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Even if you’ve never been to this Cyclades island in the Aegean Sea, you’d still recognize it immediately – candy-colored houses carved into cliffs, sapphire waters, gleaming white buildings topped with half-spheres the color of a stormy sky. Here you’ll find peace as you roam the black sand beaches or the streets of a provincial village like Imerovigli. Beautiful Oia is world famous for its sunsets, which seem tinted with every shade of an artist’s palette.
The dreamy island that provided inspiration to Chopin and Miró now has a reputation as a spring break beach destination. Don't worry, though, if you're vacationing over elementary school spring break-- there's plenty for the younger crowd. Marineland's dolphin and sea lion shows and children's beach attract families. And if you have a Thomas-obsessed toddler, the antique train that travels between Palma and Soller is a must-see.
Breezy Madeira is an eponymous island in the Madeira Islands, a Portuguese archipelago. The capital city of Funchal was settled in the 15th century and is a colorful collection of gardens, religious sites, and quirky tourist attractions like the thatched-roof Madeira Story Centre. Hike to the summit of Pico Ruivo and you’ll feel like you’ve climbed through the clouds. Unwind over a glass of Madeira wine, an historic fortified beverage that’s musky and subtly sweet.
The birthplace of both the king of the Olympian gods and of modern European civilization, Crete is a Mediterranean jewel. It’s rich with archaeological and mythological history that’s reflected in its ancient ruins and cultural attractions. Soak up the charming atmosphere of Chania Town’s Old Venetian Harbor or the fortresses and monasteries of Rethymonon. The awesome Minoan ruins of Malia date to 1900 BC, and majestic Mt. Ida is said to be home to the cave where Zeus was born.
Tribal Terenife still shows influence from the aboriginal Gaunches people. Visitors clamber to conquer Mount Teide (Spain’s tallest peak) and to stretch out on the sands of Los Gigantes. Squawk hello to the playful parrots of Loro Park, or brave the petrifying drive to beautiful Masca Valley. For a true taste of Terenife, sample fresh farmhouse cheese and local bananas. A piece of delicate calado canario lace makes a special souvenir.
The largest of the twelve Dodecanese islands on the Aegean's eastern edge, Rhodes is also its most popular. The well-preserved medieval city of Rhodes sits at the north of the island of the same name. High rise hotels line the northern and eastern coastlines. Small villages and resorts dot the island's other shores. Whether your interests are beaches, bars or ancient sites, Rhodes offers an abundance of all three. Authentic Greece can be found in the hilly interior of the 50-mile-long island.
Welcoming, tolerant Gran Canaria offers a little something for everyone. Families flock to the water parks and beaches of Puerto Rico. Those seeking peaceful escape scamper to Mogan's quiet fishing villages. Gay visitors crowd the bars, restaurants and beaches of Playa del Ingles. Urban attractions are on offer in Las Palmas. Three highways open up the island for those with a rental car or a bus schedule. Prime sites to visit include Iglesia de San Juan Bautista de Arucas and Palmalitos zoo park.
Corsica is a laid-back French island, with a breezy vibe that’s part European weekend and part tropical honeymoon. The port city of Bastia flings its arms wide open to weary travelers disembarking from a long ferry trip. For a truly charming Corsican experience, catch a train through the mountains to the beach, passing by rustic villages and grazing cows along the way. Take a few hours or even a few weeks to explore the island’s famous walking trails, including the varsity-level GR 20.
Nine miles by five miles. That’s the size of Jersey. It’s not a lot, you may think. You’d be wrong. The island is a mix of English reserve and French savoir-faire, cosmopolitan harbor and timeless hidden valleys, continental flair and scenes that are reassuringly familiar. Its diverse attractions and natural beauty offer something for everyone and make Jersey an ideal destination for short breaks, romantic weekends, active experiences, foodie getaways and family summer holidays.
The crags and grottoes of Capri have been dazzling visitors since the Ancient Greeks first settled the island. It’s easy to understand why artists and writers have been immortalizing Capri’s beauty and history for centuries. Climb aboard a wooden boat to tour the Grotto Azzurra, a cave filled with spectacularly blue water. Savor some gelato while you stroll around the harbors of Marina Piccola or Marina Grande, an ancient Roman fishing port.