Coastal Beauty

When it comes to spectacular scenery and shimmering seascapes, few areas can rival the Mediterranean. Its coastline is a magical mix of silky beaches, dreamy coves and precipitous cliffs, all lapped by lukewarm waters in a thousand shades of blue.

Amalfi Coast Italy’s coastal pin-up is pure Mediterranean bliss with cliffs plunging into sparkling azure waters and villages hanging onto vertiginous slopes.

Côte d’Azur Join the European jet set on the French Riviera as it snakes along the lavender-scented coast from one celebrity hot spot to the next.

Turquoise Coast A boat cruise is a popular way of exploring the clear blue waters, hidden coves and ancient ruins of Turkey’s western Mediterranean coast.

Dalmatia Hundreds of verdant, unspoilt islands clutter the clear waters off Croatia’s Adriatic coast.

Galicia Lighthouses and remote fishing villages pepper the wild cliffs of Galicia's Atlantic seaboard.

Food & Drink

There’s no finer place to indulge your appetites than the Mediterranean. With so many local specialities and traditional tipples to try, lovers of fine food and drink will be in seventh heaven.

Port Get to grips with Portugal’s national drink in Porto, gateway to the port-producing Douro valley.

French Wine French wines have been setting the gold standard for centuries. Treat yourself to a taste by touring Burgundy’s Côte d’Or vineyards.

Pizza Italy’s culinary classic is best when prepared in a wood-fired oven and served with an ice-cold beer in a Neapolitan pizzeria.

Kebap This mainstay of Turkish cuisine comes in various forms, from the classic döner to the more sophisticated İskender.

Tapas Bar-hopping in Madrid becomes a culinary experience when eating tapas, Spain’s legendary bar snacks.

Greek Salad A taverna staple ideal for a light summer lunch by the sea.

Outdoor Activities

With its warm seas, snowy mountains and favourable climate, the Med is a sports lover’s paradise. Whether you’re after perfect snow powder or roaring surf, you’ll find plenty of opportunities to feed your adrenalin habit.

Skiing Most of the region’s top resorts are in the French and Italian Alps, but there’s great-value skiing in Slovenia and Bosnia and Hercegovina.

Hiking There’s excellent hiking across much of the region, particularly in mountainous areas such as the Italian Dolomites.

Diving Warm shallow waters and the calcified wreck of a 3rd-century Roman ship make for fabulous diving off Croatia’s Mljet Island.

Surfing Surfers head to the western edge of the continent for the thundering waves that crash in on central Portugal’s Atlantic beaches.

Rafting One of the most popular outdoor pursuits in Montenegro is rafting along the Tara River in the Durmitor National Park.

Partying

Ever since ancient Greek philosophers raised the pursuit of pleasure to a philosophy, the Med has been a party hot spot. Modern-day hedonists are spoilt for choice with everything from cutting-edge clubs to seafront bars and bacchanalian beach parties.

Ios & Mykonos Summer revellers flock to the bars and clubs in Ios and gay-friendly Mykonos, two of Greece’s premier party destinations.

Ibiza Long a clubbing mecca, the Spanish island boasts some of the world’s top clubs and regularly hosts big-name DJs.

Hvar Town The main town on Hvar Island rocks in summer, serving up the best nightlife on the Dalmatian coast.

Bodrum Up-for-it party goers swell the clubs and bars of this ever popular resort on Turkey's Aegean coast.

Paris Catch a cabaret, dance till dawn or swoon over jazz in a shadowy basement bar – Paris by night offers limitless possibilities.

Architecture

Mediterranean Europe is a dream destination for architecture buffs. Ancient temples stand alongside hulking Gothic churches, majestic mosques, baroque piazzas and avant-garde museums.

Pantheon Rome’s epic temple is a staggering achievement and the high point of ancient Roman engineering.

Cathédrale de Notre Dame de Paris Paris’ most famous and most visited cathedral is a towering masterpiece of early Gothic architecture.

