Are planning a trip to Europe and looking for the top islands in Europe to visit? There are so many beautiful European Islands to visit, how do you choose just one?
There are so many more islands to visit in Europe but here are some gems to get you started. There is an island for every type of traveler.
Here is a list of some of the most beautiful Islands in Europe to add to your travel bucket list.
Top Islands in Europe to Visit
Annabel Kirk from Smudged Postcard
1. Crete, Greece
Crete, one of the largest islands in the Mediterranean, is a joy to visit at any time of year. Given its size, there is plenty to see and do, from sightseeing to beach hopping, wine tasting to hiking.
There are several notable towns to explore in Crete. The most attractive is Chania in the northeast of the island. A Venetian harbor town, Chania is packed with inviting restaurants and has an excellent maritime museum. Further west, Rethymnon is another appealing coastal town while the capital Heraklion has a clutch of good museums.
One of the most famous attractions in Crete is the Minoan settlement at Knossos. Located close to the capital, this archaeological site is a must-visit for anyone interested in Greek mythology and ancient history.
Crete is home to some of the most well-known beaches in Greece. These can be predominantly found on the eastern side of the island. The pink-tinged sands of Elafonisi beach and the windsurfing beach of Falasarna are both popular choices.
Heading inland, there are some incredible hiking opportunities on Crete. Samaria Gorge is a challenging full-day hike while the White Mountains offer scenic views and delightful villages. The mountains are particularly rewarding to visit in spring when the lower slopes are covered with wildflowers.
Megan Kulluk from Peter Pan Travel
2. The Azores, Portugal
The Azores, the less known and less traveled to islands tucked deep into the middle of the Pacific Ocean. They are by far my favorite islands in Europe, having a similar landscape to Hawaii, but with a fraction of the price. The Azores are also made from volcanoes, however, have a total of 9 islands.
They are the perfect islands to visit for solo female travelers, there is little to no crime and the temperament climate they have year-round. The Azores normal temperature year-round is usually between 16 °C (61 °F) and 25 °C (77 °F) depending on the time of year, but will rarely reach temperatures above 30 °C (86 °F) or below 3 °C (37 °F). So they are perfect for anyone looking for a nice pleasant vacation.
Also, if you are looking for an adventure for your next holiday, you might want to seriously consider the Azores. As they are jammed packed with hiking, biking, horse riding, surfing, scuba diving, bird and whale watching, and last but not least game fishing. Anything you would want to do you can find here. However, the best thing about the Azores, is they are still off the radar with tourists making them a hidden gem.
Martina & Jürgen of Places of Juma
3. Korcula Island, Croatia
Korcula in Croatia is certainly one of the most beautiful islands in Europe. It is located in Dalmatia, near the city of Split on the mainland, and is still a real insider’s tip for an idyllic holiday in the Mediterranean. Here, it is above all the tranquil flair, the countless breathtaking beaches and natural bays, the excellent wine, and the picturesque villages along the coast that will delight you.
Well-known and a real must-see is the island’s capital Korcula Town, where a wonderfully pretty medieval old town enchants. Thanks to its impressive appearance, it is often referred to as “little Dubrovnik”. And really, the towers and walls bear a strong resemblance to the famous Croatian port city.
Another highlight is the picturesque beaches of this island. From rocky beaches, pebble bays to sandy beaches, everything is represented here. A real paradise for summer holidaymakers! The bathing coves stretch along the entire island, with some of the most beautiful beings in the holiday resort of Lumbarda. There you can also get fantastic wine, which grows on the sandy hills overlooking the sea.
Korcula is a wonderful place to relax, but you can also do a lot if you like. You should therefore plan at least one week for your trip. However, many people stay here even longer.
Martha of May Cause Wanderlust
4. Folegandros, Greece
The fact that Folegandros is not well-known is one of the reasons why you should consider it. Folegandros is a small island in the Aegean sea in Greece. It is part of the delightful Cyclades chain of islands, and it has a lot of the charms of its more famous neighbors, Santorini and Mykonos – but it doesn’t suffer from their crowds of tourists.
Folegandros is a small island and the vibe is definitely a calm, peaceful one. Two or three days here and you’ll feel blissed out. There are only a couple of small towns and villages, which have that gorgeously pretty Cyclades style: white-washed houses with brightly painted doors and shutters, with the streets adorned with bright bougainvillea flowers.
