These 14 islands are great destinations for a warmer Europe winter break, with a charming bonus: they are less touristy destinations than some other well-known islands on the continent. Since wintertime is already a less crowded time to travel in general, on these less visited islands, it’ll practically feel like you have your own private island during these winter months!
Whether you’re looking for an island with more of a beach scene, party scene, or an interesting historical town to explore without having to layer up, these islands offer a wide range of activities that cater to every interest. Ready to soak up some sun? Let’s dive right into the Mediterranean blue!
1. Hydra, Greece
Hydra is a small island just a two hour ferry away from Piraeus, the main port connecting the Greek Islands to Athens. The island is so small, there aren’t even cars! Everything is accessible by boat or donkey, and you’ll notice this when you’re wandering the streets and see all the incoming tourist's luggage being carried by donkeys. It’s like a movie-scene under the dappled Greek sun. Hydra also is home to an adorable town that is known for its cute artisan shops and gorgeous port.
There are some beaches in Hydra that are a trek away. Although Hydra isn’t known for its beaches compared to other Greek islands, these beaches will be more untouched compared to beaches in Mykonos and other resort destinations. Just a 30-minute boat from Hydra, you can go to Bisti Beach. Bisti Beach is quiet, with beautiful, clear green waters. During winter, Hydra’s temperature stays moderate, but its not necessarily perfect swimming weather (unless you’re a fan of the colder waters). However, that shouldn’t scare you away from visiting the island. The beaches and island town are both still beautiful whether you’re actively catching a tan, or enjoying the views with a light jacket on (because a light jacket is the most you’ll need here!)
Hydra has some beautiful hikes that are great to do, especially during winter since the island gets very hot during the summer. Mount Eros Loop Trail is definitely one of the island's main attractions, and offers amazing views of the small island.
Where to stay
Cute studio apartment in a traditional Greek house offering views of the Hydra Port.
This renovated mansion has been used for the filming of many Hollywood movies.
These spacious suites have access to a private beach, and offer beautiful views of the island.
2. Cefalù, Sicily
Cefalù is one of Italy’s most incredible villages and is one of the less visited parts of Sicily, situated on the northern coast of the island. The village is filled with history, and every twist and turn leads you to another stunning antique building, Don’t miss the Duomo, one of the most striking architectural pieces in the town. To embrace the culture even more of this gorgeous town, check out this Cefalù food and market tour. Italy is known for its cuisine, and Sicilian cuisine slightly differs from other regions of Italy in an incredibly delicious way, and this tour is perfect for tasting the delicacies of the region with the help of a local.
For the more adventurous folk visiting Cefalù, try launching off the coast and paragliding. You’ll see the beautiful coastline on your flight, and have the opportunity to take in the scenery from a viewpoint that most people never see. If this is a bit too much of an adrenaline rush for you, but you still want to see the coastline, head to some of the most beautiful beaches on the island, Cefalù Beach, which offers views of the village, and Spiaggia di Mazzaforno, a more tranquil nearby beach adored by Cefalù locals.
Where to stay
The beachfront location and private rooms make this bed and breakfast a steal for the price.
This hotel draws in its visitors with its picturesque views and private beach.
A stunning hotel on the oceanfront, with a luxurious spa and a pool with hydro-massages built in.
3. Menorca, Spain
This Balearic island is criminally underrated, most likely because of its proximity to Mallorca and Ibiza, both of which are some of Spain’s most visited destinations. Menorca is smaller than its neighbour Mallorca, and also a lot quieter. The beaches are virtually untouched and very picturesque - prepare your camera roll! Visit Macarella Cove, one of Menorca’s most famous places. With crystal clear, blue waters and cliffs in the background, it's not surprising that this is one of the small islands most popular attractions. This is accessible by boat that leaves from Ciutadella.
