Beach, culture and adventure: 5 ecofriendly Mediterranean destinations to discover this summer

Art that spans thousands of years, delicious healthy food, a constellation of amazing islands, the Mediterranean with its variety of cultures and sceneries has been a favorite destinations of tourists from all over the world for decades -if not centuries, and that’s why some of its most popular destinations are faced with serious overtourism problems (Venice, Mykonos and Barcelona just to name a few). Yes, the magic of this region has been enchanting visitors since the times of Odysseus. Fortunately, if the song of the Mediterranean mermaids is calling to your heart, there are still plenty of wonderful, less-known, or at least less crowded, destinations waiting for you!

Evia, Greece

Evia (aka Euboea) is one of Mediterranean’s best-kept secrets. Untouched by mass tourism, Greece’s second-largest island has historical, religious, and archaeological sites along with amazing nature like forests filled with crystalline streams, waterfalls, and breathtaking gorges. Not to mention pristine, remote beaches with nary another person in sight. To leave behind the stress of our daily grind  and jump start our vacation, the perfect first stop could just be the luxury Thermae Sylla Spa at Edipsos Springs. Around since 1897, its waters claim to soothe muscular and skeletal problems, and have attracted the likes of Aristotle Onassis and Winston Churchill. If you don’t want to splurge for the spa, you can still enjoy the springs au naturel. Outside the spa, where the water cascades into the sea the build-up of minerals has created a small beach made up of smooth rock. Just jump into one of its natural pools and revel in the warm therapeutic water!

What trip to Greece would be complete without stunning archaeological sites? On Evia, you can visit the ruins of the ancient city of Eretria. Visualize the daily life of the locals thousands of years ago, as you stroll around the palaces, temples, baths, gymnasium, explore the rooms of a house with mosaics, and admire the theatre, one of oldest from Ancient Greece.

For those who like a more active vacation, there are several hiking trails, like the old shepherd’s path to Dimosari Gorge. At the halfway point, rest up and grab a bite at the pastoral village of Lenoseoi. On an Mediterranean island a beach is never too far. After the hike, hit Kaliani Beach and cool off with a dip in the Aegean.

Where to stay

Thalatta Seaside Hotel on Evia with its five kilometers (three miles) of fine pebble beach and sparkling blue waters is stunning place to stay. They have spaces ranging from spacious family rooms to a luxurious suite with a private pool and a private deck for dining.

There are also unique things to do. Treat yourself to a “Vanity Afair,” which features two days of professional photo ops complete with styling, hair, make-up, and nails being done up to the nines! Also included is a DVD of the events and a selection of printed photos.

Wayaj ecoscore: 69

 

Gozo, Malta

Inhabited for thousand of years by a succession of seafaring peoples, a large rocky island surrounded by turquoise waters and white sandy beaches, Gozo is indeed the quintessentially Mediterranean island. Still quite rural in character and less developed in comparison to the main island of Malta, Gozo is a hidden pearl, adrift in the sea between Sicily and Northern Africa.

The best way to discover the island is by hiring a “Iuzzu, a traditional fishing boat, to explore the coast with its amazing cliffs and caves.

Photo credit: James Stringer

A must see on this unique island is Ġgantija. This mysterious megalithic temple complex from the Neolithic period is older than Stonehenge and the great pyramid of Giza. Its name means the Giantess and it was probably dedicated to the Earth Mother Goddess as indicated by the artifacts found on site.

Gozo is also known as great spot for scuba divers. Wied l-Għasri is a secluded valley that winds down from Ta’ Dbieġi Hill through the village of Għasri and then on to the sea in Żebbuġ to explore the numerous underwater caves in the area.

Where to stay

The Duke Boutique Hotel right in the heart of Victoria, Gozo’s main city, is an excellent spot to lay your head. The rooms have great views of the Citadel complex and the Villa Rundle Gardens and each room has its own hot tub and terrace.

The hotel also offers unique activities like a wine tasting jaunt to a private estate with fantastic views of the medieval village of Għarb. There’s also painting lessons and mosaic lessons too.

Wayaj ecoscore: 66

 

Mallorca, Spain

Mallorca Mediterranean Island vacation
Photo credit: Stefan Kunze, Unsplash

Mallorca is the largest island of the Baleares archipelago. Since the 1950s it has been a popular tourist destination for its many attractions and mild climate. Its rugged coastline is full of small coves, secluded beaches, lighthouses and bike trails waiting to be discovered. This type of rocky coast also hides many caverns like impressive the Drach Caves, a system of interconnected caves containing of the world’s largest underwater lakes. Travelers looking for some food for the mind can enjoy the vestiges of two millennia of Mediterranean civilizations, from Roman archeological sites, and unique medieval castles, like the circular Castell de Bellver, to Moorish quarters and the Gothic Cathedral of Santa Maria.

