Sunny Island Getaways in Europe
Now that the days are getting longer the countdown to summer has officially begun and that can only mean one thing – it’s time to start planning your summer holiday! Holidays should be a time to relax and unwind so this year why not treat yourself to a serene island getaway. We can’t all afford the Maldives, but luckily an island retreat is closer than you might think.
Here’s our guide to some of the best island getaways in Europe:
An obvious choice, but the largest island in the Mediterranean really does have it all. For those who need something more than the usual sunbathing and a swim in the sea, Sicily is home to a whole host of interesting architecture from Norman temples to Greek temples and Baroque palazzos. But that’s not all. As you’d expect of any Italian destination there’s also a vibrant eating, drinking and shopping scene. Add all of this to a balmy climate all year round and stunning landscapes and you have the ideal holiday destination.
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Zakynthos often gets overlooked in favour of the larger Greek islands like Corfu, but the island’s relaxed vibe and numerous beaches make it a big hit with holidaymakers. One of the main draws is the underwater caves of the Ionian Sea where keen snorkelers and divers can discover a wealth of marine life and geological history. Back on land, the Byzantine Museum makes a great break from the beach and houses a number of impressive paintings from the Renaissance period.
Majorca has a bit of a reputation as a cheap package holiday destination but there’s far more to see here outside the usual boozy resorts. To truly get away from it all you could explore the Tramuntana Mountain range – a UNESCO World Heritage Site – or sample a true taste of local tradition in one of the many wineries in the centre of the island. Or of course, you could just take a well-earned rest and top up your tan on the beach. It might be a small island, but there’s plenty to keep you coming back time and time again.
Crete might be better known for its 18-30 resorts, but that’s a shame as there’s so much history and culture to discover on the island. Not to mention incredible beaches! There’s plenty of serenity to be found away from the party-goers with sights to explore including fourteenth and fifteenth century chapels and the ruins of Minoan towns and palaces. Be sure to pay a visit to Spinalonga – an abandoned leper colony off the coast of Elounda.
Croatia has really risen through the ranks of Europe’s best holiday destinations over the last few years, so while you’re never going to have the place to yourself in the summer months there are places you can escape to to enjoy a touch of serenity. While the crowds and cruise ships descend on ever-popular Dubrovnik, head to Hvar which is famous for its lavender fields that fragrance the whole island. Spend some time exploring Hvar Old Town where you’ll find an interesting blend of thirteenth century walls and Gothic churches lining the maze of cobbled streets, soak up the sun on one of the island’s numerous beaches and spend the evenings sampling some of Croatia’s famous – and very delicious – wines.