Southern Europe and the Mediterranean saw a 13 percent increase in tourist arrivals last year, according to the most recent UNWTO Tourism statistical annex. And while it may seem like your news feed is overcrowded with island scenes of yachts, cabanas, and rocky shorelines, there are plenty of more low-key places to enjoy a Med vacation.
The Best Secret Mediterranean Islands
Here are seven secret Mediterranean islands to book a trip to if you’re looking for a European getaway without the crowds.
Avoid now-crowded Hvar, and instead head to Vis, Croatia’s most remote inhabited island. It’s only been open to tourism since 1989, since it was a former Yugoslav military base. Today visitors can enjoy its beaches, caves, and local cuisine.
To get to Vis you can take a two-and-a-half-hour ferry or an hour-long speedboat ride from Split.
Check Prices for Hotel San Giorgio in Vis, Island of Vis
Salina is the second largest of the seven Aeolian Islands located off of Sicily. Here you’ll find pebble beaches, vineyards, olive groves, and quaint fishing villages. There are three main towns: Santa Marina, Malfa, and Leni. The volcanic island has two main peaks, which are the highest points of the seven UNESCO World Heritage-designated Aeolian Islands.
There is ferry service to Salina from both Naples and Milazzo, with Milazzo being the main departure point. The ride from Milazzo takes about 90 minutes.
Check Prices for Principe di Salina Boutique Hotel in Malfa, Isola di Salina
This Greek island is very close to Athens, so it’s the perfect hidden Med retreat if you want to combine it with a city vacation. There are 10 beaches on this small island, with half of them being remote or secluded. Other highlights include hiking paths, seaside taverns, and horseback riding.
To get to Agistri, take the one-hour ferry from Piraeus, Athens’ main port.
Check Prices for Aktaion Beach Hotel in Skala
Vogue calls Porquerolles the “Nantucket of the Mediterranean” for its similar storybook magic. About 1,000 acres of the island are protected from development under a national park designation, which means the island is also car-free. Explore the vineyards, orchards, beaches, and trails via bike, foot, and boat.
Porquerolles is accessible via seasonal ferries from multiple ports in the French Riviera, with Hyeres’ port being the quickest (20 minutes) and most accessible.
Check Prices for Hotel Villa Sainte-Anne in Porquerolles Island, France
Unlike its rowdy and more crowded neighbors, Ibiza and Mallorca, Formentera has a more relaxing vibe. Known for white sand beaches and clear water, it’s a hub for watersports, boating, and sunbathing.
To get to Formentera, take a 30-minute hydrofoil ride from Ibiza.
Check Prices for Blanco Hotel Formentera in Formentera, Spain
Malta’s smallest and least inhabited island is also one of the Med’s best kept secrets. It has only one resort hotel, is car-free, and measures just one square mile. Visitors come to see the Blue Lagoon, a sheltered inlet ideal for swimming and snorkeling.
Comino can be reached via ferry from the country’s two other islands, Gozo and Malta, a trip that takes about 25 minutes.
Check Prices for Comino Hotel in Comino
While you might recognize the name, Kefalonia feels like one of the lesser-known Greek Mediterranean islands as tourists are more spread out. Made famous by Homer as Odysseus’ home, Kefalonia has endless caves and beaches to explore. Since it’s a little more developed, there are plenty of restaurants and bars to choose from in the main town of Argostoli.
Kefalonia is accessible via short, affordable flights from Athens (daily) or ferryboats from other ports within the Ionian Islands.
Check Prices for Emelisse Nature Resort in Fiscardo, Cephalonia
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