The Mediterranean Sea is commonly thought of as an irresistible body of water with charming scenery and renowned beaches. It encompasses 2.54 million square km and lies along three continents: Asia, Africa, and Europe.
Its strategic location is unlike any other, as it borders 21 countries and several territories. Each country offers unique experiences, a variety of golden sand beaches, ancient settlements, and unforgettable views.
Within the Mediterranean, there are 12 marginal seas that are boundaries of marginal countries and territories. The 12 marginal seas are:
1. Alboran Sea- Spain, Morocco, Algeria, Gibraltar
2. Balearic Sea- France, Spain
3. Ligurian Sea- Italy, France
4. Sea of Sardinia- Italy, Spain
5. Tyrrhenian Sea- Italy, France
6. Ionian Sea- Greece, Albania, Italy
7. Adriatic Sea- Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Italy, Montenegro, Slovenia
8. Sea of Crete- Greece, Libya, Egypt
9. Aegean Sea- Turkey, Greece
10. Sea of Marmara- Turkey
11. Levantine Sea- Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Palestine, Egypt, Greece, Cyprus, Akrotiri & Dhekelia
12. Libyan Sea- Libya, Greece, Malta, Italy
Let’s get to know the 21 countries that surround the beautiful Mediterranean Sea.
Table of Contents
The Mediterranean coast of Spain stretches more than 1,600km across the regions of Andalusia, Murcia, Valencia, and Catalonia. Along the Mediterranean coast lies three major Spanish cities: Barcelona, Malaga, and Valencia.
Spain is mostly bordered by the Balearic Sea, Alboran Sea, and the Sea of Sardinia.
Because of Spain’s unique geographic location, it also has three climatic zones: the Mediterranean climate, the semiarid climate, and the oceanic climate.
Spain’s Mediterranean climate has warm or cool dry summers and gentle, rainy winters. Its hottest months are June–September, with temperatures reaching as high as 29 °C. If you prefer cooler temperatures, it is best to visit in the winter during the coldest months, January and February.
Coastal cities have ports, making them a hub for ferries and cruise ships. The Spanish coast is lined up with famous resorts where tourists can enjoy the beach. These coastal regions also have airports for easy access.
For architectural monuments and museums, Valencia offers numerous tourist attractions like the City of the Arts and Sciences, Oceanogràfic, and La Lonja de la Seda. And in Barcelona, you’ll find the astonishing Sagrada Familia and Park Güell.
Located in the northwest of Africa, Morocco is a country separated from Spain by the 13km Strait of Gibraltar. It has a population of 33.9 million and covers 172,414 square miles of territory. The Mediterranean coast in the north of Morocco is about 500km long and stretches from Tangier to Al Hoceima to Saïdia to its capital city, Rabat.
It is bordered by Algeria, Western Sahara, the Atlantic Ocean, and the Mediterranean Sea. In addition to the Mediterranean Sea, it is also exposed to the Atlantic Ocean, making it the only African country with two different coasts.
Most of Morocco’s regions and coast are usually hot and dry during the summer, whereas winter is mild and wet. October to April is when the country gets the most rainfall.
The Mediterranean coast in southern France is about 600km long and spreads between the west of river Ron and the east of the Rhône. It is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Europe and is known for beach resorts, cruises, and agritourism.
Located on the eastern Mediterranean coast, the French Riviera is popular because of its famous beach cities, such as Saint Tropez, Cannes, and Nice. Along the western part of the coast is Occitania, an area spanning about 250km.
Both eastern and western parts of the coast are popular due to their attractive beaches and small towns but can get very busy and crowded in the summer. For those who prefer hills and mountains, Provence, a bit more inland, has valleys, river gorges, and historical sites.
The Mediterranean climate in the French Riviera is hot and dry in summer with mild winter temperatures. The lowest temperature can reach 5.4°C in winter in Nice, and in the summer, temperatures reach an average of just below 30°C. However, temperatures are different depending on the region due to coastal micro-climates.
Located in the French Riviera, Monaco is the second smallest sovereign city-state with a land area of 2.1km squared. It is home to about 38,682 people, where one-fourth of the population is French and one-fifth is Monegasque.
The two ports of Monaco are the Port of Hercules and the Port of Fontvieille.
