woman on roof in santorini

Explore the most exceptional places to experience the Mediterranean way of living. (Photo: Getty Images)

Eat + Drink

Where to Taste (and Live!) the Mediterranean Lifestyle

The Mediterranean way of life is rightly renowned as one of the healthiest and most sustainable ways to live. Across the region, meals are considered an occasion — a reason to savor being together with love ones — and spending time with family, savoring regional wine and tapas or meze (small plates), prioritizing relaxation (think of the Spanish siesta!) and maintaining friendships lies at the heart of well being.

Twenty-one countries border the sea’s long coastline, which connects Western and Southern Europe, North Africa and Western Asia. Below are nine exceptional places to experience unique variations on the Mediterranean way of living.

As always, check for travel restrictions and closures before planning your trip.

South of France

restaurants in nice
Dine on fresh seafood and local fare in Nice. (Photo: Getty Images)

Located on the French Riviera, Nice is where Mediterranean French cuisine reaches it pinnacle and is synonymous with the salade nicoise, overflowing with tomatoes, tuna, hard-boiled eggs, olives and anchovies and dressed with olive oil vinaigrette.

The height of Nice cuisine, meanwhile, is reached at La Terrasse. Perched on the rooftop of Le Méridien Nice, the restaurant dazzles with a spectacular view of La Promenade des Anglais and the Mediterranean beyond. Enjoy Provençal cooking, including bouillabaisse made from fresh local fish, as well as creative dishes with Mediterranean flavors.

Of course, it’s impossible to discuss life in the South of France without mentioning wine. Home to the world’s largest region specializing in rosé, the lavender-filled fields of Provence open up to gorgeous vineyards where the summertime rosé craze is a year-round affair.

To further experience the bounty of Niçoise cuisine, visit Cours Saleya market, where locals shop for everything from colorful fruits and vegetables to Provençal specialties like tapenade and anchoïade (anchovy spread).

Life in Nice can be downright idyllic, with the salt air blowing breezes along the waterfront, sparkling marina views marked by epic yachts floating nearby. The town boasts the best of the Mediterranean lifestyle: a little la dolce vita here, from its Italian neighbor, and a flourish of Gallic extravagance there.

Ibiza, Spain

couple walking cobblestone street in ibiza
Stroll the streets of Ibiza. (Photo: Getty Images)

The Spanish island of Ibiza, known in Catalan as Eivissa, is the ideal setting in which to experience the convivial Mediterranean lifestyle as well as Iberian seafood and local “Vi de la Terra Ibiza” wine produced by a handful wineries on the island. Sunning on beaches, savoring the outdoors and spending time with friends and family are key to the good life here.

Set on Santa Eulalia bay, the beachfront restaurant at the W Ibiza, Chiringuito Blue, serves a wide range of Spanish fare, as well as delights from farther afield, including shakshuka and shawarma. A local favorite is paella de mariscosa, a quintessential Ibiza dish meant to be shared by many. It’s made with rice and seafood and is richly flavored with saffron.

Santorini, Greece

santorini greece rooftops
Experience the Mediterranean lifestyle in Santorini, Greece. (Photo: Getty Images)

With more than 2,000 islands, Greece boasts the most coastline in the Mediterranean Sea basin making it a landmark destination for experiencing the region’s healthy lifestyle. One of the best-known isles is Santorini, famous for its stacked blue-and-white houses, caldera rim and laid-back lifestyle. You’ll find friendly locals chatting together in small plazas sipping strong coffee or locally produced wine, or watching the spectacular sunset.

Since 1922, Aktaion has been serving locals and visitors delicious cuisine, from local seafood to regional wine. Run by the Roussos family for three generations, Aktaion serves the best produce grown on the island’s volcanic terroir, hand-picked by current owner Vangelis Roussos. Local specialities on the menu include fava and local chloro cheese.

Santorini’s locally produced wines are yet another rich aspect of the island’s Mediterranean culture. Wine lovers might consider a stay at Vedema, a Luxury Collection Resort, Santorini. The resort takes its name from the word “harvest”, and houses ancient wine cellars, including a 400-year-old cellar that’s now home to Alati restaurant, where its possible to enjoy many of the island’s wines.

Bodrum, Turkey

turkish breakfast
Tempt your tastebuds with breakfast in Turkey. (Photo: Getty Images)

The Aegean is an arm of the Mediterranean located between Greece and Turkey. The stretch of coast comprising the Turkish Riviera is one of the most beautiful regions in the country, with clear waters, pebbled beaches and green hills. And one of the highlights of the region is the Bodrum peninsula near its southern end.

Bodrum has been settled for more than 3,000 years and its culture and welcoming lifestyle are rich with tradition. The area has long been drawing people to its hills filled with tangerine and olive groves, shores rich with seafood, and the marble, travertine and granite that formed its impressive structures.

Glass Restaurant at Caresse, a Luxury Collection Resort & Spa, Bodrum is an ideal venue to try the best of Turkish Mediterranean fare, including sole, healing wild Aegean herbs, and artichokes, as well as olive oil and satsumas that grow throughout the peninsula.

A local classic on the menu is çökertme kebab, though visitors should also aim to experience a traditional Turkish breakfast. Known as “kahvalti,” the meal generally includes a spread of black and green olives, cucumbers, cured meats, eggs, fresh cheeses, fresh-baked bread, fruit preserves and jams and pastries.

