May 28, 2024

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The 20 Best Islands in Europe

The 20 Best Islands in Europe

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

Aerial view of Ischia island, at the Gulf of Naples, Italy.
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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.

Score: 94.61

2. Mílos, Greece

Volcanic rock formations on Sarakiniko beach on Milos island, Greece.
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Score: 92.50

3. Páros, Greece

Greek village of Naousa, Paros island, Greece.
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Score: 90.62

4. Azores, Portugal

Farol do Arnel, Sao Miguel, Azores, Portugal.
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Score: 90.48

5. Ibiza, Spain

beach in Ibiza, Spain.
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Score: 89.89

6. Madeira, Portugal

PIco do Arieiro in Madeira, Portugal.
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Score: 89.78

7. Crete, Greece

Matala beach, Crete, Greece.
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WBA Hall of Fame honoree. Score: 89.40

8. Corsica, France

Bonifacio, Corsica, France.
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Score: 88.30

9. Hvar and the Dalmatian Islands, Croatia

waterside in Hvar, Croatia.
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Score: 87.60

10. Corfu and the Ionian Islands, Greece

Cliff on Corfu, Greece.
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Score: 87.53

11. Sicily, Italy

View on the main square of the old city of Noto, Sicily.
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Score: 87.04

12. Cyprus

Port in Kyrenia/Girne during a sunny summer day, Cyprus, Greece.
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Score: 86.28

13. Santorini, Greece

Village of Oia in Santorini, Greece.
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WBA Hall of Fame honoree. Score: 86.20

14. Mallorca, Spain

The Cathedral of Santa Maria of Palma in Palma, Mallorca, Spain.
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Score: 86.04

15. Sardinia, Italy

La Pelosa beach in Sardinia, Italy.
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Score: 85.90

16. Capri, Italy

Statue of Tiberius with a view of Faraglioni rocks, Capri, Italy.
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Score: 85.80

17. Skye and the Hebrides, Scotland

Girl hiking towards The Old Man of Storr, Girl hiking towards The Old Man of Storr, Isle of Skye, Scotland.
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Score: 85.47

18. Malta

View of Valletta, the capital of Malta.
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Score: 84.67

19. Rhodes and the Dodecanese, Greece

Windmills Rhodes Old Town and Fort of St. Nicholas in Rhodes, Greece.
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Score: 84.59

20. Mykonos, Greece

view from hill of Mykonos, Greece.
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Score: 83.63