When you think of the most beautiful islands in Europe it’s natural to think of the obvious choices: Ibiza, Malta, Tenerife, Sicily… But everyone has already heard of these top touristic islands in Europe. But wouldn’t you like to discover something more? More authentic, more innocent. Or rather something less? Less noisy, less crowded, less known.
If you too are tired of the honey pot tourism destinations, we designed a list of the most beautiful islands in Europe that you’ve never heard of, where you can spend your holidays far away the crowd.
This is a list of the places yet to be spoilt by human exploitation, where the environmental value is considered, where you can enjoy the wildlife and find some peace.
The ten most beautiful islands in Europe according to ELJ team
São Miguel (The Azores, Portugal)
São Miguel is the biggest island of The Azores. Although it may give the feeling of being in the Amazon, this archipelago is lost in the middle of the Atlantic and belongs to Portugal.
The secret island of São Miguel would be the perfect destination for nature lovers with its green pastures, underwater mountains, blue lakes, grottoes and fishing villages. Moreover, there are a lot of activities to do: Hiking, diving, whale-watching, or sunbathing on unspoilt beaches. Feeling curious? Check the Top 10 of the places to visit in Sao Miguel Island.
Monteagudo (Cies, Spain)
Monteagudo is one of the three main islands of the the Cíes archipelago situated in the Atlantic Coastline of Galicia. This hidden island is connected to the other island of Faro by a long sand path: Rodas Beach, considered as one of the top 10 beaches in the world by The Guardian. The beaches are so breath-taking that the locals call the region “Galician Caribbean”. But when you jump into the clear refreshing water, you will be reminded that you are indeed in the Nord-West of Spain.
Apart from camp sites, you won’t find any accommodation here. This uninhabited island is the ideal destination to escape from the crowd and relax on the beach.
Sark (Channel Islands, England)
This rocky secret island, off the coast of Normandy, is like a throwback to the past: no cars are allowed (locals get around by bike, tractors or horses), no street lights and only one policeman on the whole island. It sounds like a dream island for those wanting to escape the noise of the city and who would like to spend the night watching the stars! A place to experience the peace of the past.
Sanna (Traena, Norway)
Mostly known for the “Trenafestival” considered as the world’s most remote music festival, the hidden island of Sanna attracts music fans to attend concerts in mystical places like grottoes and caves each July. During the three-day festival, only one hour separates the sunset from the sunrise, creating a spectacular atmosphere.
To get there, you have to be a little patient…it’s a six hour boat ride. But once arrived, locals will give you a warm welcome that will make you forget a long day travelling.
And if you like the history, Sanna offers a collection of old monuments and houses set against the stunning Scandinavian landscape.
If you need a calming cure to escape the twenty-first century, look no further. Deserted beaches, golden dunes, the sound of the crashing waves and the 135 friendly inhabitants will serve as an antidote. If you are the sporty type, you can always climb the 300 feet peaks of this beautiful island and enjoy the spectacular views over it. Get away for a weekend stay in one of the typical lodges or cottage on the island.
Anciently named Tenedos (Greek), this is one of the most beautiful islands in Europe and seems to have been forgotten by mass tourism. And yet, the tourists have no idea what they’re missing: an island with a rich culture predominated by vineyards, the principal activity of the island. The two quarters of the city centre are both represented by a different architecture (Greek and Turkish), each one provide evidence of the city’s history.
You can visit the well-preserved Castle of Bozcaada, enjoy some mezze platters or read a book while enjoying the local wine.
Isola Maddalena (Italy)
Isola Maddalena is one of the secret island of Sardinia. You can find the beaches of Italy with the cleanest water and turquoise lagoons. If you are looking for more entertainment, you can go to the town of “La Maddalena” where you will find restaurants, bars, a cinema and shops.
Don’t waste too much time planning this trip because this hidden gem slowly being discovered by tourists.
This Island is hidden between Corsica and Sardinia. Cavallo is the type of place that those who know about it try to keep it a secret and many famous personalities like to escape here due to its discretion and the luxurious villas along the coast.
Although the island is French be prepared to hear Italian, meet Italian and eat Italian (which isn’t a bad thing, right?).
Gugh belongs to the isles of Scilly, off the South coast of England. This small hidden island is linked to the island of St. Agnes by a tombolo (a narrow piece of land).
Gugh has earned its place on our list of the most beautiful islands in Europe for its tranquillity and its green vegetation, mostly consisting of grassy beaches. You can also take some pictures with the Old Man of Gugh, a standing stone from the the Bronze Age.
Maybe we can agree that Vis is no longer a secret island, for the region of Central Dalmatia has become a huge tourist destination, mainly thanks to the blue cave of Bisevo. The blue light is a natural phenomenon that is well worth seeing.
Vis is home to the most photographed beaches in Europe (Stinivia), smaller bays only accessible by boat or foot and some charming Croatian villages (Komiza).
All these secret islands are a true paradise for those who are looking for real holidays. It’s the type of holidays that will replenish your soul and will make you feel more alive than ever. I was a little reluctant to share what are, in my opinion, the most beautiful islands in Europe because a part of me wanted to keep them secret in order that these hidden places remain authentic and… hidden. But I can’t be selfish, right?
Do you want more secret locations in Europe? Read our article about the hidden gems to visit in Europe before tourists discover them.