The last few moments of summer only mean one thing: It’s time to start planning your vacay for next year. If your heart’s set on the Mediterranean, the experts at travel company Vivere recently rounded up the 10 hottest European islands for 2019—and the list goes way beyond the usual suspects. Here are the top destinations that made the cut:
Think of the Greek islands and you likely think of Santorini or Mykonos. But the often overlooked Paros is an unsung gem within the Cyclades archipelago. With cobblestone main streets, quaint old fishing villages, and beautiful beaches, there’s something for everyone here, from honeymooning couples to adventurous surfers.
The second largest island in the Mediterranean (after Sicily), Sardinia is a beach lover’s paradise, with coastlines that nearly rival the Caribbean with soft white sand and clear turquoise water. The beaches, coupled with the mountainous landscape, make Sardinia one of the Mediterranean’s most picturesque islands, as well as a mecca for hikers, divers, surfers, and other outdoor adventurers. (Just don't take the sand back home with you.)
This tiny island nation tucked between the coastlines of Sicily and North Africa is filled with rich history and stunning architecture. With prehistoric temples and walled medieval cities, visitors flock here largely for the culture fix (though beaches are next-level, too).
This tiny little trio of islands is perhaps Greece’s best kept secret—referred to by locals as “the Mykonos of the small Cyclades.” Only one of the islands is inhabited, mostly by fishermen, and everything on that speck of land is within walking or biking distance. By day, go for a hike or hit up the beautiful beaches; at night, hang with the locals at the island’s picturesque tavernas.
The second largest of Spain’s Canary Islands, Fuerteventura is known for a few things: a dramatic, volcanic landscape, year-round sunshine, and cheese. (Yes, cheese.) The island is home to a large population of native goats that supply the milk which goes into making a distinct Canary Islands-bred cheese. Tourists can hop on a cheese tasting tour or pay a visit to the island’s cheese museum.
The largest and most populous of the Greek islands, Crete isn’t exactly undiscovered, but its rugged beauty, rich history, and growing food scene make it a can’t-miss destination. The island is the birthplace of the first advanced society on European soil some 4,000 years ago, and a visit to the archaeological dig site of Europe’s oldest city—Knossos—is a must for history buffs.
This stunning island in the Bay of Naples is much more than a stylish celebrity playground. It’s home to some of the most stunning scenery in Europe, from the steep cliffs that shoot down into the Capri blue (what else?) sea to the colorful, elegant little villages that tuck in nicely along the coast. While the island’s upscale boutiques are a draw for some, others come here to explore the natural assets, including many coves and caves that dot the shoreline.
Another one of the Cyclades’ natural wonders, Kimolos is one of the greenest islands in the archipelago, boasting a number of hiking paths through fields of untouched beauty. With only one town and a population hovering around 400, the island is perfect for those seeking a quiet escape away from the typical tourist draws in Greece.
The Dalmatian Coast may be well-trafficked among the yachting set, but this low-key island manages to fly a bit more under the radar. Unlike its next-door neighbor Hvar, known for its nightlife, Brac is the place people go for the beaches and nature—particularly hiking, as its home to the highest peak in the Adriatic Islands.
Just off the toe of Italy’s boot, this largest Mediterranean island is a foodie’s paradise, with gastronomic influences hailing from Italy, Spain, Greece, and the Middle East. The 600-plus miles of beaches, along with the island’s historic cliffside villages, are also a draw for visitors from all over.