The best Mediterranean islands to visit this summer

The best Mediterranean islands to visit this summer

Looking for a summer break in the Med this year? As a self-confessed island addict, I’ve summarised my guide to the best Mediterranean islands to visit this summer to help you plan your trip.

As summer approaches, the sparkling waters and sun-drenched landscapes of the Mediterranean beckon. Spanning from Spain to southeastern Turkey, the Mediterranean Sea is home to around 10,000 islands – 6,000 of which belong to Greece alone! Many of these areas are uninhabited islets, but there are dozens of larger islands boasting extraordinary natural beauty and a fascinating heritage. With countless islands scattered like jewels across this historic sea, choosing your next escape can be daunting. Fear not, as I’ve curated a list of the best Mediterranean islands to explore this summer, each with its own unique blend of culture, cuisine, and beauty. Here’s my guide to the best Mediterranean islands to visit as part of your European adventure.  

The best Mediterranean islands to visit this summer

As summer heats up, the allure of the Mediterranean promises sun-soaked adventures across its diverse islands. From the enchanting streets of Santorini to the pristine beaches of Sardinia, each island offers a unique slice of paradise. Here’s my guide to the best Mediterranean islands to visit this summer, where the blend of culture, cuisine, and breathtaking scenery creates the perfect backdrop for your holiday.


Malta, a small but strategically important island nation in the Mediterranean, captivates visitors with its rich mix of history, vibrant culture, and stunning landscapes. Sitting between Europe and North Africa, the archipelago is renowned for its breathtaking coastal scenery, ancient fortified cities, and architectural marvels spanning from prehistoric temples to opulent Baroque churches. For those sailing the Mediterranean with P&O Cruises or similar, Malta is a staple destination with its capital, Valletta, a key port of call. A UNESCO World Heritage site, I adored exploring Valletta, wandering its stairways and eating pizza under fairy lights. Beyond its historical allure, Malta boasts rugged countryside and a glorious coastline with idyllic coves like Comino’s Blue Lagoon. You can’t visit Malta and not take a boat here – the waters are some of the clearest and most turquoise I’ve ever seen.

Love a taste of the Med? Check out my guide to Mediterranean cuisine.

Crete, Greece

Crete, the largest of the Greek islands, offers a compelling mix of history and natural beauty for holidaymakers. One of the best Mediterranean islands to visit this summer, it’s also blessed with hot dry summers averaging 28°C, making it a safe choice for sun seekers. It’s a cultural marvel with key attractions including the ancient ruins at Knossos – the mythic home of the Minotaur – and the idyllic Elafonisi Beach, known for its pastel-pink sands and crystal-clear waters. The island’s culinary offerings, especially its famed olive oil and cheeses, making it an ideal destination for foodies. You might also fancy exploring Venetian forts and Byzantine monasteries. The island’s diverse landscape offers everything from fine sandy beaches to the imposing Samaria Gorge.

Sardinia, Italy

One of the famous ‘Blue Zones’ where people live longer, Sardinia is a slow-paced Italian island with untamed countryside and charming towns that value a traditional way of life. The second-largest island in the Mediterranean, Sardinia is one of the largest islands in the Mediterranean, second only to its neighbour Sicily, making it a perfect destination for a multi-day holiday. The island boasts some of the clearest and bluest waters in the world. Beyond its spectacular beaches, like the renowned Costa Smeralda, Sardinia offers a glimpse into its ancient past through the Nuragic complexes and vibrant local traditions and festivals. Expect simple but delicious local fare and to see many nuraghe, the mysterious Bronze Age ruins that are scattered across the island. 

Madeira, Portugal

Madeira has many magical nicknames, including ‘Pearl of the Atlantic’ and ‘Island of Eternal Spring’. These names stem from the lush verdant landscapes that bloom year-round thanks to the island’s consistently mild climate. One of the best Mediterranean islands to visit this summer, Madeira is a captivating archipelago belonging to Portugal, celebrated for its lush landscapes and rugged coastlines. The island’s natural beauty is unparalleled, with dramatic cliffs that plunge into an emerald sea, dense laurel forests deemed UNESCO World Heritage sites, and terraced gardens bursting with the colours of endemic flowers. The capital, Funchal, offers a rich blend of historical architecture, bustling markets, and a renowned wine culture. Nature lovers will find Madeira to be a haven. A network of levadas (irrigation channels) provides unique hiking trails across the island. Whether it’s exploring the volcanic caves of São Vicente, indulging in the local cuisine, or enjoying the famous Madeira wine, the island offers a memorable escape in the heart of the Atlantic.

