Underrated Islands in the Mediterranean to Visit This Summer

Do you want to visit the Mediterranean – but to go a bit further than the famous islands? In that case, read on as this article unveils the fabulous secret Mediterranean islands to add to your Mediterranean itinerary!

This selection of underrated islands in the Mediterranean to visit this summer is presented by Eddie from the Vanabond Tales.

Underrated Islands in the Mediterranean to Visit This Summer

Underrated Islands in the Mediterranean to Visit This Summer

The Mediterranean is blessed with an abundance of breathtaking islands, each more striking than the last. Yet, while places like Ibiza and Mykonos grab most of the headlines and the crowds, in my experience the most memorable and authentic travel experiences take place well off the beaten path.

Summer memories of hiking through olive groves and over windswept headlands to find empty secret coves. Whiling away golden afternoons on a sunny pebbled beach, cooling off in the crystal clear water, and savouring drawn-out evening meals at a family-run tavern in a sleepy village. Away from the crowds, overpriced restaurants, noisy tourists, and watered-down cocktails.

Luckily there’s a whole other world of Mediterranean islands out there offering summer memories like these, that few people are talking about.

This summer, skip the usual hotspots and take a path less traveled to some seriously underrated islands. Imagine, your own stone cottage, walking down quiet village lanes, having a beach all to yourself, and enjoying authentic local dishes without a tourist menu in sight.

These are some of my favorite undercelebrated, underappreciated, and underrated islands in the Mediterranean. Islands that promise paradise and a genuine slice of local life.

Folegandros, Greece

Folegandros, Greece is one of the best underrated islands in the Mediterranean
Folegandros, Greece

The first place on this list of underrated islands in the Mediterranean takes us to Greece. Folegandros is the unsung hero of the Cyclades. Far from the hectic crowds of Santorini, this rugged island remains a bastion of serenity with its untouched landscapes and traditional Greek charm.

Take a ferry from Piraeus and watch the island appear on the horizon, its cliffs rising dramatically from the Aegean Sea. In the heart of the island lies Chora, a village that seems frozen in time with its white-washed houses and vibrant bougainvillea.

The narrow streets invite leisurely walks, leading you up to the Church of Panagia, perched high above the town. Here, the sunset views over the vast blue are truly unforgettable—no Instagram filters necessary.

Dining here means enjoying the freshest seafood and local wines under the starlit sky. Don’t miss trying matsata, a traditional dish often served with local meats like rabbit, in a quaint taverna.

May to June and September offer the perfect balance of splendid weather and solitude, away from the high season rush.

Tips and Recommendations

  • Hidden Cove: Ask a local about how to find the secluded Agali Beach, a quiet spot ideal for a peaceful afternoon.
  • Local Delight: Visit the town bakery early in the morning for some freshly baked spanakopita and coffee to start your day.
  • Sunset Spot: Instead of the church, hike to Pounta Square for a different sunset view

Lastovo, Croatia

Lastovo, Croatia is one of the best underrated Mediterranean islands the
Lastovo, Croatia

Far off the usual tourist path, Lastovo stands out as one of Croatia’s most secluded and enchanting islands. It offers a glimpse into a tranquil lifestyle surrounded by lush nature and stellar night skies.

The island is accessible by ferry from transport hubs Split or Dubrovnik, which brings you into a world that feels paused in time. Its status as a Nature Park speaks to its pristine conditions and rich biodiversity.

Venture through Lastovo village, where local life revolves around a charming cluster of medieval buildings, small churches, and traditional stone houses. The island’s history as an isolated military outpost has preserved its timeless ambiance.

Lastovo is famous for its commitment to the traditional foods of Croatia, especially seafood. Sample the fresh catch of the day at a family-run konoba, where dishes are prepared with olive oil produced right on the island. Don’t forget to try Lastovo’s lobster, reputed to be some of the best in the Adriatic.

Plan your visit in the late spring (May to early June) or early autumn (September to October) to enjoy the mild weather and calm atmosphere.

