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Secret Islands: 7 European islands you’ve never heard of

Move over Mallorca! Here are 7 sweet spots for an alternative island adventure.

Bored of the Balearics? Tired of Tenerife? Why not expand your island horizons?

Skyscanner introduces seven secret islands within easy reach of the UK, that you’ve probably never heard of.

1. Gotland, Sweden

With 500 miles of beautiful Baltic coastline, Gotland is well known to Swedes, yet despite being Sweden’s largest island, British tourists are still thin on the ground. Visby, the capital, is a UNESCO world heritage site with more than 100 medieval churches and prehistoric sites for you to explore. The rest of the island offers a national park and over 100 nature reserves. Ideal for outdoor lovers, go hiking, biking and horse riding in Gotland, or kick back on the beach.

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Click on the image to find flights to this secluded Swedish spot.


2. Holy Isle, Scotland

Sitting off the west coast of Scotland, and just a short trip from Arran, Holy Isle is now a spiritual retreat run by a Buddhist Lama. Visitors can come for a day or more, to either wander the land or enrol on more spiritual endeavours by taking a course in med m,aiation, yoga or even ‘Lucid dreaming and mindfulness’. You can fly to Glasgow or Prestwick, then take a train, or if you’re really in a rush to start mediating, you can even take a chopper.


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3. Traena, Norway

The jagged peaks and lush grass of Traena, an island 65km off the coast of Norway, would likely be little known if it wasn’t for Trenafestival which has been deemed the ‘World’s most remote music festival’. Once a year, performers come from all around the world to this island to play on some unusual stages, including one in a cave. Getting here requires dedication; you’ll need to fly to Bodo, then take a six-hour boat trip to reach Traena. But it’s worth it; expect a warm welcome from the island locals, top-notch gourmet food, and probably the most stunning setting for a gig you’ll ever find.

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Click on the photo to find flights to Norway.

4. Bozcaada, Turkey

Once known as Tenedos, this small island is most definitely a Turkish delight. Sitting in the serene Aegean sea, it’s a landscape of low hills, beautiful bays, lavender fields, vineyards and cobble-stone alleys. Welcome to life in the slow lane, where Turkish old-timers play backgammon in shady spots, and there’s always a glass of island wine on offer. Fly to Istanbul then take a ferry across the Sea of Marmara to reach this Turkish haven.

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5. Poros, Greece

See ya Santorini! Poros is the perfect bolthole to escape the backpacker crowds and package holidaymakers you might typically bump in to in the Greek islands. This heavenly retreat in Greece’s Saronic Gulf is where the locals go for a break. Visit the Lemon Forest, a hill covered in more than 30,000 lemon and orange trees, and lounge on its beaches which stretch uninterrupted around the coastline. Poros is quiet, yet cosmopolitan; there’s plenty to entertain you after dark in the cosy cafes and taverns where the locals come out to play, yet seclusion is easy to find on this most authentic Greek Island.

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Click on the photo to read about 11 more secret islands in Europe.

6. Elba, Italy

Sitting 12 miles off the coast of the Italian mainland, Elba is part of the Archipelago Toscano National Park. Although it’s the third largest island in Italy (after Sicily and Sardinia) it’s not particularly well known to British holidaymakers. Known as ‘Tuscany’s Island’, the area has a splendid mix of history, coastline, mountains and forest, making it ideal for an active break. Try your hand at windsurfing, sea kayaking, diving, climbing and mountain biking here.

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Read more: 5 of Italy’s secret cities

7. Comino, Malta

Comino is a tiny island that forms part of the Malteser-sized Malta. Known for its tranquillity and isolation, it has a permanent population of just four (yes four!). The island is car-free and a paradise for divers, windsurfers and walkers. Comino’s best asset is probably its Blue Lagoon – a sheltered inlet of aquamarine sea over white sand, which could easily get work as a stunt-double for the Maldives. To get here, fly to Malta then just hop on a ferry.

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Click on the image to find flights to Greece.

Want to find out about more secret destinations? Check these out:

7 secret seas

7 secret countries

7 secret cities in Europe

11 more secret islands in Europe

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