Five underrated foodie destinations in the Mediterranean

The Mediterranean is celebrated not only for its sun-soaked shores and rich history but also for its exceptional culinary traditions. While cities like Barcelona and Naples often steal the limelight with their famed dishes, numerous lesser-known gems offer equally delectable experiences. This article ventures off the beaten path to explore five underrated foodie destinations in the Med, so read on to find the inspiration for your next adventure.

La Spezia, Italy

Nestled on the Ligurian coast, La Spezia is a popular MSC cruise destination and is a haven for seafood lovers and culinary adventurers. This charming city acts as a gateway to the famous Cinque Terre but stands out with its own distinctive cuisine. The area is renowned for its pesto allaGenovese, made with fresh basil from nearby hills. Seafood is a staple here, with dishes like mussels stuffed with breadcrumbs and herbs (muscoli ripieni) gracing the tables of local restaurants. The traditional farinata, a thin chickpea pancake, is a must-try street food. For an authentic dining experience, visit the bustling morning market at Piazza Cavour and indulge in the freshest catch of the day, cooked right before your eyes.

Šibenik, Croatia

Away from the more frequented destinations of Dubrovnikand Split, Šibenik offers a profound culinary experience deeply rooted in Croatian tradition. The city is famous for its peka, a dish of meat or seafood cooked under a bell-like dome amidst the embers of a fire. The historic stone streets lead to cosy eateries serving brodetto, a rich fish stew that epitomises Dalmatian cooking. Šibenik’s cuisine reflects its agricultural surroundings, with olive oils and wines that complement every meal. Each summer, the Šibenik Food Festival showcases the best of local and regional flavours, providing a perfect time for a foodie visit.

Kavala, Greece

Perched on the coast of northern Greece, Kavala is a picturesque city where the flavours of the Mediterranean and the Orient meet. Fresh seafood dominates the menu, with dishes like grilled octopus and mussels saganaki. The influence of nearby Turkish cuisine is also evident in sweets such as baklava and in heartier fare like moussaka. Local tavernas, often family-run, provide a warm welcome with their traditional Greek hospitality, making Kavala an ideal spot for culinary explorers.

Fethiye, Turkey

Fethiye’s bustling harbours and vibrant markets offer a paradise for those who love food as much as travel. The town is particularly famous for its fish market, where you can pick a fresh catch and have it cooked to order at nearby restaurants. Small dishes such as aubergine salad and tzatziki offer a flavourful start to any meal. The local cuisine also features an array of kebabs and an impressive variety of Turkish delights. For a hands-on experience, Fethiye’s cooking classes and food tours delve into the spices and techniques that define Turkish culinary arts.

Valletta, Malta

The capital of Malta is a cultural melting pot reflected in its diverse culinary scene. Influenced by Italian, North African, and British cuisines, this UNESCO World Heritage Site offers a delightful gastronomic journey. Local dishes like rabbit stew and pastizzi (flaky pastries filled with ricotta or curried peas)are beloved staples. Seafood, particularly during the Lampuki season, highlights the island’s rich maritime heritage. Valletta’s annual food festival is a gastronome’s delight, offering a chance to savour traditional Maltese dishes alongside modern interpretations by local chefs.

Each of these destinations offers a unique taste of the Mediterranean’s rich mosaic of flavours, proving that there is much to discover beyond the familiar favourites. Whether you are a seasoned gourmand or a curious traveller, these underrated foodie cities promise culinary adventures that are as enriching as they are delicious.

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