Ciutadella de Menorca is Menorca’s biggest city, a traditional Catalan port town with a gorgeous old town and boutique shopping. Its nickname is even old and beautiful in Catalan, and we can definitely see why. Even though Catalonia isn’t independent, Catalan food and culture is very different from Spanish, and Ciutadella is the perfect city to learn about it. Menorca is famous for some traditional dishes that you won’t find anywhere else, like Caldereta de langosta which translates to lobster stew. This stew uses a local lobster, cooked in tomato, onion, and garlic, and is a must-eat when visiting the island.
Where to stay
Just 5 minutes away from the port of Mahon makes this hostel an ideal location to explore the rest of the island.
For an affordable price you can stay in your own villa with its own private pool.
Between two beautiful beaches, the pool, a spa, and a delicious restaurant, you don’t even have to leave the property!
4. Lanzarote, Spain
Lanzarote is one of the most unique islands in Europe, as it is a volcanic island with lava fields and incredible rock formations. It is often overlooked compared to some other of the Canary Islands, but it's one of the most impressive ones naturally and literally looks like you’re on another planet, and that’s why it's our pick for the wintertime. Take a Volcano Buggy tour for an interesting way to visit the northern part of the island.
Lanzarote has some pretty crazy places that formed during volcanic eruptions, and Jameos del Agua is one of the coolest. It is volcanic caves that surround an underground lake. Equipped with a bar and a restaurant, Jameos del agua is a place to visit that is like any other. Another impressive place to visit in Lanzarote is the Green Lagoon. Yes, it is actually green, and contrasts its surroundings completely. You can’t swim in this lagoon, but it is so incredibly different that it is one of the island's highlights to see how the previous volcanic activity on the island really formed it into a distinctive island that feels more like outer space than earth.
Where to stay
Located in the middle of La Tiñosa, a town that is a great spot for watersport lovers.
This hotel's optimal location makes the rest of the island easily accessible.
These modern apartments are designed to mimic famous Mediterranean white villages.
5. Kefalonia, Greece
Kefalonia has to be one of the most beautiful islands in Greece, and it's a shame that it isn’t visited as much as its neighbouring islands, Zakynthos and Corfu. With some of the most stunning beaches in Greece, such as Myrtos Beach, Kefalonia is a tranquil and underrated destination. Besides beaches, Argostoli is the main town in Kefalonia, and it is a very traditional Greek town, and isn’t filled with tourist traps like towns on a lot of other Greek Islands, so you’ll really get the traditional Greek feel when visiting Argostoli.
Another great thing about Kefalonia is that it is one of Greece’s Ionian islands, and the water tends to be warmer compared to the water at other famous spots, like Santorini. Not only is it warmer, but it is some of the bluest water that you’ll see in your life! Don’t miss the turquoise Drogarati Caves and Melissani Lake, where you can take a small boat in a gondola-like boat to get the best views.
If you have some time in Kefalonia, take a day trip to Zakynthos to visit the Shipwreck Beach, and spend the day exploring the nearby island. It is definitely worth it if you have more than 3 days on the island, as it is only an hour's ferry.
Where to stay
A cozy hotel just meters from the beach with a sun terrace, perfect for getting in that tan.
Views of Argostoli Beach, and home-cooked traditional Greek food, what’s not to love?
Elegantly decorated, Kefalonia Grand is second to none when it comes to customer service.
6. Gozo, Malta
Gozo is a part of Malta as the country, but it is its own separate island, and it is way less developed and more rural than Malta, making it a one-of-a-kind destination (and also one of the warmest spots in Europe's wintertime). Another favourable aspect of Gozo is that you’ll get more of a local experience in Gozo. Head to some of the quaint villages that remain unspoilt from tourism, such as Gharb and Munxar. Since Malta is already one of the least visited countries in Europe, and Gozo even less so, you'll find that the nature is virtually untouched compared to many other European destinations, and the vibe itself is calm and tranquil.
Explore the island on this jeep tour that takes you to all of the favourite sights of Gozo such as the ruins at Calypso’s Cave, the temple complex of Ġgantija. This tour will also take you across the sea to the nearby Blue Lagoon, and Comino Caves, which are located on the small nearby island of Comino. If you don’t want to take a guided tour throughout Gozo, we recommend renting a car as it's much easier to see everything that you want to see by car. From a variety of adorable, typical Maltese towns, such as seaside fisherman villages, and gorgeous beaches, Gozo has a bunch of undiscovered gems.
