The Mediterranean is a sea of endless possibilities, a treasure trove of culture, history, and natural beauty. While hotspots like Capri, Santorini, and Saint-Tropez are well-known for their postcard-worthy beaches, bustling squares, and luxury, there are lesser-traveled hidden gems that should be on your radar, and they are sure to leave you enchanted. Three standouts include the small island nation of Malta, the island of Ischia located in the Gulf of Naples, and the Italian Riviera.
Malta is located in the middle of the Mediterranean, and despite its small size, Malta is packed with history, culture, and idyllic scenery. The island’s capital, Valletta, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is home to several historical locations, including the Grand Master’s Palace and St. John’s Co-Cathedral. In addition to its many cultural offerings, you will find an abundance of unique shops and dining options. Outside of Valletta, you will uncover Malta’s prehistoric history, including The Hypogeum, a complex freestanding underground structure regarded as one of the most important prehistoric sites in the world. Malta’s exceptional beaches are also worth a visit, especially the turquoise waters of Blue Lagoon on Comino Island. Malta is a special island that evokes an ever-present charm, filled with boutique hotels, fusion cuisine, and a depth of culture, making it a visit not long forgotten.
Ischia is an island known for its natural hot springs, stunning beaches, and tranquil atmosphere. Long a summer retreat for Italians, Ischia is a haven for those seeking relaxation and rejuvenation, with luxurious hotels offering top-notch spa facilities, rejuvenating treatments, and tranquil oceanfront settings. Ischia is also steeped in history, and a visit to the medieval Castello Aragonese d’Ischia will not disappoint, nor will enjoying the art of aperitivo with friendly locals in town. Ischia also showcases some of the region’s best culinary experiences focusing on fresh local seafood, homemade pasta, and arguably some of the finest produce grown in southern Italy. Differing from the hustle and bustle of nearby Positano or Amalfi, Ischia provides the true “La Dolce Vita” experience. Furthermore, the island is only a short ferry or boat ride away from Capri or nearby Procida, making it an ideal destination for those looking to experience the beauty of the region without the crowds.
The Italian Riviera, also known as the Ligurian Riviera, is a stretch of coastline in the northwestern region of Italy where picturesque towns are seemingly built into rocks perched above the sea. Famous for their colorful houses, winding streets, and magnificent coastal views, you are sure to be captivated by the unique seaside vistas. The region is also home to some of Italy’s best seafood and, of course, pesto, making it a foodie’s paradise. Exploring the towns outside of the often-crowded Cinque Terre allows you to ensure a relaxing and indulgent holiday. The glamorous Portofino and the more refined Porto Venere are just two examples of marvelous locations on the Italian Riviera, which are home to several luxury hotels, boutiques, and noteworthy restaurants. The Italian Riviera has something for everyone, relaxing by the sea, hiking with a view, visiting one of the regions many cultural attractions, or experiencing a little of all three. It is also an ideal location given the areas’ easy access to Milan and the Lake Region or the chic Côté d’Azur.
Whether looking for history, culture, natural beauty, or simply a relaxing holiday, these remarkable destinations offer it all without high season overcrowding. So next time you plan a trip to the Mediterranean, consider immersing yourself in one of these lesser known but equally charming destinations.