Whether you’re in need of a relaxing holiday, or looking forward to a fun-filled break, the countries of the Mediterranean have so much to offer. Here, Emily Clegg has narrowed down some of the best destinations to just a top 5 – I wonder which will inspire you.
1. Antalya, Turkey
Located in South-West Turkey along the Mediterranean coast, Antalya is a largely historic city, full of culture and beautiful views. Named after its Greek founder, Attalos II, this city has a fascinating ancient history, most of which can be found within the old centre, Kaleiçi. There you can explore the city’s walls, Hadrian’s Gate and a Roman temple’s remaining minaret, Kesik Minare – this is also a great place to take in the views of the surrounding ocean.
Crystal clear azure sea and golden beaches are just some of the highlights of escaping to this idyllic region of Turkey. For a real treat head to the south-east of Antalya to witness the cascading Düden Waterfalls. Surrounded by lush green trees and overgrowth, you can get up close to the upper Düden Waterfalls as they plunge in to the Düden River below. Follow the waterfalls to their end, and watch the water rush in to the Mediterranean Sea from the Lower Düden Waterfalls – an incredible sight to witness after exploring such a captivating city.
Athens is one of the oldest cities in the world, with an amazing history spanning more than 3,400 years – so another great destination for any history buffs. For the real Ancient Greek experience, make sure you take a look around the Acropolis, the historical centre, for views of the impressive Parthenon temple, with its awe-inspiring columns that tower over the surrounding land.
For something a little different, go to Parnitha National Park, a large wooded, mountainous terrain situated in the north of Athens. There you can meander along the hiking trails or take a gentle bike ride to explore the hidden caves and mountain springs. The best time of the year to go is between March and June, when you’ll be able to witness the beautiful crocus, tulips and red deer frolicking in the fields, and enjoy a meal full of delicious Greek delicacies, including Feta cheese, olives and slices of Lagana bread.
There are many great things to explore in Athens that it’s often hard to know where to begin, but an easy way is via a guided tour. If you take a Mediterranean cruise with Celebrity Cruises, you can pick and choose a number of affordable and interesting shore excursions that’ll guide you throughout the main sights. Simple!
The small but amazing Monaco is a hub of culture, great food and entertainment, meaning you won’t have the chance to be bored. For a real feel of Monaco, take a day-trip to Monaco-Ville, a quaint medieval village bursting with wonderful restaurants, traditional cafés and souvenir shops. On top of all this you’ll also be able to explore the Palais Princier, the home of Monaco’s royalty, which overlooks the Mediterranean Sea. Enjoy a guided tour of this wonderful palace to take in the lavish interiors, Grimaldi portraits, and the glittering chandeliers that hang from each of the room’s high ceilings.
Another place worth a visit is the Jardin Exotique, a vast garden with a beautiful collection of exotic flowers, cacti and trees to admire as you wander around. Palms trees and rock pools line the winding paths that lead to the ‘underground cathedral’, an awe-inspiring underground cave which is sure to be a highlight of your stay in Monaco.
A wonderful city of delicious food, history and amazing architecture, Florence is the perfect Mediterranean city to spend an exciting weekend break, or a relaxing week away.
For an authentic Tuscan experience, I recommend making your way to the Medici Villas, especially the Villa di Castello. The Castello Villa is not particularly famous for the building itself, but rather the beautiful gardens that surround it. Lush green hedges line the Italian garden’s paths, which was designed in 1538 by the talented artist Niccolò Tribolo. Explore the vibrant flowerbeds, and smell the scent of fresh lemons from the citrus garden as you approach Bartolomew Ammannati’s ‘Fountain of January’, which stands proudly on the edge of a rocky bank. Another rare treat you cannot miss is the infamous ‘Cave of Animals’- it’s hidden behind a hollowed entrance that leads to the exceptionally detailed rocks which surround the carvings.
Exploring such a remarkable garden is thirsty work, so take some time out to enjoy delicious Italian wine, with a large serving of Florentine steak and exotically flavoured, creamy gelato to finish.
Enclosed by a crystalline sea and golden beaches, Croatia is a beautiful country with blossoming forests, tumbling waterfalls and a fascinating history. Dubrovnik is one of the most popular cities for visitors to Croatia, and it’s not hard to see why. For the perfect day of relaxation, head of the main street, Stradun, and take a stroll through the backstreets to avoid the crowds. Head down to the scenic Banje beach and relax as you enjoy an ice-cold drink, followed by a deliciously fresh seafood meal in one of the harbour side restaurants.
If you’re looking to see a little more of Dubrovnik, then head to the city’s Dominikanski Samostan, a Dominican Monastery, located in the eastern part of the old town. After entering through the beautifully carved door, marvel at the 16th century religious art by Nikola Božidarević and the spectacular Veneto-Byzantine’s haunting crucifix that hangs over the main altar. It’s a truly inspiring trip and a must-see during your time in Dubrovnik.
On top of all this, it’s extremely easy and convenient to take a ferry from Dubrovnik to the smaller islands, when you wish to discover more. My favourite is Hvar; enjoy strolls through the scented lavender fields, sunbathe on the beaches and take relaxing hikes through the hills to admire the wonderful Croatian landscape.