12 DESTINATIONS THAT PROVE THE MEDITERRANEAN IS THE MOST BEAUTIFUL PLACE ON EARTH
The Mediterranean certainly has its fair share of admirers. But hey, who could blame them? From the pine-studded isles of the French Riviera to the eucalyptus-scented lands of Ionian Greece, the rugged Aegean coves of Turkey to the gorgeous sparkles of the Adriatic Sea, this region takes the meaning of 'Instagramable' to whole new and dizzying heights. Let's take you through some of the gems that make LBW think it might just be the most beautiful place on planet Earth…
Hvar is Croatia's best-loved summertime island. From June to September it fills with students and yachters, who come to sip pink champagne on the historic port sides of the Old Town after long days of drifting between the Adriatic islands. We've been doing the same for years on our YachtLife Croatia tours, and this pine-studded place still never gets old – think 1,000-year-old churches backed by limestone hills and ringed by pure blue seas.
Porquerolles is one of the most handsome jewels in the crown of the famous French Riviera. It juts out into the turquoise-hued seas from the port town of Hyeres, offering a quiet and secluded getaway that's totally void of cars and automobiles. Groves of juniper and eucalyptus cluster along the shorelines, while bicycles whizz tourists to the empty coves on the far end of the island, where snorkeling and sunbathing can be done in total private.
Rhodes is a beauty not just because of its shimmering pebble beaches and lapping Aegean waves. Rhodes is also a beauty for its heritage-rich old town, which tells tales of ancient civilizations and medieval crusaders alike. We know because this enthralling island has long been a part of our YachtLife Med tour, offering a dose of enchanting Greek life and endless stretches of picture-perfect coastline straight from the boat.
Much-photographed Manarola cascades down from the clifftops of Italy's Ligurian coast in a medley of ochre-hued homes and pastel-painted buildings from centuries gone by. A dash of pure drama set just above the waves of the Mediterranean Sea, the place rarely fails to evoke feelings of the romantic. Delve in to wander the tight-knit cobbled streets, smell out pizzas in the trattorias, and meet local fishermen and their boats bobbing between the docks.
Santorini is a place that really needs no introduction. For years it's been the poster boy for the romantic styles of the Greek Aegean, and the LBW family have fallen to its charms many a time on our YachtLife Greece tours. The villages of Oia and Fira are amongst the most awesome sights your likely to behold in all of Europe, clinging to the precipitous ridge of an ancient volcano and shimmering in a dazzling white against the Med's sun. It's true beauty from start to finish.
The Amalfi Coast, Italy
The Amalfi Coast has long been one of Europe's honeymoon destinations of choice. Famed for its uber-romantic cities – Sorrento, Positano, sun-kissed Amalfi itself – the region runs around the headlands south of Naples. It's now got a UNESCO World Heritage tag, and comes with swathes of verdant vineyard that crash down to the sea, countless hidden coves for swimming, and some of the most enthralling towns in the whole region of Campania. La Dolce Vita.
Greece's answer to the hedonistic towns of Ibiza has struck a fine balance between partying and beauty – at least that's what we see on our YachtLife Greece tours every time we pass through this gorgeous section of the Aegean Sea. There are rustic windmills built by the Venetians creaking above the town, and a charming Italian-style neighbourhood that spills into the waves. There are long, sandy beaches for sizzling off the hangovers, and one truly raucous array of nighttime entertainments – think pub crawls, endless shots, and partying till dawn!
The great castle town of Croatia rarely fails to draw a gasp. Jutting out into the shimmering blue Adriatic, it's a veritable symphony of medieval fortifications, turrets and towers – no wonder it's a backdrop for Game of Thrones! Inside, the marble-dressed centre plays host to wide plazas filled with coffee shops and souvenir stalls, while the historic walls themselves are totally walkable, offering up breathtaking views of the city and the Med as they weave around the Old Town. It's unquestionably one of the highlights of our LBW YachtLife Croatia!
Sardinia is Italy's jewel out in the western Mediterranean Sea. Fringed by more than 1,200 miles of coastline, the isle is a treasure trove of hidden coves and inlets, glowing-white beaches and picture-perfect shores. Perhaps the single piece de resistance of Sardinia is the much-vaunted Costa Smeralda, though. This small region has the top sands and sunbathing spots, not to mention oodles of awesome hotels and historic towns.
Symi might just be the paradise of Greece you've never heard of. Nestled between some of the more popular and touristy islands of the Aegean Sea, this little enclave of pretty port towns and rugged coves has proved to be one of the chart-toppers on our YachtLife Med tours. Attractions include the gorgeous Venetian-style harbour, painted in ice-cream-colours, and the crystal-clear waters of the Med itself – perfect for some snorkeling or rock jumping.
If gravity-defying rock arches and chiseled cliffs of craggy stone are your idea of breathtaking coastal beauty (and let's be honest, who doesn’t like that sort of stuff!), then Malta's off-beat isle of Gozo could just be the perfect choice for you this year. It's wild and wonderful, has pre-historic ancient sites peppering its backcountry, and oodles of aquamarine lagoons fringing its shores. Oh, and once you're done exploring you can always return to the capital at Valetta for a little partying…
Turquoise Coast, Turkey
Far away from the troubled regions of the Middle East, Turkey's Turquoise Coast remains a paradise on the far fringes of the Med. It's got lagoons hemmed in by pine-dressed peaks. It's got throbbing party towns like Bodrum and Marmaris. It's got fascinating castles left over from the crusaders. It's got snorkeling, nightlife, Roman ruins (check out awesome Ephesus), and the bubbling hot springs of Pamukkale (a bucket-list-topper if there ever was one!). Yep, it's a cracker.