Hidden European islands you’ve probably never heard of – the best secret holiday spots | Travel News | Travel

When it comes to the joy of disconnecting from the world and immersing yourself in a tranquil island getaway, there’s nothing quite like discovering a secret hideaway. While we often flock to the well-known archipelagos like the Balearics, Canaries, and Ionian islands, there are countless hidden gems in the sea that we tend to overlook. These lesser-known escapes offer a stress-free holiday experience without the crowds. So, if you’re seeking a unique and secluded adventure, it’s time to explore these hidden water-ringed spots.

Marettimo, Italy

Sicily is undoubtedly a fabulous destination, but there is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered. Just a 30-minute hydrofoil ride from Trapani, you’ll find the captivating Egadi archipelago, comprising three islands nestled in Europe’s largest marine reserve. Among them, Marettimo stands out as the best-kept secret. This traffic-free island is believed to be Ithaca, the legendary homeland of Greek hero Odysseus.

With only a handful of places to stay, such as the charming self-catering apartments at Marettimo Residence, you’ll experience a true sense of seclusion. Indulge in fresh lobster and fish served at local trattorias, and dive into the crystal-clear waters to explore over 400 sea caves. On land, hiking trails lead to the ruins of a Byzantine church and a picturesque lighthouse. Don’t forget to wake up early and witness the graceful mouflon sheep and peregrine falcons that roam the island’s trails.

Colonsay, Scotland

Tucked away off the west coast of Scotland, Colonsay boasts the highest number of sunshine hours in the UK, making it a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts seeking solitude. This remote island offers golden dunes and breathtaking landscapes where you can disappear from the bustling crowds.

Keep an eye out for the elusive corn crake, one of Britain’s rarest birds, and marvel at the seabirds that grace the skies, including kittiwakes and fulmars. Engage in fly-fishing in the island’s picturesque lochs, catch some waves on powdery beaches, or enjoy a round of golf in this idyllic setting.

Colonsay is also home to its own brewery and distillery, where you can sample the local brews. Choose from a variety of accommodations, including hotels and self-catering options, or take advantage of Scotland’s legal freedom to wild camp and immerse yourself in the island’s natural beauty.

Inisheer, Ireland: A Scenic Gem in Galway Bay

Nestled off the west coast of Galway Bay, Inisheer is a picturesque island that showcases Ireland’s stunning scenery. This tiny fleck of land, not to be confused with the fictional setting of The Banshees of Inisherin, served as inspiration for Colin Farrell’s hit film, and some scenes were even filmed here.

With the Cliffs of Moher in clear view, Inisheer offers white sand beaches where fishermen parade with their daily catch. Measuring just 3km by 3km, the island is easily explored on foot or by bike. For a unique experience, opt for a pony and trap ride or hop on a bus pulled by a tractor. B&Bs and hotels provide comfortable overnight accommodations. To reach the island, take a ferry from Rossaveal or Doolin and embark on a journey to this hidden Irish treasure.

Cabrera, Spain: Mallorca’s Hidden Refuge

While Mallorca may be a popular summer holiday choice, the locals seek refuge on the wild and untouched island of Cabrera when the tourist hordes arrive. Designated as a national park, Cabrera is a migratory stopover for over 130 bird species and can be reached by a one-hour boat ride.

Historically inhabited solely by goats, this secluded island is now open to day-trippers and fortunate guests who can stay in a beachside refuge for as little as €50 (£43.30) per night. One of the island’s top natural wonders is the Blue Cave, best visited in the afternoon when the sun’s rays create a mesmerising spectacle as they stream through the entrance.

Kaunissaari, Finland: Nature’s Haven in the Gulf of Finland

Finland is known for its thousands of islands, offering a holiday experience close to the water. Among them, Kaunissaari, meaning « the beautiful island, » is a standout choice. Located in the Gulf of Finland, this coastal paradise is just a 90-minute ferry ride from Kotka, 130km east of Helsinki.

Explore the enchanting forests, relax on the sandy beaches, and admire the charming clapperboard cabins. Visit handicraft stalls, wander through an art gallery, take a rejuvenating sauna, or simply enjoy the serenity of this idyllic island. Choose from campsites, rent a cozy log cabin from Kaunissaari Holiday Centre, or stay in a century-old school building.

This article was crafted with the help of AI tools, which speed up Express.co.uk’s editorial research. A news editor reviewed this content before it was published. You can report any errors to readercomplaints@reachplc.com.

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