Raise your hand if you'd rather be vacationing on an island far away right now? What about a European adventure? Our hands just shot up, too. And since we're dreaming of an escape that delivers both European charm and seaside bliss, we decided to curate a travel wish list of the destinations that tick those two boxes and then some: under-the-radar islands in Europe. Today we're spotlighting the 19 best islands in Europe to escape to year-round if you love unique travel destinations. Whether you're someone who loves to hike along moody seaside cliffs or you'd rather bask under the Mediterranean sun, these European islands will fulfill your quest for remote waterfront bliss.
In the Spotlight: Budelli, Italy
Off the northern coast of Sardinia, Budelli is a dreamy Italian destination with plenty of a plethora of unique attractions considering its size. Its famed Piaggia Rosada makes it worth the distance alone. However, you'll have to make it a day trip from Sardinia, as it's currently uninhabited and protected by an Italian national park board.
In the Spotlight: Hydra, Greece
For a quintessential European island vacation, consider visiting Hydra in Greece. It really does tick all the boxes: bougainvillea lining the cliffside homes, shops, and restaurants; sweeping views; gorgeous views; and a bustling nightlife. It's less busy and crowded than Santorini and Mykonos while still offering more activity than some of the quieter Greek island like Folegandros.
In the Spotlight: Corsica, France
Mountainous and lush, this French island has a bit of everything. Parts of it feel rugged and off the beaten path (adventure seekers, this one goes out to you), while there are also charming, bustling beach towns lining the coast. Though it's a part of France, it's close to Italy, and you can sense that in the culture. We can never get enough of the French Riviera and the inland valleys, but if you're craving an island hideaway with a French feel, Corsica is one of the few (but beautiful) options.
In the Spotlight: Faroe Islands, Denmark
This string of volcanic islands is situated in the Northern Atlantic between Norway, Iceland, and the United Kingdom. Super rocky and unique, this is the ideal destination for anyone who loves outdoor adventures like bird-watching, hiking, and soaking in breathtaking views of jagged, steep cliffs. Go to Gjogv for a quaint, small-town feel.
In the Spotlight: Hvar, Croatia
A magical blend of new and old, east and west, Hvar is a Croatian island retreat idyll for those who don't want to peel to far away from the mainland. Head inland for lovely rows of lavender fields or stick by the sea for beachside lounging and breathtaking Renaissance-era architecture built into the cliffs. Head to sea for a day trip and tour the nearby Pakleni Islands.
In the Spotlight: Lofoten, Norway
European islands offer so much more than just a beach to lounge in while soaking in the sun... If you prefer chillier locales where tourists are few and far between, consider visiting the Lofoten Islands in Norway. As you can probably sense from the image above, it boasts striking views that are unlike anything we've ever seen. Each island offers something a little different. Explore the charming fishing towns, hike the tall peaks, and take in the natural beauty that stretches out in every direction.
In the Spotlight: Gozo, Malta
If Malta isn't already sitting comfortably at the top of your travel bucket list, it definitely will be now. Situated in the Mediterranean Sea between Sicily and North Africa, this string of three islands is full of a robust history and picturesque beaches. There are three islands, the biggest being Malta (stay at Casa Ellul), followed by Gozo and Comino (go here to swim in the blue lagoon). With shades of deep, moody green punctured by upbeat blue hues, bright sunlight, and jagged white rocks, this locale screams summer bliss.
In the Spotlight: Sao Miquel, Portugal
If you didn't get the sense already from the stunning shot above, the São Miguel in the Portuguese Azores is an adventure seeker's dream. You can go cliff-diving and hiking, or you can keep things low-key while exploring the colorful town centers and beautiful architecture. Terceira is another gorgeous island in the Azores with hypnotizing patchwork meadows and the region's oldest city, Angra do Heroísmo.
In the Spotlight: Chiemsee, Germany
A quaint little island smack dab in the middle of Bavaria? It sounds almost too magical to be true (not to mention that Germany is landlocked), but Chiemsee truly does exist, and it's just as amazing as it sounds. The lake is home to a few islands, the largest being Herreninsel. Head here to explore an eighth-century convent, an unfinished palace, and a handful of nature trails.
Fraueninsel (which translates to "women's island") is slightly smaller, but the striking Gothic bell tower is worth the trek.
In the Spotlight: Isle of Skye, Scotland
Connected to the northern tip of Scotland by a bridge, you'll feel like you've walked into a colorful medieval fairytale when you reach the Isle of Skye. Seek refuge from the Loch Ness monster in the town's classic pubs and boutiques along the harbor, or head out for some sky-high adventures on the rocky peninsula.
Let the Island Hopping Continue…
While those are the 10 European islands currently sliding to the top of our travel bucket lists, there are plenty more we'd like to visit. If you feel the same, keep scrolling for nine more of the best Islands in Europe.
Belle Ile, France
Lake Bled Island, Slovenia