Leave Capri, Santorini and Fuerteventura to the tourists and find your own island adventure with our selection of 11 of the most interesting islands in Europe.
1. Porquerolles, France
Exclusive hideaway for the rich, famous and reclusive of the French Riviera, Porquerolles is the largest of the three Îles d’Hyères. Mere mortals like us can visit for the day. Practitioners of naturism, and missile testing, will prefer the neighbouring Île du Levant.
2. Gugh, England
Sub-tropical Scilly, off Land’s End, does a fine line in islands. Only five of its 140 are inhabited, including St. Agnes, from where, depending on the state of the tide, you can walk across the sand ‘tombolo’ to tiny Gugh. Its highest point is lofty Kitten Hill, 34m above sea level.
3. San Miguel, Portugal
Dots in the ocean half way to America, the Azores are a distant outpost of Europe where sperm whales frolic and the scenery looks like a set from Jurassic Park – for example, the volcanic crater lake Lagoa do Fogo on the island of San Miguel.
4. Colonsay, Scotland
Stuck out in the middle of nowhere in the Atlantic, there isn’t a lot to do on Colonsay, but that’s one of its selling points. If you’re not high on life after a bracing walk along its vertiginous cliff-tops and vast beaches, you’re sure to be smiling after a a couple of pints of the locally-brewed Colonsay lager.
5. Texel, Netherlands
The Netherlands’ North Sea coast isn’t exactly the most glamorous location for a get-away-from-it-all island, but who needs the Maldives when you’ve got white beaches, windmills and loads of sheep, on the same latitude as Stoke-on-Trent?
6. Sark, The Channel Islands
in 1990, 50 years after German forces arrived to occupy tiny tax haven Sark, an unemployed French nuclear physicist named André Gardes attempted a one-man invasion. He was arrested by the island’s volunteer police constable.
7. Elba, Italy
This mountainous island in the Tuscan Archipelago boasts one famous ex-resident. Napoleon woz ‘ere, in exile for 300 days in 1814-5. After defeat at Waterloo he was exiled again, this time a little further away to Saint Helena in the South Atlantic.
8. Inishmore, Ireland
Inishmore, or Inis Mór, is one of the Aran Islands off Galway. Visitors will be enthralled by its two main attractions, the illegal poteen distillery that produces ridiculously high strength liquor, and some fine examples of Glacio-Karst landscape.
9. Mykines, Faroe Islands
The Faroe Islands seem to exist only to provide embarrassing results for national football teams who really should be able to beat a motley crew of fisherman and lighthouse keepers, but it looks utterly spectacular. The approach to the island’s airport, over towering sea stacks, must rank among the world’s most nerve-wracking.
10. Ile Lavezzi, France
Just one of a clutch of islets in the Mediterranean between Corsica and Sardinia, Lavezzi is the kind of place where you’d drop anchor in a pristine turquoise-and-coral bay, crack open a bottle of Dom P and feast on fresh lobster, if you were really rich and owned a yacht.
11. Reichenau, Germany
Reichenau is unique in our collection in that it is an island not in the sea but in a lake – Lake Constance in southern Germany. Fans of cabbages, cauliflowers and potatoes will be in their element on the island which is revered for the quality and quantity of its vegetable production.