In terms of economy, Monaco has the lowest poverty rate and the greatest number of millionaires and billionaires in the world. Monaco’s cuisine is influenced by Provence, with a touch of Italian and French cuisine.
Monaco boasts 300 sunny days a year, with an average temperature of 26°C in summer and a mild temperature of 14°C in winter.
If you go to Monaco, you’ll come across prestigious establishments including the Roman Catholic Cathedral, the Oceanographic Museum of Monaco, Place du Casino, and the prince’s Genoese and Renaissance palace.
Italy is located in Southern Europe, and is surrounded by four different seas in the Mediterranean:
- The Adriatic Sea
- The Ionian Sea
- The Ligurian Sea
- The Tyrrhenian Sea.
It has a coastline of more than 8,000km that houses 43 major seaports. The largest seaport in Italy is the seaport of Genoa, which is also the second-largest seaport in the Mediterranean Sea.
Italy has several coasts, including Cilentan Coast, Costa Smeralda, Coast of the Gods, Costa Verde, Riviera del Brenta, Riviera delle Palme, Trabocchi Coast, and one of the most favorite tourist destinations, Amalfi Coast.
Additionally, the country has several rivers, most of which flow into the Adriatic Sea, including Adige, Brenta, Piave, Po, Reno, and Tagliamento. The rivers flowing into the Tyrrhenian Sea include Arno, Tiber, and Volturno.
It’s understandable why Italy is ranked the 5th most visited country worldwide, as it’s home to many prestigious cultural attractions, 58 of which are listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Travelers to Italy are welcomed by a Mediterranean climate that reaches over 25°C in summer. In the winter, the lowest temperature near the Mediterranean will be about 12°C.
The coast in the southwest of Slovenia along the Mediterranean Sea is called the Slovene Riviera. It is particularly located along the Adriatic Sea, stretching about 47km, and has three seaside tourist towns: Koper, Izola, and Piran.
Slovenia in the summer is hot and sunny, with a high temperature of around 30°C. The warm weather conditions invite its visitors to go mountain climbing, hiking, and cycling. It is the most crowded season, so expect May–September to be packed with tourists.
Winter temperatures in Slovenia rarely drop under 10°C, offering cool and fresh weather.
The Venetian influence is noticeable in its Venetian Gothic architecture. Its rich culture and history are a blend of Italy and Croatia. Overall, tourists enjoy its fine wine, clean beaches, and olive oil.
Croatia is a Mediterranean delight and the 127th largest country, covering 56,594 km squared with a population of about 4 million. It’s a perfect beach holiday destination with its 1,244 islands surrounded by clear waters. The coast of Croatia is bordered by the Adriatic Sea and stretches about 1,700km.
Expect ample sunshine along this Adriatic, Mediterranean coast. The summer temperature can be scorching-hot and promises powerful winds. In winter, temperatures rarely fall below freezing.
The biggest city on the Adriatic Sea is Split, which is also the second-largest city in Croatia and is home to 200,000 residents. If you’re going to the capital city, Zagreb, you’ll find a city center that is filled with shopping and cafes. It’s also famous for the Lotrscak Tower, from where you can see a panoramic view of the city.
Located in the southeast of Europe, Bosnia and Herzegovina are two separate regions that are considered one country. Its coastline in the south includes 20km of the Adriatic Sea and is full of water sources. The country is also known for its geometric, heart-shaped territory.
The population of Bosnia and Herzegovina is 3.5 million, ranking it the 135th largest country in the world. Bosnia covers the northern and central areas, whereas Herzegovina covers the south. While it’s near the Mediterranean Sea, Bosnia’s has cold winter due to its proximity to the Dinaric Alps.
However, in Herzegovina, it can get hot, averaging about 26°C. Since there’s only 20km of the coast, 40% of the country is filled with forests of pine trees and oak trees. The country is rich in fruits, such as apples, grapes, pears, and plums.
The seven major rivers found in the country are Bosna, Drina, Neretva, Sana, Save, Una, and Vrbas. As the more mountainous region of the country, Bosnia has many notable peaks, including Čvrsnica, Prenj, Vlašić, Igman, Jahorina, and Trebević.
