10 under-the-radar European islands you should visit

The westernmost Cycladic island is littered with ancient ruins and catacombs and has abundant and beautiful beaches. Cliff-backed Paleohori might be the best, but Plathiena, framed in the limestone outcrops, is lovely. Like overcrowded Santorini, Milos features a giant flooded caldera. Curious volcanic formations, white cliffs banded in coloured rock and dramatic coastlines create some of the Aegean’s most striking landscapes. See visitgreece.gr


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This Baltic island, close to the Swedish coast, has been an important trade and naval outpost since the Middle Ages, though rock carvings indicate Bronze Age settlement. Bornholm relies on agriculture, ceramics manufacturing and summer tourists attracted to wild landscapes of moor and forest, dotted with huge glacial boulders. Fishing villages such as picturesque Gudhjem and arty Svaneke hunker under the chimneys of herring smokehouses. See visitbornholm.com


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This dot off the Northumbrian coast is otherwise known as Holy Island thanks to its links to early Christianity. Monkish scholarship produced the gorgeous illuminated Lindisfarne Gospels, displayed in e-version in the visitor centre. The ruined priory, moody weather and tidal flats create haunting scenery offset by a pretty Victorian village and 16th-century castle converted into a summer home by architect Edwin Lutyens. See visitnorthumberland.com


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La Palma and Tenerife are the best-known Canary Islands off northwest Africa’s Atlantic coast, and favoured by European sun-seekers. If you want to combine hedonism with hiking, though, hit Lanzarote, the most scenically dramatic island thanks to volcanic landscapes and lush vegetation. The cliffs at Famara and the road to Yaiza have staggering views. A bonus is the excellent seafood and local cheese and wines. See hellocanaryislands.com


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Brittany’s largest island is pounded by waves that create jagged rock stacks, umpteen coves and windswept allure, while the warm Gulf Stream provides green agricultural interiors and a faintly Mediterranean atmosphere. The island’s pastel-coloured fishing villages, lighthouses and flower-dappled fields were much painted by artists such as Monet and Matisse. The island also has a whopping fortress built by Louis XIV’s military engineer, Vauban. See belleileenmer.co.uk


 Traditional German houses in Lindau, Lake Constance.

Traditional German houses in Lindau, Lake Constance.Credit: iStock

This island, 460 kilometres from the sea in landlocked Bavaria, sits on Lake Constance, which is shared with Austria and Switzerland, draped in vineyards and backed by snowy Alps. The island is dominated by 800-year-old Lindau town, bristling with defensive towers and graced with gabled medieval merchant mansions. A fringe of lakeshore promenades and cafe terraces is the perfect place to soak up alpine views. See bodensee.eu


Blue Lagoon, Comino.

Blue Lagoon, Comino.Credit: Joana Kruse/Alamy

Tiddly Comino is this nation’s third island, wedged between Malta and Gozo and previously a hideout for pirates and plague victims. These days its worn-down limestone landscape is almost empty, but its cliffs, sea caves and startling turquoise waters are utterly lovely. Its most famous landmark is the Blue Lagoon. Clamber up St Mary’s Tower to inspect the whole island from above. See visitmalta.com


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The Aeolian Islands off northeast Sicily are best known for volcanic Stromboli, Europe’s only active volcano, but Lipari makes a great base.


The island is cluttered with fishing villages, churches, and random curiosities such as an obsidian quarry, acropolis, significant archaeological park and hot springs. A walk up 600-metre Monte Chirica provides magnificent views over the archipelago, Stromboli booming in the background. See visitsicily.info

Brian Johnston has travelled courtesy of numerous tourism offices and travel companies.

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