The Mediterranean islands are steeped in rich history, delicious food, and wondrous natural beauty. They comprise one of the world’s most unique biospheres and attract visitors from the world over. However, some islands are better known than others. The following four Mediterranean islands are well worth a spot on your bucket list, and you’ve probably never heard of them.
Off Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast in the Adriatic Sea lies the island of Hvar. Hilltops are littered with pine forest, and olive groves and lavender fields overlook the pristine waters of the shore. Unlike a few of the more popular places in the Mediterranean, Hvar has a reputation for its lack of paparazzi and is therefore a popular destination for celebrities looking for quiet luxury.
The island has an ancient history with inhabitants on the islands since the Neolithic period. In later times, the location of the island made it a critical port for ships passing between Italy and the larger Mediterranean, allowing the island to flourish from trade. Its rich history isn’t far from reach as cobblestone squares and medieval architecture provide contrast to the wide selection of hotels, restaurants and nightlife.
The birthplace of Napoleon Bonaparte, Corsica sits between the Southeast coast of mainland France and the Western coast of the Italian peninsula. Due to its location, the island and its inhabitants have adopted cultural heritage from both countries, having been under the control of each throughout varying periods in history. Italian influences are seen in the Baroque churches, Tuscan influences in cuisine, and Genoese influences are seen in various fortresses. In the present day, Corsica is a territorial collectivity of France, granting it a higher degree of political autonomy.
Though two-thirds of the island consists of mountain ranges, the beauty of coastlines is renowned: white-sand beaches with pristine turquoise waters. The mix of geography makes it an ideal destination for lounging on the beach as much as adventurous hiking. However you choose to spend your days in Corsica, sampling the local cuisine is a must.
The Greek island of Corfu in the Ionian Sea is another Mediterranean locale with rich history extending to antiquity. Then ancient Korkyra was a powerful force among the Greek city-states and was one of the few regions in Greece that was never captured by the Ottomans. It is this fact, along with later conquests by the French and British, that ensured Corfu remained steeped in Western tradition rather than Levantine tradition.
Byzantine churches, Greek temples and ancient ruins are scattered throughout the island. One of its crown jewels is the Old Town district, a UNESCO Heritage Site, where Renaissance, Baroque, and classical influences shine brightly. However, it’s far from the only site visit on the island with countless museums, historical buildings, and the waterfalls of Nymphs, all sharing the rich history and extensive beauty of the island.
A hidden gem of the Greek coastline, Nisyros is a volcanic island in the Aegean Sea. The wealthy island presents a tantalizing juxtaposition of high art, natural beauty and culture.
Mountain villages overlook the pristine coastline, one of which (Emporio) is invisible from the sea, which allowed it to thrive when piracy plagued the Mediterranean. Artists and musicians in modern times have flocked to the island to take in its beauty, earning it the nickname of “island of the arts.” Furthermore, festivals, feasts and celebrations of the island’s longstanding Christian Orthodox faith attract pilgrims from around the country. Finally, the island’s active volcano is one of the most accessible in the world, a short drive from the major towns for any tourist to take in.
Adrift in Wonder
Whether you’re a gourmand, a person of leisure, or a passionate naturalist, the Mediterranean is a destination that you will not regret. If you’ve already visited the bigger names, don’t hesitate to venture off the beaten path.