A vibrant Mediterranean market is a microcosm of the region’s culinary scene. Fresh produce, locally-caught seafood, and fragrant herbs represent the bounty of the surrounding lands and sea. The lively atmosphere reflects a passion for food deeply ingrained in the local culture.

Throughout the Mediterranean region, culinary traditions reflect centuries of cultural influences. Each port of call offers a distinct flavor profile, showcasing the unique ingredients and techniques that define its cuisine.

For LGBTQ+ travelers seeking a delicious adventure, the Mediterranean region is a rich source of culinary experiences and discoveries. This region invites you to explore bustling markets, savor must-try Mediterranean food, learn from passionate food artisans, and discover the hidden gems that contribute to its culinary landscape.

Whether you long to experience the exotic herbs and spices of a Tunisian market, master the art of crafting the perfect pizza in Naples, or sample volcanic wines on a Sicilian hillside, the Mediterranean promises to tantalize your taste buds. Discover fresh flavors, local ingredients, and traditions that will create lasting memories.

Sicily: A Tapestry of Culinary Influences

Sicily’s strategic position in the Mediterranean has made it a melting pot of flavors throughout its history. This culinary crossroads is evident in its cuisine, where fresh seafood, North African spices, and time-honored traditions create an exciting gastronomic landscape.

Porto Empedocle: Fresh from the Sea

This port town offers a taste of authentic Sicilian seafood culture. Visit the local fish market, bustling with activity in the early morning, and witness the daily catch brought straight from the boat. The influence of nearby North Africa is found in dishes characterized by fragrant spices, preserved lemons, and couscous. Must-try Mediterranean foods include:

Grilled Swordfish- Freshly caught and simply grilled, often served with a squeeze of lemon and a side of caponata.

Grilled Swordfish
Couscous al Pesce- A flavorful seafood couscous, infused with saffron and a variety of seafood, reflecting the North African influence.
​​Pasta con le Sarde- A traditional Sicilian pasta dish that embodies the island’s love for seafood. It features fresh sardines, wild fennel, raisins, pine nuts, and saffron, topped with breadcrumbs. This dish is a beautiful representation of Sicily’s culinary history, blending sweet and savory flavors with the freshness of the sea.

​​Pasta con le Sarde

Sarde a Beccafico- Sardines stuffed with breadcrumbs, pine nuts, raisins, and herbs, then rolled and baked or fried. This dish is a perfect example of Sicily’s inventive seafood cuisine, marrying the island’s rich flavors with its abundant marine life.


Palermo: A Street Food Paradise

Palermo’s vibrant street food scene is a must for adventurous foodies. The historic Ballarò market embodies the city’s culinary soul, its labyrinthine alleyways buzzing with vendors offering a dizzying array of Sicilian delicacies.

This market reflects the island’s history; the mix of Sicilian, Arabic, and Jewish influences is evident in everything from fried arancini (rice balls) to chickpea fritters. Go with an LGBTQ+-friendly local guide for a street food walking tour that delves into the history and flavors behind these iconic Mediterranean dishes. Key dishes to sample include:

Arancini- Deep-fried rice balls stuffed with a variety of fillings such as ragù, mozzarella, and peas, encapsulating the essence of Sicilian street food.


Panelle- Chickpea fritters, often sandwiched in a soft bun, offering a simple yet delicious taste of Palermo’s streets.
Cannoli- Not to be missed, these crispy pastry shells filled with sweet, creamy ricotta are a beloved Sicilian dessert.Sfincione- A thick, fluffy pizza topped with tomato, onions, anchovies, and caciocavallo cheese, showcasing the island’s rich flavors.


Aeolian Islands: Simplicity Meets Volcanic Flavors

The Aeolian Islands offer a taste of island life where the freshest ingredients shine. Lipari, with its fertile volcanic soil, provides a bounty of local produce and wines that embody its unique terroir.

Lipari: Fresh and Flavorful

Lipari’s cuisine celebrates the simple pleasures of the Mediterranean. Savor the fresh catch of the day, prepared with herbs grown in fertile soil, alongside vibrant salads featuring local vegetables. The island’s volcanic landscape provides fertile ground for vineyards, producing distinctive wines infused with a subtle minerality.

Farm and Vineyard Exploration

Venture beyond Lipari’s restaurants and discover the source of its delicious flavors. Visit local farms to learn about traditional farming practices and the unique challenges and rewards of growing produce on volcanic soil. Set out on a winery tour to not only sample the island’s renowned wines but also to experience the stunning scenery and learn about the impact of the volcanic environment on viticulture.

Tunisia: Exotic Spices and Culinary Traditions

In Tunisia, the fusion of Mediterranean and North African flavors creates a culinary landscape rich in exotic spices and time-honored traditions. La Goulette, with its bustling spice markets nestled within the vibrant medina, serves as the epicenter of Tunisian gastronomy.

La Goulette’s Spice Markets

Explore the labyrinthine alleyways of La Goulette’s medina, where the air is alive with the heady aroma of spices. Wander among stalls overflowing with sacks of vibrant saffron, fragrant cardamom, and earthy cumin, each offering a glimpse into Tunisia’s rich culinary heritage.

Step into a traditional spice shop and let the proprietors guide you through the art of blending your own “secret mix” of spices, sharing their expertise and passion for Tunisian flavors. Learn the intricate balance of flavors that defines Tunisian cuisine, from the fiery heat of harissa to the subtle sweetness of cinnamon.

