There’s no need to travel to distant destinations like the Caribbean to find your ideal holiday island. You’ll also find paradise nearer home, right off our European shores. Here’s a selection of our favourite European islands which you might like to consider when booking your next island getaway:
Floating off West Africa’s coast, Madeira boasts exceptionally rich volcanic soil, a mild climate and abundant rainfall which together create some gloriously lush scenery – the archipelago’s laurisilva forests are listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Indeed, if you love the great outdoors, this Portuguese island’s dramatic volcanic cliffs, black sandy beaches and wild waterfalls make it sheer paradise.
Madeira’s winters are warm and this, along with its staggering natural beauty and cosmopolitan lifestyle, draws in the tourists. Wine enthusiasts flock here too, for the world-famous Madeira wines. The Atlantic Ocean provides the perfect habitat for marine life and adventure-loving visitors enjoy swimming with dolphins, whale watching, and scuba diving off the green shores.
Sicily is the largest of Italy’s islands and gloriously combines ancient history with sensational scenery: crystal-clear sea and rugged volcanic mountains make it a dream for nature lovers.
History buffs love the island’s eclectic mix of Norman churches, Greek temples and Baroque palazzos. In fact, Sicily is the kind of destination where historic sightseeing always combines effortlessly with a balmy climate, shopping and a vibrant, contemporary eating and drinking scene, all of which give it great appeal to UK visitors.
An added attraction is the spectacularly dominating presence of the ever-active volcano, Mt. Etna plus its spectacular national park. Foodies adore Sicily’s unique cuisine which mingles Greek and Arab spices with fine seafood, using Spanish and French techniques, accompanied by sumptuous local wines.
Majorca is the biggest island of Spain’s Balearics but there’s far more to it than its famous beach resorts. The mountains of the Serra de Tramuntana have been made a World Heritage Site due to the extraordinary techniques used over the centuries to develop agriculture on its terraced slopes.
But whether you’re looking for a romantic getaway in the hills or a lively holiday resort atmosphere, you’re sure to find a holiday in Majorca to suit your needs.
The island’s capital, Palma, has developed into one of Spain’s most charming small cities. Here you’ll find its imposing cathedral, royal palace, narrow cobbled lanes and old city criss-crossed with pedestrianised shopping streets. Then there are the numerous charming squares, ancient courtyards, and chic bars – you’ll soon see why Palma charms locals and tourists alike.
Home to one of the longest beach basking seasons in the world, Crete is ideal for unwinding Greek-style. There are several beaches to suit all kinds of tastes and The Telegraph gives a good lowdown on some of the best in Crete.
If it’s not the beach you are after, there’s plenty of interest to be found inland, including the island’s exquisitely frescoed 14th and 15th century chapels, ancient Minoan palaces and towns, as well as plentiful opportunities for excellent hiking. The island’s incredible natural scenery includes gentle canyons and plateaus dotted with windmills.
If you are island hopping in Greece, Crete can be a good stop-over or starting point thanks to its two big international airports at Heraklion and Chania. Favourite island hops from Crete are to Rhodes, Santorini and Karpathos.
The “White Island” is renowned for its stunning coastline, trendy hotels and world-class night life.
Ibiza is of course synonymous with hedonism but a trip to the island is not all about clubs and all-night raves: away from all the bright lights there’s a quieter side to this magnificent holiday island.
If you crave a little quiet time or some culture, you will be well catered for: Ibiza is blessed with soft, sandy beaches, clear waters and interesting coves, not to mention a gorgeous array of picturesque towns and villages.
Families are also well catered for in relaxing resorts such as Santa Eularia des Riu (Santa Eulalia) and Es Canar (Es Cana) on its northeast coast. So whether you’re there to dance till dawn, relax on a beach, take in the culture or go hiking, Ibiza is just perfect.