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Europe’s most popular islands

Europe’s most popular islands

Discover the most popular European island in each European country

Whether you’re looking for beaches to enjoy the sun, sea and sand, beautiful scenery with mountainous peaks and nature trails, or perhaps a cultural cityscape with historic old towns, Europe is home to some amazing and diverse islands.

As travel restrictions ease across Europe, and with summer just around the corner, an island holiday will be high on everyone’s post lockdown agenda. Fortunately, Europe has hundreds of island destinations to choose from and every country has their favourite island escapes. To find out which European islands are the most popular in each country Musement analysed the Google search volume for 200 European islands (excluding island countries) in 44 European countries*.

So which islands are the most popular? Santorini, the beautiful Greek island is a clear favourite for many European countries, but did you know that the Isle of Wight is England’s favourite island? And Senja, known as “Norway in miniature”, is the most popular for Norwegians?

Whilst some of the big names are obvious staples on many travel bucket-lists, discover some hidden gems as we island hop our way through Europe:

Musement - Europe's most popular islands

Santorini, Greece

Despite being the smallest island in size to make the list, Santorini is world famous and the most popular island throughout Europe. Part of the Cyclades Island group, Santorini was created after a volcanic eruption in 1600 BCE. This left a steep edged crater known as a caldera, which forms the steep cliffs of the island today. Full of Greek charm, the island is renowned for its dramatic views, romantic sunsets, volcanic sand beaches, walking trails, ancient cities, wineries and award-winning restaurants.

Most popular island in: Albania, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, France, Hungary, Malta, North Macedonia, Romania, Slovakia, Northern Ireland

 

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Tenerife, Spain

The second favourite island in Europe, only behind Santorini, is Tenerife. Part of the Canary archipelago, Tenerife is the most sought after in Belgium, Iceland, Latvia, Moldova, Scotland and Spain. And for good reason! The island of eternal spring has natural wonders such as the Teide National Park, the Anaga Rural Park or the Los Gigantes cliffs, along with charming towns such as San Cristóbal de La Laguna, La Orotova or Garachio. For those looking to sunbathe and enjoy a dip in the sea, Benijo beach, La Tejita beach or Punta Blanca beach are just some of the many options available. Another strong point of Tenerife is the wide variety of activities to enjoy with the family, with Siam Park and Loro Parque being two of its greatest attractions.

Most popular island in: Belgium, Iceland, Latvia, Moldova, Spain, Scotland

Sardinia, Italy

The beautiful beaches of Sardinia are well known and attract holidaymakers from all over Europe every summer. The island offers a wide variety of places to visit, starting in the north, with the wonderful beaches of the Costa Smeralda, and less travelled but equally fascinating Cagliari area in the south. The centre of the island, on the other hand, is a treasure trove of unspoilt beauty, with ancient traditions, and cultural sites. Between delicacies such as culurgiones, Sardinian pecorino and excellent wine, the gastronomic offer alone makes for an unforgettable holiday.

Most popular island in: Austria, Italy, Liechtenstein

Crete, Greece

Crete is the largest and most populous of the Greek islands. With a diverse landscape, the island features snow-capped mountains, rolling hills of olive groves, quaint villages and over 1,000 kilometres of coastline dotted with heavenly beaches, coves and turquoise waters. Popular attractions include the archaeological sites of the Minoan civilisation, the island of Spinalonga, and Samaria Gorge, to name but a few.

Most popular island in: Lithuania, Poland, Ukraine

 

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Majorca, Spain

With almost 300 beaches, finding a spot to sunbathe and enjoy the Mediterranean is effortless in Majorca. But the largest of the Balearic Islands also delights its visitors with its wide artistic and cultural offering. Do not miss the Sierra de Tramontana, whose cultural landscape was declared a World Heritage Site in 2011, and take time to visit the Cuevas del Drach, where you can enjoy a classical music concert performed on one of the largest underground lakes in the world. The Palma Cathedral, the Bellver Castle and the Royal Palace of La Almudaina are also wonderful.

Most popular island in: Belarus, Germany

 

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Krk, Croatia

The island of Krk is one of the most accessible Croatian islands and a very popular destination for summer holidays. The island is lively and full of beaches and picturesque coves. If you are looking to escape the crowds, then visit Vela Luka, near the village of Baška, and you will find a small pebble beach that can only be reached by foot via a particularly steep path, or by boat. Another recommended pitstop is Omišalj, a town overlooking the sea known for promoting Croatian art and culture.

