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Top 10 Hidden Islands in the Mediterranean Sea

Top 10 Hidden Islands in the Mediterranean Sea

The Mediterranean is known for its stunning islands, some of which beeing also recognized sailing destinations. But what if we told you that there are more beautiful places to discover, places which can’t be found on the tourists’ lists?

If you love the sea, the sun and the sweet feeling of escape that only an island is able to provide, we’ve compiled a list with 10 less known islands where you’ll find virgin beaches perfect for relaxing, picturesque towns to get lost in long walks on narrow streets or protected nature reserves for you to admire the beauty of unspoiled nature.

Here are our suggestions for your next holiday:


1. Koufonisia, Greece

Koufonisia is a small paradise hidden between the islands of Naxos and Amorgos in Cyclades and consists of 3 islands, two of which are completely uninhabited. Ano Koufonisi, the only populated island, has a community of just 366 people, mostly fishermen. It is said that the number of boats is greater than the number of residents. Koufonisia’s beauty is given by its simplicity and wilderness. It is a place where you can find peace and quiet.

The small town of Hora, with white houses, narrow streets and many flowerpots urges you to discover it. You will be surprised to find a friendly environment, with locals chatting in the street, with small stores selling local products and taverns serving delicious and fresh seafood (considering the main occupation of the locals).

The beaches are a “must see”, especially Pori, a wild beach with white sand and turquoise water, located south of the island. The only building in the area is a beach bar. No lounge chairs, umbrellas or terraces – just pure nature.

Separated by a narrow channel of Ano Koufonisi, Kato Koufonisi is more wild, the ideal place for a getaway from your everyday life. The Nero beach, with smooth white stones, is one of the most beautiful and isolated. A sailing yacht is the best way to get here and spend a night all alone in a bay.

If you make a foray in the Cyclades, Koufonisi is like a breath of fresh air and relaxation after a stop in Santorini, which can absorb all your energy or after a series of parties in Mykonos.

You should not miss!
“Pisina”, a natural pool formed in a cliff, south of the Ano Koufonisi island. It’s worth taking a bath here, and if you’re brave, you can get to the sea by swimming through an underwater tunnel.

2. Panarea, Italy

Panarea, the smallest inhabited Aeolian island, is the most exclusive and it is often called the VIP island of the archipelago.

During the  summer, the 300 inhabitants of the island are joined by the Europe’s elite, members of the Bulgari, Visconti family or Prince Laurent of Belgium, who have homes on the island. A whole list of Hollywood stars came here to experience “la dolce far niente”, away from the eyes of the world: Uma Thurman, Antonio Banderas and Melanie Griffith, Beyonce and Jay Z, Naomi Campbell, Kate Moss and Rihanna, to mention a few.

Beyond its worldly and seemingly glamorous appearance, the island is actually a quiet, reclusive place where not a lot of things happen and simple pleasures prevail.

The Port of San Pietro, the most important settlement, is a picturesque town, reminding of Greek’s charm, with its white houses and streets. A walk to Punta del Corvo, the highest point of the island, ends with a superb view over the entire archipelago.

You should not miss!

A night out partying on the terrace of Raya hotel, famous since the 60s for its outdoors parties overlooking the sea. In addition, from here you can admire the spectacle offered by the Stromboli volcano, which illuminates the sky within minutes, throwing lava.

Panarea, Italy

Panarea, Italy

3. Paxos and Antipaxos, Greece

Paxos and Antipaxos are the smallest and less commercial islands in the Ionian Sea. Paxos, the biggest one, is known for its scenic beauty, being covered by thousands of olive trees and surrounded by turquoise waters. The island has an impressive number of 96 churches, given that in the past every house had its own church.

After a big earthquake that took place in 1953, most of the buildings were destroyed, but in Gaios, the main port of the island, most buildings remained untouched. Here you can sense the romantic atmosphere and historical significance everywhere you look.

