Whether it’s just a few sandy square feet or a sprawling maze of canals and cobblestones, the islands of Europe are some of the world’s most popular tourist destinations and there’s plenty of reasons why. Here’s our Listopedia of places that are worth leaving the mainland for.
One could argue Great Britain itself is an island, but there are plenty of small islands in the United Kingdom worth mentioning. And this small spot off the coast of Portsmouth is gaining a reputation for a cool, quirky scene. That’s largely thanks to the Isle of Wight Festival. The four day music festival draws in big names and big crowds, taking over the small fishing villages. The rest of the year, the secluded beaches, charming villages and cycling trails keep visitors coming back.
Sao Miguel is the biggest of the Azores archipelago in the mid-Atlantic, 1,500km off Portugal’s coast. The nine Volcanic islands are popular with holidaymakers of all ages, with plenty of festivals and historic events held throughout the year. The main town of Ponta Delgada is a good base – its tiled Chapel of Nossa Senhora da Esperanca is a delicate beauty. However it’s the island’s natural assets that are its biggest draw card – tropical greenery, thermal hot springs and volcanic lakes are quiet and peaceful.
This tiny little island in the middle of Lake Bled is straight from a fairytale. The bell tower of the Church of the Assumption peeks out behind the trees clustered on the island, which is accessible by row boat or Plenta, the traditional covered row boat that ferries visitors between Bled and the island throughout the day. You won’t spend long on this tiny island but the alpine lake is the perfect setting for a few hours of kayaking, swimming or rowing. Look down on the scene from the Bled Castle, sitting right on the edge of a cliff 100 metres above the lake. The Castle dates back to the 11th century, with additions over the centuries including a moat, Gothic arch and turrets.