Where Europe, Africa, and the Middle East meet
The Mediterranean offers plenty of superb destinations for every traveler type. If you’re looking for sandy beaches, affordable luxuries, or rugged mountain adventures, this is the place to find it. Read on to get a glimpse of what awaits you once you venture out to the sea where Europe, Africa, and the Middle East meet.
Balmy weather all year round, golden sand beaches, thousands of years of ancient civilization… that’s Egypt as we know it in a nutshell, yet there is more than meets the eye.
The majority of the land is desert which — as daunting as it sounds — creates beautiful, almost serene landscapes dotted with an occasional oasis, checkpoint, or a half-ruined building whose purpose will forever stay hidden to a passing traveler.
The barren land is interrupted in the middle by one of the area’s most reliable water sources — The Nile. It’s nearly impossible to miss the change of scenery as the water-deprived land springs to life with lush farmlands and people getting on with their days.
Going up the mighty river brings more than a hope of tomorrow for millions of Egyptians. The valley houses the famous Pyramids of Giza through to Karnak and Luxor Temples and transports you back thousands of years to times of pharaohs and Egyptian gods.
Nestled in the eastern part of the Mediterranean Sea, a hop north of Egypt, lies the island of Cyprus. Like other countries in the area, Cyprus is a favorite for a summer holiday with some of the cleanest beaches in Europe.
If you want a laid-back experience with long walks by the sea against a backdrop of ancient sights, this small island nation on the crossroads of three continents might be it.
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One word to describe Turkey would be multicultural. It’s a true melting pot thanks to its geographical position and influences from Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. With its wild history, it has become home to many different cultures and cuisines.
Ephesus is an example of different cultures coming together on the shore in the central Aegean region. In ancient times, it served as a port, commercial, and religious center. Nowadays, it’s a vital tourism center and part of Unesco World Heritage.
Turkey has also gained fame for its beaches and resorts. Many beaches are a combination of sand and pebbles with temperatures in the summer hitting 40C.
Greece is a tough competition for the remaining destinations on the list. With varied landscapes and hundreds of islands scattered throughout the Aegean Sea, one can surely never get bored of visiting. However, Greece also boasts dozens of beautiful lakes that can go a little unnoticed at times.
You’ll often find them at the foot of mountains with stunning views and plenty to do for the whole family. They offer unique habitats and eco-systems to migrating birds, local animals, and vegetation and are perfect for finding a piece of serenity at a popular tourist destination such as Greece.
Much has been written about the everlasting beauty of Italy, yet one of its autonomous regions, Sicily, is still surrounded by a pinch of mystery.
It’s the biggest island in the Mediterranean — featuring some amazing and less crowded beaches — and home to the active stratovolcano Etna that towers at the height of 3,350 meters over the city of Catania. Besides its delicious food culture (try stuffed rice balls arancini or sweet dessert cannoli) and an abundance of ancient architecture, Sicily served as a filming location for The Godfather movies. The medieval villages of Savoca and Forza d’Agrò are the most famous and open to visitors today.
France certainly has a reputation for having that extra dose of panache, and the country’s south isn’t any different. Sunsets by the beach, the glitz of world-famous cities like Cannes and Nice (and the French-speaking country of Monaco), weekends on a yacht in The French Riviera… There’s a certain cheesiness to the picture, still, none that outweighs the ability to say I’ve done it, I’ve seen it.
Relaxed, sunny, indulging — such is a holiday in Portugal. The Portuguese love their food and enjoy the simplicity of fresh regional produce, including fish, olive oil, vegetables, and herbs.
Thanks to their explorations in the past, they’ve brought in a wide variety of spices from overseas still being used today, such as the spicy peppers piri piri, cumin, cinnamon, or vanilla. Just like the local people, the food will warm your heart and fill you with joyful memories.
Spain should probably be on every traveler’s bucket list — it has the sea, the food, the parties, and the third-highest number of Unesco Heritage sites globally (over 40). Every region has something special about it and there are big cultural differences depending on where you go.
Barcelona and Madrid will probably spring to mind first when talking about Spain. Both are typical European cities with a southern flair and temperament and have a lot to offer to art-loving visitors. Venture down south to the birthplace of flamenco — Andalusia — and you’ll notice the blending of different cultures coming in from across the Strait of Gibraltar.
A fun way to travel to Morocco is with a ferry from a Spanish port. It’s a relatively inexpensive and quick trip from Algeciras or Tarifa, with many ferries going back and forth each day so you can pick the best time for your travel. Once you cross the canal, the first big city is Tangier, a modern and multicultural port with an old medina in its center.
Fez might offer a more authentic experience of Morocco. It’s among the most ancient cities in the country and referred to as the cultural capital by many with one of the oldest medinas and the oldest university in the world — The University of Al-Karaouine — which has been continuously running since its foundation in the 9th century.
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Drawing close to where we started, Tunisia is among the smaller countries on the North African coast, yet its coastline is over 1,100 km long, and you’ll hardly be elbow-to-elbow with other tourists and sun-seekers.
While Tunisia is a beach destination, on the one hand, it has plenty of historical attractions that reflect the different civilizations influencing the country and the region. The Amphitheater of El Jem is an ancient Roman amphitheater from the 3rd century and one of the biggest in the world (also one of the coolest as it was featured in Monty Python’s Life of Brian).
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