We’ve all heard of the glitzy Mykonos or the party heaven of Ibiza or even the more toned down, verdant Madeira. But what about all those lesser-known, dreamy oases that float around Europe without anyone taking notice? From Lastovo and its strawberry trees to Kimolos and its photogenic houses, read on and you might discover some truly gorgeous islands you never knew existed.
About 100km (62mi) southwest of Sicily – but actually closer to the Tunisian coast – this island guarantees an escape out of the ordinary. Pantelleria is known for its dramatic, volcanic landscape – the last eruption took place west of the island in 1891 – that is sure to appeal to lovers of steaming fumaroles and hot springs, as well as die-hard divers. Stay in one of the dammusi, the charming, single-storey houses made from volcanic rock, and spend your days gazing at blue waters or swimming and exploring coves.
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
São Miguel, Azores
São Miguel, the biggest island in the Portuguese archipelago of the Azores, also hosts a volcanic crater. It may be dormant but it’s the reason why you can bathe in tropical hot springs, kayak in milky twin crater lakes – one green and one blue – and enjoy a meal straight from a natural saucepan. The island has a volcanic hotspot where you can bury pots of food in steamy potholes to find it fully cooked a few hours later. Dipping in waterfalls and whale watching are also some of the fun things to do here.
Clear, azure seas and magnificent views make the Croatian islands an ever-popular choice when it comes to summer vacations. Although Hvar and Brač are the ones getting all the attention, the unspoiled Lastovo deserves some of the spotlight, too. The island hosts a protected nature park – while 70 percent of its surface is covered in forest – which makes for thrilling hikes among pines and strawberry trees. Stroll along flower-filled alleys before tucking in grilled lobster, fresh from the sea.
Floating on the Hebrides archipelago off the west coast of the Scottish mainland is a small virgin paradise where oyster farming and lobster or trout fishing are daily pastimes. Sail or kayak on blond beaches, hike through woodlands and unwind while bird-watching in sprawling gardens – the bright-green Colonsay House Gardens with the impressive rhododendron collection are a must-visit. Don’t leave without trying the fine, locally-produced wildflower honey and botanical gin.
Tiny Kimolos has to be the cutest of the Cyclades. Although this Greek island lies just an hour away by boat from buzzing Milos, it has remained off the tourists’ radar. Those in the know come here for the fantastic sandy or pebbled beaches with the crystalline green waters – and for the pretty whitewashed houses with blue and turquoise details that line the narrow alleys. Try local delicacies at the various taverns dotting the little squares and hike all the way up to the ruins of a medieval castle.
The beautiful Gozo in the Maltese archipelago has been inhabited for thousands of years. This explains its rich history – moulded by the Phoenicians, Romans and Arabs, among others. Apart from historical gems such as the Ġgantija temples (striking megalithic temples dating back to the Neolithic period), the island boasts shimmering clear waters against the backdrop of a rugged coastline. It’s no wonder Ogygia – the dreamy place where nymph Calypso seduces Odysseus in Homer’s Odyssey – is said to be Gozo in real life.
Belle-Île-en-Mer – the largest of the islands off the coast of Brittany – is a true delight. Picture pool-like waters surrounded with nature or framed by craggy cliffs next to calm fishing villages offering exquisite seafood. Among the must-sees is La Pointe des Poulains, a wild site that hosts Sarah Bernhardt’s fort named after the 19th-century actress, a museum in her memory and a lovely lighthouse. Learn how to ride the waves at Belle-Île’s very own surf club.
Gugh, Isles of Scilly, England
Gugh hardly counts as an island, some might say, as it’s connected to its sister Scilly isle, St Agnes, by a sandy tombolo. But Gugh – off the Cornish coast – is very much an island, albeit a tiny one, all on its own. Follow the sandbar from St Agnes at low tide and you’ll be met with astonishingly white sands and mirror-like waters next to buttercup-dotted hills that heavily echo Little House on the Prairie. Then take a selfie leaning on the Old Man of Gugh – a 2.7m (8.8ft)-tall menhir – before spotting seals on the shore.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.