12 Best Mediterranean Islands for your 2021 Bucket List

There are over 180 Mediterranean islands, that are not super tiny or uninhibited, across 22 countries. These 22 beautiful countries share 46,000km of pristine coast line.

So out of the 180+ islands which are the best Mediterranean Islands to visit this year?

From Greece to Italy to Spain to Malta, start your travelling planning with this list of Devine Mediterranean Islands.

Pinterest graphic for the Best Mediterranean Islands

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Hvar Island, Croatia

Martina & Jürgen, PlacesofJuma

Someone paddle boarding in front of a hotel surrounded by trees in Havr Croatia

One of the most beautiful Mediterranean islands in Europe is definitely Hvar Island in Croatia! It is located in the Dalmatia region and thanks to its central location, it is quite easy to reach by ferry from the city Split! It is often referred to as the St. Tropez of Croatia, mainly because of its unique beauty, the many fabulous beaches and the wide range of activities you can experience here.

Definitely worth a visit is the historic old town of Hvar, which delights with its many romantic buildings and pretty cobblestone streets. Here you can enjoy a unique flair like something out of a travel magazine.

But not only Hvar town is great, also the surroundings on the island with the small fishing villages and the fantastically beautiful landscapes are fantastic! A real highlight, however, are the beaches, which invite you to spend wonderful days by the sea. Some even say that they are the best in Croatia!

But the villages of Stari Grad, Vrboska and Jelsa in the north are also interesting. They are less touristy and promise quiet holidays. Here you can also buy delicious local wines that are grown on this part of the island.

Without question, Hvar is one of the most beautiful Mediterranean islands and should not be missed on any holiday to Croatia! 

Malta

Joanna, World in My Pocket

A courtyard surrounded by sandstone buildings with red doors and pot plants

Malta is one of the best Mediterranean islands. It is a complete travel destination, with stunning beaches, great weather but also culture and history. Some of the oldest man-made temples in the world are located in Malta. There are plenty of things to do in Malta, from exploring the beautiful capital, Valetta, which is a Unesco World Heritage, to eating delicious Maltese dishes such as pastizzi or rabbit stew.

For sun lovers, Malta offers some of the most beautiful azure and crystal clear waters in the entire Mediterranean Sea. The bay of Comino is a gorgeous lagoon where you can go swimming on day boat excursions.

If you are looking for picturesque locations, the fishing village of Marsaxlokk is the perfect destination to watch the fishermen bring their daily catch to the shores. The village is so colourful that you will want to stop and take a photo at every corner.

Film lovers will know that Malta was the film set of both Popeye and Game of Thrones. The entire set of Popeye can be visited, as it has been transformed in an amusement park with boat rides and restaurants. It is the only movie set that still stands in Europe.

 Most of the affordable hotels in Malta are in Sliema or in St Julian. To reach Valetta from here you must take a boat across the bay, which makes the capital even more exciting. A good hotel to stay at whilst you visit Malta is the Hilton.

Gozo, Malta

Bradley, Dream Big, Travel Far

Bright blue sea in a bay surrounded by hills and open land in Gozo, Malta

It’s no surprise that Gozo is one of the most popular islands in the Meditteranean sea. Known for its laid back ambiance, winding roads, amazing weather, and stunning coastlines, there are plenty to keep you occupied on this island.

The only way to get to Gozo is by hopping on a ferry from Malta, which runs regularly throughout the year. You can hire a car to get around, although only do so if you’re confident in your driving. After all, the roads in Gozo can be daunting. Alternatively, you can hire mopeds and segways to explore the island, or use sightseeing bus tours.

Don’t forget to drop by the ancient Cittadella, which has been home to locals from the Bronze Age! Explore the incredible churches and museums here and feel transported back in time. Check out the natural sea arches, including the Azure Window and Wied il-Mielah.

The Ta Pinu Basilica is another impressive structure in Gozo. It’s a pilgrimage site for Christians, but is still a beautiful sight even for non-religious tourists. After a day of tours and sightseeing, relax by the Marsalforn Bay. This is also an excellent place to stay if you’re planning an overnight trip in Gozo, as it features plenty of great restaurants and hotels.