Where to stay
A quiet, peaceful room with caring and helpful staff.
Located in Nadur, with stunning views of the village, you‘ll be completely immersed in the traditional Maltese lifestyle.
Stay in a super old, traditional house for a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
7. Terceira, Azores, Portugal
The Azores have been described as the Hawai’i of Europe because of its incredible hiking and lush, green landscapes. In the middle of the Atlantic, these islands stay relatively mild during winter, and Terceira is just as beautiful as the most populated island São Miguel, but more untouched due to São Miguel’s high levels of tourism. Some of Terceira’s most incredible hikes that you shouldn’t miss include Lagoa dos Mistérios Negros Trail, one of the lushest and most popular hikes on the island, and the hike up to Monte Brasil, an extinct volcano that offers views of the rugged coastline.
Don’t miss out on Terceira’s incredible wildlife, and soak up the sun on this whale and dolphin-watching boat tour. This informative tour not only teaches you about each species you’ll encounter, but it also brings you up close to the species while respecting them, and the bottom of the boat is all glass so that you can see the sea creatures swimming right below your feet!
Terceira is great for enjoying the nice winter weather while hiking, but don’t skip some of their beaches. Our favourite is Biscoitos which are natural pools surrounded by lava stones. Another stand out is Quatro Ribeiras which has more spots for sunbathing, and a full-sized pool filled with seawater.
Where to stay
The name says it all. This beachfront hostel offers a variety of fun activities for its guests.
This hotel is ideal for those hoping to stay near the famous Monte Brasil.
Stay in a traditional Azorean house right near the beach.
8. Southern Cyprus
Cyprus’ geographical location makes it inevitable that it’ll be one of Europe's warmest winter destinations, and Southern Cyprus offers unmatched beauty and history. The island has often been overlooked due to political conflicts between Turkey and Greece in recent years, but this has all been resolved and Cyprus is now a safe and lovely destination for visitors. The resort town of Ayia Napa is a great starting point to explore Southern Cyprus. From here, you can visit some of the Mediterranean’s most beautiful yet overlooked beaches, like Nissi Beach, a 500-metre-long sandy beach with blue-green waters. What better way to get in your tan than to kayak the light blue waters? With this kayaking tour, you’ll visit Cape Greko Sea Caves which are more easily accessible by kayak rather than boat. You’ll get to see a few of the area's remote beaches as well.
If you’re looking to learn more about the intricate and complicated history of the island, visit the centrally located Nicosia. This is the world's last truly divided city, which is segregated between Greeks in the south and Turks in the north. Another interesting historical phenomenon is Famagusta, Cyprus’ recently abandoned Ghost Town. Only 35 minutes from Ayia Napa, Famagusta is an abandoned city that has some illegally occupied areas in the Northern areas of the city currently. It was completely abandoned after the Turkish invasion, as it was a predominantly Greek city and all its inhabitants fled. What makes Cyprus such a diverse destination is its mix of stunning beaches and interesting recent history that have shaped the island into what it is today.
Where to Stay
Shared rooms in a social, vibrant atmosphere.
All day and all-night pool parties make this a favourite among party-goers.
This romantic hotel is a favourite among couples and honeymooners.
9. Brač, Croatia
Skip the crowds in Hvar and come instead to Brač, a small Croatian island that has something for all tastes. If you’re looking for a relaxing seaside trip, or a party island in paradise, write Brač down as your next destination. Bol is a great place to stay if you’re looking to party in Brač. It's a hip, vibrant surf town. No matter your age, the cocktail bars in Bol are a fun night out for those looking for some fun without going clubbing. But if clubs are your thing, Brač is filled with open-air clubs with dance floors and DJs, so you can enjoy the weather at night too! For a full island experience, check out this full-day trip that takes you to beaches, olive oil and wine farms, and offers tastings of local foods. This tour includes a visit to a must-see beach just 2 kilometres away from Bol, Zlatni Rat, more commonly known as Golden Cape or Golden Horn. If you don’t want to take a tour, you can take a taxi from the city to spend more time here. This beach is one of Croatia's most famous beaches and has been featured in countless travel brochures advertising tourism to the country.
