Whether you’re looking for scenic beaches and that unique “island feeling,” there’ no need to fly to the Caribbean. There are plenty of islands in the Mediterranean as well, with plenty of paradisiacal sandy beaches, deserted bays, historic sites, beautiful natural landscapes and vibrant nightlife. You will find the right choice for every taste in this region. Below we present our top 10 islands in the Mediterranean Sea and most beautiful and largest among them that you should travel to this summer.
Overview: Top 10 Islands in the Mediterranean Sea
In total, there are about 4,300 islands in the Mediterranean Sea, of which approximately 80 percent belong to Greece. However, not all of these islands are inhabited, because simple rocks or reefs in the sea are also counted. However, there are many islands that you can and should visit. The choice is huge, whether you want to spend a classic beach vacation on sandy beaches with Caribbean flair or an active vacation with extensive hikes, thrilling boat tours or the ascent of smoking volcanoes, so you are sure to find what you are looking for.
There are even two island states in the Mediterranean, Malta and Cyprus, while Italy has some of the most populous islets. However, the largest and most famous islands are not necessarily the most beautiful ones. We have compiled a list of those islands that are actually worth a trip!
Like we mentioned before, most of the islands in the Mediterranean Sea belong to Greece. This also applies to beautiful Crete, which is the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean. It is the largest of the Greek islands and is located south of Athens, roughly at the same level as Cyprus. Consequently, it is warm all year round with temperatures of up to 29 degrees Celsius in summer and 16 degrees Celsius in January and February. Furthermore, the mild climate impresses with a low probability of rain with more than 300 sunny days per year.
The reason that Crete is regarded as one of the most beautiful islands – not only in the Mediterranean – is because of its diversity. You can find dream beaches like from a postcard, including the lagoon of Balos and Elafonissi, which are two of the most beautiful beaches in the world and are famous for their pink sand in front of turquoise water. However, the island is not lacking in other scenic as well as historical and cultural highlights.
You can find the famous palace of Knossos, the fascinating capital Heraklion, the town of Rethymnon, the impressive Samaria gorge, the Lassithi plateau, the historic town of Agois Nikolaos, the “white mountains” Lefka Ori and many more highlights that will make your vacation in Crete an impressive experience.
The coast of Sardinia is almost 2,000 kilometers long, making it the second largest island in Gazettely’s list of top 10 islands in the Mediterranean sea after Sicily. This Italian island has several offshore islands and together with them it is considered an autonomous region with the same name. There is no lack of beauty in Sardinia, which is famous for its white sandy beaches and crystal clear water. You can reach the island best by ferry or by plane.
You should not miss the following sights on the island: City of Alghero, Giara di Gesturi plateau, Grotte di Nettuno, Gulf of Orosei, Medieval town of Castelsardo, City of Bosa, Nuraghi of Barumini, Beach of Chia, Village Murales of Orgosolo, Granite headland Capo Coda Cavallo and UNESCO World Heritage La Maddalena Archipelago.
And this is not the end of the list of your to-dos in Sardinia. Moreover, you can of course also use the opportunity to simply relax and enjoy the dream beaches with Caribbean flair.
The island of Mallorca is one of the most famous islands in our list of top 10 islands in the Mediterranean sea and also one of the most popular travel destinations of the Americans. Obviously, the island is known for its party beach “Ballermann 6”, which every year is the place where numerous party people meet to spend an unforgettable party vacation between sand, pop songs and crowds of people. However, Mallorca has much more to offer.
If you are not so much looking for a party, but more for beautiful beaches or unique natural landscapes, the Balearic island is the right place for you. You can explore the beautiful capital Palma de Mallorca, go on a round trip with a rental car, hike on deserted paths or relax in a rented finca with its own pool. The options are almost infinite.
Because Mallorca is such a popular destination for tourists, it also has the advantage that you can travel to the Spanish island easily and inexpensively. There are flights from almost every European airport for little money and on site many locals speak the English language. This makes Mallorca one of the cheapest and easiest destinations when it comes to the islands in the Mediterranean – and of course one of the most beautiful!
Cyprus, as mentioned at the introduction, is one of the two island states in our list of top 10 islands in the Mediterranean sea. “Summer all year round” – this is what the third largest Mediterranean island in the east is famous for. However, it is not only the good weather that makes Cyprus the perfect destination, but also the clash of Greek and Turkish cultures that shape life on the island. If you are there, be sure to visit both parts, for example by hiking through the beautiful landscapes. A wine tasting is also part of every successful visit to Cyprus.
In the mountains, depending on the season, you can even go skiing, while the beaches invite you to relax, swim or do water sports. Among the highlights of Cyprus are also the culinary delights and the traces of the past, which are everywhere on the island. You can visit Roman ruins, wander through historic cities or visit archaeological sites, castles, churches, monasteries and mosques. Thus, there are many good reasons to travel to the “Island of the Sun”.
Ibiza is one of the most well-known islands in the Mediterranean – at least among the younger generations. This is where party animals from all over the world meet every year to enjoy the summer together. However, Ibiza has much more to offer than clubs. Far from the party strongholds, it presents itself as a varied destination with Caribbean-inspired beaches. The white sand and crystal-clear water ensure pure relaxation. For those who feel like more action, there are many different water sports to choose from.