If you don’t want to worry about the details of your itinerary, there are a lot of tours you can book. Just make sure to visit on a nice and bright day, so you can make the most of your trip. July and August would be your best bet, but the spring and autumn months in Gozo are also worth it. You might even escape the crowds and get to enjoy the island more.

Cyprus

Anda, Travel for a while

A birds eye view of a city by the ocean in Cyprus

Cyprus is more than a summer destination, it is one of those places with great weather throughout the year, which makes it one of the best islands to visit in the Mediterranean. Add to that a lot of history and some amazing food and you’re in for a treat!

The best times to visit Cyprus are late spring and autumn when it’s warm enough to spend time on the sandy beaches but also pleasant enough to explore the island without being squashed by the southern sun.

To get to Cyprus you can fly in on one of the two airports in Paphos or Larnaca.

As for visiting, there are some great places to see in Cyprus, from traditional villages in the mountains to some amazing coastline, ancient ruins, and religious pilgrimage sites.

Make sure to find Aphrodite’s Rock, and Cape Greco for some beautiful photos, visit the Salt Lake in Larnaca to see the pink flamingoes during the winter, and have a taste of Rome at the ruins in Kourion. The island’s capital, Nicosia, is divided between Cyprus and Turkish Northern Cyprus and should be on your visiting list as well. Ayia Napa is one of the most popular towns in Cyprus, especially for its nightlife and spectacular coastline.

Some great places to stay in Cyprus are Old Port Hotel in Limassol or Hotel Napa Suites in Ayia Napa.

Corsica , France

Corinne, Reflections Enroute

Boats floating in a clear blue ocean at the bottom of a tree covered hill

Getting to the island is extremely easy. There are plenty of flights from Paris, but there are also six ports that have ferries going to Corsica. Three in France, and three in Italy. To see the island, you will want to spend a minimum of four days there and rent a car.

Corsica sports stunning beaches along the coasts, as well as gorgeous mountain vistas and trails through the center of the island allowing lots of choices for things to do. Popular activities include river swimming and canyoning, hiking, horseback riding, and all kinds of water sports from sailing to snorkeling. 

The nature in Corsica is so special that a reserve, the Scandola Nature Reserve, on the western side of the island is an inscribed UNESCO world heritage site, and the number one sight to visit while there. Just drive to Porto Ota and hire one of the many boats that will motor you throughout the stunning rock formations along the coast.

Historically, it’s an important island and has some great fortresses, castle towers, and museums to visit. Napoleon’s family put Corsica on the map and he spent both his early years on the island. 

Some important sights to see while on Corsica are the cities of Ajaccio and Bastia, the citadels of Calvi and Corte, as well as many churches. The most famous church is the Imperial Chapel in Ajaccio where many members of Napoleon’s family is buried.

There are many beautiful hotels to stay in while in Corsica, our favorite was Hôtel Cala di Sole, located in Ajaccio and conveniently on the beach.

Sicily, Italy

Michela, She Goes the Distance

Palermo Cathedral in Sicily

Sicily is the largest Mediterranean island, and fittingly, its culture, people, and history are all larger-than-life.

This region of Italy is unique to any other due to its geographical location, acting as a stepping stone to Italy and southern Europe. Its sought-after real estate has been significant since the 5th century after being conquered by the Greeks.

Sicily is a land storied by conquests, first by the Greeks, then the Romans, Arabs, Normans, and later, unified with Italy. The struggle for power and influence over this island left its mark in the present unique architecture and cultural traditions, making Sicily one of the best and most interesting Mediterranean islands to explore. 

The best time to visit Sicily is in the summer to not only experience the peak season of its beautiful beaches but to also witness some of the best local festivals like Palermo’s festival of their patron saint, Santa Rosalia. 

Scala dei Turchi in Sicily

While in Palermo, visit the cathedral built by the Normans with influences of Gothic, Baroque, and Muslim architecture. Stay at Hotel Ambasciatori to be right in the middle of the bustling city center.

There are amazing beaches in every corner of Sicily, but the two that are most unique are the beach town of Cefalu in the north and the white cliffs of La Scala dei Turchi to the south. 

