Summer starts here: Europe’s best island hopping

It’s hoppening! From Ibiza’s barefoot Balearic beats to the castaway islands of Croatia or turquoise waters and ancient ruins of Greece and Turkey, summertime in Europe is all a-boat island hopping.

Here are some of our favourite European islands for this summer.

IBIZA

Clubbing capital of the world.
The planet’s coolest island, not even the Vengaboys’ 1999 trip here on Venga Airways could muddy the sunbleached and celebrity sheen of Spain’s beautiful White Isle. Europe’s original hippy haven, home to feathered dreamcatchers and world-famous DJs in equal measure, it’s impossible not to lose your heart and your head(onism) to Ibiza.

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The Old Town
Loved by both locals and clubbing island veterans, Ibiza Town’s cobbled streets, whitewashed terraces and seafood tavernas are an olde worlde away from the island’s star-gazing super clubs and sweaty dancefloors.
Yoga retreats
Go shake your asana off! Downward facing dogs are almost as popular on Ibiza’s spiritual shores as the clubs are. Head to the sleepy north of the island for quiet coves, boho beach bars and mindfulness retreats.
Clubbing
Pioneers of international house music, Ibiza’s raving royalty includes Amnesia, Ushuaïa, Privilege, DC10, Pacha and more. And new for 2018, check out Sundays at Hï Ibiza.
Sailing
Set sail for a day trip shipwrecked on the sparkling white beaches and crystal-clear waters of Formentera, Ibiza’s better-behaved younger sister and the smallest island in the Balearics. Or sail to Formentera as part of a longer Contiki tour!

GREECE

Europe’s old timer.
White and blue painted clifftop villages, crumbled ruins and water clearer than an ouzo-free hangover, the Greek Islands have been the travellers’ choice for island hopping hols since the 1960s. You might say, it’s something of a Greek classic. Add to that unspoiled beaches, big fat Greek hospitality, Medieval old towns, carafes of cheap local wine and platefuls of deep-fried Saganaki. Because, well, fried cheese is never something to be sniffed at.

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The Cyclades
This idyllic cluster of picture-perfect islands are easily accessible from Pireaus (the port near Athens) and includes the boutique charms of Santorini, hedonistic Mykonos, backpacker-favourite Ios and the fishing village charms of Naxos and Paros – perfect for a two-week island hopping trip.
Crete
The biggest island in Greece and the centre of Minoan civilization, larger-than-life Crete has ancient ruins, busy bars, long sandy beaches and if you believe the myths, a half-man half-bull Minotaur that lives in a labyrinth.
Eurail passes
Many Eurail passes include travel on Blue Star Ferries, including the route from Athens to Crete, and travel around the Cyclades and Dodecanese. Ask about the best pass for you when booking.
Athens
Once a bit of a dive, Athens is now more hipster dive bars and beard trimmers. For jam jar cocktails and dancing on the cobbles until the early hours, head for the graffiti-covered neighbourhood of Gazi.

CROATIA

Hvar a good time.
Hotter than Jon Snow at bath time, Croatia’s 1,000-plus paradise islands were known to travellers long before the Game of Thrones’ location scouts rocked up and declared Dubrovnik King’s Landing. From uninhabited limestone karsts to insomniac party islands, the Adriatic is a season-long cycle of sailing decks and spinning decks, with some of the world’s greatest DJs setting up camp for the summer.

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Island hopping
Party islands, paradise beaches and storybook Medieval forts, Split to Dubrovnik via Brač, Hvar and Korčula is one of the most popular island hopping itineraries, and possible to do in just over a week.
The festivals
Croatia is home to some of Europe’s best music festivals, including Hideout, Soundwave, Ultra, Suncébeat and Love International. Tag one onto a sailing trip for an unforgettable summer of music, culture and beaches.
STA Travel Beats
A real dreamboat, spend four days on this tour sailing around the Adriatic with a resident DJ for salty daytime beats, snorkelling and secret parties. After catching rays and all-night raves, jump onboard the healing ship for morning yoga and recovery sessions.

TURKEY

One hot mezze.
Hidden coves, near-empty beaches and jade-coloured waters, Turkey’s Turquoise Coast is a real gem. Wander around Byzantine ruins, explore sunken cities and take your snorkel on daily underwater adventures in search of wrecks and sea turtles. Add to that, it’s a total bargain, with pretty much everything included onboard.

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The price
No haggling skills required, a week-long sailing trip in Turkey is the cheapest of all the European island hopping destinations.
The food
Fresh seafood, smoked aubergine dips and barbecue kebabs… we’re only a tahini bit in love with the food here.
The diversity
Snorkel in crystal-clear waters, hike to ancient ruins, explore old-school fishing villages and go clubbing in Bodrum.
The boats
Most sailing trips are onboard traditional gulets, wooden sailing boats with pirate-esq masts and heaps of tanning space.

 

Days spent lazing under the sun, gorging on fresh seafood, and diving into bluer than blue water – Europe is there to be explored!