You can take boat tours around the island to visit one of the beaches, but the centerpiece is the main town of Folegandros, which is situated on a cliff edge, with stunning views of the ocean and the island coast. There’s also an absolutely lovely Greek church, painted in pure white.
There is no airport in Folegandros, so to get there, you’ll need to go by boat. You can get a ferry from Piraeus in Athens, which will take as little as 3.5 hours if you choose the fast one. Alternatively, you could visit Folegandros as part of a sailing holiday, such as island-hopping in the Cyclades.
Dean and Laynni at Routinely Nomadic
5. Canary Islands, Spain
The Canary Islands of Spain are well-known for their fantastic beaches, beautiful scenery, and great weather all year round. However, the vast majority of visitors stick to the most popular islands of Tenerife and Gran Canaria. Meanwhile, the breathtaking mountain scenery and lush green hiking trails of La Gomera tend to fly under the radar. This is a shame, because it boasts some of the most amazing hiking anywhere in Europe, and is one of the few places you can hike right through winter.
There are dozens of excellent trails on La Gomera that could occupy you for weeks or even months but, in general, one week is enough time to explore the main highlights of this wonderfully natural Canary Island. Many of the best hikes are located in Garajonay National Park, although great paths are scattered throughout the island. A few particular standouts are Los Roques ridge, Guarimiar gorge, and Chijere peak. You don’t need a guide to do any of these hikes (although they are available and can add to the experience) but public transportation is limited so it really helps to rent a car.
Of course, there is more to La Gomera than just hiking, with stunning Vallehermoso and Valle Gran Rey providing outstanding scenery, plus at least 6 or 7 beautiful beaches and tiny Hermigua and Agulo are picturesque villages worth a stop or stay.
Claire of ZigZag On Earth
6. Corsica, France
If you are looking for a complete experience with nature, architecture, history, and gastronomy, don’t miss Corsica. It is part of France and the 4th largest island in the Mediterranean Sea.
Corsica has it all:
- Magnificent sandy beaches with turquoise waters,
- Historical villages on hilltops,
- Ancient citadels and protection towers,
- Mountain peaks (up to 2706m) and deep valleys for hiking, canyoning and more,
- Scenic vineyards and charming farms,
- Giant boulders and colorful cliffs.
The nature on the island is magnificent! The 2 areas I love the most in Corsica are The Citadel of Bonifacio on the edge of white limestone cliffs and the pink Calanques de Piana plunging 200m into the sea (a Unesco-listed site).
How long to visit? To really experience what Corsica has to offer, you need at least 2 weeks. But you can focus either on the South with the famous Bonifacio cliff town or the North with the wilder Cap Corse.
How to get there? Corsica has 4 small airports and several ferry ports.
Where to stay? There is a large choice of accommodations. The island has a big focus on tourism.
How to explore? You absolutely need a rental car to be able to explore. But make sure you don’t choose a wide car because many roads are winding and can be narrow.
Be ready to be blown away at every turn!
Marco from Travel-Boo
7. Madeira, Portugal
Madeira Island, only a short 2-hour flight from both Lisbon or Porto on mainland Portugal, is undoubtedly one of the most naturally diverse and beautiful islands in Europe worth visiting.
Known the world over for its stunning natural beauty, the island is an outdoor lover’s paradise. From the incredible Levada mountain walks and hikes to dolphin watching to charming villages and cities such as Funchal and traditional Santana, to the exquisite beaches of Madeira, you’ll hardly get bored when visiting.
To make the most of your time in Madeira, it is advisable to visit for at least a couple of days. The island is quite big with the airport set around 40 minutes by car from the centre of Funchal. As such, car hire is recommended, however, there are plenty of reputable operators offering a host of tours from Funchal too, so you definitely can do without one.
Other notable attractions to explore include the incredible, lush Monte Palace Botanical Gardens. Be sure to take the cable car up from Funchal’s riverfront, although this is not advisable for those with a fear of heights.
For a quirky and somewhat hair-raising experience, why not try out the Madeira Toboggan rides where you’ll whizz up to 30 km per hour downhill in traditional bicker sleds that date back to the 19th century. This is definitely not for the fainthearted!
