By Brittany Kulick
The Mediterranean is home to some of the most popular islands in the world. From the stunning Mykonos and Santorini islands in Greece to the party lover’s paradise in Ibiza, Spain, it may seem that the Mediterranean is overrun by tourists.
But if you want to get off the beaten path and explore a beautiful island paradise, you’ve got options spanning the sea from Spain to Croatia. Here’s a list of the most beautiful islands most tourists don’t know about… yet!
Mama Mia! Here We Go To Vis, Croatia
Vis is the setting of Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again! If Hollywood deems this the perfect setting for their island paradise, it’s definitely worth a visit. Or if Hollywood’s not your cup of tea, perhaps you’ll be impressed that the World Wildlife Fund named Vis one of the “10 last paradise resorts in the Mediterranean”.
There’s a reason the island feels untouched. From the 1950s through 1989, the island was home to a Yugoslav military base and forbidden for foreign tourists to visit. Now that it’s open to tourists, travellers are falling in love with the isolated island, accessible only by ferry or helicopter.
On the island, visit the stunning Stiniva Cove, named the best beach in Europe because of its clear water encircled by rocky cliffs. If you’re a movie fanatic, be sure to pay a visit to the filming location of Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again! in Kozima. Looking for a slice of Hollywood-esque paradise? Book your trip to Vis!
Visit Salina, Italy Before Tourism Explodes
On the island of Salina, just off the north of Sicily, two soaring (non-active) volcanoes give way to rolling vineyards. Those vineyards yield a sweet Malvasia wine that pairs well with the tangy capers this island famously produces.
Here, the beaches may be rocky, but the views rock! The lush green scenery earns Salina the title of the “garden island” and is said by many to be the most beautiful of the Aeolian Islands. For that feeling that you’re all alone in the world, Salina is the place for you!
Agistri, Greece: The Most Popular Greek Island That You’ve Probably Never Heard Of
Less than one hour from Athens, Agistri is the most popular island in Greece that you’ve probably never heard of. While most tourists are flocking to Santorini and Mykonos, Agistri offers a taste of authentic Greek island life. The island was first inhabited 2,500 years ago, but its small size made it vulnerable to pirate attacks, so it wasn’t continuously inhabited. Today, being the smallest of the Saronic islands is a good thing –it’s easy to explore the 13.4 km² island.
Visiting during the summer? Be sure to join a Greek Entertainment Night, where you can listen to traditional Greek music and practice your Greek dancing skills. If you want to immerse yourself in Greek culture, Agistri is the place for you… Opa!
Drink In The Nostalgia (And Wine) In Porquerolles, France
Usually, being called two-faced is a criticism. But in this case, the two faces of Porquerolles are both beautiful. On the southern side of the island, steep cliffs and hidden creeks are a playground for adventurous hikers. To the north, you’ll find the turquoise waters of the Plage Notre Dame, surrounded by a forest of eucalyptus and pine trees.
The island was originally purchased in the early 1900s by Belgian explorer, François Joseph Fournier, as a gift for his wife, Sylvia. The government bought four-fifths of this island, located off the coast of Provence near Hyères in the 1970s. With cars not allowed and the island protected from housing and hotel development, it feels like a step into the past as you bike your way around the island.
Be sure to stop by a vineyard or two on your bike ride because this island is home to some of the first “vins des Côtes de Provence.” Adventurous travellers and wine connoisseurs will love visiting Porquerolles.
Party In Ibiza, But Chill In Formentera, Spain
Ibiza has a reputation for being party central, but Formentera is a laid-back island for hippies and those tired of the club scene. Located to the south of the famed party spot, Formentera is accessible only by ferry. It is frequented by celebrities like Cristiano Ronaldo, Sienna Miller, Kate Moss and many others looking for a laid back island break. In the past, icons like Joni Mitchell and Bob Dylan found inspiration here as well.
The island’s plethora of white sandy beaches offers an experience for everyone — from the quiet coastline of Migjorn Beach to the family-friendly beach of Cala Saona. If you’re looking for relaxation, creative inspiration or celebrity-spotting, Formentera is a must-visit.
Whether you’re interested in hiking, experiencing a new culture or lazing by turquoise waters, holidays are better without thousands of other tourists. When you’re planning your next Mediterranean holiday, don’t forget to check out these lesser-known islands and find your little slice of paradise!