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10 Dreamy European Islands

10. Ærø Island
10 Dreamy European Islands
Maybe you’ve been to Corsica or Sardinia, but Northern Europe offers just as many off-the-beaten-path isles. Here are 10 of our favorites, which cover everything from over-the-top foodie experiences to whiskey tastings. 
By AFAR Editors, AFAR Staff
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    10. Ærø Island
    10. Ærø Island
    The list of things to do in Ærø is nearly as long as the island’s maritime history. Despite its tiny size (about 88.1 square kilometers) it’s an important Danish landmark—the town of Marstal, for example, is the second largest shipping port in the country, after Copenhagen.

    Don’t miss the town of Aeroeskoebing; it dates back to the Middle Ages and its residents have implemented a number of plans to preserve the charming houses and cobblestone streets. Walk straight through town to Vesterstrand, and you’ll come across beach huts—each one unique in color and design, but united in size.

    Plan your trip: Denmark

    Photo by @Katrinelarsen
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    9. The Aran Islands
    9. The Aran Islands
    Together, Inishmore, Inishmaan, and Inisheer make up the Aran Islands—a scenic trio on the west coast of Ireland. Fly or ferry into the islands by way of Galway or Doolin (stop by the Cliffs of Moher on your way), and you’ll discover Celtic churches, miles of picturesque stone walls, dramatic cliffs, and plenty of peace and quiet. Inishmore, the largest of the three, is a hot spot for bicycling, snorkeling, sailing, and diving. 

    Plan your trip: Ireland

    Photo by Patrick Charpiat/Wikimedia
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    8. Rügen Island
    8. Rügen Island
    Neoclassical architecture meets white cliffs, sandy beaches, and one of the largest national parks in Germany on Rügen Island. Check out the chalk cliffs of Jasmund National Park, the view from Naturerbre Zentrum (a tall building, similar to a spiral staircase, that takes you well above the treetops), and chill-out on the Baltic Sea in a wicker beach chair.

    Plan your trip: Germany

    Photo by Pixelteufel/Flickr
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    7. Moskenesøya Island
    7. Moskenesøya Island
    Surfing, scuba diving, and glacial fjords? Welcome to Norway’s Lofoten Islands, where the natural landscape is as rich as the food, and the summer’s midnight sun is as gorgeous as the winter’s northern lights. On the Southern isle of Moskenesøy you can stay in the small fishing village of Reine. Rent a rorbuer (an old fishing cottage), visit villages on the local ferry, or hike up Reinebringen to take in the view.

    Plan your trip: Norway

    Photo by Christoph Strässler/Flickr
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    6. Gotland Island
    6. Gotland Island
    This summer, Gotland Island is the makeshift home of one of Stockholm’s buzziest restaurants, Agrikultur, which has set up shop at the Fabriken Furillen hotel for the summer. Chefs Filip Fastén and Joel Åhlin are bringing their delicious Nordic comfort food (think pickled cucumber, grilled iceberg lettuce, and fried capers with an artful twist) to the island. Book soon as they are heading back to the mainland on August 31st.

    Plan your trip: Sweden

    Courtesy of Agrikultur at Furillen
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    5. The Isles of Scilly
    5. The Isles of Scilly
    Yes, this is in Great Britain. Just south of the coast of Cornwall, in the Isles of Scilly, life is all about that island time. We love the beaches on St. Martin’s, the tropics of Tresco (the island boasts more than 20,000 plant species, many of which you would never see growing in mainland Britain), and the solitude of Bryher island (with 80 year-round residents).

    Plan your trip: Isles of Scilly

    Photo by Tom Corser/Wikimedia
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    4. Muhu Island
    4. Muhu Island
    This island’s Pädaste Manor hotel is worth a trip to Muhu alone. Its walls date back to the 15th century, and overlook gardens, the waters of at Pädaste Bay, and a protected park that is home to more than 23 different orchid species. For centuries, neighboring countries in Scandinavia have headed to Estonia for their spa treatments that incorporate seawater hot tubs, goat milk–butter massages, and salt body scrubs.

    Plan your trip: Estonia

    Courtesy of Pädaste Manor
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    3. Ramsey Island
    3. Ramsey Island
    All 640 acres of Ramsey Island are dedicated to the area’s natural wildlife—in particular, the birds of St. David’s peninsula and St. Brides Bay (yes, there are puffins). From the seat of a boat, expect plenty of glimpses of nesting seabirds, wild porpoises, or lounging seals. 

    Plan your trip: Wales

    Courtesy of Voyages of Discovery
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    2. Jersey Island
    2. Jersey Island
    Given its location, it’s all too easy to overlook the Channel Islands on your way to London or Paris. Yet it boasts killer music festivals and great farmer’s markets. You can even call one big castle home for your stay.

    Plan your trip: The Channel Islands

    Photo by @Jerseytravelblog
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    1. The Isle of Skye
    1. The Isle of Skye
    Skye brings beautiful rugged landscape, waterfalls, crazy rocks, scallop diving and freshly picked mushrooms (of all sorts), swimming in euphorically cold water, and, perhaps mostly notably, a peaty fiery scotch.

    Talisker distillery, which dates back to the 1830s, makes a number of whiskies that have won international awards. Their secret is the traditional copper tubes and oak casks used in the Loch Harport distillery. Enjoy with otherworldly, Iceland-like views. 

    Plan your trip: Isle of Skye

    Photo by Colin/Flickr
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