For a more relaxed trip in Brač, don’t miss out on Supetar. Supetar has some of Croatia’s most unspoiled, gorgeous beaches that don’t get extremely overcrowded, especially during those winter months. Beach Vrilo is a local beach that doesn’t get overrun with tourists and has beautiful, crystal-clear waters. Dorotea Beach is a quiet beach that offers views worth putting on a postcard. Another favourite is Beach Babin Luz. This romantic beach is great for honeymooners or any couple looking to get some alone time surrounded by gorgeous rocks and waters.
Where to stay
Palute’s location right next to the beach makes it a good bank for your buck.
Perfectly located near Bol and the beachfront, offering activity add-ons for its guests.
A modern hotel and pool with helpful concierge services.
10. Fuerteventura, Spain
Another overlooked Canary island is Fuerteventura. Fuerteventura is warm year-round, and is known for its white-sand beaches. Parque Natural de Corralejo has a dessert feel that you don’t find often in Europe, with sand dunes and loads of cacti. On this tour you’ll be able to discover the park on a dune buggy, accessing places and views that are difficult to get to by foot and car. This tour is great for families as well! Another family favorite on the island is Oasis Wildlife Fuerteventura. With special experiences with Lemurs, Camels, Sea Lions, Giraffes, and Elephants, you’ll have a super close experience with the animals that are hard to find elsewhere.
As for beaches on Fuerteventura, Playa del Matorral is a very wide beach with a ton of space for everyone, equipped with lounge chairs for a fee, and easy access to the turquoise waters. Morro Jable is a town in the south of Fuerteventura that is known for all its beaches, and Playa Morro Jable connects to Playa del Matorral, making it a long stretch of white sandy beaches. Don’t miss The Sea Turtle Recovery and Conservation Centre in Morro Jable. It’s free to the public, and you can visit the turtle nursery that's doing amazing work helping to revive the population of the endangered animal.
Where to stay
A fun, vibrant hostel that has its own nightclub and a ton of different adrenaline-inducing activities available.
This resort has everything you could ever need, including 3 swimming pools.
Family-friendly resort with 5 different swimming pools and a nearby golf course.
11. Karpathos, Greece
Located in the Southeastern Aegean, Karpathos is another amazing Greek island to visit during the summer. It is a very different island from other Greek islands, as it has kept all its old traditional customs and dialects that can’t be found anywhere else in Greece. Besides the amazing culture you’ll find, Karpathos doesn’t lack impressive beaches either. Apella beach is a pebbly beach surrounded by lush greenery and emerald waters. If you didn’t pack your water shoes, Kyra Panagia Beach has soft sand, and is just as visually stunning as Apella, with cliffs surrounding each side. For the more adventurous, Arkassa Beach is known for attracting windsurfers, as it is windier than the majority of the island’s beaches. For foodies, Finiki Beach is known for its restaurants offering fresh seafood from the Aegean sea.
Karpathos doesn’t just stop at beaches though. The Archaeological Museum of Karpathos offers a history lesson on the island, throughout the different historical periods. Don’t miss the biggest city of Pigadia either. The traditional streets are lined with tavernas, offering the island's most delicious plates. You can also visit Olympos, an ancient Greek settlement high up in the mountains. The village currently only has less than 500 residents, and its residents were separated from the rest of the world until recent years, making it a cultural hub of a unique group of people. From Olympos, you can learn about the biodiversity of the island on this birdwatching tour.
Where to stay
Beautiful sea views that is known for its delicious breakfast.
Typical blue and white Greek architecture makes this stay make you feel the true Greek Island experience.
A beautiful one-of-a-kind villa all to yourself on a Greek Island, the perfect getaway!
