by Timothy Chow,
Think you need to travel to the ends of the earth to find your idyllic island retreat? Think again. Sure, St. Lucia and Bora Bora make you feel relaxed just looking at the pictures in the brochure. But how many of us can actually afford to visit these luxurious destinations each year? Fear not, there are many island retreats in Europe that still have that wow factor – here are the top three.
Winner of the top 10 islands in Europe award in Tripadvisor’s Travellers’ Choice 2013, it’s still hard to believe this gorgeous Greek island remains unknown to some. The community aren’t wrong either; there really is something for everyone on holidays in Santorini. One of the many highlights of the island has to be watching the sunset. Regarded as the best place to watch the sunset in Europe if not the world; there’s nothing quite like watching the caldera and Aegean Sea glow orange. The island boasts a number of luxurious boutique hotels perched high in which to enjoy this spectacular show whilst taking a dip in an infinity pool. The island excels in dishes with fresh seafood aplenty and wine where the vines have a unique method of growing. Why not enjoy these on your own luxury yacht for the day?
One of the most architecturally stunning islands in Europe, Malta has kept much of its grandeur and beauty. Enjoy walking the cobbled streets and visiting ancient temples and palaces or the stunning harbour, relax on the golden sandy beaches and indulge in the finest dishes and flavours the Mediterranean has to offer. The City of Valetta is particularly pretty; so much so that it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. While the island hasn’t experienced any major changes since 1798, don’t think the island is bereft of modern luxuries. You’ll find well known designer brands such as Armani, Hugo Boss and Massimo Dutti together with the boutique stores and markets. Treat yourself to a dinner with outstanding panoramic views at De Mondion restaurant which is housed in a 17th century palace. It’s easy to see why the likes of Brad Pitt, Madonna and Bruce Willis have holidayed on the island.
If all you dream of is lying on a silky soft beach for the duration of your holiday and work on your tan, you’ll find Cyprus heavenly. It has 57 Blue Flag awarded beaches which highlights the quality of the sand, water and facilities present. The beaches, like Coral Bay, can get a little crowded during the summer months, but the island has many great 5 star luxury hotels, complete with private sections of beaches for guests. They also offer a number of swimming pools, evening entertainment and spa facilities. You’re pretty much guaranteed sunshine too as the island enjoys the warmest climate in the Mediterranean part of the European Union. It’s also a great destination for winter sun holidays with temperatures in Limassol still peaking at 20°C.