Even thinking of the Mediterranean brings fresh seafood, sun-dappled beaches, and fountain-filled piazzas to mind—so imagine how amazing it is to actually be there! Where is the Mediterranean Sea, you ask? It’s smack dab in between Europe, Africa, and Asia, and all the shorelines that line this sparkling body of water are lucky to be part of the Mediterranean region.
Of all the sunshine-y countries in this part of the world, Italy and Greece are the two that’ve earned a spot in traveler Donna Marie’s heart. Read on for some of her top memories from tour, and 10 reasons why you’ve gotta travel to the Mediterranean to see it all for yourself.
Traveler Donna Marie’s snapshot of Grecian life in bloom
If sunshine is up your alley, Mediterranean travel will fill you with warmth—literally! This destination is known for its mild winters and hot summers, so it’s the place to go if you want good exploring weather almost every day. But, if you’re wondering about the best time to visit the Mediterranean, just ask traveler Donna Marie.
“The weather in EARLY summer is fabulous in the Mediterranean!” she said. “The skies are clear, the ocean waters are crystal blue (you can see your toes), and the temperatures ranges from 75 to 85 degrees. During the evenings when the moonlight fell across the ocean water and we sat outside while dining beneath the stars, we felt a surreal out-of-body experience.”
The Arch of Constantine in Rome, taken by traveler Donna Marie
Everyone from the ancient Phoenicians to the founders of the Roman Empire called the Mediterranean home, and the region has mind-boggling historic remnants to prove it. Thousand-year-old mosaics, unearthed clay wine jugs, and sunken cobblestone streets nod to a past that stretches way back. That’s just what traveler Donna Marie loved about all the Mediterranean cities she visited.
In fact, she loved the region’s history so much, she traveled to Greece two years in a row on guided tours with us! “Greece is one of our favorite places to visit in the world because of the archeological sites: The Acropolis, Delphi, Delos, Olympia, and the Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion are some of our favorites,” she said.
Digging into history is one of the best things to do in the Mediterranean—but sometimes, simply taking in the view will stun you just as much. “In Santorini, the cliffs of Oia stole our hearts with their enchanting, tiny white stucco buildings with blue painted rooftops overlooking an underwater caldera and the Aegean Sea,” said Donna Marie. Wow… enchanting is right.
Donna Marie and her husband Myles enjoying Greek eats at a seaside restaurant
This region’s cuisine is world-renowned—rightfully so, if you ask us!—and some of the best places to visit in the Mediterranean are the daily food markets, hole-in-the-wall Italian trattorias, and authentic Greek tavernas.
First, let’s chat about eating in Italy: There’s that lovely Italian aperitivo tradition that involves small bites and refreshing drinks, there’s gelato in buttery brioche rolls for breakfast in Sicily, and there are life-changing pasta dishes everywhere you go. We could go on and on about all the delicious Italian foods that are worth the flight, but we think traveler Donna Marie really said it best: “In Italy, we loved the homemade pastas, rich tomato sauces, fresh seafood, and the WINE.”
The foodie experience in Greece is just as fresh and indulgent thanks to its prime spot on the Mediterranean Sea and generations-old farming traditions. “In Greece, we loved the spicy grilled chicken souvlaki, the spanakopita (triangles of phyllo dough wrapped around spinach and feta), and the tzatziki sauce (made from garlic, yogurt, and crushed cucumbers),” said Donna Marie. “My husband loved the grilled lamb gyros, and we both ate the Greek salads made with tomatoes, cucumbers, feta cheese, and peppers slathered in olive oil and vinegar EVERY single day.”
Traveler Donna Marie managed to capture Mount Vesuvius in the distance!
With its hilly terrain, winding coastline, and architecture that looks like it was plucked out of a storybook, the Mediterranean is a stunner on all fronts. Italy is often referred to as “Il bel paese”—the beautiful country—while Greece brings harborside sunsets to mind. So, it’s easy to see why these are two of the best places to visit in the Mediterranean.
“Photographic opportunities abound in both Italy and Greece,” said traveler Donna Marie. “In Italy, we loved visiting Vatican City in Rome, the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, and the Piazzo San Marco in Venice. However, the tiny, storybook-like town of Sorrento, with its maze of romantically narrow alleyways and Lilliputian-like shops, fills our dreams still.”
“Athens’ ancient neighborhood, the Plaka, still exists as a marketplace surrounding the Acropolis, and provides such an amazing photographic opportunity. The shops and restaurants are very old and authentic.”
The harbor on Mykonos, snapped by traveler Donna Marie
One of the best things to do in the Mediterranean is meet the people who call this region home. So go ahead, chat with shop owners as you explore different Mediterranean cities during free time. Meet an Italian family on the Rustic Italy: Farmhouse Dinner & Wine Tasting excursion on our Italy & Greece tour. Get to know a local host on our Mykonos Cooking Demonstration & Lunch excursion on The Greek Islands: Mykonos, Santorini & Crete tour. You’ll thank yourself for the memories.