Local Secrets

  • Stargazing: Thanks to its remote location, Lastovo offers some of Croatia’s best stargazing. Join a night-time astronomy tour to see the sky in all its glory.
  • Hidden Trails: Take a hike or rent a bike to explore the island’s network of trails that offer stunning views of the Adriatic and lead to secluded coves and beaches.
  • Cultural Insight: Visit the Lastovo Poklad, an annual carnival where locals don elaborate costumes and partake in ancient rituals— a cultural spectacle not seen anywhere else in Croatia.

In Lastovo, the old-world charm, coupled with the natural beauty of the land and sea, crafts a peaceful retreat that’s perfect for those looking to escape the bustle of more frequented destinations.

Symi, Greece

Symi, Greece is one of the best secret islands in the Mediterranean
Symi, Greece

Symi is a jewel in the Dodecanese, an island often overshadowed by its larger neighbor Rhodes, yet it offers a palette of colors and an elegance that captures the true essence of a quaint Greek isle.

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Ferries from Rhodes make the journey to Symi regularly, offering a scenic introduction to its charming harbor, Gialos, characterized by its neoclassical mansions stacked up the hillsides like a colorful amphitheater.

Like many of the med’s unsung islands, the beauty of Symi lies in its ability to transport visitors back in time. Walk up the Kali Strata, a flight of 500 steps leading to the upper town of Chorio, where you can wander through narrow, winding streets and explore the ruins of old windmills and knights’ castles.

Symi is famous for its shrimp; Symi shrimp are tiny, aromatic, and best enjoyed fresh and simple. Tavernas around the harbor serve them alongside other local dishes like grilled octopus and moussaka, paired beautifully with a glass of ouzo or local wine.

May to June or September to October are ideal for visiting Symi. You’ll avoid the high summer heat while still enjoying warm, pleasant days and cooler evenings in this secret Mediterranean island.

Local Insights

  • Secret Beach: Take a boat or a hike to reach Agios Nikolaos Stenou, a secluded beach tucked away from the usual tourist spots, where turquoise waters meet pebbly sands.
  • Local Flavor: Visit the local bakery early in the morning to try fresh-baked Greek pastries.
  • Evening Retreat: Don’t miss a sunset from the Monastery of Panormitis, located on the island’s southern coast, offering peaceful views as the sun dips below the horizon.

Gozo, Malta

Gozo, Malta - underrated Mediterranean islands
Gozo, Malta

Gozo, though part of the Maltese archipelago, marches to the beat of its own drum, offering a quieter, perhaps more authentic experience compared to its bustling sister island, Malta.

Reachable by a short ferry ride from Malta, Gozo is a haven of rural charm and mythical backdrops, said to be the home of the nymph Calypso from Homer’s Odyssey. Its rugged landscape, dotted with baroque churches and ancient stone farmhouses, offers a tapestry of scenic walks and historical exploration.

The coastlines boast some of the Mediterranean’s most beautiful waters for diving, especially around the Azure Window ruins, a famed but now collapsed natural arch. Inland, the Ġgantija Temples, some of the world’s oldest free-standing structures, demand a visit.

Food in Gozo is a serious affair, with a focus on fresh ingredients like fish, cheese (try the local ġbejna), and honey. Be sure to dine at one of the farm-to-table restaurants that dot the island.

Local Recommendations

  • Hidden Track: For hikers, explore the valley paths that lead to Wied il-Għasri, a gorgeously secluded inlet perfect for a quiet swim.
  • Cultural Insight: Visit during the Nadur Carnival, an offbeat and spontaneous celebration known for its macabre and humorous costumes unlike anywhere else in Europe.
  • Artisan Finds: Check out the Ta’ Dbieġi crafts village where local artisans create hand-made pottery, glass, and lace—perfect for unique souvenirs.

Porquerolles, France

Porquerolles, France - secret Mediterranean islands
Porquerolles, France

Porquerolles is one of the lesser-known islands in the French Riviera, offering a serene escape with its pristine beaches, crystal-clear waters, and lush landscapes.

