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8 of the best Mediterranean islands to visit on a cruise

Cruise Advice

I am often asked about my favourite cruising area, and I have been fortunate enough to enjoy fantastic itineraries around the world, but the very best has to be the Mediterranean.

If you pick a Mediterranean islands cruise you will find it offers the perfect combination: stunning scenery; people-watching over a coffee in a sleepy village square; cultural visits with knowledgeable guides, passionate about the stories they have to tell; leisurely shopping in designer boutiques; swimming in clear waters from secluded beaches; leisurely lunches with great local food; lavish yachts where the beautiful people hang out; local fishermen pleased to display today's catch…. There really is something for everyone.

Each island has so much to offer, so we have picked out just eight of our favourites - it could just as easily have been eighty!

1. Mallorca

If you think Mallorca is all about Love Island, think again. This most beautiful Spanish idyll boasts the extraordinary Moorish city of Palma, with its magnificent cathedral La Seu, the seat of the bishopric, and a jumble of tiny cobbled streets. Or you can venture out into the countryside to see the magnificent mountain scenery, and enjoy some excellent restaurants.

Seu cathedral in Palma de Mallorca, Spain

2. Sicily

Historical Sicily, at the crossroads of civilisations, has architectural and cultural influences from the length and breadth of the Mediterranean, simultaneously absorbing Arab and Christian, Byzantine and Roman, Norman and Italian, Latin and Greek. You can discover something new every time you visit this wonderful island.

Solanto village near Palermo, Sicily

3. Malta

Malta's capital, the mini-city of Valletta, is perfect to explore on foot with its ornate palaces, museums and churches, fortifications of honey-coloured limestone, overhanging wooden balconies along the narrow streets, and a buzzing atmosphere of busy local life.

Sunrise in Valletta, Malta

4. Santorini

Anchored in the crater of Santorini, you can look across to the crescent shaped island, its sheer cliffs topped with dazzling white buildings and glowing blue domes. Explore the busy streets, climb the volcano and at the end of the day, step out on deck for a spectacular sunset.

Oia village in Santorini, Greece

5. Mykonos

Lovely Mykonos is an extraordinary combination of achingly cool and endearingly charming. Some seriously pricey hotels and a vibrant night life make this the perfect holiday destination for discerning party animals, but during the day the whitewashed streets, sleepy bars in pretty Little Venice and distinctive windmills evoke the days when this was the poorest of fishing islands.

Street in Mykonos, Greece

6. Corfu

Corfu, to the west of mainland Greece, was a key hub when traders plied their wares up and down the Adriatic coast en route to Venice. No wonder it is a vivid tapestry of culture with charm, history, and natural beauty. Corfu Town's historic centre is a UNESCO designated World Heritage Site.

Corfu Town, Greece

7. Hydra

Tiny Hydra is the perfect choice for Athenians, just an hour's boat journey away. Despite its proximity to the mainland, this is a place to enjoy life in the slow lane. There are no cars here, so instead you will find donkeys plodding cobbled streets and fishing boats bobbing gently in the harbour.

Donkeys in Hydra, Greece

8. Patmos

As you venture eastwards towards Turkey, you find many islands with a rich classical history. One such is rocky Patmos. Here on a hillside is the Monastery of the Apocalypse, and the cave where St John received the Revelation in AD 95, so it is said.

Windmills on Patmos, Greece

When you choose a Mediterranean islands cruise on a small luxury ship, like as not it will feature at least one or two gems you have never visited before, keeping the magic alive year after year.

Meet the author

Edwina Lonsdale is Managing Director and together with husband Matthew, owner of Mundy Cruising. Most recently she's cruised on Windstar and has also sailed with Silversea, Seabourn, Regent Seven Seas, Crystal, SeaDream, Ponant, AmaWaterways and Aqua Expeditions. Her favourite destination is the Galapagos however she's also enjoyed cruises in the Mediterranean, Danube, Middle East, East Africa & Indian Ocean, Brahmaputra, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, the Mekong, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, the Caribbean and the Arctic. When she’s not travelling she loves reading, food and wine.

More about Edwina

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