Unfamiliar European Islands Worth Exploring

Unfamiliar European Islands Worth Exploring

Incredible Islands 2024-03-04 ParkingNearAirports.io

You probably know about popular European islands like Majorca in Spain, trendy Sicily, the Isle of Skye in Scotland, and the stunning Lofoten archipelago in Norway. These islands are well-visited by tourists, and it's no surprise that maritime nations like Iceland, Cyprus, and Malta are also top destinations for many. However, have you considered exploring some lesser-known islands that often get overlooked by foreign visitors? Here are a few amazing European islands that you may not be familiar with yet, but should definitely check out. Let's get to the point!

Which lesser-known European islands are worth exploring?

1. Senja, Norway

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Senja, the second largest island in Norway, is often overlooked by visitors due to its location above the Arctic Circle. Despite this, it boasts similar features to the popular Lofoten archipelago, including rugged mountains, deep fjords, and expansive stretches of unspoiled sandy beaches. The island is accessible year-round via ferries from Tromsø, making it an ideal winter destination for witnessing the Northern Lights. During the summer, travelers can explore Norway's National Scenic Routes, stopping to appreciate the stunning views at Bergsbotn and Mefjordvær, as well as visiting charming fishing villages like Gibostad. Adventurous hikers can challenge themselves to summit Segla, the highest peak on the island, for breathtaking panoramic views. Before departing for the mainland, be sure to relax on the beautiful beaches of Ersfjordstranda and Bøvær.

2. Symi, Greece

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Easily accessible on a day trip from neighboring Rhodes, the peaceful island of Symi is known for its tranquil atmosphere among the Greek Islands. As you approach the port, you'll see the iconic clock tower, small boats peacefully floating in front of traditional stone houses, and the statue of Michalaki, a young boy fishing by the waterfront. A pleasant hike up approximately 500 stone steps will lead you to Chorio, offering a picturesque view over Gialos below. Up here, you can explore the remnants of a medieval castle and ancient mills, including the Kastro constructed by the Knights of St John in 1407 for defense against pirates. Symi is renowned for its wine, so don't miss the chance to venture through the cypress and pine forests to discover and marvel at ancient stone wine presses from the Byzantine era that have been recently unearthed and restored before you leave.

3. Mersea Island, UK

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Mersea stands out as one of the unique tidal islands located off the eastern shores of the UK. During high tides, the Strood causeway is submerged by flooding, enveloping the salt marsh in the surrounding area. However, with good timing, it serves as the entrance to a charming island in the region. A leisurely stroll along the pebbled beach offers views of picturesque wooden beach huts painted in soft pastel colors, offering refuge from inclement weather. In the summer months, visitors can rent kayaks and paddleboards for a water adventure. For a memorable experience, plan your trip in August to witness the annual Regatta, where a fleet of small yachts sails around the island. Discover secluded creeks on a boat excursion or venture out to the Packing Shed, where the island's oyster harvest was traditionally processed. Upon returning to solid ground, indulge in Colchester natives, spicy mackerel, beetroot-cured salmon, or traditional jellied eels at the friendly, family-operated Company Shed.

4. Sylt, Germany

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Many people tend to overlook the fact that Germany boasts a coastline. However, upon discovering the grassy dunes and gentle cliffs of the windswept Sylt, you may question why. The conditions for windsurfing and kitesurfing on this Frisian island are exceptional, while bracing strolls along its exposed North Sea shore are equally revitalizing. Some may find similarities between Sylt and exclusive resort areas like the Hamptons or Martha's Vineyard, given its abundance of luxury hotels and high-end dining establishments that attract a wealthy clientele. Nevertheless, experiencing the stunning views doesn't necessitate a substantial amount of money; you can enjoy one of the locals' hooded wicker chairs, known as Strandkörbe, for around 12 euros to savor an unforgettable day gazing at the ocean.

5. Vulcano, Italy

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Vulcano, named after the Roman God of Fire, is situated among Italy's Aeolian Islands, just off the northern coast of Sicily. Along with Lipari, Salina, Alicudi, Filicudi, Stromboli, and Panarea, it composes a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Enjoy a memorable experience by embarking on a one-hour trek to reach the largest crater, Fossa. Despite being classified as dormant since 1890, the faint scent of sulfur in the air serves as a reminder of the occasional emission of gasses and steam, urging visitors to approach with caution. Near the port, don't miss the Pozza dei Fanghi, natural mud pools warmed by underwater fumaroles that some believe possess beneficial health properties.

6. Streymoy, Faroe Islands

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Streymoy, the largest island in the Faroe Islands, often goes unnoticed by many travelers despite its size. Your journey starts in the charming capital of Tórshavn, where historic buildings still stand near the waterfront. Here, you'll find picturesque black-timbered houses with turf roofs mixed in with cozy cafes and quaint boutiques. The iconic russet red buildings of Tinganes are also waiting to be explored. On the other side of the island lies the scenic destination of Saksun, a favorite spot for hikers. A serene path leads you down to the shore, where you'll pass by lush meadows grazed by unique shaggy sheep. During the summer, visitors can enjoy a boat ride to witness puffins, guillemots, and razorbills nesting in Vestmanna's breathtaking sea cliffs. Further south, don't miss the opportunity to visit the village of Kirkjubøur, where you can enter the historic 11th-century Roykstovan farmhouse, the oldest inhabited wooden home in Europe.

7. Formentera, Spain

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Formentera, the tiniest of Spain's Balearic Islands, can be reached by ferry from the vibrant Ibiza. Its bohemian atmosphere is a sharp contrast to its larger neighbor – here, you're more likely to stumble upon retreats offering yoga and meditation rather than the bustling bars and clubs just a few nautical miles away. Windmills dot the landscape, with one of the most well-preserved being Molí Vell, which welcomes visitors every summer. Overlooking the coastal cliffs are lighthouses and watchtowers, such as the stunning lighthouse perched on Es Cap de Barbaria atop a 330-foot cliff and the Des Garroveret Tower, constructed in the 18th century in response to the Saracen threat. As night falls, Formentera's minimal light pollution transforms it into one of the prime spots in the Mediterranean for stargazing, earning it the recognition as a Starlight Tourist Destination in 2023.

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