We all get the urge to run away to a desert island sometimes, however the thought of planning such a journey is usually too daunting to take seriously… Well, we’re happy to tell you that there are some dreamy island destinations that are refreshingly easy to access, and they still feel a world away from any mainland locations. Here, we’ve rounded up some of the most spectacular and how to get there.
You could be relaxing on the laidback Ionian Island of Lefkada just half an hour after landing at Preveza Airport, since it’s connected to the mainland by a bridge. Despite such a simple transfer, Lefkada remains pretty much unspoilt by tourism, and boasts some seriously stunning beaches such as Porto Katsiki where sheer cliffs give way to unfathomably blue waters. The western coastline is a thrillseeker’s paradise, where afternoon winds makes for excellent windsurfing conditions, while the quieter eastern shore is peppered with pretty, pebbly coves. You’ll also find some of the country’s most delectable cuisine in the local tavernas, many of which are perched just metres from the lapping ocean, allowing for the dreamiest of sunset dinners.
This tiny island has a population of less than 300, however it’s only a 35-minute ferry or water taxi ride away from Dubrovnik. The smallest of the Elaphiti Islands, Koločep is completely car-free, so days here can be spent hiking through the lush pine forest and olive groves, lounging in a secluded cove, or even swimming through ethereal caves. You could visit just for the day from Dubrovnik, however if you’re looking to really get away from it all, there are guest houses, apartments and even all inclusive hotels available to book here.
The Gothenburg Archipelago is just a short boat ride away from Salthomen ferry terminal, which is around half an hour from the city centre. You’ll feel a world away from the bustle of Gothenburg on Styrso, which is a car-free and can be explored easily on foot. The beaches boast calm and shallow waters and you can hike up to Stora Ros, the highest point of the archipelago which boasts panoramic views of the soothing surrounds. You can also handily access the neighbouring island of Donso via a bridge, where you’re more likely to find some accommodation. What could be more invigorating than waking up in a sleek yet cosy Scandi cottage just steps from gentle waters?
The largest of the Inner Hebrides is accessible by a bridge, so you can either drive there or hop on a train to Kyle of Lochalsh and then catch a bus. It’s hard to believe that scenery so otherworldly is located right here on our doorstep; many of these natural wonders have actually been used in feature films, including Stardust, The BFG and Snow White and the Huntsman. One of the most mesmerising spots to explore is the Fairy Glen, which is home to a crumbling castle, a glassy loch and mysterious stone circles… There are all kinds of ways to stay here, from snug cabins overlooking crashing waves to elegant hotels in the colourful capital of Portree.
São Miguel, The Azores
This Portuguese island might be the largest of The Azores, with a population of more than 100,000, however its commitment to sustainability means that it still feels remote and unspoilt — you won’t find any high-rise buildings or sprawling complexes here. You can even get a direct flight to the capital of Ponta Delgada in just over four hours! While you might be tempted to simply pass through on your way to a much more secluded isle, Sao Miguel is too special to miss; some of its key sights include the twin crater lakes of Sete Cidades, as well as the fumaroles and hot springs of Furnas. The cuisine here is pretty special too…the island’s signature dish is a stew called Cozido das Furnas, which is made by layering meat and vegetables in a metal pot and then burying it in the warm volcanic soil where it slow-cooks throughout the day. The archipelago also produces an intriguing local wine selection, a number of cheeses, and of course, a mouthwatering selection of fresh seafood.