TripAdvisor has announced the winners of its inaugural 2013 Travellers’ Choice Islands Awards, based entirely on feedback from millions of TripAdvisor travellers.
While the ideal island break for some may be one that is drenched in sunshine, the results of the Travellers’ Choice Islands Awards reveal that this may not actually be the case.
Despite the complete contrast in weather, two Scottish islands, Mainland Orkney and the Isle of Skye, beat European destinations with decidedly more tropical temperatures; Island of Gozo in Malta, Zakynthos in Greece and Fuerteventura in the Canary Islands.
Here are the islands that made the top ten for being the best in the Europe:
With a breathtaking location and a world away from modern-day realities, Santorini offers stunning views from sky-high towns, alluring galleries, diverse and delicious cuisine and a varied nightlife.
TripAdvisor says: “Glamourous Santorini is deliciously different. Geographical newness is in part to thank. The island’s popular black volcanic Perissa and Kamari beaches are big draws, as is its arguably most famous Red Beach near Akrotiri (which is the place to go for archaeology buffs).
“Santorini curves round a giant lagoon in the Cyclades islands, offering stunning views from sky-high towns, eclectic cuisine, lovely galleries, thriving nightlife and excellent wines."
Stunning beaches and glittering blue seas teamed with delicious fresh food and a laid back lifestyle, Cephalonia is a must-visit Greek island.
TripAdvisor says: “The sapphire waters of Cephalonia are steeped with history. The large Greek island was home to Odysseus, the legendary king hailed in Homer’s The Odyssey. Fortunately, it won’t take you ten years to get there.
“Explore the enchanting caverns of the Drogarati caves, sail to Ithaca on a glass-bottomed boat or marvel at the ancient artifacts inside the Archaeological Museum of Argostoli, Cephalonia’s main town. Or just hide from it all at one of the island’s many private beach coves.”
Floating in the Tyrrhenian Sea off the Sorrentine Peninsula, Capri is a fascinating Island with an enthralling magical beauty.
TripAdvisor says: “The crags and grottoes of Capri have been dazzling visitors since the Ancient Greeks first settled the island. It’s easy to understand why artists and writers have been immortalizing Capri’s beauty and history for centuries.
“Climb aboard a wooden boat to tour the Grotto Azzurra, a cave filled with spectacularly blue water. Savor some gelato while you stroll around the harbours of Marina Piccola or Marina Grande, an ancient Roman fishing port.”
Pretty villages, beautiful beaches and must-visit museums make up the largest Greek island in the Cyclades – Naxos, which was also the centre of archaic Cycladic culture.
TripAdvisor says: “A spot of white in the turquoise waters of the Aegean Sea, the island of Naxos is a unique blend of ancient ruins and beach culture. The largest of the Cycladic Islands, Naxos is the childhood home of none other than Zeus, king of the gods.
“Upon arrival in Naxos, hike over a causeway to Palatia, where the Portara, a stone gateway to an ancient temple that no longer exists, stands alone, the symbol of the island. At sunset, the views of the island, and the sea beyond, are breathtaking.”
Mainland Orkney is the largest island of the Orkney Island group and is 26 miles long. The island offers lots to see and do and is divided into East and West mainland.
TripAdvisor says: “The aptly named Mainland is the main island of Orkney, a collection of Scottish islands with serious Viking cred. On West Mainland you’ll find the Heart of Neolithic Orkney, prehistoric ruins that include a chambered tomb, stone ceremonial circles, and Skara Brae, a well-preserved Neolithic village.
“Cap off your visit with a hoppy glug from the Orkney Brewery. Over on the East side, marvel at a collapsed sea cave known as The Gloup, take a provincial stroll through St. Mary’s Village or just dip your toes in at Mill Sands or Dingieshowe Beach.”
A tranquil gem in the Mediterranean sea, Gozo is a haven for holidaymakers who are looking to escape world realities and the stresses of everyday life.
TripAdvisor says: Part of the Maltese archipelago, Gozo is the second-largest of the seven-island chain and basks in the Mediterranean off the coast of Sicily. More rural than its sister island, Malta, Gozo has a population of 31,000.
“Home to some of the oldest religious structures in the world, the fascinating Ggantija temples, the island offers dramatic orange-red sands and perfect snorkeling waters at striking Ramla Bay. Rickety buses ply Gozo's roads, making getting about the island an exciting component of your trip.”
A picture-perfect island blending paradise beaches and a lively yet chilled-out city area.
TripAdvisor says: “The Ionian Islands are splendid, cinematic paradise. The waters are bluest blue, the sands are achingly silky and smooth. Everything looks heavily Photoshopped. But that's just Mother Nature, in all her unspoiled glory.
“Zakynthos is the largest of the Ionian Islands, and it's as fruitful as it is beautiful, boasting a bounty of crops like olives and grapes. Music is a huge part of the local culture - you can catch a concert or festival almost any night of the week, and you'll be captivated by the sights and sounds of Zakynthos performers.”
Located just off the coast of Normandy, Jersey is known as the warmest place in the British Isles with its golden beaches and crystal clear sea.
TripAdvisor says: The Jersey shore looks a little bit different in the Channel Islands. No Snookis here - instead, the partying of choice is the annual Battle of Flowers, a sweet-smelling carnival that culminates in the Moonlight Parade.
“Kayakers, surfers, divers and sailors will find plenty to love about Jersey’s active watersports scene, and adrenaline junkies will (cliff) jump for a coasteering tour of the caves, cliffs and crags. A day of shopping and café-hopping in St. Helier is an excellent dose of cultural retail therapy.”
The stunning Isle of Skye is the largest island in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland, and is steeped in history, culture and the most awe-inspiring landscapes.
TripAdvisor says: “The landscape is dramatic- even a bit moody, with the Cuillin Range in the background - but outdoorsy kids will have a blast on the Isle of Skye.
“Plenty of water sports are available, and you’ll also find great hiking and even pony rides. Portree, the largest town, makes a great base for exploring this striking island.”
The second largest of the Canary Islands boasts a lovely tropical climate, white sand beaches and cool blue waters, perfect for a short-haul escape from the UK.
TripAdvisor says: “Drawn by its fiestas, late night discos and clubs, water parks and golf courses, visitors can't resist sunny Fuerteventura.
“Discover local culture in Betancuria, home to a cathedral and several museums, at Tefia's eco-museum or at one of February's quirky Carnaval celebrations. Cool down after a hot day on the beach or a hard night at the clubs at Baku Water Park.”
Which island would you most like to visit? Are there any others you would put on this list? Tell us in the comments below or tweet us @FemaleFirst_UK