The island is accessible by a brief ferry ride from the French mainland, near Hyères. Once you arrive, the pace of life slows remarkably. Cars are rare, making bicycles the preferred mode of transport. This quiet, car-free environment enhances the island’s charm and allows the natural beauty to shine.

Covered mostly by a national park, the island boasts spectacular trails that guide visitors through aromatic pine forests and lead to some of the most stunning beaches in France, like Plage de Notre Dame, a perfect crescent of white sand framed by the azure sea.

The local cuisine reflects the Mediterranean ethos of simplicity and quality. Enjoy freshly caught seafood, sample the local wine at a vineyard, or visit a market to pick up some figs and cheese for a beach picnic.

Local Recommendations

  • Hidden Gem: Seek out Calanque de l’Oeil de Verre by boat or on foot, be sure to get there early in the morning to enjoy it at its most tranquil.
  • Evening Escape: Enjoy a sunset at the Fort Sainte Agathe and get a panoramic view of the island and the Mediterranean.
  • Specialty Savor: Try a glass of the local ‘Vin de Porquerolles’ at a small winery that practices sustainable viticulture, offering a taste unique to the island’s climate and soil.

Procida, Italy

Procida, Italy - underrated islands in the Mediterranean
Procida, Italy

Procida, the Bay of Naples’ smallest and arguably most colourful island, offers a picturesque escape where the gelato hues of the buildings are almost as sweet as the dishes served within them.

Just a short hydrofoil ride from Naples, Procida is a compact treasure trove of vibrant architecture and serene landscapes. Unlike its busier neighbors, Capri and Ischia, Procida maintains a low profile, allowing its authentic charm to shine through. Wander around the Marina di Corricella, an Instagram-worthy fishing village where the pastel-colored houses stack up against each other as if vying for the best sea view.

The culinary scene here is robust yet unpretentious—think seafood straight off the boat and into the frying pan. Local specialties include ‘Linguine al Nero di Seppia’ (linguine with squid ink), which will leave you wondering whether you’re eating pasta or miniature sea creatures from a gothic novel.

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Local Recommendations

  • Beaches: The views and the food are the star here but if you do wnat a dip, find the beach at Chiaiolella as this is generally where the locals go.
  • Quirky Experience: If you’re in Procida during Holy Week, the Good Friday procession is uniquely atmospheric, featuring locals clad in ancient garb—no rehearsal, pure emotion.
  • Local Flavor: Don’t leave without trying a scoop (or three) of lemon gelato, made with locally grown lemons that taste as if they’ve been plucked from the Garden of Eden.

Kythnos, Greece

secret islands in the Mediterranean Kythnos, Greece
Kythnos, Greece

Kythnos, nestled in the Western Cyclades, may not be the marquee name on your Greek island bingo card, but it’s certainly worth a detour for its low-key charm and thermal springs, which have been luring the bathrobe brigade for centuries.

Accessible by ferry from Piraeus or Lavrio, Kythnos is a haven for those looking to escape the more Instagram-famous Greek islands. Here, life unwinds at a donkey’s pace.

The island features over 70 beaches, many accessible only by foot or by boat, offering plenty of “find your own cove” adventures, making this one of the best secret Mediterranean islands.

Kythnos is famed for its hot springs, located in Loutra, where you can soak like an ancient Greek with none of the ancient Greek hardships. The island’s capital, Hora (or Messaria), is a maze of white-washed alleyways, blue-domed churches, and squares that have hosted more gossip over the years than a reality TV show.

Local Recommendations

  • Hidden Gem: Visit the secluded cove of Apokrousi, one of the island’s largest beaches, often overlooked for more accessible spots.
  • Culinary Tip: Try the local specialty, “sfougato,” an omelet packed with local cheeses and meats, that answers the question, “What would happen if a quiche went on a Greek island holiday?”
  • Night Out: For a bit of evening fun, head to a traditional Greek taverna where the chances of joining an impromptu dance increase as the night progresses.

