Hiking the trails on Santorini in the Greek Islands | Hetty Schuppert
Europe's Islands: Top 13 Ultimate Island Walking Holidays
Try a Walking Holiday on one of Europe's Famous, Sun Soaked Islands
Island vacations are always a great idea: there's sun, there's water, there's incredible landscapes. Here we've selected 13 of our favourite islands in Europe for a stellar walking trip. You'll be surprised by some of the more exotic locations included; the islands of Sweden
, plus more!
Continue reading to discover Europe's best islands for walking holidays. Note there's no particular order and if we missed your favourite island, let us know in the comment section below!
1. GREECE | Santorini and Naxos On Foot
Find your new favourite Greek Island – and rediscover an all-time classic
Known for their bright, whitewashed cube-shaped houses, Santorini and Naxos are two of the most beautiful Greek islands
, offering numerous walking opportunities. Having endured one of the largest volcanic eruptions in history, Santorini is famous for its postcard perfect sunsets and the archaeological site of Akrotiri, the so-called ‘Greek Pompeii’; while Naxos, the largest island in the Cyclades, is home to fertile valleys, immaculate sandy beaches and a lively harbour, as well as the colossal marble doorway of Portara, a landmark that dates back more than 2,500 years.
2. CYPRUS | The Troodos Mountains and Akamas 8 Day or 11 Day Tour
Smell the island of Cyprus' wildflowers and admire the painted churches
A land of outstanding natural beauty, the island of Aphrodite is blessed with sunny skies and mild climate year round. If you want to experience the real Cyprus
, you have to leave behind the busy cosmopolitan towns and the crowded beach resorts and head towards the centre of the island. Here you can hike through pine-clad landscapes and gentle orchards and explore Byzantine monasteries and the timeless villages of Cyprus’ biggest mountain range, Troodos.
3. SLOVENIA | Lake Bled and the Julian Alps
Yes, Slovenia is almost landlocked but still manages to have the perfect island on Lake Bled
Experience the breathtaking scenery of high mountain lakes and rugged limestone peaks, visit the impossibly picturesque town of Bled and hike along the Emerald River Trail. Slovenia
is blessed with natural beauty and this two-centred trip you will explore the cliff-perched Bled Castle, discover the beautiful Vintgar Gorge and spot wild chamois and ibex native at the serene Triglav National Park. The trip finishes in capital Ljubljana – but not before spending some time at the ‘adrenaline town’ of Bovec, where you can choose between a challenging walk or an optional white water rafting.
4. CANARY ISLANDS, SPAIN | La Palma Island Walking
Go volcano walking on this Spanish island paradise
The rugged beauty and dramatic landscapes of La Palma – the whole island is declared a World Biosphere Reserve – make it ideal for a weeklong walking holiday: its highest mountain, Roque de los Muchachos, is the second highest peak in the Canary Islands
, after the Teide massif on Tenerife; the north of the island is dominated by the giant Caldera de Taburiente; while at Cumbre Vieja you will find about 120 volcanic vents, formed by more recent volcanic activity (along with Tenerife, La Palma is currently the most volcanically active of the Canary Islands).
5. CANARY ISLANDS, SPAIN | Exploring La Gomera 8 Days or 11 Days
Don't mistake this island's beautiful landscape for Hawaii or Southeast Asia
If you are looking for a relaxed walking break, La Gomera remains off the beaten track and largely untouched by mass tourism. Columbus’ last port of call before crossing the Atlantic in 1492, La Gomera is surprisingly lush green, with deep ‘barrancos’ (gorges) densely wooded at the top, covered by mountain rainforest and shrouded in cloud and mist. Climb along coastal cliffs to reach the picturesque quaint bay at Playa de la Guanches, take one of the original mule tracks that cross the island and follow the short rocky steps for spectacular views of the Arure waterfall… dotted with small cascades along the way!
6. CROATIA | Dubrovnik and Islands Walk
Pay your respects to Game of Thrones and visit pirate fortresses
With its dramatic coastal position and impressive stone walls encircling the terracotta roofs of the UNESCO-protected old town, it is no wonder that Croatia's
Dubrovnik has become known as ‘The Pearl of the Adriatic’. In between exploring this captivating city, this new holiday gives families the opportunity to also discover its surrounding islands on foot – from the outlying region of Konavle, where the summer houses of Dubrovnik’s elite were built, to the isles of Šipan, where forested trails connect traditional villages and hidden coves, and Mljet, known for its saltwater lakes and verdant National Park, as well as 12th century former Benedictine monastery, set on a small islet. Suitable for active families with children from 12 years old upwards.
