The Mediterranean coast is brimming with incredible sites, cultures, food, and experiences. To help you plan your vacation, here are 5 must-see Mediterranean destinations right on the coast. Choose one or more! You’re sure to enjoy any trip to this famous area of the world.
Barcelona is a two-thousand-year-old city. It was the economic and political center of the Western Mediterranean during the Medieval Period, and it is still a marvel today.
Any trip through the Mediterranean would be incomplete without a visit to Barcelona. This city is rich in history, art, museums, and music. But there are also sports (FC Barcelona, anyone?) great food, hiking, scenic walks, a roaring nightlife, and of course the beach. Barcelona is used to tourists, so there are bike tours, bus tours, helicopter tours, hotels, restaurants, and travel blogs on how to tour Barcelona at the best price.
Barcelona won a well-deserved RIBA gold medal for its architecture, including the Gothic Quarter, Parc de la Ciutadella, La Sagrada Familia, and lots of Gaudi buildings. Experienced travelers recommend going between late March through April or late September through October in order catch the best weather, avoid the crowds, and still get to see some of Barcelona’s festivals.
Catania is not the first place you think of when you plan a trip to Italy, but it’s definitely a location to consider! It’s the second largest city on the island of Sicily and positioned just on the edge of the Ionian Sea (one of the subdivisions of the Mediterranean Sea). It sits at the foot of Mount Etna, an active volcano – don’t worry, its more recent eruptions haven’t devastated the city like it did back in the 1600s. Mount Etna is the most popular attraction for tourists to visit near Catania.
The city dates back to 729BC, when it was a village founded by the Greeks. Then in 263BC it submitted to Roman rule. So there are many historical sights to see related to both cultures. These include a theater, an amphitheater, an aqueduct, a forum, basilicas, etc. There are countless Baroque churches and cathedrals, the Ursino Castle (now a museum), the Elephants Palace with its statue of an elephant carrying an obelisk, and the Biscari Palace.
If you like immersing yourself in the local culture of places you visit, check out the fish market. It also has produce and meats and some of the stalls are a treat for your nose as well as your eyes!
Dubrovnik is a wonderful mix of history and relaxation. Tourists spend hours in the Old Town, walking along the limestone streets, looking at picturesque old churches, alleys, museums, and ancient city walls, where they can see examples of Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque architecture. The Minceta Fortress, Rector Palace, Franciscan Monastery Complex, and summer festivals just scratch the surface of what there is to see in Dubrovnik.
Restaurants and souvenir shops abound, and then there are the beaches – the best cruise excursions don’t always take you away from the water.
Dubrovnik has several beaches that locals and tourists can’t get enough of because of their scenic beauty and fantastic summer climate. Cable cars have been rigged up to show tourists a bird’s eye view of this historical city. The only sad part about Dubrovnik is that there’s too much to see and do in a single day. September and October are the best months to visit.
Athens is one of the most popular Mediterranean destinations. It’s a walk through some of the world’s greatest history. Many locations across the Mediterranean have architecture, culture, and art from the Medieval Period, the Renaissance, or Enlightenment, but Athens is the one and only best place experience Ancient Greece. The art, science, and philosophy that Greece pioneered make Athens an intellectual pilgrimage.
For those wanting a glimpse into the places of the past, there is the Parthenon, Acropolis, and the chance to see a Greek-style performance of Oedipus. There are night tours, food tours, bike tours, and lots of tasty, heart-healthy things to eat. Getting to the National Archeological Museum won’t be a problem because the city is equipped with subways, freeways, and lots of signs in English to point you in the right direction. It’s a great trip to plan for the mid-spring or autumn.
Greece also has some amazing islands you can visit.
Need a taste of eastern culture on your Mediterranean trip? In Istanbul has long claimed the title of “the bridge between the east and the west”. Istanbul remembers the Byzantine Empires, the Christian Crusades, and the Turkish War for independence. Today it is the economic, cultural and historic center of Turkey.
In Istanbul, you’ll see grand mosques, bazaars, and hamams – the most beautiful Ottoman architecture you’ve ever seen, including the Topkapi Palace and Hagia Sophia Museum, among many others. Istanbul includes delicious street food, Greek cuisine and Turkish cuisine, ferry rides, music festivals, cultural dances – even its own Legoland. There may be some cultural customs that surprise you, mosque-appropriate dress and bath-house etiquette, but the research is easy. Mark down spring and autumn as the best times to visit this unique city.
Obviously the Mediterranean is one of the most famous bodies of water, and it fuels the dreams of travelers worldwide. There are so many places you can visit along its shores. These are just a handful of the places you can go to see the beautiful Mediterranean Sea. What are your dream Mediterranean destinations? It can be one of these or any others! Let us know in the comments section below.