When you think of Europe, you most likely think about historical landmarks and ruins. But Europe is so much more than ancient architecture and statues. Some of the best islands in the world are located across Europe. So, the next time you want to take an island getaway, consider these.
Renowned for its party status, Mykonos offers a vibrant energy made for the dynamic traveler. From beachside gatherings to intimate get-togethers at the local taverna, whatever way you choose to celebrate life, Mykonos has the perfect setting. That’s why it’s been named among the best islands in the world by Condé Nast Traveler.
Containing the highest active volcano in Europe – Mount Etna – Sicily offers a rugged landscape if you’re a backpacking kind of traveler. But it’s also known for its laid-back vibes, so much so that even Italians staycation on the island. And while Italian cuisine is renowned worldwide, you can’t leave Sicily without sampling the local arancini.
The biggest of the Greek isle, Crete holds a mythical past all its own, as well as a unique culture, environment and cuisine. The Minoan Palace in Knossos is its historical highlight, but it also contains expansive beach fronts that will make you want to stay forever.
The Madeira coast of Portugal is famous for its breathtaking, rugged cliffsides, making it the ideal setting if you’re the adventurous type who enjoys rappelling or canyoning. But the island also offers a stunning array of flora and fauna with its subtropical climate. Take it easy with an afternoon wine tasting at the historic Old Blandy Wine Lodge.
The Canary Islands, Spain
When exploring the Canary Islands, you have to try the food. The cuisine is a rich and savory mix of Spanish, African and Latin-American foods, with fare like fish, rice, meat and locally grown fruits and vegetables that will send your tastebuds on their own adventure. From whale and dolphin watching to floating in the islands’ natural pools, the Canaries offer unforgettable, bucket-list moments.
The island of Zakynthos (also called Zante) is starting to gain traction as a must-visit destination among the Greek islands, but it’s still enough of a well-kept secret to avoid the throngs of tourist crowds. Take a boat out to Navagio Beach, better known as Shipwreck Beach, for an exciting escapade filled with legends of modern-day pirates. Or just get your tan on at any of the many beaches along the Mediterranean shores.
Perfect weather and beautiful coastlines make Cyprus a paradise getaway that’s often overlooked for the flashier islands. But if you really want an off-the-beaten-path venture, you need to explore this island and its many facets. Don’t forget to sample their famous Cypriot wine.
Known as “the Knights’ Island” for its medieval architecture and historical structures, Rhodes makes traveling to the past feel like playing pretend like you did as a child. But you can also visit Deer Dama-Dama, an animal sanctuary with a breed of deer unique to the island. If that’s not your speed, spend the day swimming and sunbathing among its many beaches with ancient castles as the backdrop.