Marettimo, Italy

Marettimo, one of the Aegadian Islands off the western coast of Sicily, and one of the Mediterranean’s best-kept secrets, where the only traffic jam involves local goats meandering down the trails.

Reachable by ferry from Trapani, Marettimo is the most remote of the Aegadian Islands, offering an unspoiled retreat from modern life. Its rugged terrain and crystalline waters are perfect for those who love the great outdoors but hate crowds. Hiking trails crisscross the island, leading to breathtaking views of the Mediterranean and ruins that are more ancient than your average history textbook.

The charm of Marettimo lies in its simplicity. There are no hotels, just a handful of guesthouses, making it feel like you’re staying with friends (if your friends lived in stunning Italian island landscapes). The waters around Marettimo are a diver’s paradise, rich with marine life and dotted with mysterious grottoes.

Local Recommendations

  • Hidden Gem: Explore the “Casa Romana,” the ruins of an ancient Roman house, which apparently didn’t need any modern interior design magazines to look absolutely stunning.
  • Culinary Tip: Indulge in some freshly caught lobster at a seaside café, where the dress code strictly forbids anything fancier than flip-flops.
  • Adventurous Twist: Rent a kayak and paddle to the “Grotta del Cammello,” a sea cave that rewards the intrepid with incredible azure waters and a quiet spot to ponder why you ever live anywhere else.

Djerba, Tunisia

underrated islands in the Mediterranean Djerba, Tunisia
Djerba, Tunisia

Djerba, often referred to as the “island of dreams,” offers a captivating blend of Mediterranean charm and rich North African culture, making it a unique gem off the Tunisian coast.

Accessible by a short flight from Tunis or via a causeway connecting it to the mainland, Djerba invites visitors into a tranquil world of whitewashed villages, palm-fringed beaches, and a vibrant cultural tapestry.

The island’s history is marked by diverse influences, including Berber, Arab, and Jewish, which are reflected in its architecture, cuisine, and traditions.

Explore Houmt Souk, the main town, where bustling markets brim with local crafts, spices, and jewelry. The town also hosts several historic synagogues, including the famous El Ghriba, one of the oldest in Africa.

For beach lovers, Djerba offers sandy stretches like Plage Sidi Mahrez and Plage de la Seguia, perfect for sunbathing and water sports. I promised the underrated islands in the Mediterranean, right? Djerba is one of the best!

Local Recommendations

  • Hidden Gem: Visit the lesser-known Flamingo Island during springtime, when it becomes a haven for migrating pink flamingos – a spectacular sight against the backdrop of blue skies and turquoise waters.
  • Culinary Tip: Indulge in a traditional couscous dish at a local taverna, where it’s served with fresh seafood caught straight from the Mediterranean.
  • Cultural Insight: Take part in the Ulysses Festival if you’re visiting in summer, which celebrates the island’s mythical connection to Homer’s epics through music and theater performances.

Formentera, Spain

secret Mediterranean islands - Formentera, Spain
Formentera, Spain

Formentera, the smallest of the Balearic Islands, is often overshadowed by its more glamorous sibling, Ibiza. But for those in the know, Formentera offers idyllic beaches and a laid-back vibe that feels worlds away from the party scene.

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Reachable by ferry from Ibiza, Formentera is a sanctuary of tranquility with crystal-clear waters and over 20 km of white sandy beaches. The island is also a favorite among nature lovers due to its well-preserved ecosystems and biking paths that make exploring easy and enjoyable.

Visit the Ses Salines Natural Park, known for its spectacular salt flats and rich biodiversity, including flamingos. The beaches, such as Playa de Illetes and Playa de Migjorn, are perfect for sunbathing, snorkeling, and enjoying sunset views.

Local Recommendations

  • Hidden Gem: Explore the less crowded Caló des Mort, a beautiful cove with turquoise waters ideal for a peaceful swim.
  • Culinary Tip: Don’t miss trying the local seafood dishes, especially the baked octopus, at a beachside chiringuito.
  • Secret Spot: Head to Cap de Barbaria Lighthouse for breathtaking views and an unforgettable sunset.