Montenegro is located in the southeast of Europe with an area of 13,812 km squared and is populated by 679,000 people. The capital city is Podgorica with a population of 205,000. The coastline spans 294km and covers the south of the Adriatic Sea.
The coastline of Montenegro has 72km of beaches, like Bečići Beach, Jaz Beach, Mogren Beach, Sveti Stefan Beach, and Velika Plaža. Montenegro also boasts protected old towns, including Budva, Herceg, Kotor, Novi, Perast, and Ulcinj. Montenegro has a Mediterranean climate with dry summers averaging 27°C and rainy winters averaging 5°C to 8°C.
Aside from its beaches, Montenegro is also covered in green mountainous regions where bears, deer, wolves, foxes, and wild pigs live. For tourists, the country’s picturesque landscapes, ancient stone houses, and sandy beaches are the most attractive. An important must-see attraction is the city of Ulcinj, which is filled with architecture inspired by Asians, Greeks, Byzantines, and Venetians.
A hidden gem of the Mediterranean Sea, Albania is an interesting country that is filled with beautiful landscapes that attract nature enthusiasts. Its coastline spans across the Ionian Sea and the Adriatic Sea, making it an enjoyable location for sunbathing and dipping into the water. The capital of Albania is the colorful city of Tirana.
Tirana is a hub of diverse styles and cultures with European architecture. Some of the popular tourist attractions in the city are the Clock Tower, the Pyramid of Tirana, the Tomb of Kaplan Pasha, and the Efem Bey Mosque. Going to these places is comfortable and easy, as it doesn’t get overcrowded, unlike other countries.
If you decide to plunge into the sea, visit in mid-May to September for warmer temperatures. In winter, it can get as cold as 8°C near the sea and -20°C in the mountains. Of course, don’t forget to visit the best beach resorts in the second largest city, Durres, and enjoy a day of jet skiing, diving, or snorkeling.
In the southeast of Europe, between Italy and Turkey, lies the small country of Greece. Many people enjoy its beautiful waters for a refreshing, summer vacation. It is surrounded by bodies of water including the Aegean Sea on the east coast and the Ionian Sea on the west.
Most of the Greek islands are situated in the Aegean Sea, including the famous Santorini and Mykonos islands. In the Ionian Sea lies the Calypso Deep, with a depth of 5,267m, making it the deepest point in the Mediterranean. The islands that can be found here are Corfu, Cephalonia, Ithaca, Kythira, Lefkada, Paxi: Paxos and Antipaxos, and Zakynthos.
To fully enjoy the pristine waters of Greece, it is best to come between May and September. If the heat is too much to bear, come between April and October when the weather is cooler. If you wish to see the iconic, white Greek houses, they can be seen along the Aegean Sea in the Cyclades.
The Mediterranean shore of Turkey is also known as Turquoise Coast and is about 1,600km long. It’s one of the best places for a seaside holiday and offers fine beaches, crystal clear waters, and several cities to visit.
In the west of the Mediterranean is the city of Bodrum, home to a crusader castle. For ancient ruins and old stone sarcophagi, Fethiye is the best place to be. In the east of the Mediterranean is Antakya, which has Roman remains, ancient relics, and even the oldest Christian church.
The temperatures can be as high as 40°C with little to no rain and cloudless skies. However, the winter season has an ample amount of rain and strong winds. Some of the most common activities to do in this beautiful country are yachting and indulging in the delicious Turkish cuisine.
Located in the east of the Mediterranean Sea, the Republic of Cyprus is the third largest island in the Mediterranean and the 80th largest island in the world. It has a population of about 1.2 million people who speak Greek and Turkish. Nicosia is the capital and the largest city in the country.
It is famous for Aphrodite’s Rock and a popular port for cruise ships. The climate in summer is dry and hot, whereas in winter, it can be mild and wet. The dry summers are usually from June to September, with the rainy winters between November and March, and autumn in October and spring in April and May.
Syria is on the east coast of the Mediterranean Sea and is bordered by Turkey, Lebanon, Israel, Iraq, and Jordan. Its coastline is relatively short at about 180km long. The most important water source is the Euphrates River, which is the only passable river in Syria that flows from Turkey to the east of the country.
