5 European Island Paradises To Visit At Least Once
On your very first Eurotrip, you probably visited the major cities. London, Paris, Amsterdam, Rome. All with incredible histories, monuments, and a fair share of beauty. They were significant centuries ago, and are still crucially important in global politics in today’s age.
This may be why a lot of people tend to look elsewhere for a vacation at an island paradise. South-East Asia, the Caribbean, Mauritius and Madagascar come to mind. However, some of the most spectacular islands are situated throughout Europe, and once you’ve ticked the “important” cities off your list, it’s well worth it to give these a visit.
Not only are these islands idyllic spots for a languorous vacation, but they are also home to important historical milestones, and their artifacts and archaeology show it.
The following 5 European islands are paradises worthy of at least one long, unforgettable visit.
I could mention most Greek islands here, as the birthplace of democracy is picturesque throughout. However, Crete takes top spot, due to its vast diversity of natural beauty. You can find pristine beaches with crystal clear water and pink-tinged sands. You can find palm beaches. There is almost everything in between.
Historically, Crete is almost as diverse. The ruins of the Palace of Knossos are a particular highlight, but are only the beginning. The Heraklion Archaeological Museum brings everything together in homage to the ancient Minoan people. Then there’s the so-called “Leper Island,” where lepers were once quarantined but now serves as an exciting day-trip complete with a ghost town.
History doesn’t end at the artifacts. The splendour of the town of Chania is testament to its Venetian roots. The similarly quaint Rethymnon adds a hint of the Turkish, a remnant of its time under Turkish rule.
If you’re considering going, take a look at some Crete vacation rentals to stay in luxurious comfort.
Mykines (Faroe Islands)
Mykines is not a name on everyone’s lips, although it should be. On the other hand, it at least remains somewhat low-key. You can experience unspoiled nature without the press of the masses around you. Regulations will keep it that way, as it is home to many rare species of wild birds and puffins. A trip to Mykines therefore requires a bit more preparation, although it’s well worth the effort. This is especially true if you’re a nature boffin in love with a puffin (or twenty).
Just west of Mykines you’ll find the islet of Mykineshólm, which is a particularly popular attraction. It is connected to mainland Mykines by a 40 metre long footbridge. You’ll find the famous lighthouse, along with many natural wonders, there.
The small village of Mykines has around forty cottages, although it is only really inhabited (and very vibrant) in the summer months.
Mykines is paradise for nature lovers and anyone looking for something a bit different for their Instagram feed!
La Maddalena (archipelago, Italy)
Italy’s La Maddalena only has about ten thousand occupants, and they’ve done a great job at remaining anonymous! Until fairly recently (2008) a NATO naval base there provided all the employment the townspeople needed. Tourism was not necessary to the archipelago’s economy. When the base closed, La Maddalena started welcoming tourists more openly, and since then, more and more people are discovering its wonders.
Still, it is not nearly as crowded as other tourist hotspots. The beaches are therefore still pristine, crystal clear sea water as clean as any you’ll find. It is quiet, quaint, and populated by friendly inhabitants who are eager to show you how hospitable they can be.
While there is not loads to do in La Maddalena itself, it is close to Sardinia, and perfect for anyone looking for idyllic relaxation rather than hectic adventure.
While Capri is the more famous of Napoli’s islands, Ischia is (arguably) more beautiful.
Although to most people outside of Italy, the name may not roll of the tongue, that’s not to say it’s a quiet island. Around 6 million tourists visit Ischia every year, most of them coming not from abroad but from the Italian mainland. Compared to that, Capri’s 2 million (who are possibly sinking the island) seems paltry.
Ischia is known for its volcanic thermal spas, in addition to its pristine beaches. It’s recommended that you go in summer, as bitterly cold winters don’t make for a great beach holiday.
São Miguel Island (Portugal)
The most famous of the Portuguese Islands, São Miguel is also known as the Green Island. Unlike isolated paradises like La Maddalena, there is plenty to do in São Miguel. Visit its bustling Graça market or its fascinating Louvre Michaelense store.
The streets of Carvalho Araújo, Pedro Homem and D’Água, in Ponta Delgada’s historical centre are being rejuvenated with galleries, bookshops, bars, and more. It is becoming popular with younger visitors, as well as bringing more of a nightlife to its locals.
Then there’s the Boca do Inferno (Hell’s Mouth) viewing point, a mere 1000 metres above sea level. You can look over the island, its various lakes, and take in the incredible beauty. It doesn’t require that much effort to get there either. An easy twenty minute walk will get you to one of the most beautiful spots you’ll ever see.
Start with one of the above islands. Any one of them will prove to be the paradise you’ve always wished for. You’ll want to keep coming back, but with so many amazing places to see, you’ll have to make the most of your time.