Dreaming of Europe this summer? Us too! From white sand beaches that wouldn’t look out of place in Turks and Caicos to historic red-roofed towns and even fascinating scuba sites, the Mediterranean Islands will keep you coming back for more.
Corsica: Rugged Beauty
Nestled between the French Riviera and the west coast of Italy lies Corsica, a French island with a distinctly Italian flair. In fact, the island belonged to Italy for some 500 years before coming under French rule in the 18th century. The landscape is wild and rugged, with perfect coves and clear blue waters that call you to jump into their refreshing depths. A chain of mountains runs up the center of the island, creating stunning viewpoints at every turn. One way to get a sense of place is with a day-long driving tour. From beautiful Bonifaccio on the island’s southern tip you can head one of two ways – the coast road to the picturesque port of Ajaccio, or straight up to the historic inland town of Corte. Whichever you choose, you’ll discover plenty of charming villages to explore along the way. Two things you’re guaranteed to find on either route? Delicious food and dramatic vistas.
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Sardinia: Diving and More
Just south of Corsica, so close that it’s almost touching, you’ll find Sardinia – rocky, beautiful, and bathed in that special golden Mediterranean light. Along the coast, grottos and caves alternate with stretches of white sand lined with towering cliffs, making Sardinia a great place to snorkel or dive. From bright coral formations to the wrecks of hundred-year-old ships, there’s as much to explore under the water as on land. Experienced divers will love the Grotta Niedda on the northern coast – a series of underwater caves (you’ll need a torch) where you can find octopus, lobsters and perhaps a moray eel. For non-divers, try a guided boat tour to the Bue Marino grottos where you can see cave drawings from the Neolithic period as well as enjoying the majesty of one of the biggest subterranean lakes in the world.
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Sicily: Food and History Unite
The soccer ball about to be kicked by the boot of Italy, Sicily is a land of fragrant landscapes and good wine. Throw in some juicy history – Sicily was a major outpost for both Greek and Roman civilizations, not to mention its mafia connections – and you’ve got one fascinating destination. What’s more, its southern location means pleasant weather year round, making Sicily ideal for a European jaunt, no matter what the season. History buffs should head to Siracusa, one of Ancient Greece’s most powerful cities. A walk along the sea front will have you imagining the hustle and bustle that once filled the winding stone streets. Gastronomes will find their happy place at Catania’s impressive market, where the freshest seafood lies alongside giant wheels of Parmigiano cheese, while the jagged peak of Mount Etna looms in the distance.
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Ibiza: For the Whole Family
Well known as Europe’s “Party Island”, in truth Ibiza has a lot to offer visitors beyond sun-downers at Cafe del Mar. That’s not to say that the famous all-night parties at clubs like Space don’t have their appeal, but families can also find plenty to enjoy here. Sheltered by a ring of hills, Cala Tarida beach not far from the town of San Antonio, is a favorite with families. The softly sloping shore and beautiful turquoise water are perfect for little swimmers, while the many shops and restaurants make it easy to stay fed and watered. A few miles inland, you’ll find many miles of hiking trails, where a morning’s effort will be rewarded by panoramic views and the chance to explore white-walled villages that seem frozen in time. However you spend your day, dinnertime means one thing – fantastically fresh seafood, finished off with a glass of Ibiza’s signature aniseed-flavored digestif, Hierbas Ibicencas.
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