The Spanish island also offers a variety of attractions. Among them are Santa Eularia on the east coast, the idyllic Sant Miguel or the stalactite cave of Can Marçà. Moreover, excursions into nature between lemon groves, flocks of sheep and stony elevations are worthwhile. And finally, Ibiza is known for its breathtakingly beautiful sunsets, which you can best admire south of Ibiza Town, where the Dragon Islands begin with the salt fields of Ses Salines. Besides, numerous species of birds live here – including flamingos.
Menorca belongs to the Balearic Islands next to Mallorca and Ibiza. But the fact that it is in their shadow does not mean that you cannot discover a lot on the “small” island and spend a perfect vacation. Just because Menorca is less known, you can enjoy peace and quiet away from crowds of tourists. You can let your soul dangle on white sandy beaches of Menorca with turquoise water or explore romantic old towns.
And you can explore picturesque bays and take a boat trip with a Caribbean feeling. Moreover, you can take souvenir photos of the capital Ciutadella or the allegedly enchanted fishing village Binibèquer Vell, which is world-famous as a typical “Instagram village”. Also famous is the so-called horse trail. It is a Menorcan hiking trail from the 14th century, which runs along the coast for large parts. You will always have the opportunity to take a break and cool off in one of Menorca’s most beautiful bays.
Malta is an archipelago located between Sicily and the coast of North Africa. This island state is one of the most beautiful historical sites in the world and tells exciting stories from the past – for example, in the underground complex “Hypogeum of Hal Saflieni” with its halls and burial chambers dating back to 4,000 BC. There is also no shortage of fortresses, temples and other sights on the island, which was shaped over time by the Romans and Moors as well as by the French, British and the Order of St. John.
However, even if you come to Malta for the beaches, the island is the right place for you: you can go swimming in the Blue Lagoon, which lives up to its name, or diving in front of Malta’s “little sister”, Gozo. Furthermore, a side trip to the probably most beautiful bays of the island is recommended, namely:
- Ghajn Tuffieha Bay
- Golden Bay
- Gnejna Bay
So whether it is for swimming, active or cultural vacation – in Malta there are the right highlights for every taste!
One more Greek island in our list of top 10 islands in the Mediterranean sea is Santorini. Although it is comparatively small, it is world famous. Being the southernmost island of the Cyclades, Santorini – also called Thira – is a volcanic island. The island has a crescent silhouette and a caldera with a depth of up to 365 meters and a height of 300 meters. As a result, Santorini is characterized by steep cliffs and imposing crater walls, against which many of the villages have been built.
Not only because of this, it is probably one of the most famous and beautiful islands in the world, but also owes its fame to the iconic white houses with blue domed roofs. However, there is much more to explore on the island, for example the towns of Thira and Firostefani, a hike on the crater trail, a sunset in Oia, the Ammoudi fishing village, the Red Beach, the Faro lighthouse, the Akrotiri archaeological site and of course the ancient city of Old Thera.
By the way, we have already wrote a Santorini travel guide that you can read if you are planning to visit the beautiful island.
Rhodes, another of the Greek islands in the list of top 10 islands in the Mediterranean sea, has an important role in mythology. Zeus, the father of the gods, is said to have once divided the world among his peers and so the sun god Helios received the island called Rhodes. This is no wonder, because the Aegean island offers almost a sun guarantee and therefore welcomes you with the best conditions for a beach vacation. The island has plenty of beautiful beaches, such as Glystra Beach, Anthony Quinn Bay, Tassos Beach, Prasonisi Beach and Kalathos Beach.
The fourth largest of the Greek islands also has a lot to offer in terms of culture and history. Among them is the old town of Rhodes with its four kilometer long wall and numerous impressive buildings, the Grand Master’s Palace in Lindos and the Street of Knights, the Colossus of Rhodes, which is one of the seven wonders of the world, and last but not least you can take a trip to the neighboring islands of Kos or Symi. Therefore, there are many good reasons to put Rhodes on the list of our top 10 islands in the Mediterranean.
Of course, last but not least in our list of top 10 islands in the Mediterranean sea, Sicily must not be missed. Not only is it the largest island in the Mediterranean, but it is also one of the most beautiful. Being part of Italy, Sicily welcomes you with beautiful weather almost all year round. However, it is not only the miles of sandy beaches that attract visitors from all over the world, but also attractions such as the most active volcano in Europe: Mount Etna, which is also recommended for a volcano tour.
Furthermore, in Sicily you will find impressive Greek temples from times gone by, the beautiful capital Palermo, the ancient theater near Taormina, the UNESCO World Heritage Site Catania and the Christian catacombs of Syracuse. You can also visit the Aeolian Islands with the Stromboli volcano and go hiking in the Cavagrande del Cassibile nature reserve. Finally, the baroque city of Noto, the archaeological sites of Agrigento and the salt city of Trapani are also on your list of must-sees. You won’t get bored on the largest island in our list of top 10 islands in the Mediterranean sea.
Therefore, if your next vacation is going to lead you to an an island, European continent should be a great choice for you. Because in the Mediterranean alone you will discover a huge selection of islands worth seeing with different sizes and their own individual highlights. Have fun on your island vacation and please let us know what do you think about these top 10 islands in the Mediterranean sea in the comments section below.