Madeira is a fabulous all-year-round destination, in fact, they have one of the most spectacular New Years’ firework displays in Europe, but to make the most of the outdoor activities it is best to visit in the warmer summer months. Be sure to plan and book in advance though as the island is a popular destination due to its incredible beauty!
Haley of Haley Blackall Travel
8. Milos, Greece
Everyone has heard of the Greek islands of Santorini and Mykonos, but one of the best-hidden gems in the Mediterranean is Milos. Located in the Cycladic island group in the turquoise waters of the Greek islands, Milos has a stunning landscape. Imagine walking on the moon with its stark white landscape, then add crystal clear Mediterranean waters, friendly locals, quaint villages, and scrumptious greek food galore. This is Milos.
One of the main attractions on Milos is the stunning Sarakiniko Beach. This beach has become an Instagram famous spot, due to its moon-like terrain and beautiful waters. Make your way here by car from Adama, the main town, in about 10 minutes flat. Arrive early if you can, to experience this otherworldly place to visit without the crowds.
Like other popular islands, Milos is also home to picturesque blue and white villages. Try exploring Plaka or Trypiti for your fill of Cycladic homes, beautiful flowers, and cobblestone roadways. Then, hike down to the idyllic and colorful fishing village of Klima. If you can, spend a few nights here in one of the boathouses, or enjoy authentic Greek cuisine on the shoreline. Rent a car to explore the less frequented, yet still beautiful parts of the island.
Finish off your day by watching an epic Milos sunset from atop the Venetian castle up the hill from Plaka. Stay 5-7 nights to truly experience everything this European island has to offer.
Rachel from Average Lives
9. Sardinia, Italy
Undeniably, Sardinia is one of the best islands in Europe and is known as a jewel in the Mediterranean. There is something for everyone, whether you enjoy searching for world-class beaches, exploring historical sites, cities or villages, or exceptional hiking.
Italy’s second-largest island is home to Burumani, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that dates back to 1900-700 BC, Europe’s largest canyon Gorrupo Gorge and magical beaches and coastline, such as Villasimius. You can also visit the charming inland towns of Mamoiada or Orgosolo, with 300 murals of political graffiti and the beautiful beaches of Cala Luna, Cala Goloritze, and the La Maddalena Archipelago. Back on the mainland, you can explore the old town Castelsardo, Neptune’s Grotto near the city of Alghero, and spot the colourful houses and lunar landscape in Bosa.
To discover the island’s best attractions or experience a road trip in Sardinia, you will need at least a week to two weeks to find the true beauty. It is worth noting that the island can get very busy in the peak months of June, July, and August, so if you want great weather and quieter beaches, you should visit in May or September. One thing is for sure; you will not forget your trip to this enchanting island.
Suzanne of Meandering Wild
10. Gozo, Malta
Gozo is a small island to the north of Malta and is the second of three islands that makes up the country. It can be reached by ferry from Malta with the short crossing taking about 25 minutes. You can take a car or go as a foot passenger and take a bus or taxi from the terminal on Gozo.
Gozo is a calm and quiet neighbor to Malta and is steeped in history. It can be explored in a day, but the more time you spend on this beautiful island the more you will relax into its slow pace of life.
The centre of the island is dominated by the Citadel, a fort that has been in use since Roman times although the hill it stands on has been in use since Neolithic times. The small town of Ir-Rabat (Victoria) sits under the citadel and is a beautiful place to wander.
Close to Vitoria is the Ġgantija Temple complex which is a UNESCO world heritage site. The two temples are now in ruins but the archaeological finds shown in the museum really make you realize the significance of the sites.
As with other islands, the beaches in Gozo are unique. Here they are rugged with small inlets and coves that are perfect for swimming throughout the year. There are also numerous dive spots that allow you to experience the warm seas and unique landscape from below.
Mal from Raw Mal Roams
11. Isle of Wight, England
Situated off the south coast of England, Isle of Wight is known for its beautiful beaches, dinosaur remains, vintage cottage, and quaint British sea towns.
The Isle of Wight is an excellent holiday destination for Brits and foreign visitors alike. Visit the island’s most iconic landmark – The Needles, which is a natural rock formation. The best way to enjoy the Needles is to take a chairlift ride from the beach to the top or get on a cruise to enjoy the view from a different perspective.
