Most of us have a few destinations that come to mind when we imagine traveling to the Mediterranean. We might think of the idyllic Greek islands like Mykonos and Santorini, or even of the island nation of Cyprus. We might think of Italy’s famous Amalfi Coast, or the French Riviera. These days, the Croatian city of Dubrovnik is also right up there as one of the trendiest destinations in the region.
The Mediterranean is one of the most renowned destination regions in the world for a reason, however, and it’s not because there are three or four islands or cities worth visiting. Rather it’s because the whole area, large as it is, is breathtakingly beautiful. Even some of the places that get less publicity overall can make for the vacation of a lifetime. So here we’re going to look at a few of the lesser-known, or at least less frequently talked about destinations you might want to put on your list.
For whatever reason we tend to look only at the “top half” of the Mediterranean, as well as at some of the islands in the middle, when we’re considering vacation destinations. But some of the cities and beach areas in North Africa are every bit as spectacular, and one to keep in mind is certainly Tunis. The capital of Tunisia, it sits on Lake Tunis and just a very short distance from the sea. National Geographic actually featured the city as an underrated Mediterranean destination, and it was one of the few selections on the list that truly fit the label (with others like Sardinia and Sicily being a little more familiar on travel lists). It’s a very interesting historical city that even affords tourists the chance to explore the ruins of ancient Carthage. And the nearby resort town of Sidi Bou Said is a true hidden gem – similar in appearance (though closer to sea level) to
the iconic island of Santorini.
As mentioned, Dubrovnik has become one of the hottest destinations in the Mediterranean, and with good reason. Take away the beautiful Old Town of Dubrovnik however – and the publicity it receives from being used in Game Of Thrones – and Vis is every bit as appealing. It’s a small mountainous island just a short distance off the Dalmatian Coast, and visitors enjoy renting small scooters, exploring the coast, and traveling between the two small towns of Vis and Komiza.
The mere fact that there’s a piece of England in the Mediterranean makes Gibraltar pretty cool, even if it’s confusing to some. Basically, this peninsula that sticks off of Spain’s coast into the sea has been one of Europe’s most hotly contested areas for decades. It has been technically British for some time though, and the current prime minister Theresa May has promised to keep it that way. Politics aside however, the island is a fascinating place to visit, mostly due to the “rock” (which is more of a mountain) that dominates its landscape. The rock is home to a nature preserve that incidentally is home to Europe’s only native apes. It’s also a great spot for history lovers, as you can tour tunnels that were cut through the rock and used during multiple military conflicts. Aside from exploring the rock, there’s also a terrific seaside town to enjoy. If nothing else, it’s a unique brand of Mediterranean vacation.
For a place that doesn’t get talked about very often, the island of Gozo is actually fairly popular among tourists – if that makes sense. Its real claim to fame is that it’s actually the inspiration for Calypso’s Isle as described by Homer in The Odyssey. But there’s also a lot for visitors to do there, from visiting ancient temples to relaxing by the sea. For a more specific recommendation, try swimming in the bay at the town of Xlendi. It’s Heaven on Earth.
Isola la Maddalena, Italy
Isola la Maddalena, or Maddalena Island is basically a small archipelago off to the side of the more famous Sardinia. There isn’t much going on there in terms of attractions, so if you want a busier vacation you may want to look elsewhere. If you’re looking for pure Mediterranean beauty and relaxation though, look no further. There’s clear turquoise water, there are quiet lagoons and untouched beaches, and at any given moment you can feel as if you’ve simply stumbled on your own island paradise.