Blue Mosque Islamic style finds perfect form in the Blue Mosque, one of İstanbul’s most recognisable buildings.

St Peter’s Square The Vatican’s magnificent central piazza is a dazzling work of baroque urban design.

La Sagrada Família Barcelona’s work-in-progress church was designed by Antoni Gaudí, famous exponent of 20th-century Catalan modernism.

Museo Guggenheim Since it was opened in Bilbao in 1997, Frank Gehry’s striking museum has become a modern icon.

Museums & Galleries

Home to some of the world’s most celebrated art, the region’s museums and galleries boast works by French Impressionists, Spanish surrealists and the maestros of the Italian Renaissance, as well as many other revered artists.

Musée du Louvre One of the world’s most famous museums, with an enormous collection – yet most eyes are drawn to Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa.

Vatican Museums Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel frescoes are the highlight of the Vatican’s mammoth museum complex.

Galleria degli Uffizi There’s nowhere better to feast on Italian art than Florence, where the Renaissance kicked off in the late 15th century.

Museo del Prado Madrid’s top art gallery features works by Spanish giants Goya, Velázquez, El Greco and many more.

National Archaeological Museum Finds from archaeological sites across Greece exhibited in Athens’ most prestigious museum.

Ancient Ruins

Mediterranean Europe is littered with reminders of its ancient past. Ruined, and not-so-ruined, temples, amphitheatres, even entire towns, stand testament to the enduring skill of the region's pioneering engineers.

Parthenon Dating to the 5th century BC, Athens’ staggering Doric temple encapsulates the glory of the once-powerful Greek empire.

Pompeii Almost 2000 years after it was destroyed by Mt Vesuvius, Italy’s perfectly preserved ancient town is a thrilling sight.

Colosseum Rome's great gladiatorial arena is one of Italy's iconic monuments.

Ephesus Centred on a remarkable 25,000-seat theatre, the compelling ruins of Ephesus are Turkey’s top ancient site.

Diocletian’s Palace Built for a Croatian-born Roman emperor, this vast palace covers much of Split’s historic centre.

Les Arènes Nîmes’ stirring Roman amphitheatre once staged gory gladiatorial games; nowadays it's bullfights and historical recreations.

Medieval Towns

Against a backdrop of almost constant conflict, art and architecture flourished in the Middle Ages, giving rise to some wonderful towns and cities.

Siena Boasting a fine medieval cityscape, Siena radiates out from Piazza del Campo, setting of the city’s famous Palio horse race.

Dubrovnik Dubrovnik’s majestic medieval walls date to its heyday as an independent republic and rival to the powerful Venetians.

Santiago de Compostela Lording over Santiago’s medieval centre is the city’s landmark cathedral, a triumphant mix of architectural styles.

Rhodes Town Rhodes' Unesco-protected Old Town is a gem, lined with impressive buildings and surrounded by huge 12m-thick walls.

Kotor Situated at the head of a stunning fjord, walled Kotor is dramatically wedged between the sea and the steeply rising mountainside.

Carcassonne This walled city in southern France is protected by 52 stone towers and Europe's largest city fortifications.

Islands

Ever since Odysseus stumbled across the Aegean on his return from Troy, island hopping has been a popular Mediterranean pastime. The Greek islands are a favourite destination, but there are plenty of others littered across the seascape.

Santorini The result of a 3600-year-old volcanic eruption, Santorini is a classic island beauty with sheer, lava-clad cliffs, black beaches and sun-bleached villages.

Hvar Island Croatia's sunniest spot, Hvar is the most popular of the many islands floating off the Dalmatian coast.

Corsica Napoleon's birthplace is a weather-beaten old sea dog of an island with beautiful beaches and a wild, mountainous interior.

Sicily The Med's largest island boasts Europe's most volatile volcano (Mt Etna), ancient Greek ruins, fabulous food and glitzy resorts.

Menorca One of Spain's Balearic Islands, Menorca is a mecca for sun seekers with its pristine beaches and sandy bays.