Another must-see place to visit on the Isle of Wight is the elegant Osbourne House – the countryside home of Queen Victoria. Osbourne House interiors are just so beautiful, so are the garden and the private beach where the Queen taught her son how to swim.
The Isle of Wight is surrounded by stunning pristine clean beaches; some of the best ones include Bembridge, Yaverland, and Compton Bay Beach. They are great for just lounging all day, but also for walking, kayaking, and paddleboarding.
If you’re a foodie, indulge in a traditional afternoon tea at one of the hotels or sample locally produced wine in the Rosemary or Adgestone Vineyard. The Isle of Wight is also big on seafood; make sure you try some locally farmed crab.
Chrysoula of Greece Travel Ideas
12. Mykonos, Greece
One of the best islands to visit in Europe is Mykonos Island in Greece. Mykonos has the famous Cycladic architecture with white houses, blue doors, and traditional windmills. It is one of the most popular Greek islands to visit because of its beautiful sandy beaches with turquoise waters, beach clubs, first-class restaurants, nightclubs, and luxury hotels. It is also one of the first choices of celebrities around the world.
There are many things to do in Mykonos apart from spending time on the beach. Highlights include a visit to the famous windmills, watching the sunset from Little Venice, hiking to Armenistis lighthouse, checking out the countless churches, taking the boat to the nearby Delos island to explore the Unesco Heritage Site, doing a boat trip to Rhenia island for swimming and shopping at Matoyiania street.
The perfect time to spend in Mykonos is 3 days unless you are after a relaxed holiday on the beach where 5 to 7 days are recommended. Mykonos is easily accessible as it has an international airport and is the perfect island for island hopping. Finally, the best time to visit Mykonos is in June and September when the crowds are fewer and accommodation is more affordable.
Dymphe of Dymabroad
13. Ibiza, Spain
One of the best islands in Europe is the island of Ibiza in Spain. This is a wonderful island that is one of the Spanish Balearic Islands. Next to the island, there are other great islands, such as Mallorca.
The island is great for its incredible nightlife. There are many great clubs in Ibiza that are great for an amazing night! Lots of famous DJs perform at these clubs in Ibiza, such as Armin van Buuren. Besides the nightlife, there is more to do on the island. One of the best things to do on the island is to visit the beautiful beaches. Furthermore, the island looks very beautiful, which is also why there are many Instagrammable places in Ibiza.
Ibiza Town is also a must-see when on the island. This is the capital of the island and there are lots of sights here. And there are many other villages on the island to explore as well. The best amount of time to spend in Ibiza is a week. This makes it possible to enjoy all aspects of the island, including the nightlife, the beaches, the villages, and more. One tip for visiting the island is to rent a car. This makes it easier to explore the different parts of the island!”
Kerry Hanson from VeggTravel
14. Capri Island, Italy
The Isle of Capri is located on the Mediterranean Ocean to the south of Italy. Popular with tourists and locals alike, the beauty of Capri draws in with its quaint houses and stunning mountainous views.
The most popular way to see this stunning Italian island is by doing a Sorrento to Capri day trip as it is relatively expensive. However, you can also get to Capri from Naples or the Amalfi Coast and stay a few more days.
Whether you choose to get to Capri via a public ferry, or a boat tour, a must-do is a visit to the Blue Grotto. This small cave in the Mediterranean ocean is a cultural site that is famous for the bright blue light which illuminates the inside.
Another must-see is the views from the Island from the chair lift that takes you to the Monte Salaro summit. Enjoy the panoramic views 583m above sea level and see as far as the bay of Naples and the Amalfi Coast, as well as the enchanting Capri Town.
If you’re not familiar with Italy, there are very limited public beaches and Capri is no different. This means that most ‘beach space’ is owned by beach clubs which you will need to pay to enter. The cost of these can be quite expensive so only worth doing if you’re enjoying the beaches for the day. Otherwise, get there early and grab the public space which is in very high demand.
