There are few things more delightful than sipping a cold drink while lounging on a remote island, especially when it also involves earning a European stamp in your passport. This year’s list of the best islands in Europe offers no shortage of inspiration, with seaside escapes so glorious that seven of them land on the World’s Best Islands list.
Every year for our World’s Best Awards survey, T+L asks readers to weigh in on travel experiences around the globe — to share their opinions on the top cities, islands, cruise ships, spas, airlines, and more. Readers rated islands according to their activities and sights, natural attractions and beaches, food, friendliness, and overall value.
Greece retains bragging rights, with seven highly lauded islands, including Mílos (No. 2); Páros (No. 3); and Crete (No. 7). These three appear on the World’s Best Islands list as well, thanks to their photogenic beaches, fresh seafood, and ancient sites. To the west, France’s Corsica (No. 8) earned plaudits for its boating activities, while the Italian island of Sicily (No. 11) drew praise for its multifaceted history. As one history buff wrote, “Sicily awaits the intrepid and prepared traveler with unbelievably pristine beaches, Greek ruins, and fabulous architecture of the late Middle Ages and period of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies.”
Coming in at No. 17 is Scotland’s Skye and the Hebrides (No. 17), a collection of more than 40 islands known for their dramatic landscapes and ancient Gaelic culture. Skye, which is now reachable by bridge, is a hiker’s paradise with otherworldly rock formations, waterfalls, and fairy pools. At the Skeabost Hotel, which has 20 luxuriously appointed rooms, there’s a nine-hole course for golf enthusiasts, while fishing fans can catch salmon in the river that runs through the 23-acre grounds.
Still, no island impressed T+L readers as much as Italy’s Ischia, which was crowned not only No. 1 among the best islands in Europe, but the world.
1. Ischia, Italy
This 18-square-mile volcanic island, located in the Tyrrhenian Sea, just offshore from Naples, delights readers with its quaint towns and a plethora of natural hot springs. Many of Ischia’s hotels, including the 128-room grande dame Regina Isabella and the 73-room San Montano Resort & Spa, have their own thermal pools. For a more intimate experience, consider the 10-room Tenuta del Poggio Antico, set on a hill overlooking the water. Italian hospitality is also alive and well on the island. “People were all very nice and helpful,” one reader remarked.
2. Mílos, Greece
3. Páros, Greece
4. Azores, Portugal
5. Ibiza, Spain
6. Madeira, Portugal
7. Crete, Greece
WBA Hall of Fame honoree. Score: 89.40
8. Corsica, France
9. Hvar and the Dalmatian Islands, Croatia
10. Corfu and the Ionian Islands, Greece
11. Sicily, Italy
13. Santorini, Greece
WBA Hall of Fame honoree. Score: 86.20
14. Mallorca, Spain
15. Sardinia, Italy
16. Capri, Italy
17. Skye and the Hebrides, Scotland
19. Rhodes and the Dodecanese, Greece
20. Mykonos, Greece