7. PORTUGAL | Madeira Island Walking
More than just great wine
Rising steeply from the Atlantic Ocean off the coasts of Europe and Africa, Portugal's
Madeira offers both a mild climate and a 1,350-mile network of ‘levadas’. The island enjoys an impressive year-round flowering season thanks to its subtropical climate and rich volcanic soil – you can even find a dedicated Orchid Garden with more than 7,500 species!
8. CORSICA, FRANCE | Crossing Corsica Self Guided Walk
Waterfalls, gorges, beaches and French cuisine. Magnificent!
Starting in Corte’s old town, which clings to the steep slope below its majestic citadel, this hiking trip showcases why Corsica
is the most geographically diverse of the Mediterranean islands. In the company of an experienced hiking guide, the route follows age-old paths that lead from the heart of the mountains to the azure waters of the Mediterranean Sea on the island’s western coast. Featuring a variety of landscapes along the way, from snow topped peaks to fine sandy beaches, highlights of the trip include: hiking parts of the famous GR20 trail; exploring the deep Spelunca Gorge; visiting the beautiful lively village of Evisa; and relaxing in the Gulf of Porto, with its unique jumble of rose granite pinnacles.
9. SWEDEN | Island Hopping Walk
After a lovely day's island hopping, stay in hand picked Scandinavian accommodation
capital spreads out across 14 islands, each providing a different perspective of the city. Sörmland, often described as the country’s southernmost wilderness, lies southwest of Stockholm and is known for its pine forests, open green fields and vast lakes. Hiking through nature reserves and traditional villages is the perfect start to this trip, which then takes you to Stockholm’s southern archipelago and its 24,000 islands. With a relaxed pace, over a week there is ample time to hike trails in manor house grounds and swim in the refreshing Baltic waters.
10. SICILY, ITALY | Volcanoes of Sicily Self Guided Walk
Visit Mt Etna, Europe's highest volcano
A chance to get close to the impressive volcanoes of Stromboli, where fiery lava explodes regularly from its crater, and Etna, one of the most active volcanoes in the world. Find out more about the long volcanic activity (over a period of 260,000 years!) in Sicily
and the Aeolian Archipelago, to the north of the island, with opportunities in between to bathe in therapeutic hot mud, relax on the black beaches, explore on foot its winding coastline and take in panoramic views across the deep blue Mediterranean Sea.
11. CRETE, GREECE | Exploring Crete Walking Holiday
Walk the largest of the Greek Islands
The biggest and most versatile of the Greek islands
, Crete is rich in natural splendour and ample reminders of its ancient and oft-turbulent past. In addition to elegant Venetian ports, it mixes wild dramatic peaks and spectacular gorges with fishing villages that can only be accessed by boat or on foot. Focusing on the western part of the island, highlights of the trip include the magnificent plateau of Omalos and the 11-mile long Samaria Gorge, the longest in Europe!
12. ISLE OF WIGHT, ENGLAND | Isle of Wight Coastal Walking
Circumnavigate the beautiful Isle of Wight
Spend a week circumnavigating this English island
and taking in its great natural beauty, enjoying glittering sea views across the Solent and the English Channel, its well-known white cliffs and sea-stacks around The Needles and of course miles of beaches. Following mostly public footpaths and minor lanes, there are several attractions to break down each walking day, including a visit to the holiday home of Queen Victoria, Osborne House; the thatched church at Freshwater Bay; timeless seaside resorts such as Ventnor, Shanklin and Sandown; and the great Palmerston fortresses.
13. ICELAND | Laugavegur Trail
Hike volcanic landscapes in Iceland
distinctive volcanic landscape offers the perfect backdrop for day walks in the company of an expert guide. The extensive lava fields, huge moss-filled volcanic craters, serene fjords and trails that lead into the heart of the renowned Skaftafell, Iceland's second largest national park, are part of this inspiring itinerary, which includes a glacier walk, visits to historical sights and even an opportunity to bathe in steaming hot springs.
Which European island is next on your list to explore? Let us know in the comments below!