Most popular island in: Croatia, Slovenia

 

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Lefkada, Greece

Lefkada, also known as Lefkas, is a hidden gem amongst the Greek islands. Joined to mainland Greece by a causeway, Lefkada features unspoilt beaches, traditional fishing villages, wild olive groves and turquoise waters. Not only an island for beach lovers, but it is also the ideal island destination for active holidaymakers with many hiking trails, waterfalls and pine forests set amongst the island’s mountainous peaks.

Most popular island in: Greece, Serbia

 

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Ibiza, Spain

Famous as the party capital of Europe and a magnet for nightlife lovers, Ibiza is so much more than just nightclubs and parties. With stunning sunsets, like those at Benirrás; heavenly beaches such as Sa Caleta or Cala Bassa; hippy markets such as Las Dalias, or wonders of nature such as the Ses Salines National Park, Ibiza is full of surprises that will make you just fall in love with the island.

Most popular island in: Luxemburg

 

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Menorca, Spain

Declared a Biosphere Reserve in 1993, Menorca has a lot to offer. Similar to the rest of the Balearic Islands, there is no shortage of charming beaches and coves, such as Macarella or Cala Mitjana. Whilst you are there, visit some of its towns, especially the old quarters of Mahón and Ciutadella. Take the opportunity to discover the Talaiotic culture at the Naveta d’Es Tudons, the most famous prehistoric monument on the island. And if you like hiking, then the Camí de Cavalls, a historical path that runs through the island, is for you.

Most popular island in: Andorra

 

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Lanzarote, Spain

Covering just over 800 square kilometres, the northernmost island of the Canary archipelago surprises its visitors with its spectacular natural heritage. Good proof of this is the Timanfaya National Park, whose volcanic landscapes are otherworldly. Additionally, in Lanzarote, art and nature go hand in hand and complement each other perfectly, as the creations of artist César Manrique demonstrate. Go to the Jameos del Agua or the Cactus Garden and discover it for yourself. And for those looking for sun and beach, Famara beach or Papagayo cove are two great options.

Most popular island in: Ireland

 

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Mykonos, Greece

Part of the Greek Cyclades, Mykonos is renowned for its whitewashed villages, blue domed churches, turquoise sea and white sandy beaches. With a vibrant nightlife and thriving food scene, it is considered one of the most glamourous of all the Greek islands. Away from the cosmopolitan centre of Mykonos Town, there are numerous archaeological sites, monuments and museums, where visitors can learn about the island’s rich culture.

Most popular island in: Switzerland

 

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Sicily, Italy

A holiday in Sicily, as far south of Italy as possible, means swimming in crystal seas, being amazed by the wonderful Norman-Byzantine palaces and stocking up on Granita and other Sicilian delicacies. You will find something to suit all tastes on the island: from the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento to the wonderful beaches of San Vito Lo Capo, without forgetting to take a trip to the capital, Palermo. For those who love Baroque architecture, the best itinerary is south, from Catania to Ragusa, passing through the small and surprising Noto. History, culture, nature, beaches and a delicious traditional cuisine, what more could you ask for?

Most popular island in: Montenegro

 

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Madeira, Portugal

Madeira is one of the two autonomous regions of Portugal, the other being the Azores. Situated off the north-western coast of Africa, Madeira boasts a mild climate all year round. The island comprises of stunning natural scenery that seems straight out of a fairy-tale. The capital city is Funchal, which was founded in the 15th century and is one of Europe’s most picturesque and cleanest capitals today. Featuring tropical trees, black sand beaches and UNESCO protected Laural forests, Madeira is the perfect location for a relaxing holiday.

Most popular island in: Portugal

Hvar, Croatia

Hvar, in the Adriatic Sea, is the longest island in Dalmatia. Thanks to its strategic position and a mild climate, even during the winter months, Hvar is a particularly popular destination with a lot to offer. Unusual in the area for its large fertile coastal plain and freshwater springs, there are many lavender fields and vineyards, from which the delicious local wine is produced. As for the beaches, you are spoiled for choice: from the white sand of the Jelsa area to the exotic beaches of Pakleni. Hvar is also well known for its nightlife, which is particularly lively in the capital.

