The Best Islands in Europe in 2016
Europe’s islands are as distinct as its countries. They are large and small, lush and rocky, uninhabited and packed with people — and each has a glamour all its own.
Every year for our World’s Best Awards survey, T+L asks readers to weigh in on travel experiences around the globe — to share their opinions on the top hotels, resorts, cities, cruise lines, spas, airlines, and more. Readers rated islands on their natural attractions and beaches, activities and sights, food, friendliness, and overall value.
The sun-bleached islands of Greece make up half of this year's top 10. Perrennial favorites Crete, Mykonos, and Santorini (on the list for 16 years running) are here once again, but the often overlooked yet no less romantic Ionian Islands (excluding Corfu, which is rated separately) made a strong showing, too.
Madeira, Portugal — in the Atlantic Ocean some 400 miles off the coast of Morocco — was praised by readers for its dramatic landscapes, culture, history, and wines. “It’s different from any island I've been to,” wrote one survey respondent. “It has its own special climate, leaving a mystical, magical feeling in the air.”
The biggest news: after five straight years on top, Santorini was bumped to No. 2 by Ischia, a mountainous Italian island near Naples known for its vineyards, hiking trails, and natural thermal baths. Read on for the full list.
No. 10: Crete, Greece
No. 9: Hvar, Croatia
No. 8: Páros, Greece
No. 7: Mykonos, Greece
No. 6: Malta
No. 5: Ionian Islands (except Corfu; Greece
No. 4: Madeira, Portugal
No. 3: Sicily, Italy
No. 2: Santorini, Greece
No. 1: Ischia, Italy
A volcanic land rich in Greek and Roman history, Ischia is best known for its mountainous landscapes, hot springs, and beaches. It hides in the shadow of neighboring Capri, which might explain how it retains a real sense of escape. “It’s one of the best places to relax your body and mind,” one reader said. Witness the mix of old and new in any of its spa towns, where landscaped gardens and public villas sit adjacent to fine restaurants and boutiques — or take it all in from the ramparts of Aragonese Castle, on an islet that overlooks the island’s eastern coast.