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HomeClimateFrom Tropical to Polar: 10 Contrasting Island Destinations in Europe

From Tropical to Polar: 10 Contrasting Island Destinations in Europe

Europe’s islands are dramatically diverse and represent just how diverse, historic, and beautiful Europe is.


  •  Europe is home to diverse and unique islands, many with their own landscapes, climates, attractions, and histories.
  •  The Isle of Man offers charming villages, rolling green hills, and Viking ruins, making it a must-visit destination.
  •  Cyprus boasts warm beaches and ancient ruins, making it a popular Mediterranean island destination.

Not all island destinations around the world or in Europe need to be tropical beach island paradises (although they are stunning). Europe is home to many remarkable islands – far too many to mention here.

This list does not include beautiful islands like Scotland’s famous Isle of Skye and Italy’s stunning Sicily, with its many ancient ruins and picturesque beaches. However, it does include some of the most varied islands in Europe, each with unique landscapes, climates, weather, attractions, cultures, and histories.

Here are a number of unique contrasting island destinations in Europe to visit and see just how different and diverse the continent is from one end to the other.

10Isle Of Man

The Isle of Man is a Crown Dependency (essentially an independent country) in the Irish Sea between England and Ireland.

It is part of the Common Travel Area of the British Isles (includes the UK and Ireland) but is not part of the United Kingdom. The island is charming, with atmospheric villages and rolling green hills – plus, there are Viking ruins found on the Isle of Man (such as Peel Castle).

9Svalbard, Norway

The northern Norwegian island of Svalbard is in the Arctic zone. This is one of the most popular and accessible destinations to discover the Arctic region, and it is the only place in Europe (outside of Russia) to be home to Polar Bears.

Svalbard is a world unto itself and a real adventurer’s destination.


Cyprus is one of the most popular Mediterranean island destinations. It is famous for its warm beaches (making it popular with the British and other northern Europeans) as well as its deep history.

Visitors can see a wide range of Crusader, Roman, Greek, and other ruins on this island – it has some of the oldest ruins in the world.

7Capri, Italy

The Italian island of Capri has been a luxurious island getaway destination since ancient times. Visitors can see the remains of the Villa Jovis – the ancient villa of the emperor Tiberius who left Rome to govern the Roman Empire from this stunning little idyllic island.

Today, it is famously the Mediterranean destination for the wealthy elite.

6Faroe Islands, Denmark

The Faroe Islands are something of a lost Viking Kingdom in the North Atlantic. The Faroe Islands are a green wind-swept set of islands home to around 55,000 people and part of the Kingdom of Denmark.

Iceland often overshadows the Faroe Islands, but these islands have their own set of unique attractions.

5Corsica, France

Corsica is one of the three big islands of the Western Mediterranean (the other two being Sicily and Sardinia). Corsica is most famous in history for being the home of Napoleon (Napoleon was Corsican).

The island has long sat on the sidelines of European and Mediterranean history (from Roman times to today). Visitors see a very different and traditional island with a very proud Corsican identity with stunning landscapes.

4Orkney Islands, Scotland

The Orkney Islands (in particular, the large island called The Mainland) is one of the best places in Northern Europe to discover ancient Neolithic (Stone Age) ruins.

Here, visitors can see the remains of an ancient henge and the ruins of the Knap of Howar – regarded as the oldest standing house in Northern Europe.

3Delos Island, Greece

There are far too many excellent Greek Islands to mention here, so this list will just be limited to Delos Island. The tiny Greek Delos Island is unique for being a sacred island (where it was even forbidden to die) and a mythological place to the ancient Greeks.

Today, there are plenty of stunning ancient ruins just waiting to be discovered.


Iceland boasts some of the most dramatic landscapes in the world – a real-life example of ice and fire. The island is forged by volcanoes (some of which are active), and the center is dominated by dramatic glaciers.

This is a place of outstanding natural beauty that leaves just about every visitor spellbound.

1Tenerife, Spain

Continentally speaking, the Canary Islands are part of Africa, but as they are politically part of Spain, they are typically thought of as part of Europe. The Canaries are famous as a European party destination and for their other-worldly landscapes.

The main island is Tenerife (home to almost half the population) and home to the Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife (one of the largest carnivals in the world).

The island is dominated by the volcano – Mount Teide (the filming location for the 1966 movie One Million Years BC.

Source: The Travel



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