5 Secret Mediterranean Islands to Avoid the Crowds

There are hundreds of beautiful islands scattered throughout the Mediterranean, yet the vast majority of tourists go to around 10 or so islands, leaving most islands off-the-beaten-trail. If you’re looking to discover a more authentic, relaxing experience in the Mediterranean, here are 5 islands you should consider visiting. These secret Mediterranean islands have everything the high-traffic destinations have, and more.

5. Korcula, Croatia

Secret Mediterranean Islands - Korcula, Croatia
Secret Mediterranean Islands – Korcula, Croatia

Korcula is a beautiful island in the Dalmatia region of Croatia. With amazing beaches, restaurants, historical sites, nightlife, and vast regions of wilderness to explore, this island truly has something to offer for everyone.

Much of the island is covered in extensive Mediterranean pine forests, making it an incredible destination for hiking, exploring, and sightseeing in nature. It is also famous for its vineyards and wineries, so taking a bike tour of the island and sampling the regional favorites is a great way to spend a day on the island.

If you are looking for a quiet getaway in the Mediterranean islands, Korcula’s beaches are some of the nicest in the region. Relax with a drink in hand and soak up some sun, go for a swim in the calm blue waters, or rent a kayak for the day.

For the history buff, Korcula has been inhabited since the mesolithic era, and features sites dating from prehistoric to Roman to Medieval. The island is also supposedly the birthplace of Marco Polo, and features a house that is said to have been owned by him.

4. Formentera, Spain

Secret Mediterranean Islands - Formentera, Spain
Secret Mediterranean Islands – Formentera, Spain

The smallest and arguably the most beautiful of Spain’s Pityusic Islands, Formentera is calmer and more relaxed than its neighbors, Ibiza and Mallorca, and is also less crowded. The island is known for its pristine, white sand beaches and its wealth of activities and sports to take part in, including cycling, walking, fishing, scuba diving, boating, jet-skiing, and more.

The island is less developed than some of the other secret Mediterranean islands, with no high rise buildings, no large hotel chains, and no airport. The island is only accessible by ferry from Ibizia, which is about a 30 minute ride. 

But, for the traveller looking for a relaxing, back-to-nature feel, Formentera is the perfect destination, especially if you go there outside of peak season (July-August). 

When you get to the island, you will be taken aback by its natural beauty and serenity. The waters are nearly transparent, reminiscent of Caribbean beaches, making snorkeling and scuba diving an extremely popular activity, and the local authorities stress low-key, sustainable tourism, making it a much more authentic destination than its more tourist-trap like neighbors. 

You can easily spend a week or more on this picturesque island, so be sure to plan out a full itinerary of the activities you want to do. Or just relax on the beach the entire time. In Formentera, either one is perfectly acceptable.

3. Cephalonia, Greece

Secret Mediterranean Islands - Cephalonia, Greece
Secret Mediterranean Islands – Cephalonia, Greece

Cephalonia is a Greek island in the Ionian Islands chain. Of all the secret Mediterranean islands, Cephalonia is one of the most beautiful and scenic. With everything from mountains to Mediterranean forests, to hot, white sand beaches and cool blue waters, this island is a must-see. 

Main attractions on the island include boat excursions, sightseeing at the Roman villas and other ruins, relaxing on the beach, and horseback riding. There are many stables on the island, and it is possible (and recommended) to take a ride into the mountains, where you can explore vineyards and ancient ruins, and see breathtaking scenery unlike anything you’ll experience anywhere else.

The island has a large seasonal community, with many of its residents living there only during the summer months, and spending the winter elsewhere. For this reason, many of the residents speak English with American accents, and you will be able to get by just fine on the island without knowing any Greek (although making an effort to learn at least a few words of Greek is always appreciated). 

Motorbike tours, scuba diving, snorkeling, concerts, and wildlife hikes are also very popular on the island. The cuisine is unlike anything in the rest of Greece, with many influences from Italian and Austrian cooking. Be sure to try the meat pies, cheese, fresh bread, olive oil, and seafood.

2. Porquerolles, France

Secret Mediterranean Islands - Porquerolles, France
Secret Mediterranean Islands – Porquerolles, France

Porquerolles is an island that is truly off-the-beaten-trail. Of all the secret Mediterranean islands, Porquerolles may be the most natural, with no airport, no large buildings, and no cars allowed on the island. Yes, you read that right. This island is walking and cycling only.

Not that you need a car anyway. The island is only 4.3 miles wide and 2 miles long, so everything is well within walking or cycling distance. To get there, you will need to take a ferry from the French mainland and book a room at one of the two main hotels on the island, or get an airbnb. 

When you get to Porquerolles, you will be blown away by the natural beauty of the island. With eucalyptus tree forests, rocky hills and cliffs, unspoilt beaches, gorgeous bike trails and walking paths, and historic sites including a 14th century fortress and church, and a lighthouse dating back to the 1800s. 

Most of the island is a natural park, so the views wherever you go are incredible, and with over 300 warm, sunny days per year, you are almost certain to get good weather.

1. Gozo, Malta

Secret Mediterranean Islands - Gozo, Malta
Secret Mediterranean Islands – Gozo, Malta

Gozo is an island in the Maltese archipelago, and is one of the nicest secret Mediterranean islands. This island is smaller and more remote that most other Maltese islands, and has a calmer, more relaxed atmosphere, making it a great vacation spot for families, couples, and solo travellers.

There is no airport on Gozo, and the only way to get there is via a ferry from mainland Malta. The ferry takes about 25 minutes to reach the island. When you reach the island, you will be greeted by Gozo’s deep, blue waters and red sand beaches, which are rarely ever crowded, and make a perfect place to relax and soak up the Mediterranean sun. 

Further inland, you will find beautiful historical churches, fortresses, and villages. The countryside is rustic and sparsely populated, with vineyards and wide expanses of farmland. The scenery is beautiful, featuring hills, valleys, hidden beaches, and abandoned ruins and shrines throughout the countryside. The scenery makes for a great view when walking or cycling. You can go with a tour group, hire a guide, or go out and explore on your own.

Along the coast, popular activities include scuba diving, snorkeling, boating, and enjoying the seafood at the local restaurants and scenic views from the hills and cliffs. If you’re looking to relax, Gozo’s spas, markets, and beaches are unparalleled. This is a perfect destination for any traveller looking to experience the secret Mediterranean islands that the region has to offer.

See Also: 5 Mediterranean Vacation Destinations for Travellers on a Budget

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