The Mediterranean basin, including its northern and southern shores, is considered to be one of the world’s main travel destinations. Within the broader Mediterranean area, the Mediterranean countries have, over the past years, logged the highest growth rates of arriving world tourism. Magnificent landscapes, cultural heritage, diversity with a mild climate and beaches, have identified the shores of the med region as the world’s favorite holiday destination area. Put your seat belts on to visit virtually five of its top destinations.
Amalfi Coast, Italy
The lands of fairy tales might be real. From the first look at the Amalfi Coast you might believe that you are in one of those fantasy coastlines. The destination of five million visitors annually, it will leave you under a spell of the most extraordinary landscapes on Earth. The sky high coastal cliffs stretch over 34 miles in the Campania Region of Italy. It offers a multi-colored journey through the towns full of spirited vegetation on the side of the splendid turquoise Mediterranean.
The majestic view spreads over 13 towns and it is considered to be one of the best scenic drives around the globe. Suspended between the azure sky and the dazzling shaded sea, and following the natural path of the seashore, the direction is full of curvatures settled between the mainland and the sea cliffs giving new and remarkable views at the exit of every tunnel.
This is the land where the sweet aroma of lemon blossoms complements itself with the most fragrant one of the Mediterranean flora and the sharp scent of saltiness; where the vivid tints of the majolica domes, bougainvillea and carnations pergolas give the feeling of being in a painting, with the typical routed houses in the background adhere to the last branches of the Lattari Mountains that fall brightly into the deep.
Inhabited by different human communities throughout history, recognized by UNESCO as a world heritage site and characterized by the vertical architectural masterpieces of its towns, the Amalfi coastline show the resourcefulness of the people in adjusting their use of the land with the diversified nature of the territory, which varies from attached vineyards and plantations on the lower slopes to wide upland pastures.
Bay of Kotor, Montenegro
The outstanding Bay of Kotor! One of the most beautiful bays in the world since 2000, when it was recognized as such by the “World Travel and Tourism Council”, it is also considered to be a combination of both cultural and natural world heritage site. Throughout the city, the palaces will take you to a journey into the history, culture, and customs of the people who lived in this magnificent part of Montenegro.
The town of Kotor, laying on the shore of the Mediterranean, has been expressing its distinctiveness through many festivals all over the year. In February, as their ancestors did, the people of Kotor wear their masks and their historical costumes and target the streets. In addition to the international summer carnival which hosts groups from different countries across Europe, the Patron of Kotor also has a share in the celebrations with St. Tryphon’s Day.
Recognized as the city of prestigious and famous festivals, the traditional decorated boats parade add a fantastic view to the sea, surrounded by the mountains. On your way the islet of Our Lady of the Rocks, you’ll see the boats floating and waiting for visitors with all their majestic appearance. In Kotor you can see traces of the Roman civilization through the mosaics of the archaeological site, with the representation of the god Hypnos. For another brilliant experience in there, you can also hike the local Lovcen Mountain, one of the “Black Mountains” that gave its characteristic name to Montenegro iself.
Let’s take a walk across one of the oldest Canaanite-Phoenician cities in the Middle East. Full of historical monuments and ruins, the city of Batroun stands with pride behind the 225 meters long historical Phoenician maritime wall that was built to protect it from the waves and the invaders. The Greeks gave it the name of Bothrys, “bunch of grapes”, denoting the vineyards dominating the region, and it was mentioned in the 14th Century BC in the pharaohs’ tablets of Amarna as Batruna. During its most flourishing time, the city was under Ottoman rule on different aspects such as economy, culture, and architecture. The traditional houses and cobbled streets incubates an environment rich in history where you can smell the aroma of the city’s famous lemonade . The city greets the sea over its harbor, an ancient one but still very well preserved that is used today as the fishing port. Taking the sea trail provides the visitor with a relaxing meander along its charming shores. In Batroun you can also find the Catholic Cathedral of St. Stephan and the Orthodox Church of St. George with its characteristic white dome.
The lagoons of Batroun are well known in Lebanon for their clarity and azure colour. They can be found within walking distance from the old town. They’re considered as a major touristic attraction and destination during the summer in Lebanon and they are highly popular for its beach clubs, water activities and nightlife.
A unique city clings on the coastline of Croatia, surrounded by extensive fortified walls which was used as a filming location for the fictional setting of King’s Landing from the famous TV series Game of Thrones. Nicknamed “The Pearl of the Adriatic”, the stunning Dubrovnik is a world heritage site of UNESCO.
This mass tourism destination is full of plazas, towers and fountains throughout the remarkable pedestrian area. The cable car will instead lift you atop the mountain to provide you with an outstanding view of the Mediterranean Sea.
When in Dubrovnik, you can fulfill your wish to travel back in time, as wandering the street of the old town with its terracotta-tiled roofs guarantees a journey to a different period in history. Surviving a massive earthquake in 1669, Dubrovnik managed to preserve its treasures and beauty. The three main beaches along the shores, of which two are sandy and one is stony, give you the opportunity to take a dip in the sea in front of some of the most beautiful historical monuments, under a sky which remains sunny for almost eight months of the year.
This Croatian destination is one of the most attractive city in the Mediterranean. Dubrovnik used to be a self-governing republic, sustaining itself mostly on trade. Immersed in a spectacular environment, it’s full as well of beautiful testaments of its history as it hosts wonderful churches, convents and colonnades.
Formed by the crater of a volcano that gave it its characteristic horseshoe shape, the island of Santorini is a destination that will leave you speechless. The cliffs feature the typical whitewashed houses, which offers an intense contrast to the dark rock they are built on.
The finest among the Greek islands, Santorini is reputable for its dazzling panoramas, which attract travelers from all over the world and which provide a great deal of romance for honeymooners. The island is officially known as Thira and it’s part of the Cyclades islands group. It was once a round shaped island; however, after a devastating volcanic eruption, its shape became the one that we know today.
One can engage in a long journey with history in Santorini. The magnificent site of Akrotiri, a prehistoric city, and the impressive Museum of Prehistoric Thera provide an insight about the ancient civilizations of Santorini.
The hinterland of the island is full of vineyards and typical Greek villages where you can feel a truly local experience, with a diverse assortment of traditional Greek food and the uniqueness of the island culture.
Santorini is definitely the most romantic destination in the Mediterranean region with a long summer period; starting from April and ending in November, it’s full of extraordinary sunsets and crystal-clear water to dip in.
The geographic position of the Mediterranean and the 22 countries surrounding it has profoundly affected the evolution and the development of its communities. Transforming the famous landscape into a cultural fusion along its 48000 km coastline and for its 480 million inhabitant. The biodiversity of the region led it to be a cradle of civilizations throughout history, resulting in an unusual mixture of cultures, people and nature.
(Rotaract Club of Aley, Dist. 2452)