Must-Try Tunisian Foods

  • Couscous: The quintessential Tunisian dish, often considered the national dish, made from steamed semolina grains served with a stew of meat, vegetables, and spices. Each region has its own variation, offering a unique taste of local flavors.


  • Brik: A thin pastry filled with a whole egg, tuna, harissa, and capers, then deep-fried to crispy perfection. Brik is a beloved Tunisian snack, encapsulating the fusion of flavors that define Tunisian cuisine.
  • Tajine: Unlike the Moroccan stew of the same name, Tunisian tajine is more akin to a baked quiche, made with eggs, cheese, meat, and vegetables, seasoned with traditional spices. It’s a flavorful dish that showcases the versatility of Tunisian cooking.
  • Harissa: A fiery chili pepper paste that is a staple in Tunisian cuisine. Made from roasted red peppers, spices, and herbs, it adds heat and depth to many dishes.

Must-Try Mediterranean Food on Your Voyage from Malta to Naples

  • Lablabi: A comforting chickpea soup seasoned with garlic, cumin, and olive oil, often served over pieces of stale bread. It’s a popular street food, especially in the colder months.
  • Makroud: A sweet pastry made from semolina and filled with dates or almonds, then soaked in honey or syrup. Makroud is a traditional dessert, especially during Ramadan and celebrations.
  • Chermoula: A marinade and relish used in Tunisian cooking, made from herbs, garlic, lemon, and spices. It’s often used to flavor fish and seafood, showcasing Tunisia’s Mediterranean influences.


Beyond the Market

Here’s an idea: go on a culinary adventure with a hands-on cooking class led by expert chefs, where you’ll learn the art of crafting iconic Tunisian dishes like couscous, brik, and tajine. Roll up your sleeves and immerse yourself in the vibrant colors and bold flavors of Tunisian cuisine as you chop, season, and simmer your way to culinary mastery.

After your cooking escapades, savor the fruits of your labor with a meal at one of La Goulette’s authentic eateries, where you can sample authentic Tunisian fare in a welcoming and inclusive atmosphere. Indulge in savory tagines, flaky pastries, and aromatic mint tea, all infused with the warmth and hospitality of Tunisia’s culinary traditions.

Naples: Where Culinary Legends are Born

In Naples, culinary traditions run deep, with the city’s iconic dishes earning it a place among the world’s gastronomic capitals. From the streetside pizzerias to the bustling markets, Naples is a haven for food lovers seeking authentic Mediterranean cuisine.

Pizza Pilgrimage

You can’t visit Naples without indulging in its most famous culinary creation – pizza. As the birthplace of this beloved dish, Naples takes its pizza seriously, with expert pizzaiolos crafting pies that are nothing short of perfection.

Go on a pizza pilgrimage with an expert-led tour, where you’ll visit historic pizzerias and learn about the art of traditional pizza-making from the masters themselves. From the classic Margherita to innovative toppings, each slice tells a story of Naples’ rich culinary heritage.

Beyond Pizza

While pizza may reign supreme, Naples offers a cornucopia of culinary delights beyond its famed pies. Fresh seafood takes center stage, with local catches transformed into mouthwatering dishes that celebrate the bounty of the Mediterranean. Enjoy plates of spaghetti alle vongole, risotto ai frutti di mare, or simply grilled fish, each showcasing the region’s maritime heritage.

Venture into Naples’ vibrant markets and hidden eateries to discover the city’s lesser-known culinary treasures. Sample street food favorites like arancini and frittelle, or indulge in decadent pastries like sfogliatelle and babà. With its diverse flavors and rich culinary history, Naples promises an epicurean adventure that will tantalize your taste buds and leave you craving more.

Onboard Delights: More Than Just Dining

Elevate your journey with an LGBTQ+ luxury Mediterranean cruise, where the onboard gastronomic experience complements the adventure. While the culinary adventures ashore are undoubtedly a highlight of this Mediterranean journey, the onboard experience offers its own array of gastronomic delights to savor and enjoy. It’s a cruise dedicated to showcasing the fresh, vibrant flavors of Mediterranean cuisine, ensuring every meal is a feast for the senses.

From the very first moment aboard, guests are treated to an array of gourmet meals that capture the essence of the regions visited, intricately integrating these Mediterranean countries’s cultures with the enjoyment of sumptuous dining experiences.

Whether you’re dining al fresco under the stars or savoring a multi-course meal in the elegant dining room, each dish is crafted with care and attention to detail, promising a dining experience that is both memorable and mouthwatering.

Exploring the World Through Food

From the bustling markets of Sicily to the aromatic spice shops of Tunisia, the journey is as much about savoring the flavors as it is about discovering the stories behind each dish. Every bite becomes a window into the soul of a place, revealing the essence of its people, their customs, and their way of life.

Food transcends language and cultural barriers. It serves as a universal language that unites people from all walks of life. Whether sampling street food in Palermo or indulging in a wine tour in Lipari, each gastronomic experience is a moment of shared joy and camaraderie—an essential part of the journey that leaves a lasting impression not just on the palate but also the soul.

Craig Smith

Craig Smith

Craig Smith founded Source Journeys with the dream of creating extraordinary travel experiences for the mind, body & spirit with and for like-minded friends. For over 20 years, Source Journeys has become a recognized leader in luxury gay travel, producing all-gay cruises and adventures around the world. More so, Craig has created a family of travelers and adventurers who eagerly follow his lead to discover.