Everyone loves the Med in summer. The warm sea, the beautiful coastline, the quality of the light ensures its enduring appeal.
And, with over 3,300 islands in the Mediterranean to choose from, each with its own unique character, cultural attractions and traditional cuisine, it’s a tough call to pick between them.
Islands make for a great family escape. But which one is best for you? We contrast five islands in the sun to pick a winner.
Flying time = 3 hrs
Good for beaches
With more than 300 days of sunshine a year and 1,849km of sun-kissed coastline, this Italian island is a great escape for beach lovers. There are some great stretches of sumptuous sandy beaches for families, notably around the smart resorts of Costa Smeralda on the island’s northeastern coast, or close to the fishing village of Isola Rossa. Look out for watersports and activities for older kids.
Flying time = 4 hrs
Good for food
Set in the sun-kissed Aegean Sea, this Greek island offers a winning combination of a traditional Mediterranean feel, bustling nightlife and amazing sunsets. It has a sophisticated but unspoilt feel while it is possible to find good-value options for dining out and shopping. Spend the day lazing on the beach in resorts such as Perissa, then head into Kamari for local flavours in the tavernas and bars.
Flying time = 4 hrs
Good for activities
Crete has a good range of activities for all ages — from beach lounging to gentle mooching through the vineyards and olive groves. But for a more active break, head to Crete’s wild west for some of the best walking trails in Europe. Avoid the midsummer heat and head into the hinterland behind Kissamos, following old shepherds’ trails into an unspoilt region of beaches, mountains and dramatic gorges, during spring to autumn.
Flying time = 5 hrs
Good for culture
Cyprus offers contrasts: the classic resorts along the south coast, located around Larnaca and Limassol, and unspoilt local culture in the north. Best of all, it’s home to classical heritage, notably the must-see UNESCO World Heritage Site of Paphos, adorned with Roman mosaics, where Greek goddess Aphrodite is alleged to have been born. Look out, too, for Byzantine churches, many with ancient wall paintings.
Flying time = 2 hrs
Good for relaxation
Ibiza is not just for hedonists. It may be the most cosmopolitan of the Balearic Islands but there are still plenty of places for a family to get some quality ‘away time’ — not to mention a huge diversity of attractions for all ages. Check out, for example, Cala Llonga beach near Ibiza Town for little ones, or the Sling Shot Ibiza adventure park for teens. At sunset, head to the Samovar Bar & Bistro near Santa Eulalia for al-fresco family dining with entertainment for kids on Saturday evenings.
And the overall winner is …
Ibiza. You can’t beat the white island for a family holiday given its winning combination of chill-out beaches, vibrant local culture and international-standard food.
“What I love about Ibiza as a family destination,” explains George Burdon
Founder Director of luxury villa specialists Dynamic Lives, “is the sheer variety of attractions: beach, nature, food, nightlife, people watching and a huge range of rental properties.”
“Families can dip and out as they want. In a day you can go from some of the best beaches in Europe to international-standard food to the tranquility of a rural villa-style finca with a truly Spanish feel.”