Another geographical wonder that is a can’t-miss when visiting Sicily is Mount Etna on the east side of the island. It is the largest active volcano in Europe. Taormina is a seaside city close by with many luxury hotels boasting staggering views of Mount Etna. The best that won’t break the bank is UNAHOTELS Capotaormina.

When visiting Sicily, the best tip is to rent a car to easily get around the island and have the option to visit small villages like Noto and Petralia Soprana to explore deeper the local culture of Sicily.

La Maddalena, Italy

Claudia, Strictly Sardinia

A birds eye view of boats floating in the sea surrounding La Maddalena

La Maddalena is the main island of La Maddalena Archipelago, a set of stunning small islands located off the northeastern coast of Sardinia, and a National Park since 1994. Only a handful of islands are inhabited, whereas the rest are highly protected – some are accessible via boat tours, whereas others are completely closed to the public to protect their pristine beauty.

The best way to explore the archipelago is on boat tours of La Maddalena, departing either from La Maddalena town or Palau, on the coast of mainland Sardinia, it’s actually best to spend a few days to make the most of all that the archipelago has to offer. 

From La Maddalena you can easily access Caprera island – connected to it via a bridge. This is home to Italian unification hero Giuseppe Garibaldi’s home – now an interesting museum where you can get acquainted with his life and achievements.

Caprera is also where you’ll find the marvelous Cala Coticcio, a spectacular beach that can be reached on a short hike. 

Other beaches you may want to visit include Cala Garibaldi, aptly named after Garibaldi himself; Cala Napoletana; Cala dei Francesi. The most famous beach remains Budelli, also known as Pink Beach thanks to the pink hues given by the coral present in the sand.

You’ll only be able to see the beach from a distance, as it is highly protected. One person – known as the modern day Robinson Crusoe – lives on the island, claiming to be the guardian and against whom there is an eviction order. 

Ferries to La Maddalena depart regularly from Palau. Once there, you will find no shortage of good places to stay. If you have the budget to splurge, definitely opt for Hotel Villa del Parco, close to the beautiful Punta Tegge beach.

Ischia, Italy

Helen, Helen on her Holiday

The island Ischia with boats floating on the water

Ischia is a small island in the Bay of Naples. It’s only six miles wide but manages to pack a lot into a small space – and it’s a lot quieter than its more famous neighbour Capri.

Ischia is almost circular, with a dormant volcano in the centre. The geothermal activity bubbles to the surface all over the island with around 100 mineral-rich thermal springs. Visitors to Ischia are spoilt for choice for a relaxing or invigorating dip – choose from large thermal spa complexes like the Negombo gardens and spa, an authentically Roman experience or bathe for free at Sorgeto beach, where the hot volcanic water appears in the sea.

If you choose carefully, you can stay at a hotel with its own thermal spring, perfect for relaxing after a long day sightseeing. The Hotel Romantica in lovely Sant’Angelo has its own thermal water park with 13 pools.

Ischia also has plenty of non-aquatic attractions. In the village of Ischia Ponte you’ll find Castello Aragonese, which is perched at the top of a huge rock, connected to the island. It’s a great photo spot as snaps taken from the castle walls looking down towards the bridge and across the island are just as dramatic as those looking up towards the rock.

Other things to do in Ischia include two world-famous gardens, fantastic beaches and charming villages.

Getting to Ischia from Naples is a breeze; the island is served by frequent ferries and hydrofoils which take between an hour and an hour and a half. Once you’re on the island, getting around is really easy, with one bus service that travels clockwise around the island and another that runs anti-clockwise. 

Mallorca, Spain

Linn, Brainy Backpackers

A view of Cap Formentor vie in Mallorca, Spain

Mallorca is one of the most intriguing Mediterranean islands with amazing beaches, mind-blowing underground cave systems, jaw-dropping cliffs, and endless hiking opportunities.

The island has something for everyone and if you want to get out of the capital city of Palma de Mallorca, take a road trip around Mallorca and explore all the cute villages. Soller is a must-visit.

