Is there anything better than exploring the golden sandy beaches, dramatic rocky cliffs, stunning sparkling seas, and unique cultures of an island?
Island life is hard to beat as a traveler, and in Europe, there are a huge number of exotic and enticing destinations to explore – so many that it’s hard to know which to choose.
As if they heard your cry for help, Condé Nast Traveller has recently revealed the best islands in Europe, as voted for by its readers in its annual Readers’ Choice Awards.
So, fire up your favorite flight booking app and start shopping for new swimwear; here are the top-rated islands that should be on your bucket list:
This charming island lies off the west coast of mainland Italy and has been having quite a moment in recent years, with a record-breaking figure of more than six million visitors arriving in 2022.
So, why are travelers flocking to Sardinia? For starters, the island enjoys good weather and a mild climate for most of the year, making the shoulder seasons longer than most.
Then there are the beaches. Cala Brandinchi, Spiaggia di Tuerredda, and Spiaggia della Speranza are widely regarded as some of the best and boast crystal clear waters and pure white sand.
As for cities, Cagliari is the largest on the south coast and has a bustling Mediterranean harbor vibe.
Other highlights include the Spanish-influenced Alghero and pretty beach resort Bosa in the northwest, historically fascinating Olbia in the northeast, and the rugged shorelines of Tortoli in the east.
The high point of popularity for the Greek island Mykonos was probably a few years ago, but its picture-perfect shores still attract many visitors.
The cobbled streets, iconic whitewashed houses, and fantastic food are perfectly accompanied by luxury shopping and a vibrant nightlife with beach bars and clubs aplenty.
While popular in summer, fall is likely the best time to visit Mykonos, with slightly cooler temperatures and fewer crowds.
As it’s part of a wider Greek archipelago, boat trips around the Aegean Sea are a popular way to explore this turquoise wonderland.
This iconic Spanish destination has undergone somewhat of a renaissance in recent years.
Best known for its nightlife and being an epicenter of modern dance music, Ibiza also has a quieter side that has been growing in popularity.
Sailing trips from ports such as Eivissa and Sant Antoni de Portmany are a more relaxed way to take in this part of the Balearics, while the beaches of Cala d’Hort are close to the stunning nature reserve Es Vedra.
It feels right that Greece’s largest island (and the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean overall) makes a list of the best islands in Europe.
Crete is the postcard setting of what you imagine a Med island to be like, with miles of spotless beaches and a luscious interior made up of mountains and gorges that are popular with hikers.
The old town of Chania is a beautiful maze of different cultures that have visited the island throughout history, while the town of Rethymno is the best place to re-live the days of antiquity that Greece is famous for.
And when all that exploring is done, sit back and enjoy some of the island’s world-famous food, largely made from locally grown ingredients (I recommend my favorite Greek dish, Spanakopita).
Sicily sits just off the ‘boot’ of Italy in the far south of the country.
As well as a typical Mediterranean climate, picturesque towns and villages packed with history, and some unique takes on Italian food, Sicily also has a mountainous side.
It’s home to Mount Etna and Mount Stromboli – both active volcanoes that have shaped life on this island ever since humans first set foot on them.
You can enjoy guided tours and hikes of areas around these volcanoes, including caves and therapeutic mud baths – unique experiences not to be missed.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com