Okay Cheapos! Indulge us for two minutes. We’ve just been taking a break on an island full of surprises, a place so beguilingly beautiful that we think it’s worth a mention. There must be a thousand candidates for the accolade of “Europe’s most beautiful island.”
One of our favorites is Gozo in the Med. Gozo is at its best in midwinter when the crowds have gone and the grigal winds bear down fiercely on the rocky island that Calypso once called home.
Azores, Hebrides and Lofoten Islands
Then there’s Moskenesøya, the most rugged of the Lofoten island group in northern Norway. It is a place where fierce black peaks tower out of the sea.
Lovely Colonsay in Scotland’s Inner Hebrides surely stakes a claim, as does remote Corvo in the Azores.
Nor should we neglect tiny Fugloy, the Faroese outpost that is draped in mist for half the year and yet still the most delectable spot in the North Atlantic archipelago.
And what of Brändö in the Åland Islands?
Or tiny San Lazzaro degli Armeni in the Venetian lagoon with its cypress trees, peacocks and the Armenian monastery where Byron once studied the Armenian language.
The Scilly Isles. Photo © hidden europe
Our pick: Tresco and the Scilly Isles
That’s seven of the best already, but these past few days of Indian summer on Tresco push this remote outpost of England right up into the premier league of European islands. The Scilly Isles, of which Tresco is the second largest, are on the same latitude as Winnipeg and Newfoundland. But warm Gulf Stream waters bathe the islands, so frost-free Tresco has an almost Caribbean demeanor.
Palm trees and cacti, eucalyptus and strelitzia rub shoulders in the lush gardens that surround Tresco Abbey. Canny Brits have always had a soft spot for the Scillies, but the islands are not well known among other travelers.
Routes to Tresco
A half hour helicopter flight from Penzance (on the UK mainland) will bring you straight to Tresco, but, better still, take the boat as we did. The three-hour crossing from Penzance to St Mary’s (from where there is an onward ferry to Tresco) on the Scillonian III affords views of fabulous Cornish coastal scenery, basking sharks, dolphins, and porpoises.
Try Tresco! It might well get our vote to be Europe’s most beautiful island.