The Mediterranean, known for its world-renowned cuisine, relaxed lifestyle and picturesque villages…no wonder that it has become a go-to destination for travelers for decades now. As the popularity of a location increases, often so does the price. What was once an authentic experience of the Mediterranean lifestyle can quickly become a gaudy tourist trap.
However, that does not mean that you should avoid the Mediterranean altogether. It has some of the most amazing beaches, amazing restaurants, and most hospitable people that you can find. This is why we are giving away some of the best-kept secrets in the Mediterranean. Many of these are not too far from the already popular destinations.
Kastellorizo – Greece
When comparing the inhabited islands in the Dodecanese, Kastellorizo is certainly the smallest and amongst the most beautiful. You can travel to Kastellorizo by ferry from Rhodes or travel through the air. It is possible to reach neighboring islets by boat. There are multicolored, neoclassical houses in the harbor and the Blue Grotto here is almost as beautiful as the one that Capri, Italy is famous for.
Pantelleria – Italy
Though this tiny volcanic island is technically located in Italy, it is closer to Tunisia. The island is known for a unique sweet wine called Passito and the island supposedly produces best capers in the world. It is void of mass tourism, quiet, and you may even run into some celebrities. When traveling to Pantelleria, it is recommended that you travel to Gadir harbor and soak in the hot spring there (acquacalda) along with the locals.
Île de Bendor – France
This French island was previously uninhabited, until it was bought by a millionaire in the 1950s. He certainly had a knack for promotion, because within a decade it had become one of the most fashionable spots in the south of France. A few of the people who have traveled here include Salvador Dalí, Melina Mercouri, and Jean-Paul Belmondo. The French mainland is only a few hundred yards away.
Tossa de Mar – Spain
Especially if you feel overwhelmed after visiting Barcelona, Tossa de Mar offers a perfect getaway. A few of the highlights here include a beautiful medieval castle that towers above the beaches, a quiet old town, and picturesque coastlines. You will appreciate the town even more when unwinding at one of the little bars with a glass of fine wine.
Portofino – Italy
Portofino is located on the Italian Riviera, but it was once best known as a small Italian fishing village. Nowadays it is known as one of the most beautiful, if not THE most beautiful, port on the Mediterranean coast. For those who have traveled to the Gulf Harbor marina in New Zealand, Universal Orlando Resort in the USA, and Tokyo DisneySea, Portofino may look familiar. This is because it has been often replicated throughout the globe. This is the quintessence of Italian and Mediterranean lifestyle – it offers a multitude of café terraces, a magical location, and charming architecture.
Hydra – Greece
For those that want to get away from it all, Hydra offers the ultimate in peace and relaxation. The reason is that motorbikes and cars are not allowed on the island by law. This means that public transportation is taken care of by water taxis, bicycles, and donkeys. Even amongst the countless tiny islands in Greece, Hydra offers something special. In addition to the island’s beautiful coasts, there are an array of fine restaurants, crystal-clear waters, pretty buildings, and little harbors.
Salina – Italy
Salina is the second largest island in the archipelago, located in southern Italy, just a bit north of Sicily. Several different ferries go here, notably from Messina on Sicily and Naples. You can unwind here and watch the smoldering Stromboli from a distance.
Dubrovnik – Croatia
Even though many places in the Mediterranean are considered ‘special,’ few are considered unique. Dubrovnik is located in the southern part of Croatia and is considered unique, even when compared to the many other breathtaking sights on the Mediterranean coast. It has a beautiful coastline, the town is filled with ancient architecture, and it is an overall spectacular location. The city was an important port and trade center in the Middle Ages. In fact, there was no other city that was able to rival Venice at the time save for this one. Even though it attracts a number of different tourists every year, it has yet to achieve mainstream popularity.
Bozcaada – Turkey
Before Turkish independence, this island was known as Tenedos. You can find it at the entrance to the Dardanelles, off the north-west coast of Turkey. There are several good restaurants, uncrowded pebble beaches, and a traditional fortress. When traveling by ferry, you are about a half hour removed from Istanbul. If you want to be able to lose all sense of time while sipping a Turkish coffee on a cobbled street, this would be a great place to start.
If you do decide to travel to the Mediterranean (again), you now know that you have more options than just the traditional tourist destinations. Venture to any of these locations and you are going to be impressed by the fact that you can have an authentic Mediterranean experience, even without all those tourists around you.