9 Best European Islands To Visit

When islands in Europe are mentioned, especially when it comes to vacation hotspots, then the Greek Islands win every time. Followed, usually, by the Balearics, the Canaries, and a few Italian islands, such as Sardinia or Capri. Admittedly, these are all gorgeous islands, and extremely popular with travelers, but not only does their popularity take away from their appeal, but also there are so many more beautiful European islands that are worth a visit. And, best of all, they are not overrun with tourists and allow you to discover parts of Europe you might not have considered before.

Being a dedicated island fan, I have selected a few in this roundup that might just spark your interest and entice you away from the crowds. Here are islands that have that little something different, are off the beaten path, or are popular, but not at the time I recommend visiting.

Ready for some island hopping?

Jerbourg Point, the southeastern point of the Ballwich of Guernsey in the English Channel.
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1. Guernsey, English Channel

The bailiwick of Guernsey is part of the Channel Islands, and although a British Crown Dependency, the island is a delightful mix of all things French and English, lying some 30 miles off the coast of Normandy and 70 miles off the coast of England. The small island with a grand total of 65,000 inhabitants is perfect for hiking, with a coastal path spanning 110 miles of varied terrain. The island is historic, with a beautiful natural landscape that has inspired painters and writers. It has cute small villages and towns full of restaurants serving the freshest seafood, but most of all, it invites you to slow down and explore at a more relaxed pace.

Pro Tip: Rent a car at the airport and explore the island first, before enjoying the rest on foot. 

Chalk Cliffs in Rügen National Park, Rügen, Germany
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2. Rügen, Germany

Do you know the painting Chalk Cliffs on Rügen by German Romantic artist Caspar David Friedrich? The artist is an ancestor of mine, and I was taken to see it at a museum when I was young. To me, it sums up the island of Rügen in the Baltic Sea perfectly. Beautiful white cliffs, lush countryside, all surrounded by the sea, which is lovely and warm in summer, not too salty, and often freezes over in winter. A former society sea bath resort, the island is dotted with old grand hotels, and one of the prettiest piers in the world, the Sellin Pier, which has a white restaurant on a platform reached by a short wooden pier. While the island has perfect beaches for swimming in summer, this is an all-year destination that invites visitors to don comfortable shoes, grab a map and go out exploring.

Pro Tip: There are easy train connections from Hamburg or Berlin, that take you to the island in three to four hours.

Aerial view of Saint-Martin-de-Ré, France
Saint-Martin-de-Ré, France (Photo Credit: Trabantos / Shutterstock.com)

3. Ile de Ré, France

Probably my favorite island in Europe, the Île de Ré, oozes French charm at every turn. Just a bridge away from the medieval city of La Rochelle with its quaint harbor, it seems a million miles away from…

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