These European islands, voted the best by T+L readers, are seaside temples of culture, cuisine, and natural beauty.
The love affair with Greece continues for our readers, who have voted six of the country’s islands into the European Top 10 list this year. But beyond Santorini and Mykonos, some of these winners are decidedly lesser known. It turns out, there are still places you can be the first to discover in your circle of friends.
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 2018 World's Best Awards
The Azores, an archipelago of nine islands located about 900 miles off Portugal’s coast, are quietly becoming one of the trendiest places to be in Europe. And since Delta added direct service to São Miguel, the main island, from New York City, it’s easier than ever to go. Of the Azores’ volcanic caverns, waterfalls, and emerald waters, one visitor wrote, “Some of the most beautiful sights in the world. Relaxing, safe, great food.” Added another, “The people are the most generous, welcoming, warm folks I have met.”
For those who prefer to skip out on sunbathing, Scotland’s Orkney Islands, located in the North Sea, are a must. The 70 isles, of which two-thirds are uninhabited, have dramatic coastlines and landscapes that include 5,000-year-old Neolithic sites and prehistoric villages. The capital, Kirkwall, has been a thriving town since the 11th century; a stay at the Kirkwall Hotel, a Victorian-era building on the harbor, puts you in the middle of the action.
Italy is represented solely by Sicily (the long-favored island of Ischia, the No. 2 last year, has been bumped from the list). One reader praised the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea: “So much to see, such wonderful food. Our three days could have been three months.” A visitor to any of these 10 islands will feel exactly the same way. Read on for the full list.