Nina Lemons and Luggage
15. Corfu, Greece
Corfu is one of the most fascinating islands in Europe because although it’s a Greek island it is very heavily influenced by Italy. In fact, the island belonged to Venice for several centuries which explains the architecture you will find on Corfu. The old town of the capital in particular would not look out of place if it was located in Italy. It’s also full of cute little taverns where you can get fresh and tasty food, and there are even vegan options in Corfu.
Like most islands, Corfu has breathtaking beaches to relax on. As a general rule, the beaches on the western part of the island get more wind and are great for activities such as kite surfing or windsurfing. On the other hand, the eastern coast has calmer waters, making them suitable for families with children, although some of them are rocky instead of sandy.
The old town of Corfu is a UNESCO World Heritage site and an absolute must-visit when traveling to Corfu. But even outside of the capital there are interesting attractions such as the Achilleion, a palace built for the Austrian Empress Sisi.
The island isn’t small and in order to visit enough of the gorgeous beaches, take in the fantastic views from the mountains, visit a couple of picturesque villages, and see the sights in and around the capital, it’s best to visit for at least a week.
Linn Haglund of Brainy Backpackers
16. Mallorca, Spain
Mallorca is one of the most intriguing islands in Europe with over 200 known underground cave systems, a dramatic coastline yet featuring breathtaking beaches. The island is amazing all year round with endless hiking opportunities across the Tramuntana mountain range and a myriad of charming villages to visit.
You are best off renting a car and going on a road trip around Mallorca to see the most of it. Make sure you see the picturesque villages of Fortnalutx, Deia, and Valdemossa, where several artists have gotten inspiration for their work. Soller is another town worth visiting, and while it might be the most popular day trip from Palma de Mallorca, it is definitely worth taking the old-fashioned tram.
If you travel to Mallorca in summer, you should make it to the best beaches, whereof Sa Calobra beach, Cala Mesquida beach, and S’Amarador beach are just a few that you should add to your list. Further, even though only a handful of Mallorca’s caves are open to the public, you should at least visit one or two while on the island. Cuevas del Drach is the most popular, including an underground concert, and a boat ride inside the biggest lake in the cave. But also Artá Caves are worth the while. And if you happen to get a rainy day during your stay in Mallorca, the caves are an incredible way to spend your day!
Pam of Directionally Challenged Traveller
Iceland’s diverse natural beauty makes it one of the best islands in Europe to visit!
One of the best islands in Europe isn’t known for breathtaking beaches, but rather for its magnificent nature. Iceland is an incredible place to visit – from powerful waterfalls to chasing the Northern Lights, there are plenty of places to explore!
The capital city of Reykjavik is the best place to start your journey. Spending three days in Reykjavik will give you plenty of time to explore this colorful city. You can judge if it’s home to the world’s best hot dog at Baejarins Beztu Pylsur and take in the majestic Hallgrimskirkja Church while finding hidden gems on every corner!
After you’ve finished exploring Reykjavik, there are plenty of things to see in the countryside. If you have an extended vacation, you can drive the Ring Road which encircles the entire island. You can visit and walk up to Skogafoss waterfall, wander through the ice at Diamond beach, or partake in a number of hikes around the country. If you’re visiting in the winter months, you can try to get a glimpse of one of Mother Nature’s beautiful wonders – the Northern Lights!
Iceland’s diverse beautiful nature makes it one of the best islands in Europe!
Lisa of Travel Connect Experience
18. Elba, Italy
Elba Island is located opposite the Tuscan town of Piombino. Famous worldwide as the place of exile of Napoleon, it’s popular Italy for its more than 100 beaches washed by a crystal clear the Tyrrhenian Sea. The island is taken by storm by local and international visitors from May to September and especially on weekends since it also features some of the most beautiful beaches near Rome.
A trip to Elba Island is not just about enjoying the beaches, the sea, and a tan. The mountainous interior of the island and part of the rocky coastline create breathtaking landscapes. The best way to visit the island is with your own car or motorcycle. In this way, you can travel around the entire perimeter of the island and stop for a swim in one of the many bays hidden by dense vegetation, reached by steep steps. But there are also many sandy beaches, they are the busiest, on the south coast, while beaches on the west coast are the quietest.
The nicest center to spend an evening in the town of Capoliveri, full of boutiques, souvenir stores, restaurants, and cafes. To enjoy an aperitif with a view of the sun setting over the mountains of Corsica, instead, you should go to Chiessi.