Several lakes can be found in Syria, one of which is Al-Jabbūl, the largest saline lake. Other lakes that can be visited are Jayrūd, Khātūniyyah, Lake Muzayrīb, and Lake Qaṭṭīnah. Between May and October, the coastal climate has a long dry season, with average daily temperatures of 20°C with daily winds from the west and nightly winds from the east.
Situated on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea, Lebanon is a small but charming country that connects East Asia and India to the Mediterranean. It is bordered by Syria in the north and east, and Israel in the south. Lebanon is a place for people keen on archeology, nature, and summer beach holidays.
In summer, expect long days and hot weather, especially on the coast where it gets humid. Visiting the country from December to March promises sunny days and cool evenings. Surprisingly, one of the more popular winter activities in Lebanon is skiing and snowboarding in the mountains.
If you prefer to do summer and winter activities at the same time, the best months to come are either March or April so you can ski in the mountains during the day and head to the beach after. For historical enthusiasts, Byblos is a UNESCO World Heritage site that features ruins like the Temple of Baalat-Gebal and the Temple of the Obelisks.
Israel is located on the easternmost end of the Mediterranean Sea, with a coastline of 273km. The western border of Israel is the Mediterranean Sea, in the east is Jordan, in the north is Lebanon, and in the southwest is Egypt. The land area is about 20,770 km2 with a population of 8.2 million.
Israel has a diverse topography, which includes the Negev Desert, beautiful coastal plains, and highlands. It’s famous for Tel Aviv, an urban metropolis, and also for its beautiful beaches in Western Galilee. If you head over to the south, you’ll find small towns, old farming communities, coves, and beaches.
The city of Haifa is a major port of Israel and is famous for Bahai Gardens, Mount Carmel, and the German Colony.
The Mediterranean Sea in Egypt covers some of the top must-see places, including Alexandria, North Coast, and Marsa Matrouh. Alexandria is also known as the Mediterranean Sea Pearl, where several historical sites like tombs and ruins can be found. The coastline in Alexandria is about 70km and hosts popular beaches like Agamy and El Nakhil.
The Northern Coast of Egypt is about 1,000km long and comprises the whole northern region of Egypt and has some of the country’s best luxury resorts and 5-star hotels. Most people love visiting Porto Marina and the Sidi Abdel Rahman beaches.
Lastly, Marsa Matrouh is the place for fine white, sandy beaches and turquoise waters. Additionally, one of Cleopatra’s palaces was discovered by Cleopatra’s Beach – a must-see bay in Matrouh. For more historical sites, you can also visit the Temple of Ramses II in the western part of Matrouh.
Known as the fourth largest country in Africa, Libya is located in North Africa with a population of 6.6 million and a land area of 679,362 square miles. The Mediterranean Sea borders the north of Libya, spanning more than 1,700km long, making it the longest coastline in Africa.
Since Libya mostly occupies the Sahara Desert, the climate is hot, especially during the summer season in July and August. It usually rains in the northern regions from October to March, and the weather on the Mediterranean coast can vary between rainy winters and dry summers. If you wish to visit at a cooler time, January and February promise temperatures that can be as low as -10°C.
Libyan cuisine is a blend of Italian, Arabic, and Bedouin. Whether you are a pasta or rice lover, you can expect to find them as a staple food, with the west preferring pasta and the east preferring rice. Most Libyan dishes are served with different variations of tomato-based pasta or rice and meat.
Tunisia is the smallest country in Africa and is bordered by the Mediterranean Sea, Algeria, and Libya. It’s a small, charming country with a population of 11.4 million in 63,170 square miles of territory. It has a strategic location since it allows access to the Mediterranean Sea and the Sahara Desert.
The weather in Tunisia is influenced by the Sahara, which blows warm humid winds, also known as sirocco, into the country. These winds can be blazing hot and affect Tunisia’s vegetation. Some popular cities are Tunis, Sousse, and Sfax. The country is also rich in natural resources, including petroleum, iron, salt, and gold.
One of the smallest in Europe, Malta is a country with a set of islands located in the Mediterranean Sea. Malta is considered among the most overpopulated countries in the world in terms of people-to-land ratio, with a population of about 515,000 in only 316km2 of territory. Valletta is the capital of Malta and is filled with rich history and culture, making it a part of the UNESCO heritage.
