When someone tells us about paradise and exotic islands, our imagination travels to remote places. It is as if the best landscapes of our beautiful planet were very far away, in destinations “almost” inaccessible to us.
Well, we have good news for you! Because you don’t have to travel very far to find wonderful islands that nothing, and we repeat, they have nothing to envy to those located in distant seas.
Europe has hundreds of islands spread across the Mediterranean, the Atlantic Ocean and the North Sea. That makes the variety of landscapes that we can enjoy on our islands is almost infinite.
Whatever you are looking for, you will find it in one of the 15 most beautiful islands in Europe. Which is your favorite?
1. Santorini, Greece
Considered one of the most beautiful islands in Europe, Santorini does not leave any of its visitors indifferent. It is located just forty minutes by plane from Athens and is volcanic in origin. Their dark sandy beaches formed by lava remain in contrast with its already famous light-colored architecture, which stands on vertigo cliffs. Watch a sunset from the magnificent town of Oia, visit the volcano that gave rise to the current archipelago and stroll between its white churches with blue domes are three activities that you can not miss if you are lucky to visit this magical Greek island.
2. Formentera, Spain
The smallest inhabited island in the Balearic archipelago stands out for its fine white sand beaches, usually compared with those of the Caribbean, and for its unique flora and fauna. However, its interior areas have nothing to envy: its incredible lighthouses, mills and hidden caves are capable of making even the most skeptical people fall in love. You cannot leave the island without watching the sunset while enjoying magnificent rice, without visiting the magical lighthouse of Cap de Barbaria or without touring the Camí de Sa Pujada. Views that, of course, remove the hiccups.
3. Madeira, Portugal
This beautiful Portuguese island is formed by a great mountain that extends to the sea and on whose slopes the historic center of Funchal, the capital of Madeira. Despite being a small island, it offers a thousand and one different routes to discover its most hidden secrets, from its golden sand beaches to its enormous cliffs; If you love the latter, you should know that Cabo Girao is one of the highest on the continent. In case you want more, you can take a ferry to the other island of the archipelago, Porto Santo.
4. Crete, Greece
The largest island in Greece It is a dream for any lover of History since it has the most important remains of the Minoan or Cretan civilization, distributed in beautiful archaeological parks, and with a rich mythological history. Its varied landscape, with hundreds of gorges and caves that open to the sea, perfectly describes an island with its own identity, whose warm population struggles to keep its customs and traditions rooted for centuries.
The best you can do in Crete is to get lost among its fishing villages and stroll through one of the best beaches in Greece. Discover its magical corners for yourself!
5. La Palma, Spain
This Canary Island, Biosphere Reserve, it is also known as “the beautiful island”, so you can already get an idea of its characteristics; a wide diversity of landscapes and its spectacular climate make visiting it at any time of the year always a good idea. A paradise for all hiking lovers, its rugged geography offers thousands of prepared and perfectly signposted routes so that you can enjoy its landscapes and incredible views; if, on the contrary, you prefer the sea, you can get drunk by its volcanic sand beaches surrounded by beautiful and sharp cliffs. Without hesitation, one of the best islands in Europe.
6. Corsica, France
Considered as “a mountain in the middle of the sea”, the island of Corsica falls in love with its abrupt shapes that create a mosaic of diversity: forests, lakes, vineyards, dream beaches… Everything merges to create Corsica, a place with exceptional natural wealth that, in less than 9000 km, has five nature reserves and an international marine park.
With the French Riviera on one side and Italy on the other, the island fell in love with the famous French writer Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, author of The Little Prince, who stressed that «the sun made love to the sea so much that Corsica ended up being born». Although it is not as well known as its neighboring Sardinia, we can assure you that Corsica is one of the most beautiful islands in Europe.
7. Hvar, Croatia
The longest island in the Adriatic It is gaining more and more strength in the tourism sector thanks to its virgin forests and white sand beaches that delight any lover of tranquility. Its characteristic villages coexist with a mixture of architectural styles, ranging from Gothic to Renaissance and blending in harmony with its totally natural landscapes; an idyllic landscape scented by its large lavender fields. To get to Hvar, we must take a ferry from the split, the closest city.
The famous Italian island is synonymous with beauty and tranquility, but also glamorous, due to the hundreds of celebrities who decide to ride their yachts along the coast of this island. Its profiled cliffs, adorned with beautiful and well-kept houses, make it one of the best views of the island from the sea, So the ferry ride there is pure spectacle.
The old town is full of important shopping streets full of life, but if you prefer to stay away from the center, the highest part of the island offers you multiple cultural activities to enjoy in peace. To reach, the island of Capri’s best option is to take one of the ferries that leave from Naples or Sorrento.