“Everyone we met treated us like celebrities, truly,” said traveler Donna Marie. “As soon as they saw us, they opened their arms as if we were visiting old friends. At the sound of our American accents, they wanted to know where we were from. Once we said, ‘Texas,’ well—from that moment on we held a charmed and captive audience!” And trust us when we say: You’ll be just as charmed by all the locals you meet, too.
Traveler Donna Marie’s photo of Sorrento (stunning, right?)
Whether you’re strolling down narrow alleys in rustic villages, or watching daily life go by in a bustling piazza, you’ll be wowed by whatever scene is before you. Even simple things like locals’ laundry hanging on clotheslines and small vegetable carts full of artichokes will strike you as lovely in this part of the world.
Of course, with so much beauty surrounding you, you’ll naturally find your all-time favorite views! “Sorrento, Italy, and Santorini, Greece, cannot be missed,” said traveler Donna Marie. “In Sorrento, the view from the bar patio at the Grand Excelsior Hotel is beyond compare; it overlooks the marina and the ancient volcanos in the distance.”
“In Santorini, Greece, we walked from our Kalisti Hotel down to the city bus stop in Fira and rode with the islanders to Kamari Beach, one of the most beautiful in the Akrotiri area. You’ll never see a black sand or pebble beach like it anywhere else—but remember to bring or buy beach shoes!”
Donna Marie and her husband (left) bonding with their fellow travelers in Greece
Of all the best things to do in the Mediterranean, forming new friendships with the people in your tour group is right there at the top! There’s something about breathing in fresh sea air, visiting amazing places, and eating some of the best meals of your life that will bond you. So, pop a bottle of wine for your table of fellow travelers on your tour of the Mediterranean, and just try not to leave without a group of new friends.
“The friendships we made on our trips to Italy and Greece have endured for years,” said traveler Donna Marie. “The tour groups are small—only about 25 people—just enough to learn everyone’s name and something special about them. We dined together and explored together often. Most importantly, we discovered our similarities and our common interests in the cultures of our world.”
A coastal scene near Sorrento, taken by traveler Donna Marie
Cotton candy-colored sunsets over the ocean, bubbly Prosecco fizzing in your glass, sun-warmed days that you’ll remember forever—yeah, that’s the stuff that happy travelers are made of. The relaxed pace in the Mediterranean means you’ll be able to soak in every moment, and return home an even better person after experiencing so much loveliness.
“Seeing the world has opened up to us all of life’s possibilities,” said traveler Donna Marie. “Because we have traveled far and experienced so many different cultures, we have a broader and richer sense of people who live elsewhere. We find ourselves to be more accepting, less judgmental, and more open to people. We recognize that we are part of this vast community that extends far beyond our own back door, beyond our hometown, beyond our state, and even farther beyond the United States.”
Traveler Donna Marie’s snapshot of ancient ruins in Greece
How could you possibly feel frazzled when you’re gazing at the sparkling-blue sea with your sun hat on and an aperol spritz in your hand? Or sitting at a bistro table in Little Venice, eating all the feta and fresh seafood, as you watch the sun set over the harbor in Mykonos? Ahhhh… even thinking of it brings our heart rate down a notch.
Then again, every trip you take with our experts will make you feel that same sense of relaxation—when we say we have you covered at every step, we mean it, so you don’t have to worry about a thing. “The tour guides on our Go Ahead Tours have been so wonderful, and we feel pampered throughout every aspect of our journey,” said traveler Donna Marie.
“The tour guides pick us up at the airport and take us to our hotels where every accommodation has been secured for us, arrange the transportation between cities, purchase our museum and tour tickets, and reserve many meals for us. Additionally, some of the most fabulous, out-of-the-way spots have been selected for our group meals that we might never have found on our own. Best of all—no stress!”
Travelers Donna Marie and Myles soaking in the sun (and Greek history!) at the Acropolis
Mediterranean travel is all about admiring beautiful artwork, and making a wish at every ancient fountain. It’s about enjoying afternoon spritzes, and having another cone of gelato, and finding the next best place to watch the sunset.
It’s hard to leave that kind of paradise behind—and it will surely leave your travel-loving heart wanting more! Well, good news: With all its beauty, cuisine, and history, the Mediterranean’s the kind of place you can return to again and again. The things you’ll uncover in this second-to-none region are endless, which means you’ll never get tired of it.
As for the moments that traveler Donna Marie is inspired to cross off her bucket list after visiting Greece twice in a row? Oh, there are a few. “My husband Myles and I are in our 60s and we love experiencing cultures all over the world, eating regional foods, and visiting ancient archeological sites and cities with museums,” she said. “We would love to visit Peru and Cambodia for their archeological sites.”