10 Best Islands to Visit in Europe

By: Angela Ayles
Fira, Santorini, Greece Getty Images / © 2014 Matteo Colombo

The islands in Europe provide travelers with a unique experience that is not often found in landlocked areas. The islands have distinctive cultures and some of the most amazing views in the world. Travelers will want to consider visiting some or all of the ten best islands in Europe.


1. Zakynthos

High angle view of Shipwreck beach (Navagio) în Zakynthos Greece în a beautiful summer day, Europe.
Getty Images / Stefan Cioata

This Greek Island is located in the Ionian Sea. It is a relaxing island with a number of beaches. Divers and snorkelers can take advantage of the several nearby underwater caves that showcase the sea life and geological history of the area. The island contains two museums including the Byzantine Museum of Zakynthos that holds a number of paintings from the Renaissance period.

2. Gozo

Xlendi is a small village in the southwest of Gozo known for its crab fishing.
Getty Images / ©larigan2018

Gozo is the second-largest island sitting in the archipelago that includes Malta. The island contains a number of beaches and small towns as well as some distinctive luxury resorts. Visitors will find a number of opportunities for diving, fishing, and other sports on the water. Unique natural features like the Azure Window are worth seeing. Although the island tends to be rural, there are several sightseeing bus tours as well as an effective public transportation system.

3. Isle of Skye

The Cuillin Hills, widely regarded as Britain's most spectacular mountain range, dominate the Isle of Skye. The village of Tarskavaig on the Sleat Peninsula affords a fine view of the range.
Getty Images / David C Tomlinson

The Isle of Skye is located close to the northern shores of Scotland. The island is popular with travelers who want to spend time outdoors hiking or climbing. The Cuillins are a beautiful and distinctive range of mountains on the islands. Climbers will find jutting rocks and surfaces that can be difficult to traverse. The island also has wide heather moors where hiking and bird watching is possible. Visitors can often enjoy folk and Gaelic songs at local venues in the towns and cities on the island.

4. Kefallinia

Asos bay and village on the west coast of the island of Cephalonia, Greece.
Getty Images / ©PhotoStock-Israel 2020

Kefallinia is the largest island in the Ionian Sea around Greece. The island is a natural paradise for travelers. It still has some modern and urban areas as well. A popular attraction in the park on top of the 5,300-foot tall Mount Ainos. Another is the Melissani Cave system that starts above ground and descends downwards until it meets the water. Visitors can take boat tours of the caves. Travelers can visit some restaurants and boutique shops in Vallianos Square in the center of the capital city of Argostoli.


5. Santorini

Oia Santorini Greece
© Allard Schager / Getty Images

The Greek island of Santorini in the Aegean Sea is the name given to the former island of Thera after a volcanic eruption changed the region. Travelers will find a relaxed island with many trails along the edge of high mountains and cliffs that overlook the sea. The volcanic activity has left a black beach along the shore. The island also has a rich history including cave houses and collections of antiques in local museums. A popular attraction is the Faros lighthouse in the south.

6. Jersey

Getty Images / Alan Lagadu

The Island of Jersey is the largest of the Channel Islands and enjoys temperate weather throughout the year. The island is dominated by natural scenery and a number of protected areas like the Durrell Wildlife Park. Visitors can explore some of the historic buildings and museums throughout the different parishes. Travelers will want to visit the museum built around the Jersey War Tunnels constructed during World War II.

7. Naxos

Naxos city in Cyclades, Greece at night.
Getty Images / ©2015 Sizun Eye

Naxos is located in the Aegean Sea and is the largest member of the Cyclades chain of islands. The island is known mainly for the large number of historic ruins that are spread across the landscape. Visitors interested in Greek mythology and ancient culture will want to visit the standing entrance to the Temple of Apollo known as the Portara. Another attraction is the historic Crispi Tower that is part of an ancient Venetian castle.

8. Fuerteventura

People walking on beach Playa del Mal Nombre and cliffs of black basaltic rocks between the villages of Butihondo and Sotavento in Jandia, South of Fuerteventura.
Getty Images / © 2011 Andreas Weibel

Fuerteventura is an island off the coast of Africa that is part of the Canary Islands. It is known for white-sand beaches and beautiful views of the Atlantic Ocean. Some of the most popular activities on the island include surfing, windsurfing, diving, and sportfishing. There are also regular large concert events each year such as the Festival of Canarian Music.

9. Mainland

Beautiful summer landscape panorama with yellow wooden traditional houses on the sea near mountain range in background, Lofoten Islands, Norway
Getty Images / © 2018 Tatsiana Volskaya

The mainland is the main body and transportation hub for the Orkney Islands in Scotland. Many of the attractions like the settlements at the Brough of Birsay show what Viking culture was like centuries ago. There are even older settlements from Neolithic times such as the famous Skara Brae. The island also contains diverse wildlife including many seabirds.


10. Capri

Getty Images / John Harper

Capri is one of the most popular island destinations for travelers. The Italian island is in the Tyrrhenian Sea. The most popular destination on the island is the Blue Grotto. This is an area and cave where the water is a striking blue color. Villa Jovis is another popular spot. It was the former palace for Emperor Tiberius. Another historic attraction is the Church of San Michele Arcangelo in Anacapri.