What comes to mind when you think about traveling to the Mediterranean? In all likelihood, it’s Greece and Italy first, with Croatia and the South of France perhaps next on the list. When you dig a little deeper you might also think about a few Spanish islands, or other larger islands like Crete or Sicily. These indeed are rightly thought of as some of the true highlights of what is ultimately one of the most beautiful regions on the entire planet. However, the Mediterranean Sea is also quite large, and there are far more destinations around and within it than we tend to realize.
The following are just a few of the spectacular Mediterranean places to visit outside of the usual highlights.
1. Istria, Croatia
Okay, so we listed Croatia above as one of the more well-known Mediterranean destinations. However, Dubrovnik is unquestionably the main draw in Croatia, which leaves some fairly similar destinations - like Istria - in the waiting-to-be-discovered category. That’s not to say Istria is off the map, but really its’ every bit as striking as Dubrovnik and gets nowhere near the same crowd. That’s good news for you as a prospective traveler, as you can enjoy it in a more relaxed manner. Istria is basically a peninsula complete with a charming town, plenty of green surroundings, gorgeous waters, and even some Roman ruins.
2. Budva, Montenegro
This is an incredibly beautiful town not so very far from Istria that seems to go largely unnoticed in Croatia’s shadow. Even a prominent British publication referred to it as “secret seaside,” noting not just the town of Budva but that it is part of an extended, 22-mile coastal area known as the Budva Riviera. An ancient town (founded by the Greeks in the 4th century BC), Budva now offers a fascinating mix of old and new. You can just as easily wander between the stone walls of the picturesque Old Town and sit at a beachside café to watch rich and spectacular boats drift by.
3. Gibraltar, England
That’s right - England. If you’re not familiar with Gibraltar, it’s basically a large rocky peninsula jutting off of Spain into the Mediterranean Sea, and for various reasons going back through history, it belongs to Great Britain. This is a source of continual friction and dispute, but British PM Theresa May to keep Gibraltar, and the people of the peninsula appear to favor this arrangement as well. Whatever the case politically may be, this is a striking Mediterranean getaway with some beautiful seaside areas, highlighted by the “Rock of Gibraltar,” which is actually a mountain. Complete with protected park land, historic alcoves used by soldiers in various wars, and Europe’s only native apes, the Rock is a destination unto itself.
4. Bonifacio, Corsica
If you have a picture in your head of a town perched on a cliff over the Mediterranean, chances are you’re thinking of Santorini. This unspeakably beautiful island is one of the most famous places to visit in all of Greece, and is famous for what many think of as its unique arrangement. But there are actually other clifftop destinations over the waters of the Mediterranean, and Bonifacio is one of them. Located at the tip of the French island of Corsica, it’s a place wit ha deep history (Roman ruins, again) and superb views.
5. Sidi Bou Said, Tunisia
A lot of us discount North Africa entirely when considering Mediterranean destinations. There may not be quite as many noteworthy places to visit along the southern edge of the city, but there are certainly some places worth mentioning. Even in Tunisia, Houmt Souk and Tunis are sometimes mentioned as pretty seaside options. But we’re highlighting Sidi Bou Said because of the different things you can do there and because ultimately it’s as beautiful and relaxing as dozens of Greek destinations that are recommended far more frequently.
6. Valletta, Malta
Valletta is actually the capital of the island nation of Malta, so you’d think it would get more attention than it does. The entire city is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site, thanks to its array of Baroque and Neo-Classical landmarks, as well as its general beauty. Valletta also has a fascinating history, having been established and built largely by an order of knights associated with the Roman Catholic Church in the 16th century. We’d have to say they did a nice job. While there are fortification-like aspects to the city (it is walled, for instance), Valletta today is every bit the Mediterranean paradise.
If you're looking for more Mediterranean places to visit you might also want to check out: 5 Spectacular Places to Visit in Santorini, 10 Pictures of Santorini That Will Make You Want to Visit Now, and Day Trip To Montserrat Monastery, Spain.