Santorini, Greece

Santorini, a jewel in the Aegean Sea, is one of the most iconic of the Greek islands. Famed for its dramatic cliffs, dazzling panoramas, stunning sunsets, and volcanic sand beaches, Santorini is undoubtedly one of the best Mediterranean islands to visit this summer. The whitewashed buildings with vibrant blue domes, nestled atop these cliffs, offer breathtaking views of the sea below. Santorini’s towns, such as the famous Oia and Fira, are labyrinthine havens filled with charming boutiques, cozy cafes, and exquisite dining that leverage the island’s agricultural bounty. This volcanic island offers breathtaking views from the whitewashed town of Oia, exquisite local wines, and a rich archaeological history that includes the prehistoric settlement of Akrotiri, preserved in volcanic ash. Don’t miss a dip in the warm waters of the Aegean Sea at the unique Red Beach. Whether sipping local Assyrtiko wine or exploring the island’s quaint villages, you’re sure to love the enchanting atmosphere of Santorini.

Mallorca, Spain

Mallorca, the largest of the Balearic Islands, is more than just sunny beaches and bustling resorts. It’s the first overseas destination I ever visited, and it still holds a very special place in my mind. The island features a diverse landscape ranging from lush mountains and rural landscapes in the north to the historic architecture of Palma de Mallorca. Beyond its idyllic coastline, Mallorca boasts a rich cultural tapestry, with the historic capital of Palma offering Gothic landmarks such as the majestic La Seu Cathedral. The island is a haven for adventurers and leisure seekers alike, with opportunities for hiking and cycling in the Serra de Tramuntana mountains, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Mallorca’s picturesque villages, like Deià and Valldemossa, offer a glimpse into a slower, rustic life, while the vibrant local markets and festivals showcase the island’s lively traditions and culinary delights. Whether exploring hidden coves, enjoying the nightlife, or relaxing in luxury resorts, Mallorca offers both natural beauty and cultural richness, making it a must-visit destination.

Corsica, France

Corsica, often referred to as the ‘Isle of Beauty’, is a French island in the Mediterranean with rugged mountains and dense forests – ideal for both beach lovers and adventure seekers. The birthplace of Napoleon Bonaparte, it is rich in history and offers diverse activities from hiking the GR20, one of Europe’s most challenging trails, to relaxing in the quaint coastal town of Bonifacio. Known for its diverse landscapes, Corsica features dramatic mountains and a coastline that alternates between glittering bays and sheer cliffs. Corsica’s heritage is equally fascinating, with a unique blend of French and Italian cultures reflected in its cuisine, language, and architecture. The historic towns of Bonifacio and Calvi, with their fortified structures and vibrant harbours, echo a rich history of maritime trade and invasions. Alongside its natural and historical sites, Corsica offers serene beaches and secluded coves, making it an ideal destination for both relaxation and exploration.


Straddling the crossroads of Europe and Asia, Cyprus captivates with its rich blend of history, culture, and natural beauty. Known for its archaeological sites relating to the cult of Aphrodite, stunning mountainous regions, and vibrant nightlife, Cyprus is an all-encompassing destination. The diverse island is known for its stunning beaches with crystal-clear waters, rugged mountain ranges, and expansive olive groves. The cultural heritage of Cyprus is a complex mosaic influenced by many civilizations, including Greek, Turkish, and British, which is reflected in its archaeological sites, architecture, and the bilingual nature of its people. Key historical sites such as the ancient kingdoms of Paphos and the painted churches in the Troodos Mountains are UNESCO World Heritage sites that offer insights into the island’s storied past. The island’s divided capital, Nicosia, also offers a unique experience to walk through layers of history and culture. Cyprus is also celebrated for its culinary delights, particularly its wine and traditional mezze platters, making it a haven for foodies like myself. With its hospitable locals and vibrant festival culture, Cyprus is a lively yet relaxing getaway for travellers looking to immerse themselves in rich traditions and beautiful landscapes.

Ibiza, Spain

Ibiza, a name synonymous with vibrant nightlife and stunning beaches, is one of the most famous of the Balearic Islands located in the Mediterranean Sea. Undoubtedly one of the best Mediterranean islands to visit this summer, as well as its bustling club scene and DJ-hosted parties, Ibiza also offers a delightful contrast with its tranquil villages, rustic countryside, and family-friendly beaches. The island’s UNESCO World Heritage-designated site, Dalt Vila, boasts a picturesque old town with ancient walls, cobblestone streets, and a rich history that stretches back thousands of years. Beyond the party atmosphere, Ibiza is a sanctuary of wellness retreats, yoga studios, and beautiful natural landscapes, including secluded coves and pine-clad hills, ideal for hiking and exploration. Whether you fancy a lively party experience or a serene escape, Ibiza caters to all tastes, making it a uniquely versatile destination in the Mediterranean.

Each island offers a unique taste of Mediterranean life, promising unforgettable adventures whether you’re looking for relaxation, culture, or natural beauty. Start planning your summer getaway to these Mediterranean gems and prepare to be enchanted by their countless charms. Remember, the best time to visit these islands is during the early summer months of June and July when the weather is warm but not yet at its peak heat, allowing for a comfortable exploration of all the beauty and history they have to offer.

That’s my guide to the best Mediterranean islands to visit this summer! Let me know if you have any questions in the comments below, and I’ll do my best to answer them.

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