Mallorca and Ibiza have been popular with tourists for a long time, but there are also lesser-known islands in Europe that are definitely worth seeing. This collection contains five uncommon island vacation options that you will definitely never forget.
Sylt is sometimes called the German Hamptons: this North Sea island has an atmosphere of luxury which is combined with the cosiness that the Germans are good at creating. Long beaches and windswept dunes dotted with traditional thatched cottages attract wealthy Germans. Staying at the luxurious A-Rosa Resort Sylt, you will awaken your inner German, who will definitely visit the sauna and swim in the choppy North Sea. And of course, you won’t get to know Sylt to the fullest if you don’t have a glass or two at sunset at the Sansibar Bar, an iconic and highly atmospheric place surrounded by dunes on the west coast of the island.
While most tourists who come to Tuscany choose the Cinque Terre in Liguria, the island of Elba could be great alternative. It is not very popular even among the Italians themselves, despite the fact that the place has a long history: the island was an exile place for Napoleon in 1814. You must come here for magnificent landscapes: untouched by civilization beaches, diving bays, picturesque mountain slopes, and rocky cliffs. All this is part of the Tuscan Archipelago, the largest marine national park in Europe. Accommodation on the Elba can be found for all tastes – from the five-star Plaza hotel to the Ilio boutique hotel with twenty rooms in the village of Sant Andrea on the wild northwest coast.
Belle-Île is Brittany’s largest island. The ‘beautiful isle’ is a magnet for tourists thanks to its temperate climate, magnificent rugged coastline, 60 gorgeous beaches and renowned opera festival.
It is here that the Wild Coast (Cote Sauvage) is located, which Claude Monet captured in several paintings. In the restaurants of the port city of Le Palais, you can order steamed mussels in white wine and spend a very pleasant evening admiring the coves framed by rocks, surfers conquering the waves in the Donnan Beach area, or the picturesque dunes: natural pools form between them during high tides. Be sure to book a thalassotherapy treatment with healing water at the Castel Clara Spa Hotel, which is located on a cliff-top on the island’s southwest coast.
The island is located in the Baltic Sea 60 miles from the mainland and is easily accessible by ferry or plane from Stockholm. Gotland is a true refuge from the outside world, where you can spend a pleasant evening in a cafe in the medieval town of Visby, stroll through a pine forest or relax on a wild beach. The most interesting experience here might be attending the Crayfish Festival: this traditional festival takes place in August, so plan your trip for the last summer month.
Pico is the second biggest in the Azores but hardly anyone lives here. The main reason to visit Pico is to sample local unusual white wines with mineral and slightly salty flavor due to the mother-stone volcanic soil and proximity to the ocean. The wine was the main business on the island before the 19th century. Pico exported wine all over the world—during the Bolshevik Revolution, they found a bottle of Pico wine in the cellar of a Russian tsar.
Whatever isn’t black on the island is green—the result of frequent fog and regular rain. Pico’s sandy beaches are also black, it is a unique place to swim.