Malta is famous for its lovely, warm weather and scenic views. It’s filled with many historical sites, such as the Megalithic Temples of Malta, the Basilica of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, and the Barrakka Gardens. In terms of landscapes, the island is mostly rocky, so there isn’t much agriculture.
Algeria is the largest country in Africa, the tenth-largest in the world, and is bordered by the Mediterranean Sea, Tunisia, Libya, Niger, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, and Western Sahara. The country has a population of 40.9 million in a land area of 919,595 square miles. The capital is Algiers, the largest city of Algeria.
Northern Algeria has a mild, Mediterranean climate, but in the different geographic regions, the climates can vary vastly. For instance, the temperature averages between 21°C and 42°C in Tell during the summer and falls below 12°C in winter. There are several protected areas in Algeria, such as National Parks like Djebel Babor Nature Reserve where the endangered Barbary macaque inhabits. Other national parks are Taza National Park, Belezma National Park, and the National Park of Djurdjura.
Gibraltar is a British Overseas Territory on the Southern Mediterranean coast of Spain and is 5km long and 1.2km wide. With just a small land area, it has a large population of about 34,846 people, making Gibraltar the 217th largest population worldwide. The Strait of Gibraltar is the main feature of this British territory, as well as of Europe and Africa.
The Strait of Gibraltar is a connecting strip of water between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea and serves as a border of Morocco on the African continent. It is a prime area for shipping and is believed to have about 300 ships per day, or about 100,000 ships per year, pass through it. It is the only water area of Gibraltar, as there are no springs or rivers in the territory.
Gibraltar’s climate is hot and humid in summer and with little to no rain. In the winter season, the weather is mildly cold between 15°C to 21°C and provides an ample amount of precipitation. Expect to experience strong, easterly winds.
The tourism industry in Gibraltar thrives due to hotels, beach resorts, and casinos. With little space in the territory, there are no agricultural lands. One of its best highlights is the Pillars of Hercules in the Strait of Gibraltar, where one can see a large rock on the Gibraltar side known as the Rock of Gibraltar.
On the northern shore of mainland Africa, Ceuta is one of nine Spanish autonomous cities and is bordered by Morocco, the Mediterranean Sea, and the Atlantic Ocean. The Strait of Gibraltar separates Ceuta from Spain and Gibraltar. It is populated by Christians, Muslims, Sephardic Jews, and Sindhis who speak Spanish, and a small minority who speak Darija Arabic.
The economy of Ceuta relies on its port, retail centers, and manufacturing industries. The Port of Ceuta is the main port for ferries and is close to the city center – just a 15-minute walk. Staying for a vacation in Ceuta promises a multicultural experience, especially a mix of Arab and Spanish cultures.
Some favorite destinations in Ceuta are the House of Dragons for historical sites, Mirador de la Punta Almina for a scenic view of the Mediterranean, and Arab Baths for medieval public baths.
Another Spanish autonomous city, Melilla, is located in Africa on the northwest coast in the Alboran Sea and on the eastern side of the Cabo Tres Forcas. Its economy thrives on manufacturing industries like textiles, metallurgy, and shoemaking, as well as the tourism industry. Sports enthusiasts can enjoy the surfing spots of Melilla and the city’s football club.
Melilla is a small city with a multi-cultural population of 86,487. The population includes Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and Jews. The main language spoken is Spanish, with a small number of Tamazight and Berber speakers.
The climate is similar to the southern Spanish coast and northern Moroccan coast. The hottest months are in July and August, where it can reach as high as 41.8°C, and the cool months are from November to March and average between 0.4°C and 5.0°C at night.
The Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia is another British Overseas territory located on Cyprus, which comprises 3% of the country, covering 254 square kilometers. Akrotiri is in the south, whereas Dhekelia is in the southeast, and both regions have residential areas, farms, and military bases. The population is about 18,195, including 11,000 Cypriots, with the remaining made up of British military personnel and their families.
The Palestinian Gaza Strip is located on the eastern part of the Mediterranean Sea, which borders Egypt and Israel. It is a self-governing territory that is 41km long and 12 km wide. The businesses that keep the economy going are small family businesses selling soaps, textiles, souvenirs, and wood carvings. In terms of agriculture, the main products that are produced are vegetables, olives, Halal beef, dairy, and citrus.