The quaint town has a lot to do and see with restaurants and bars. But the most popular attraction is the old school tram to Puerto de Soller, the beautiful port where you can enjoy the sea. Soller is also a brilliant place to base yourself if you like to go hiking with a huge network of hiking trails around the little town. But the Tramuntana mountain range as a whole is crisscrossed with beautiful trails.

Other villages worth your attention are Deia, Valdemossa, Fornalutx, and Pollença. Set in a romantic movie scene in the mountains, surrounded by citrus trees, and overlooking the Mediterranean, these villages are a must. In fact, many famous artists, such as Robert Graves, got inspiration in Mallorca’s picturesque villages.

The most famous caves that you should visit are Cueva del Drach, which houses a beautiful underground lake, Cuevas de Artá, and Coves de Campanet. You should also head to Cap de Formentor for the amazing cliff views and Cap de Formentor Lighthouse. 

Paros, Greece

Carine & Derek, We did it our way

White buildings lining the beach in Paros

When people travel to the Greek islands, it seems like everyone heads out to Mykonos, Ios, or Santorini. But there’s something magical about going off the beaten path, which is why Paros is one of the best Mediterranean islands to visit! 

Paros is a small island in the Aegean Sea. Known for its beaches, traditional villages and one of the oldest churches in the country, it should be a must in your Mediterranean itinerary. It’s also a great place to party the night away. Spending 3-4 days in Paros will allow you to explore the island’s beauty at a leisurely pace with enough time to chill on the beaches as well!

September is probably one of the best times to visit Paros. The weather is still hot and the tourist crowds have left this island (and Greece). The prices will also be lower than during the high-season. Getting around the island is easy when using public transportation – there are buses and water taxis that hop around the beaches, attractions and ports. 

While on the island, there are a ton of different beaches where you can either chill or party. Take a stroll through Naoussa, a port village, with tons of amazing restaurants to choose from, cute shops and alleys to get lost in. Also, be sure to check out Lefkes, a traditional village on top of the hill, at the center of Paros. And make sure you end each day with a sunset. The show the sky puts on in Paros is one of the best sunsets in the world! A great spot to view one is right by Piperi beach. 

The best way to get to the island is by taking a ferry from Athens, Naxos or Santorini, which are the closest ports. The ferry will drop you off in Parikia. If you’re looking to party, pick accommodations in Parikia, where you just landed with the ferry. If you want a more relaxing stay, the Naoussa area is recommended. A great place to stay there is Villa François. Either way, you will find something for every budget. 

Naxos, Greece

Chrysoula, Greece Travel Ideas

A view of Naxos in Greece from Portara

Naxos is the largest and greenest island in the Cyclades group and is a wonderful mixture of mountains, ancient ruins, mountain villages, and long sandy beaches. In the past, the island was known for its marble and today, its abundance of fruit and vegetables. The capital is Chora in the northwest has white-washed houses and Venetian mansions overlooking its little port and is dominated by the old 13th-century castle (kastro) that stands on the hill overlooking it.

There is plenty to see and do on Naxos. The old part of Chora is fun to discover with its narrow twisting alleys with marble paving slabs and no traffic. There are numerous little shops for browsing. The tavernas overlooking the port are perfect for excellent fish.

The best beaches are on its western coast there are small secluded coves and wide wind-wept beaches like Mikri Vigla that are ideal for water sports like windsurfing and kite-surfing. Agios Prokopios is close to Chora and is 1.5 km long with amazing turquoise waters, Plaka with its sand dunes is four kilometers long.

The island’s iconic landmark is the Portara, a huge marble doorway that was once the entrance to a temple dedicated to Apollo. The Portara stands on a small islet with views of Paros and is the most romantic place to be as the sun begins to set.  If you like to be energetic, there are two hiking trails for exploring Mount Zas (1,004 meters) the highest point in the Cyclades.

The family-run Melidron Luxury Hotel & Suites is situated just three minute’s walk from the gorgeous beach of Agios Prokopios. The beautifully decorated and comfortable guest rooms have furnished balconies and the outdoor pool has jetted tubs.