In the south lies the island of Antipaxos, with a length of 3 km, famous for some of the most beautiful beaches of the Ionian Sea. The turquoise waters like those in the Caribbean and the thick pine forest combined with vineyards make Antipaxos a true paradise.

For those who love sailing, the perfect wind and climate will make these islands a premium sailing destination.

You should not miss!

The Vrika beach, on the island of Antipaxos, to walk on the finest, whitest sand and to enjoy a refreshing swim in the turquoise waters.

4. Vis, Croatia

Vis is the farthest island from the mainland of the Dalmatian islands and has been used as a military base for a long period of time in recent history (1950-1989). This isolation has prevented its economic development and thus managed to keep its special old charm.

The island is divided into two cities, located at the base of some coves. A scooter ride is the best way to get from Vis – the main port, to Komiza, one of the nicest cities of the Adriatic, with narrow streets flanked by buildings from the 17th century. The locals’ fishing tradition guarantees a great culinary experience. And for it to be complete, you must taste vugava, the local wine, one of the most appreciated in Croatia.

Along the coast there are several caves and fantastic beaches such as Stiniva, hidden between the rocks.

You should not miss!

Blue Grotto, a cave on the Bisevo island nearby that is naturally lit from the deep water, and at times gets a breathtaking glow.

5. Formentera, Spain

Formentera is often called the younger sister of Ibiza, its neighbour  in the north side. Since 1960, the island was a popular destination among hippies – Pink Floyd even made an album here.

Formentera is considered by many the last paradise of the Mediterranean, due to the fact that it managed to keep its unspoiled natural beauty, despite the tourist flow. It is surrounded by the clearest waters of the Mediterranean and has about 20 km of beaches with fine white sand where you can relax. The most famous is Platja de ses Illetes, where the atmosphere is more than just relaxing – you can get rid of your bathing suit too J. If you’re looking for a less populated beach, on Migjorn you will find the peace you’re looking for.

Even if there are cars and roads on the island, the preferred means of transport preffered by  tourists and locals are mopeds or bicycles. Freedom and quiet or tranquilo, as the Spanish like to say, best define this wonderful island. A vacation on a yacht around it will bring you closer to nature and give you the opportunity to live in the free spirit of this island.

You should not miss!

The Espalmador Island, located in the north, completely uninhabited, where you can find “Parc Natural de Ses Salinas”, a natural reserve with mud baths, known for its properties. A free spa session is always welcome!

6. Alonnisos, Greece

In the western part of the Aegean Sea, near Skiatos and Skopelos lays Alonnisos, an island less known, that holds a special charm. Just the simple image of the island filled with pines and olive trees can offer you relaxation. The atmosphere is typical for Greek islands unaltered by the flow of tourists, so you can have an authentic experience.

The southern part of the island is full of beaches and crystalline bays. Kokkinokastro is one of the most beautiful ones, being surrounded by an impressive wall of red stone.

A walk through the old town, Hora, is like a time travel. You will discover charming houses, paved streets and stairs carved in stone that lead you in the tightest corners where you’ll be surprised to find a little shop with homemade products or special wines.

Alonissos is included among the most eco islands in Europe, and the Marine Park, where you can find the last specimens of monk seals in Europe, makes the waters that bathe its shores to be incredibly clear and unpolluted.

You should not miss!

The Tassia Tavern in the small fishing village of Steni Vala, in the western part of the island, where you will have a fantastic culinary experience. Here you will find the best fish and seafood.

7. Stromboli, Italy

Stromboli is perhaps the most spectacular of the Aeolian Islands, being one of the three active volcanoes in Italy. Situated in northern Sicilian coast, the island gets out of the blue water like a black, smoking pyramid. It is a quite spectacular image.

Stromboli is one of the favorite holiday destinations for Dolce & Gabbana designers, who own a property here and even launched a collection of perfumes inspired by the Aeolian Islands.

