explore Dubrovnik’s historic city centre and its beautiful limestone streets.
One of the Mediterranean’s largest ports, Marseille has been a place of comings and goings for centuries. At times marred by its dodgy criminal record, Marseille is the bad-boy of the French Riviera, and behind its gritty façade there is a city full of culture and history to be explored.
One of the most romantic cities in the word, Venice is spread across 100 lagoons that occupy the Venetian lagoon. Taking a gondola ride through the intricate network of canals that meander among its Renaissance palaces is something that has to be on everyone’s travel bucket list.
A hidden gem along the North African shoreline, Tetouan is an off-the-beaten-track Moroccan city located at the foot of the Rif mountains. Rich in Hispano-Arabic art dating back to the time of the Spanish Reconquista, its ancient Medina is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
If in the early 20th century Mykonos was a fairly poor, desolate island, today it’s one of the glitziest hang-outs in the Mediterranean. A white-washed paradise frequented by jet-setters and party-goers, Mykonos has nonetheless managed to retain much of its character and natural beauty.
Located at the southernmost tip of Spain yet belonging to the United Kingdom, Gibraltar is a little drop of Britishness among a sea of Spanish culture. Cutesy tea rooms, greasy fish and chip shops, and hundreds of Barbary apes are just some of the quirks of this most controversial of rocks.
Located on the northern shoreline of Crete, Chania is the island’s second biggest city but is best known for its 14th century Venetian harbour and 16th century lighthouse. Its crooked streets are lined with charming artisan stores and old tavernas serving fresh fish and other local delicacies.
Said to be the birthplace of the goddess of love, Aphrodite, Paphos is both a well-preserved piece of Antiquity boasting ancient temples and Medieval castles, and a lively tourist destination with plenty of nightlife and family-friendly activities too.
The Amalfi Coast, Italy
The Amalfi Coast is a morsel of Mediterranean magic: a rugged coastline dotted with colourful villages perched on sheer cliffs and surrounded by dazzling waters and lush nature. Featured in countless movies and TV series, the coast has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1997.
One of Sardinia‘s many hidden gems, Bosa is a small fishing town whose landscape is reminiscent of an artist’s palette thanks to its multicoloured houses which line the waterfront, boldly standing out against the vivid turquoise waters.
Home to some of Europe’s wealthiest inhabitants, Monaco is the land of fast cars, super-yachts and mega-mansions. Like a playground for the world’s super-rich, Monaco is a place to be seen and to have fun.
The capital of Sicilly, Palermo is steeped in history and architectural beauty thanks to its many monuments dating back to the 9th century. A melting-pot of cultures throughout the ages, Palermo bears the traces of Byzantine, Baroque and Gothic influences.
The home of Italian-style pizza and the infamous Camorra mafia, Naples is also a treasure-trove of archaeological wonders with a rich artistic heritage and some rather fine monuments, palaces and restaurants.
Formentera, Balearic Islands, Spain
If Ibiza is famous for its all-night parties, Formentera is the much quieter little sibling among the Balearic Islands. Just 30 minutes by boat from Ibiza, Formentera is surrounded by jaw-dropping turquoise waters and lined with spectacular white-sand beaches and tranquil villas.