Mediterranean destinations provide a wide variety of experiences that will satisfy the interests of many different travelers. You can do just about anything in this region—even ski. Many are surprised to learn there are ski resorts here, but they do exist quite close to the sparkling beaches and balmy climate of the sea. They will never be the kind of world-class resorts you find in the Rocky Mountains of the United States or the lofty peaks of the Alps in Europe, but there is good skiing from January to about April in Turkey near Antalya, in the High Atlas Mountains of Morocco, and the Arkadia region of Greece. Where to go in the Mediterranean for the sea breezes and beaches for which this region is better known also include these countries. In fact, you can be schussing on the ski slopes in the morning and lazing on the beaches of Turkey’s Turquoise Coast in the afternoon.
The best Mediterranean vacation idea for many is a vacation filled with explorations of ancient ruins, and there are many of them in this area, which is often called the “Cradle of Civilization.” An exploration of the grand temples, tombs, and monuments of ancient Egypt could take weeks. Begin with the wonderfully preserved Roman amphitheaters in Alexandria, and then move to the Giza Pyramids and inscrutable Sphinx outside of Cairo. Travel a bit further south on Nile River cruises to see more temples, and then end in Luxor to explore the Temple of Karnak and the Valley of the Kings and Queens. More Mediterranean destinations with incredible ancient ruins include Ephesus near the beach resort of Kusadasi and the seaside city of Izmir in Turkey.
Continuing on this theme, where to go in the Mediterranean for more ancient ruins include the Greek Islands of Crete where you will find the extensive ruins of Knossos, Kos to see the Asklepion, Santorini to see Acrotiri, and Rhodes to see the Lindos Acropolis. More iconic ruins—from the signature Acropolis to the graceful Temple of Athena Nike—will be found on the mainland in Athens. The Greeks were legendary mariners and explorers, so you will find traces of their civilization even in Sicily; look for the Temple of Concordia in the ancient city of Akraga near Agrigento.
The best Mediterranean vacation idea for many includes more “modern” history. In Rome, you can view the Colosseum and the Roman Forum. Herculaneum and Pompeii include the ruins of cities destroyed by an eruption of Mt. Vesuvius. Move forward in time and see medieval castles along the coastline of Tuscany, and magnificent Renaissance buildings, churches, and art from Venice and Ravenna to Genoa and Livorno. See grand fortresses on the little island of Malta, and explore the holy sites of Israel, many of which are sacred to Christians, Jews, and Muslims.
The best Mediterranean vacation idea for almost all people involves beaches and water, and these are found around the full circumference of the sea. Stroll along the Victorian Promenade des Anglais in the glittering jet set city of Nice. More French Riviera spots include Cannes, home of the famous international film festival. Hit the cosmopolitan beaches of Barcelona in Spain and do some sightseeing at Antoni Gaudi’s sublime La Sagrada Familia, some shopping along La Rambla, and visit the Picasso Museum. If you think Mediterranean destinations with fabulous party beaches are for you, you can try the Greek island of Mykonos or the extremely popular Ibiza, one of the Balearic Islands.
Exactly where to go in the Mediterranean is such a difficult decision for many people, that they choose cruises stopping at multiple ports. Cruises can just travel through the Greek Islands or along the Turkish coast. But more ambitious itineraries can visit every destination mentioned so far. Some of these begin or end in Barcelona, Marseille, or Istanbul. Some are actually round-the-world cruises that might make port stops throughout the Mediterranean before transiting the Suez Canal and moving on to East Africa, India, Indonesia, Australia, and even further afield.