9. Flores Island, Portugal
Belonging to the archipelago of the Azores, its name is due to the large number of hydrangeas that grow in summer. Of a spectacular nature, it has seven lagoons and imposing waterfalls on which it is possible to descend enjoying activities such as canyoning. A great plan for the more adventurous! The best way to enjoy the views that the Flores Island It is through a tour of the sea, although if you prefer the land, the Monte das Cruzes It also offers impressive views from its viewpoint. If you are interested in gastronomy, you should know that the entire Azores archipelago stands out for its great variety of fish and shellfish. A real delicacy!
10. Paxos, Greece
It is a small Greek island of the Ionian archipelago, It is characterized by its wide green and wooded landscapes and its impressive beaches, both white sand and stone and reefs, places where enjoying the sun is essential. To the north of the island is the so-called “Grotto of Poseidon”, a place of difficult access that, nevertheless, offers a great visual reward thanks to its incredibly crystalline waters.
As expected, among its gastronomy stands out the Mediterranean cuisine, especially fresh fish and seafood are taken from the Ionian Sea. Away from mass tourism due to the difficulties its access requires, the island of Paxos still maintains that Mediterranean character that we like so much in the islands in this part of Europe. To get to Paxos, we need to fly to Corfu and from there take one of the boats that reach the island.
11. Menorca, Spain
Menorca is the best-kept island in the Balearic Islands. In fact, the entire island is the Biosphere Reserve, which increases its protection against the excesses of tourism. The island stands out, mainly, for its wonderful beaches; No matter which one you choose, they all have spectacular views of the Mediterranean Sea and offer hundreds of à la carte adventures: jet skis, kayaking, surfing … you choose! If you are lucky to visit Menorcado not miss the Naveta des Tudons, a funerary monument that dates back to 1000 B.C. and who claims to be the oldest building in Europe.
In addition, it is almost mandatory to visit Ciutadella de Menorca, a town with incredible corners full of history, culture, and magic. Another of Menorca’s strengths is gastronomy, based on fresh products from the sea that will delight lovers of indigenous cuisine.
12. Skye, Great Britain
On your trip to Scotland, there is a place that you should pay special attention, it is the Isle of Skye, located in the Scottish highlands. Scottish fairies are said to live here, so pay attention if you see any! The island is characterized by its impressive and green landscapes. Thanks to its size, you only need a couple of days to discover all its corners, without forgetting the Fairy Pools, impressive waterfalls, and crystal clear cold pools.
If you want to enjoy a movie sunset, the Neist Point Lighthouse is a must-see. From this emblematic place, you can marvel at the spectacular views of the sea and be impressed with the sharp cliff that falls on the ocean.
13. Feroe, Denmark
This magical archipelago made up of eighteen islands seems, without a doubt, taken from a fantasy tale. Despite being located between Iceland and Scotland, Faroe belongs to Denmark and its main attraction is its extreme nature. Green landscapes dotted with mountains where the sheep graze calmly. Bird lover’s paradise, in the Faroe Islands we find Puffins, Silly Birds and other seabirds that can be seen closely. If you like hiking, on the islands you will find tens of kilometers prepared to explore the best landscapes of this natural paradise. As it is not very touristy, the influx of visitors is low, which makes the archipelago an ideal destination for lovers of tranquility, hiking, and nature.
14. Mljet, Croatia
Its great mythological history makes the island of Mljet be known as the love island; the scene of the adventures of Ulysses and Calypso (the first one spent seven years without leaving it due to the charms of the nymph). The truth is that, in addition to its great mythological history, the Croatian island it releases magic from all four sides. Made up of dozens of Mediterranean forests -including a national park- saltwater lakes and small charming towns, Mljet breathe tranquility, since being only connected by ferry, it still does not receive large numbers of tourists. If you like adventure, one of the best things to do in Mljet They are scuba diving, as one of its greatest attractions is under the sea, with huge populations of bright red coral.
15. Cíes Islands, Spain
Some consider them as paradise in the underworld, the British newspaper “The Guardian” rated the Rhodes beach how «The best beach in the world». The set of the Cíes islands belongs to the city of Vigo and is the most visited destination in the area. Being a nature reserve, it has restricted access, so we recommend booking the ferry ticket in advance and not traveling in high season. Their pristine beaches with white sand and crystal clear water. They have nothing to envy to the Caribbean beaches, and their forests offer guided routes to the most remote places of the islands, where in addition to enjoying privileged views of the estuary, you can get to know its characteristic fauna and flora. There are no hotels on the islands we can only stay overnight at the authorized campsite, so if you have time, take the tent and enjoy how incredibly good the starry sky looks.