Corfu, Greece

aerial view of corfu harbor
Cultivate calm in Corfu. (Photo: Getty Images)

The cuisine of one of Greece’s best known and most beautiful islands, Corfu, blends local Greek culture with Italian touches, as the island lies immediately below the “heel” of Italy’s “boot” and was in fact ruled by the Venetians for some 400 years. In fact you might well encounter the dolce far niente (pleasant idleness) among locals relaxing in public square and cafes, chatting with friends and appreciating the moment.

You can sample the island’s approach to Mediterranean cuisine at any of the four restaurants in the Domes of Corfu, Autograph Collection. Agora, named for the ancient Greek gathering places, showcases unbeatable beach views. Frourio, meaning “fortress,” serves up fine Corfiot fare with a focus on the Italian influence. Topos Beach Restaurant is a classic seafood taverna. And finally, there is Spianada, which offers flavors from Corfu’s backstreets.

Of course, no trip to any part of Greece is complete without trying traditional Greek appetizers, or meze, like tzatziki, grilled octopus, or melitzanosalata, a roasted eggplant dip.

Sardinia, Italy

beach and tide pools in sardinia
Sardinia’s beaches might steal your heart. (Photo: Getty Images)

Italy is perhaps the first country to come to mind when imagining a vibrant Mediterranean lifestyle, and the isle of Sardinia is no exception. The ample sunshine, generally mild climate and pristine stretches of coast mean spending time in Sardinia is a chance to truly relax and live in the moment.

Family comes first in Sardinia, and locals feel a deep connectedness to the island’s culture, evident in the many festivals held throughout the year, which are marked by traditional music and dance.

Tradition also lives on in the island’s gastronomy, which can be experienced at Quattro Passi al Pescatore at Cervo Hotel, Costa Smeralda Resort. This is one of the most iconic restaurants in Costa Smeralda, established in the 1960s, and with a perch overlooking the sparkling marina, it’s the perfect spot for seafood lovers seeking a true Mediterranean experience. Make sure to try Sardinian specialties, as well as signature dishes such as squid tagliatelle and fish tempura with sweet and sour sauce.

Of course, apertivo culture is alive and well in Sardinia. Take time to relax with your family or friends while sipping a pre-dinner drink of mirto, a much-loved local liqueur, and enjoying small bites of pane carasau, a traditional flatbread.


malta harbour with colorful boats
Malta’s waterfront is a charmer. (Photo: Getty Images)

Set between Sicily and the North African coast, the archipelago nation of Malta features strong Italian and Middle Eastern influences. The island is known for its beautiful beaches and hopping nightlife, but even non-club-goers will find plenty to do to embrace the healthy quality of life here — popular pastimes include diving, windsurfing, and sailing sessions.

Thanks to its location in the central Mediterranean, Malta has stood on important trade routes throughout history and has been ruled by many different foreign powers, from the Romans to the Moors and from the French to the British — all of whom have left their stamp on its cuisine.

Rabbit and pork play an important role in Malta’s kitchens, and many regional dishes have seasonal significance. Inspired by Malta’s rich history and mercantile culture, Noni is a one-Michelin-starred restaurant helmed by Chef Jonathan Brincat.

Barcelona, Spain

two men on bicycles in barcelona
Go outdoors and get active in Barcelona. (Photo: Getty Images)

The Spanish iteration of the Mediterranean lifestyle thrives in Barcelona and will be a welcome one to travelers, marked by excellent food and drink, warm and friendly locals, plus a wealth of cultural attractions and history. And while the siesta is no longer a daily mainstay for most, there remains a a relaxed outlook on life’s stressors.

Food-wise, Spain is perhaps best known for heaping plates of paella and tapas, but there is much more innovative and experimental fare on offer. Barcelona is doubtless the country’s Catalonian culinary capital.

Sample the local cuisine at Enoteca Paco Pérez at the iconic Hotel Arts Barcelona. This highly acclaimed, two-Michelin-starred restaurant ensures every dining experience is defined by the three pillars of Mediterranean cuisine: olive oil, wheat and wine (the restaurant’s wine list includes more than 700 options).

Still, Chef Paco Perez says another triumvirate defines his kitchen: “Our cuisine is a personal landscape in which products from the sea, the garden and the mountains converge.”

Tunis, Tunisia

Plate of cous couse
Enjoy a savory plate of cous cous. (Photo: Getty Images)

The North African coast of the Mediterranean is known as the Maghreb, from the Arabic word meaning “land of the setting sun.” Family marks the center of social life in Tunisia, and deep sense of tradition can be found here, influenced by the cultures of those who made the land their home, from Berbers and Phoenicians to the Ottomans and French.

Tunisia adds an array of spices to the Mediterranean mix, such as harissa, cumin and thyme, as well as a touch of Arab, Berber and French influences. Couscous is the national dish and forms the basis of most meals.

Discover distinctive Tunisian dishes at the rooftop L’Onzième restaurant and bar, in the Tunis Marriott Hotel. Sip creative cocktails and enjoy 360-degree views over the city, then savor a modern Mediterranean menu where every dish — from starter to dessert — is prepared on a charcoal grill.