The Island of Elba is also an ideal destination for lovers of nature walks and cycling, with plenty of trails in the woods, such as those leading to the summit of Mount Perone, where you can enjoy a spectacular view over the island.
To get there, you take the ferry from the port of Piombino, the journey takes about an hour and the cost of the ticket is around €60 in high season.
Pauline from BeeLoved City
19. Isle of Skye, Scotland
Located on the West Coast of Scotland, the Isle of Skye is one of the most famous islands in Europe.
You can easily get there by car via the Skye Bridge. Skye is the only Scottish island that is connected to the mainland via a bridge, which is very convenient for visitors.
Once on the island, choose Portree as your base. It’s the main town on Skye and that’s where you will find most B&Bs and restaurants.
In terms of attractions, Skye is a paradise for hikers and outdoor lovers. Here are some of the most beautiful natural landmarks and best places to visit on Skye: the Old Man of Storr, the Quiraing, Kilt Rock, Fairy Pools, and Fairy Glen.
History buffs will also be in for a treat in places such as Dunvegan Castle where they can learn more about the history of the clans in Scotland.
Finally, Skye is known for its beautiful beaches. You may not expect it, but it’s home to white sandy beaches that will make you feel like you’ve just moved to the Caribbean. The Coral Beaches, for instance, are exactly like that.
No matter what, make sure to rent a car or a camper to explore Skye. There are some buses but relying on public transport is not practical at all. A vehicle is very much needed.
Most roads are single-lane with passing places so driving slowly and carefully is very important.
Finally, don’t forget to pack good walking shoes, a raincoat, and many layers. If you are visiting in summer, a spray against the midges will come in very handy.
Ela & Beata from Stunning Outdoors
20. Lofoten Islands, Norway
Lofoten Islands, located in Northern Norway, far above the Arctic Circle and scattered across the turbulent waters of the Norwegian Sea, are some of the most stunning islands in Europe.
The rugged mountains rising from the sea, famous Norwegian fjords, white sand beaches, and rich wildlife, make them a world-class destination and many are putting them on their ‘To See’ list.
The archipelago will be a perfect destination for those who seek an active holiday. There are many hiking trails and one will be spoilt for choice in the search for best hiking ideas in Lofoten.
On top of walking, popular activities include swimming, kayaking, surfing, and Stand Up Paddle Boarding. Water over the Arctic Circle may be cold but stunning white beaches are very inviting.
The beating heart of the Lofoten islands is small and vibrant communities and charming fishing villages with red cabins (or ‘rorbu’) built on water. Villages like A, Reine, or Nusfjord (Unesco heritage site) will steal your heart forever.
Travel slow between the islands and make sure to see the archipelago from the bird-eye perspective.
Reserve at least a week to spend on the islands to appreciate their beauty, to go hiking, and visit the beautiful villages and two of the biggest towns: Leknes and Svolvaer.
Christopher Rudder of Rudderless Travel
When speaking about must-visit islands in the Mediterranean, one can not exclude Malta.
For the most part, Malta has never been on any particular top 10 list or radar until scenes featuring Malta’s stunning and exotic locations appeared on the hit HBO TV show Game of Thrones. The capital city Valletta, with its soft sand-colored buildings, resembles the type of intricate cities children would create with a shovel and bucket in a sandbox, or at the beach.
From the silent city, Mdina, used in the Game of Thrones as the original Kings Landing before moving to the walled city of Dubrovnik, Croatia to the Blue Grotto, Dingli Cliffs, and Upper Barrakka Gardens. The dessert-like rocky landscape mixed with oasis-like pockets filled with gardens, loads of history with the Mediterranean sea as a backdrop, plus the perfect weather makes this the ideal vacation destination.
Malta is in fact three islands; the mainland plus the island of Gozo and Comino so if your looking to spend a few days in Malta here are the Top Things To Do In Valletta Malta. If you would like to know where all those incredible scenes from the Game of Thrones were shot here is the Ultimate Game of Thrones Malta Locations Itinerary.
Best Island in Europe Conclusion
There are so many more islands to visit in Europe that it is difficult to choose just one. Hopefully, this list of European islands will have you dreaming of a European getaway. What is your favorite European island?