For The Beach-All-Day, Party-All-Night Vacationer: Ibiza, Majorca, Menorca
When Europeans think “party central,” they think Ibiza. While that reputation is deserved—they’ve got the world’s biggest nightclub as a claim to fame, after all—reveling at Privilege to some of Europe’s sickest beats and watching the sun rise as you dance your heart out at Space just scratches the surface of this island paradise’s offerings.
Get really crazy and cap off your all-nighter with a hit of a more refined kind of culture: getting acquainted with the Ibiza of centuries past with a visit to The Almudaina and Ibiza Castle. Old Town Ibiza, where you’ll find them, has become an outdoor museum memorializing Ibiza’s medieval history. Located at the top of a hill (like any good fortress would be), The Almudaina and Castle are one of the best places on the island to see Ibiza in all its glory.
Prefer to spend more time in the water instead? The quickest way to hop over to neighboring Menorca is by boat—which, conveniently, also gets you closer to the pristine bay of Macarella and Macaralleta than any other method of transport. Make sure to walk between the virgin beaches, since this elevated cliff point is the primo spot from which to view the virgin beaches.
Sister island Majorca is just around the corner, and has one of the most luxurious, relaxing beachfronts around—and that’s saying something. Playa de Formentor in North Majorca attracts a quieter crowd, offers all the amenities a traveler could wish for (down to the tropical drinks delivered to guests who are just too relaxed to move). Trees even hang over some areas of the water, meaning you can choose a sunny or a shady swim. It doesn’t get more perfect than that.
For The Culture Buff Who’s Still A Club Kid At Heart: Mykonos, Delos, Santorini
Ferry to Mykonos from Athens, or fly to the island itself. Once there, get the lay of the land with a walking tour through the city, including Old Town and Little Venice, and note the mind-blowing examples of cycladic architecture throughout. Day trips to archeological hub Delos are easy to find. Just a ferry ride away, Delos is the mythological birthplace of Apollo and Artemis, and still has ruins dating back to ancient Greece. Stop by the Temple of Isis, then head to the Archeological Museum of Delos to dig deep (oh yeah, pun intended) to see artifacts excavated from the island itself.
You can’t visit Greece without passing through Santorini—but that’s not because everyone goes there; it’s despite that. The city is as popular as it is because of the incredible range of sights and activities available on the little landmass. Santorini’s island group is one of the most well-known, active volcano groups in the Aegean. If you want to visit one of Santorini’s beaches, go for a black sand beach, like Perissa. For something extra special, stay after sunset to see the huge rock formation, Mesa Vouno, shine in the darkness.
For The Sophisticated Leisure Lover: Hvar, Dubrovnik, Vis
Hvar has a wealth of historical and cultural destinations, including the Illyrian castle, Fortica, set so high above the city that the view enough makes it worth visiting. The Franciscan Monastery was built in the 15th century and on top of the beautiful architecture, has a painting of The Last Supper that’ll stop you in your tracks.
Keep your cultural momentum by heading next to Dubrovnik, where you can familiarize yourself with the geography by walking around the city’s famed walls (dating back to the 9th Century). Starting to feel a bit more adventurous? Visit Lokrum’s nudist beach. (Once there, follow the signs marked FKK). If the full-on exhibitionist thing is a bit much, there are several other beaches where clothing is required.
For the grand finale of your Croatian adventure, head to Vis. The favorite getaway for native Croatians, it offers an authentic experience hard to find anywhere else. This is largely due to its conscription as a military base until 1989. There’s very little commercial development, and Vis holds onto its old-world charm. Vis is also home of multiple stunning natural wonders, including Stiniva, the Blue Grotto, and the Green Grotto. Visit the cove Stiniva, surrounded by a near-perfect circle of cliffs, for an utterly peaceful swim. Try to hit the Blue Grotto between 11 am and noon, when the sun turns the water an unearthly shade of blue, bathing the rocks below in shades of pink and silver. It’s Croatia’s answer to the Northern Lights, and an unforgettable experience in its own right.