The main settlement on the island is the small city of Stromboli, situated at the base of the volcano, with a few narrow streets with souvenir shops, white houses covered in flowers that take you to Piazza San Vincezo, the center of the small town.

In the opposite part of the island lays Ginostra, a more quiet and isolated town. Ginostra is accessible only by boat because the old road that connected  the two settlements was completely destroyed by a volcanic eruption.

Even if the island resembles a postcard image, life here is very difficult: food and drink supplies are brought by ferry, there are no functional roads and until recently there was no electricity in the city of Ginostra. Besides all this, there is also the constant danger of living on an active volcano.

You should not miss!

The sunset seen from a point of the volcano located near the active craters. You can get there accompanied by a guide on a trip that begins at 17.00 daily. The route starts on the beautiful streets of the city and continues on the coast to the top, with a stunning view over the sea. Once you get there, you’ll have the opportunity to see the fascinating lava explosions. The best way to end the evening is with a dinner on the deck of a yacht, watching the great spectacle that Stromboli can offer.

8. Hydra, Greece

Located in the Saronic Bay, near Athens, this small island is a mix of old and new, traditional yet cosmopolitan. It’s also called the island of artists, because over the years has inspired and attracted famous names from music, film and painting. Leonard Cohen and Elizabeth Taylor were so charmed by it, that even bought homes here.

The streets are narrow and steep, and that’s why there are no motorized means of transport. The only means of transport are donkeys.

The port in Hydra provides images that seem to emerge from sailing fantasy books, with its imposing mansions from the 18th century, its old churches and windmills that offer you the atmosphere of an old seaport. If you decide to walk the streets by foot, you will find chic shops and inviting terraces, where you can enjoy a cappuccino.

You should not miss!

The sunset watched from the cliffs of Hydra. Sunset Restaurant is the perfect place, considered by many one of the restaurants with the most beautiful view in the world.

9. Ile de Port Cros, France

Port-Cros is a small island that is part of the Îles d’Hyères group, located next to the French Riviera. The island is declared a National Park and there are very strict rules designed to preserve the nature’s beauty: smoking and camping are completely prohibited and the access by any means of transport is not allowed.

The island is therefore a paradise for nature lovers, with 3 major hiking trails through the dense forests that cover it. The only option is to walk on foot, as bicycles are not allowed either. The routes will take you to the 5 forts built in the 16th century that witnessed a few legendary battles.

Port Cros is an oasis of absolute quiet and serenity, a spectacle of nature with a lot of rare species of trees and plants ready to be discovered on every path. This is the place where you can feel like a modern version of Robinson Crusoe.

You should not miss!

The Palud underwater trail, especially recommended for snorkeling enthusiasts. The Mediterranean flora and fauna is revealed in all its splendor in an underwater raid of 30 minutes, beginning at Palud beach.

10. Pantelleria, Italy

Situated between Sicily and Tunisia, closer to the African continent than the European one, Pantelleria is called the “Black Pearl of the Mediterranean”. The island has a rocky relief, impressing with its volcanic rock walls formed after the eruptions and by its water caves located along the steep coast.

Most homes, called Dammusi, are built in volcanic rocks, on one level and have a dome shaped roof, with the purpose of collecting rainwater. The black color makes them fit perfectly in the island’s landscape.

One of the biggest attractions is “Lo Specchio di Venere” (Venus’ Mirror), a natural lake formed in a volcanic crater, fed by rainwater and a thermal spring. The water’s color changes from emerald to turquoise and dark blue. It is said that after you cover yourself with the rich mineral mud and take a bath in this natural pool, you will have a smooth, velvety skin.

You should not miss!

Grotta del Bagno Asciutto, a natural sauna formed in a cave in one side of Montagna Grande, the tallest point of the island. The heat coming from the inside rocks along with the infusion of fresh herbs from outside, make the perfect combination for a relaxing time, especially after climbing to the top.

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