The 20 Mediterranean islands you must visit in your lifetime

Is it the sea, the strange sense of security, or just that wonderful feeling of escaping from life on the mainland that makes an island break so special? Whatever the exact chemistry, islands make brilliant holiday destinations, and nowhere more so than in the Mediterranean in summer. With the help of our experts, we’ve created the definitive list for this summer – selecting the best island in each of 10 categories, with a runner-up in case you fancy somewhere different.

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The 20 Mediterranean islands you must visit in your lifetime


Best for beaches on Mediterranean islands

1. Winner: Formentera


It is a good idea to hire a bike or scooter from one of the many outlets to explore Formentera island

2. Runner-up: Naxos


Naxos island CREDIT: COPYRIGHT SHAN,SHIHAN 2017/SHAN.SHIHAN

Best for luxury on Mediterranean islands

3. Winner: Sardinia


A little slice of paradise: yours (for a price) in Sardinia CREDIT: ALAMY

4. Runner-up: Cavallo


Cavallo deals in simple luxury CREDIT: © ARCO IMAGES GMBH / ALAMY STOCK PHOTO/ARCO IMAGES GMBH / ALAMY STOCK PHOTO

Best for families on Mediterranean islands

5. Winner: Mallorca


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6. Runner-up: Corfu


Corfu is one big playground, for kids and adults alike

Best for culture on Mediterranean islands

7. Winner: Sicily


Taormina, Sicily CREDIT: ©ROMAS_PH - STOCK.ADOBE.COM

8. Runner-up: Cyprus


Cyprus has plenty of ancient treasures CREDIT: ©KIRILL_MAKAROV - STOCK.ADOBE.COM/KIRILL MAKAROV

Best for romance on Mediterranean islands

9. Winner: Santorini


The Cycladic island of Santorini is romantic almost to the point of cliché. CREDIT: AP

10. Runner-up: Patmos


Although not known as a party island, Patmos certainly isn’t dead by night CREDIT: AP

Best for partying on Mediterranean islands

11. Winner: Ibiza


Nikki Beach Club is the place to be seen, at any time of the day

12. Runner-up: Mykonos


Mykonos is a great option for nightlife CREDIT: ADAM JONES

Best for value

13. Winner: Malta


Valletta CREDIT: THIS CONTENT IS SUBJECT TO COPYRIGHT./SAKKMESTERKE

14. Runner-up: Zakynthos


Head to the north of Zakynthos for unspoilt beaches, says our expert CREDIT: RUSM/RUSM

Best for watersports and sailing on Mediterranean islands

15. Winner: Lefkada


Lefkada's beaches are stunning too CREDIT: LUCIAN BOLCA/LUCIAN BOLCA

16. Runner-up: Menorca


Try your hand at sailing around the island of Menorca CREDIT: GONZALO AZUMENDI/GONZALO AZUMENDI

Best for peace and quiet on Mediterranean islands

17. Winner: Vis


Vis CREDIT: ©XBRCHX - STOCK.ADOBE.COM

18. Runner-up: Kefalonia

Mediterranean islands
The Greek island of Kefalonia rarely feels crowded

Best for walking on Mediterranean islands

19. Winner: Crete

Mediterranean islands you must visit
Herb-scented trails and unspoilt beaches make Crete a top-notch walking destination CREDIT: ALAMY

20. Runner-up: Corsica

Mediterranean islands you must visit in your lifetime 
Corsica is scarcely touted as the destination of choice for British families chasing summer sun – but it should be CREDIT: GETTY

Contributors: Marc Dubin (Naxos, Corfu, Santorini, Patmos, Mykonos); Nick Trend (Sicily, Cyprus, Kefalonia, Corsica); Annie Bennett (Formentera, Mallorca), Rob Andrews (Sardinia); Peter Hughes (Cavallo); Belinda Maude (Ibiza); Juliet Rix (Malta); Joanna Symons (Menorca); Oliver Smith (Lefkada); Jane Foster (Vis); Brian Jackman (Crete).

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