The Top 20 Islands in Europe
This year’s World’s Best Awards survey closed on March 2, just before widespread stay-at-home orders were implemented as a result of COVID-19. The results reflect our readers’ experiences before the pandemic, but we hope that this year’s honorees will inspire your trips to come — whenever they may be.
Year after year, when Travel + Leisure readers vote on the best islands in Europe, Greece emerges as a favorite destination. True to form, the country holds seven spots on this year’s list. And while plenty of beloved isles in Scotland, Italy, Portugal, Spain, and Croatia also made the list again, it’s clear that new horizons are also being explored.
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 cities, islands, cruise ships, spas, airlines, and more. Readers rated islands according to their activities and sights, natural attractions and beaches, food, friendliness, and overall value.
Related: The World's Best Awards 2020
Returning to the list are Greece’s Rhodes and the Dodecanese islands (No. 10), which last appeared in 2017. Rhodes, which at 541 square miles is the largest of these isles, is particularly rich in historic sites, including ancient ruins and a medieval Old Town that is a UNESCO World Heritage city. Beach lovers have a plethora of options, from Agathi, a small sandy stretch, to the more populated Faliraki, which is dotted with restaurants and hotels. Wrote one voter, “A favorite island to visit — chock-full of history, views, beaches, food, and many other delights!”
Readers are equally complimentary toward Croatia’s Hvar and the Dalmatian Islands (No. 5). These 79 islands abound with vineyards, olive groves, verdant forests, and, of course, beautiful beaches. For those whose idea of a perfect vacation includes chic boutique hotels and a nightlife scene, Hvar is a beloved spot — look for the Four Seasons opening on the island’s Brizenica Bay soon — while Korčula, Mljet, and Lastovo remain largely untouched, with deserted beaches that are easy to find.
As you might expect, the Greek Isles duked it out for the No. 1 spot, with last year’s winner (Mílos) coming in second and Páros returning to the top of the Continental heap. Below, the full list of the best islands in Europe.
1. Páros, Greece
“More Grecian magic,” one T+L reader enthused about Páros, which also holds a spot on the World’s Best Islands list. This 76-square-mile haven has some of the most beautiful beaches in Greece, stretches of white sand embraced by craggy cliffs on one side and turquoise waters on the other. Inland, it charms visitors with its traditional Cycladic architecture, small villages, and ancient monuments. Those looking for nightlife will be pleased with the island’s many clubs, while relative recluses can indulge in massages and early bedtime at Yria Boutique Hotel & Spa.
2. Mílos, Greece
3. Sicily, Italy
4. Azores, Portugal
5. Hvar and the Dalmatian Islands, Croatia
6. Crete, Greece
7. Ischia, Italy
8. Mallorca, Spain
9. Madeira, Portugal
10. Rhodes and the Dodecanese, Greece
11. Santorini, Greece
WBA Hall of Fame honoree. Score: 86.37
12. Orkney Islands, Scotland
13. Shetland Islands, Scotland
14. Gozo, Malta
15. Sardinia, Italy
16. Canary Islands, Spain
17. Skye and the Hebrides, Scotland
18. Corfu and the Ionian Islands, Greece
19. Capri, Italy
20. Mykonos, Greece
See all of our readers' favorite hotels, cities, airlines, cruise lines, and more in the World's Best Awards for 2020.