Antiparos, Greece

Paulina, Paulina on the road

Antiparos, a little Greek island, pristine and serene, is directly beside the larger island of Paros, ideal for a quiet holiday. Many visitors dismiss Antiparos as a one-day excursion, yet there are various activities to do in Antiparos that make it a fantastic site to visit in Greece.

Antiparos is a great spot to visit if you want to see Greek life in its purest form while still enjoying a relaxing vacation. It’s easy to understand why Europe’s wealthy class travel here for a relaxing vacation.

This area has a peaceful, quiet vibe about it, and there are a few spots on the island that appear to desire to remain hidden. The size of the location adds to the fascination — the island is small, yet once you leave the shoreline, there’s enough meandering terrain to make you feel like you might get lost. That is what makes this island unique, small yet a lot to offer.

Antiparos, like the rest of Greece, has a Mediterranean climate with warm, dry summers and brief winters. The weather is excellent from the beginning of May until the end of September, and there is virtually no rain.

The sea begins to warm at the start of the season and reaches its peak temperatures by the end of August. The island is seldom overcrowded, although, in July and August, more people arrive. September is a great month to visit if you want to be alone.

The magnificent beaches, lovely environment, and whitewashed Chora, with its medieval castle and charming cobblestone streets, are all the best attractions of Antiparos.

A few windmills provide a splash of white to the lush green landscape, and there’s also a fascinating cave worth visiting on your Antiparos vacation. You can also enjoy a few best beaches in Paros through a ferry ride.

There is no airport in Antiparos or a large port, but it is accessible from Paros Island through a 7-minute ferry journey. The daily ferry boat timetable from Pounda (Paros) to Antiparos may be seen easily on the travel platforms.

Paros may be reached by boat or air from Piraeus (Athens’ port) or Rafina, as well as from other Cycladic islands such as Mykonos.

Do not miss taking your pictures between the whitewashed lanes of the island. The island has a lot of beaches too that are perfect for your beachy photos.

Ktima Zantidi, a comfortable and cheerful rental accommodation, is an excellent budget option in Antiparos. Ergina Summer Resort, next to Soros Beach, is another fantastic alternative at a low price.

On your vacation, do try the regional seafood which is freshly cooked. One of the best cafes to try traditional food is Pavlo’s.

Have you taken a trip any of the islands in the Mediterranean? Tell me a story from your trip in the comments below

Fiona xoxo

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My BEST Travel Resources

Here are my favourite travel resources for planning travel like a pro

Flights: To find the best flights I always search on Google Flights or Skyscanner. For even cheaper flights, fly mid week and pack in a carry on!

Accommodation: I always use booking.com (I love their price match and flexible cancellation policies) or Airbnb (if I want a little more space) to book trip. If you prefer hostels, I suggest Hostelworld.

If you are new to Airbnb you can get an awesome discount using this link

Travel Insurance: After a few hairy moments on my travels, I ALWAYS purchase travel insurance. It may seem like a big cost now, but if the worst happens, it will save you a lot of money and heartache. I personally use World Nomads (and love them!), but I recommend that you do some research to find the insurance company that suits your needs.

Tours: While I prefer to travel independently, I do love doing some tours once I’m in a destination. It is a great way to find out history, hidden gems, taste local food and get a local insight into your destination. I always use Viator to book my tours.

Train Travel: If you are planning on taking the train in Europe, I cannot recommend the Eurail enough! Check out The Ultimate Guide to the Eurail Pass to find out why

Car Hire: Planning an epic road trip across the US or through Europe, or anywhere! Check out Europcar, they are my go to for car hire all over the world!

Luggage Storage: Some times when we are travelling our check in and check out times don’t match with our departure times so we have to put our luggage into storage. Stasher Luggage Storage is the biggest Luggage Storage Network across the UK, France and Germany

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1 thought on “12 Best Mediterranean Islands for your 2021 Bucket List”

  1. These are all such stunning islands. The Mediterranean is one of my favorite regions in the world. I love the Greek Islands, Sicily and Malta. I want to visit more Italian islands, Spanish islands and Cyprus in the near future now that borders are opening up. 🙂 This is such a great guide!

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