The Karpas Peninsula, Cyprus

underrated Mediterranean islands - The Karpas Peninsula, Cyprus
The Karpas Peninsula, Cyprus

The Karpas Peninsula is known for its untouched nature, golden beaches, and the Karpas National Park, which covers much of the area.

Accessible by car from the main cities in Northern Cyprus, this region offers a remote escape with some of the island’s most beautiful landscapes.

The peninsula is home to wild donkeys and numerous ancient sites, including the Apostolos Andreas Monastery. The beaches, such as Golden Beach, are expansive and often nearly empty.

Local Recommendations

  • Hidden Gem: Explore the ancient city of Karpasia, near the tip of the peninsula, which dates back over 2,000 years.
  • Culinary Tip: Enjoy fresh fish at a local taverna, especially the grilled sea bream, a regional specialty.
  • Secret Spot: Find a secluded part of Golden Beach for a private swim and sunbathing experience.

Gökçeada, Turkey

Gökçeada, the largest island in Turkey and one of the best underrated Mediterranean islands, offers a unique blend of natural beauty and cultural heritage, attracting those looking to explore its secluded bays, organic agriculture, and the remnants of its diverse historical influences.

Accessible by ferry from Çanakkale, this island is known for its rugged landscapes and its status as a protected environmental area. Its slow-paced life and commitment to organic farming make it a unique destination for eco-conscious travelers.

Explore the charming villages like Tepeköy and Zeytinliköy, which are known for their traditional stone houses and narrow, winding streets. The beaches, such as Aydıncık Beach and Gizli Liman, are perfect for those seeking solitude and natural beauty, with crystal-clear waters and protected coves.

Local Recommendations

  • Hidden Gem: Visit the lavender fields in bloom in early summer, a less-known but incredibly picturesque aspect of the island.
  • Culinary Tip: Sample some of the island’s organic products, especially its honey and olives, which are some of the best in the region.
  • Secret Spot: Check out Marmaros Waterfall after a spring rain, when it’s at its most vibrant and the surrounding area is lush and green.

Conclusion

Each of these secret Mediterranean islands offers a unique charm, a quiet cove, or a cultural gem that isn’t plastered all over your social media feeds… yet.

So, why not swap the familiar for the fantastic and the overcrowded for the overlooked this summer? From the tranquil shores of Formentera to the organic fields of Gökçeada, these destinations invite you to leave behind the usual tourist trails and forge memories in places where the paths are less trodden.

So pack your bags, grab a map, and set your sights on any of these underrated islands. Whether you’re sipping locally produced wine under the stars in Bozcaada, exploring ancient ruins in Karpas, or enjoying the slow rhythms of life in Lastovo, each island promises not just a getaway, but a true escape.

Dive into the clear waters, dine on the freshest of fare, and discover the vibrant histories woven through the quiet streets and wild landscapes. And, discover an adventure into the heart of the Mediterranean’s hidden beauty. Who knows—perhaps you’ll find your own secret island to return to, year after year.

About the author:

Eddie is the author and creator of The Vanabond Tales, a travel blog focused on slow travel and minimalist travel adventures that are budget-friendly, outdoor-focused, and environmentally conscious. You’ll currently find him and his wife Kelli, aboard their little sailboat, Whisper, sailing the Mediterranean. You can find him on Instagram and YouTube as well.

Underrated Islands in the Mediterranean to Visit This Summer. Discover 12 secret Mediterranean islands to include on your bucket list! #turkey #greece #france #italy #mediterranean #islands #croatia #malta #tunisia #spain #cyprus

Secret islands in the Mediterranean to visit this #summer! Discover the best Underrated Mediterranean islandsfor your vacation. #turkey #greece #france #italy #mediterranean #islands  #croatia #malta #tunisia #spain #cyprus
 

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