The coronavirus pandemic is still very much present in our daily lives, but in order to take our minds off the rules and restrictions, as well as the chilly winter weather, we're dreaming of a sunny escape to discover some of the most beautiful islands in Portugal, Spain and Italy.
Whether you're planning your next holiday, or dreaming from the sofa, check out these less touristy Mediterranean islands, perfect for those who want to relax and disconnect from daily life. Take advantage of spectacular scenic walking routes and above all do not miss all the wonderful beaches hidden in these islands. Let the tour begin!
The first stop on our tour of Southern Europe's beautiful islands takes us to the Gulf of Naples where we find an island that is certainly as beautiful as Capri, but which remains relatively unknown to tourists. Ischia, a very popular holiday destination for the ancient Romans, seduced its visitors with its aromas and colours. Today, many Italians know this island as "the island of serenity", due to the kindness and warmth of its inhabitants and its spectacular Mediterranean nature.
One of the greatest tourist attractions on the island is its thermal waters, and there are several spas where you can enjoy them. And if you are a fan of the beach, then make sure to head to Sorgeto, Maronti and Sant'Angelo.
When it comes to places to visit in Ischia, make sure to check out Castello Aragonese, a medieval castle in the middle of the sea. Cross the bridge and discover the biggest tourist spot of the island! Mount Epomeo is also a must visit, as it is the highest mountain on the island, almost at a height of 800 metres, perfect for trekking and hiking lovers, as well as Giardini Termali Poseidon, a spa where you could easily spend the whole day. It has a private beach and thermal pools with waters between 30º and 40º, as well as indoor pools, a restaurant and a wellness centre.
La Gomera, Spain
La Gomera is probably the least developed of all the Canary Islands in terms of tourism and was declared a World Biosphere Reserve in 2012. This peaceful island is a great place to visit if you want to avoid large crowds and head to a destination that is largely undiscovered by tourists. Most tourists who do visit La Gomera are attracted by its fascinating nature, its laurel forests, its subtropical mountain paths and the stunning Atlantic Ocean backdrop.
A visit to the Garajonay National Park is essential to get to know the wildest part of the island, and if you like the beach, discover the area of Valle Gran Rey, considered the most touristy part of the island.
As well as enjoying the nature and beaches that La Gomera has to offer, make sure to check out the local gastronomy scene, where you can try local dishes such as "papas arrugadas con mojo de pimenta", the island's version of baked potatoes with a spicy sauce, or "leche asada", a kind of creamy flan which is made in the oven.
Elba Island, Italy
It is said that Napoleon once came across the exuberant and crystalline island of Elba in Italy, and did not want to leave because he fell in love with the island's famous wine Alleático. If you are lucky enough to visit the island of Elba, you will get the chance to visit the stunning vineyards where this wine is produced on the shores of the Mediterranean, and try some of this fantastic wine for yourself.
This beautiful island situated in the Tyrrhenian Sea has unquestionable beauty, due to its unique mixture of sea- and mountain-scapes. The easiest way to reach Elba is by ferry from Piombino. Once on the island, be sure to visit Capoliveri, a picturesque village with narrow streets, Porto Azul, with all its boats, and Portoferraio, where you will find the best beaches on the island.
Our next destination is Formentera, a particularly special Spanish island which is part of the Balearics. This paradise is not an unknown island, but it is much less busy than its neighbours in the Balearic archipelago, because it does not have its own airport.
The island is home to some of the world's most beautiful beaches, with the transparent blue waters of Ses Illetes beach standing out as a must. Another essential place to visit in Formentera is the Cap de Barbaria lighthouse, the perfect place to watch the sunset and enjoy the stunning views the island has to offer.
Don't forget to also check out the wide range of local food on offer in Formentera which is a paradise for foodies. Octopus with delicious roasted vegetables is a common dish on all menus, while "coca", is a typical homemade product from the island which resembles pizza or quiche, and is typically topped with red peppers.
Pico Island, Portugal
The last stop on our tour of beautiful islands takes us back to Portugal. Pico Island is a paradise where nature, gastronomy and hospitality are the main attractions, and is a place which undoubtedly maintains a sense of authenticity thanks to a lack of mass tourism.
The island's most famous activities revolve around dolphin and whale watching on its coasts, as well as climbing the mountain at the heart of the island. Once you make it to the top, all the effort will be worth it when you see the spectacular views.
A visit to Pico Island wouldn't be complete without a trip to the island's natural pools, such as Criação Velha, São Roque do Pico, Lages do Pico or Santa Luzia. To get a real sense of the relaxed way of life on the island, take a stroll through its picturesque villages, such as Madalena and Lages, where you can enjoy some local food. We recommend the local São João cheese, with its intense smell and soft interior, as well as the wide range of fresh seafood on offer.