12. Korčula, Croatia
Korčula Town on Korčula island is an adorable, medieval resort town that has been called by visitors ‘Little Dubrovnik’ often, because of its similarity to the capital. Korčula Town's beaches get quite crowded by locals and tourists, so for a more tranquil beach trip, Žrnovo is a beach surrounded by intense cliffs. A steep hike down or a short boat ride are your options to swim in this beautiful water. For easier access, Lumbarda has the softest sand on the island surrounded by green vineyards.
Speaking of vineyards, there are many that you can tour on the island and head to for a wine tasting. These wineries teach you about how the traditional wine on the island is made, and how it differentiates from other regions' wine productions. And after the tour comes the best part, trying some of the wines! Vitis is a family-run winery near Lumbarda that is one of the most popular among the island's visitors.
Visit some of the historical sites of the town, such as St. Mark’s Cathedral, one of the largest churches on the island built in Gothic-Renaissance style. To get the best views of the town, walk around the Korčula Town Walls, and you’ll be able to get the best panoramic sights of the ocean and the medieval town.
Where to stay
Adventure junkies will love this hostel as they have water sports activities on-site.
Beachfront is located but also not too far from the Korčula old town, all with the privacy of your own apartment.
Perfect for its central location in the old town of Korčula and luxury services, including a champagne bar.
13. Ischia, Italy
This volcanic Italian island off the coast of Naples is well known because of its thermal waters but doesn’t get the buzz like nearby Capri. There are many thermal parks on the island offering access to the volcanic waters, but Terme di Cavascura has to be one of the most spectacular ones. These baths are deep into the valley, and these baths were even used during Ancient Roman times!. These volcanic springs also are a great place to visit during wintertime, as they stay warmer than seawater.
Ischia also has some gorgeous beaches on the island that you shouldn’t skip out on. Sant’Angelo has a backdrop of colourful buildings that make you feel like you’re on the Amalfi Coast without the jam-packed shore. Panza Beach is cliffy, known for its hiking trails and access to some of the island's hot springs. This boat tour takes you to swim and discover the island’s caves, coves, and offers unmatched views of the famous ancient fortress, Aragonese Castle.
Make sure to spend some time wandering around the old streets of Ischia. This traditional Italian town is divided by the old and new town and is great to explore. Even more picturesque is the town of Forio. The second largest town on Ischia is lined with boutique shops and gourmet restaurants and the colourful streets give a summertime feel year-round.
Where to stay
Small studio rooms in a great location on the island.
Access to hot spring pools is all you need at a hotel in Ischia.
Cliff-top views of Sant Angelo with luxurious rooms.
14. Porquerolles, France
Visit this quiet French island to get a taste of the South of France, one of Europe’s most visited regions. This island only has 200 inhabitants making it one of the Mediterranean’s least-known islands. Most of Porquerolles beaches are quiet and have a rugged feeling, as they haven’t been built up to accommodate more tourism. These authentic beaches include Plage Notre Dame, a remote beach with rock formations and trees, and Plage de la Courtade, a pebbly beach that is lined with eucalyptus trees. These beaches tend not to be overcrowded, making them very enjoyable and relaxing.
Since the island is so small, it’s very popular to bike between the beaches. In the small town of Porquerolles, there are many different bike shops that rent bikes to visitors to explore the island with. There are plenty of historical sites on the island as well, such as Fort St. Agatha, a fortress created in the 16th century to protect from pirate attacks, and also Église Sainte-Anne de Porquerolles, a simple yet beautiful church built in the mid-19th century. The history of the island isn’t well known, yet very interesting, just like the rest of the island.
Where to stay
Since Porquerolles is so small, there are no super cheap hotels on the actual island. Stay in Hyères and take the 15-minute shuttle boat from La Tour Fondue which costs less than €25 roundtrip.
This hotel helps you plan all your activities on the tiny island, and features a delicious, traditional restaurant.
You’ll love this hotel’s gourmet restaurant and bar, not to mention the stunning beach access.