Most popular island in: Bosnia and Herzegovina

Gotland, Sweden

Gotland is the largest island in Sweden and the most popular island destination for the Swedes themselves. Located in the Baltic Sea, the island has a flat landscape and is therefore particularly popular with cyclists. Visit the capital of Visby and feel like you’ve stepped back in time to the Middle Ages. The city has been on the UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1995 and traces of Viking history are clearly visible. Gotland is also known as a foodie hotspot – the perfect combination of culture, gastronomy and nature.

Most popular island in: Sweden

Senja, Norway

Towering mountains, impressive fjords, a beautiful blue sea and lush green nature: Senja represents everything Norway is known for and is therefore referred to as “Norway in miniature”. An undiscovered gem to the international public, this fascinating island is clearly a favourite with Norwegians. The Senja National Tourist Route is a stretch of road of about 102 kilometres. The route takes you from Gryllefjord to Botnhamn and features many highlights of the island along the way. Are you travelling to Senja between September and April? Then there is a good chance that you can admire the Northern Lights!

Most popular island in: Norway

 

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Bornholm, Denmark

Bornholm is a Danish island of about 590 square kilometres located in the Baltic Sea. It is situated to the east of the rest of Denmark, above Poland and south of Sweden. The island is popularly referred to as ‘Sunshine Island’ because of the weather, which may explain why it is so popular with the Danes. In addition to sunshine, the island also offers a varied landscape. In the north there are impressive rock formations, which spill over into pine forests, farmland is abundant in the centre of the island, and you will find sandy beaches in the south. As well as nature, there are various towns with ruins, churches and other historic buildings to visit.

Most popular island in: Denmark

 

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Hailuoto, Finland

This Finnish island is located in the northern part of the Gulf of Bothnia between Sweden and Finland. Hailuoto is known for its wilderness and typical Finnish landscape. Interestingly, the island is constantly expanding by about an inch each year due to post-glacial rebound. It is an ideal destination for trekking, both inland and along the beaches of the coastline. On the north coast you will find Keskiniemi Daymark, the oldest beacon on the island. Hailuoto is also an excellent spot for bird watching and is known for its emu farm.

Most popular island in: Finland

 

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Hiiumaa, Estonia

Located in the Baltic Sea, Hiiumaa is Estonia’s second largest island and the most popular with Estonians. Hiiumaa, together with the island of Kassari, and a number of surrounding islets, covers an area of around 1,023 square kilometres. The island is known for its historic lighthouses, dense forests and is great all year-round destination for peace and nature. Even in the depth of winter you can easily drive to the island on Europe’s longest ice road. Hiiumaa is loved by surfers, hikers, sailors and nature lovers.

Most popular island in: Estonia

 

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Anglesey, Wales

Covering an area of 673 square kilometres, Anglesey is the largest island in Wales. With scenic coastlines, stunning beaches, diverse wildlife and picturesque towns, it comes as no surprise that Anglesey is the most popular island among the Welsh. Visitors to the island can enjoy walking trails, cycle paths, water-sports, historic monuments and more. Beaumaris Castle, one of the finest examples of late 13th century military architecture and a designated UNESCO World Heritage site, is one of the island’s most popular attractions.

Most popular island in: Wales

Isle of Wight, England

Located in the English Channel, the Isle of Wight is the largest island in England. The most popular holiday destination for the English, it’s mild climate and relaxed atmosphere make it the perfect place for a seaside holiday. The island has a varied coastline with cliffs, coves and sandy beaches serving as a backdrop to crystal-clear waters. Although its golden sands and striking cliffs are its most obvious appeal, the island also has a rich prehistoric history, and one of its biggest draws is its plethora of dinosaur fossils. Another notable landmark is The Needles, a row of three distinctive chalk stalks which jut out of the sea near Alum Bay.

Most popular island in: England

 

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Texel, The Netherlands

Texel is not only the largest and most populated island in the Wadden Sea, but also the most popular island among the Dutch. Thanks to its 30 kilometres of sandy beaches, it is the ideal destination in summer for sun and sea lovers. In fact, it is a great place to visit all year round as the island offers more than just sandy beaches. Duinen van Texel National Park, the iconic lighthouse, seal spotting, the sheep farm and the lovely villages are just a few reasons to visit this Dutch island.

Most popular island in: The Netherlands

 

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*Methodology: to determine which European island is the most popular in the 44 countries present on the map, the Google search volume of the island names (in the respective languages), of 200 European islands (excluding island countries) was analysed. The search volume of the last 24 months (May 2019 – April 2021) was used to minimise the influence of the pandemic on the results. In the event of a tie, the results of the last 12 months were used.

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