On the other hand, those looking for real food experiences will also not be disappointed on this island. The traditional Mallorquin cuisine is build around Mediterranean ingredients like almonds, olives, olive oil, tomatoes, cheeses, fish and lots of fresh vegetables, especially during the summer. Typical dishes include the tumbet, a local version of the ratatouille, the fideua, the local paella made with noodles instead of rice, and for dessert the greixonera de brossat, a delicious ricotta-based cheesecake.

Where to stay

Escape the summer crowds and enjoy a taste of authentic Balearic life, at the Ecocirer Healthy Stay. An artistic and ecofriendly Bed and Breakfast in the town of Soller on the North-Western coast of the island. The hotel strives to combine art, design, sustainability, ecology, recycling, nature and healthy nutrition, to create experiences that are simple and yet enriching. Their amenities include free fiber-optic WiFi, aromatherapy toiletries and premium linen and towels. In the morning, guests are treated to their trademark rainbow vegan breakfast (eggs available upon request) which uses colors to bring harmony, peace and positive energy to the day ahead with nutritious produce from the Ecocirer’s own orchards.

Wayaj ecoscore: 77

 

Sicily, Italy

Every side of this triangular island, has its own unique natural and cultural attractions; in particular, the Eastern coast around Messina and Catania has been increasingly a favorite tourist destination. Thanks to its numerous locations and attractions, it never gets too crowded, except in August when all the locals also go on ferie (vacations), so for those four weeks cities shut down and beaches are filled at capacity. In other words, if you travel to Sicily, don’t go in August!

Photo credit: Berthold Werner – CC

Taormina continues to be a favorite jetsetting destination thanks to its vibrant cultural life (film festival and a top dramatic season in the ancient greek theater). Just a few kilometers down the coast is Santo Stefano di Camastra, renowned for its colorful artistic ceramics whose craftsmanship and furnaces date back five centuries.

In nearby Catania, under the puffs of the Etna, the highest active volcano in Europe, visitors can discover this city’s distinctive style of Sicilian Baroque by visiting the Basilica della Collegiata, the Duomo or simply strolling down the ancient streets of the center. The best part of this tour is that the comfort of great food is never too far! Local specialties range from filling snacks like the arancini (fried rice balls filled with cheese or meat sauce) and the freshly-baked pizza to rich dishes like caponata and pasta alla Norma. One of the best consequences of the ashes continuously spit by Mount Etna is the fertility of its slopes which produce excellent wines, oranges, peaches and cherries.

 

Where to stay

To experience in a sustainable way the best this unique land has to offer, book one of the accommodations offered by the Monaci delle Terre Nere Country Boutique Hotel. Located on the slopes of Mount Etna, its name means literally the Monks of the Black Lands, referring to the color of the ashes covering the soil. This ecohotel brings together the millenary culture of its location with modern elegance. The 20 rooms and suites blend modern art, contemporary design furnishings, traditional architecture and local materials. The accommodations are scattered on the 24 hectares surrounding the restored 19th century mansion which function as the main building, this way guests can discover the estate’s winery, botanical garden and orchard. Cooking classes, wine tastings, musical entertainment, relaxing by the pool or simple stargazing are among the activities available to connect with this magic land.

Wayaj ecoscore: 69

 

Montecarlo, Monaco

Photo by Pasquale Iovino on Unsplash

Let’s close this Mediterranean adventure with some glam and glitz. Everyone knows that Montecarlo with its fast cars, luxury yachts, and historic casino has been a favorite playground for the world’s VIPs for decades, but from the quaint streets to the beautiful views of the Côte d’Azur, this destination really has something to offer to everyone.

Culture buffs can enjoy Monaco’s old town of Le Rocher, perched on a rocky bluff that juts out into the Mediterranean Sea. Through the old, winding streets, visitors can discover many of Monaco’s top sights, like the Prince’s Palace, Saint Nicolas Cathedral, and the Temple of the Sea, the amazing building that hosts the Oceanographic Museum of Monaco.

 

Photo credit: Oceanographic Museum of Monaco

Walking down from Le Rocher, Fort Antoine, an old fort turned open-air theatre, is definitely worth a stop. Like all Mediterranean sea towns, also in Monaco the harbor is a nightlife hotspot with many restaurants, cafes and ice-cream parlors to choose from while admiring the beautiful vessels moored there.

Of course, the best way to end the day in this Principality is a visit at the Monte-Carlo Casino, and get straight into a James Bond movie mood.

 

Where to stay

A beautiful place to stay is the Columbus Monte-Carlo. Fully renovated last year, the hotel combines sophistication with a stylish and relaxed atmosphere. Their rooms are flooded with natural light and have stunning views of Monaco and the Riviera. Located in the Fontvieille Marina, the hotel is walking distance from many of Monaco’s tourist sites and is in between the Palace itself and the Princess Grace Rose Garden.

Wayaj ecoscore: 82

 

Did you get inspired to travel to this amazing region of the world? Discover these and many more unique sustainable destinations on Wayaj! It’s very simple just enter the word Mediterranean in your search and you’ll get all the listings. Enjoy your responsible travel and don’t forget to offset the carbon footprint with the newest feature available on Wayaj!