To be honest, even the words “tropical islands to visit in Europe” is guaranteed to garner a few raised eyebrows!
Europe is known for being a lot of amazing things – tropical isn’t really one of them. Geographically, Europe is in the temperate zone so the idea of a tropical place in Europe is one that we aren’t really used to in this part of the world.
Oh, and by tropical, I’m not talking about just hot places. Yes, that matters too (there’s a reason why tropical beaches are famous) but what I’m talking about is the humidity, and pre-requisite rainfall which leaves these destinations lush and sooooooo very green! With that in mind, here are 5 tropical islands to visit in Europe and why they should jump right into your travel plans. 😄
1.) La Gomera, Spain
The Canary Islands as a whole are known for being a source of year-round sunshine but what truly makes La Gomera stand out, asides from the fact that this is one of the only places in the world where people still use a “whistling language”, is its jungles – something you won’t find much of in the other Canary islands.
In La Gomera, you’ll end up finding all sorts of plants you’d never find anywhere else in the Canary islands (and definitely not in mainland Europe). Oh, and by the way, you’re not trading in jungles for beaches here – you get both.
A key reason behind the dense vegetation on the island is the trade winds clouds (and the moisture they bring) which gets caught up in the La Gomera’s dramatic mountains (the island is volcanic – ergo the huge mountains) and so you’ll find yourself with the perfect mix of the heat and the wetness that’s typical of tropical destinations.
To put it simply, La Gomera is one of those places you should visit if you want a variety of experiences! Just don’t forget to pack your clothes appropriately too. 🙂
2.) The Isles of Scilly, the UK
Even when it comes to just warm countries (let along tropical islands to visit in Europe), the UK as a whole wouldn’t really be one you’d consider. This, of course, isn’t to say that the UK doesn’t have lots of amazing islands to visit (far from), it’s just not a place most people would think for a sunny holiday. But this would be because most people don’t really know about the Isles of Scilly.
Now, considering how high up the UK is, it really should be much colder than it is – it’s actually on the same latitude as quite a few places in Canada yet the UK is a lot warmer thanks to the Gulf stream, which bring much-appreciated warmth from tropical places like Mexico and Florida.
The Isles of Scilly, are Islands just off the lowest part of the UK and as a result, are so much warmer than the rest of the UK. This is a place where seeing palm trees wouldn’t be surprising and where clear, clean glass-like water is the norm! The best part is that it’s one of the most unspoilt parts of the UK – so much so that people still use honest boxes here.
For the uninitiated, honesty boxes are essential payment boxes for items in shops or booths that are unattended by the shop/booth owner. It’s an idea you wouldn’t even think of using in London (you’d have a pretty empty box by the end of the day) but is something that is absolutely brilliant it just showcases the best of British communities.
3.) Azores, Portugal
The Azores are pretty much Portugal’s answer to Iceland. These volcanic islands also benefit from the Gulf Stream and hence are a lot warmer than you’d typically get back in mainland Europe. They’re also a lot wetter (kinda like the UK, I guess) but don’t get this put your off bringing your swimwear, sunglasses and everything beach-ready with you – “wetter” does not mean that it just rains all the time, it just means that it rains a tad more than say on the mainland of Portugal.
Then again, these aren’t really islands you’ll want to spend too long on a beach – not because the beaches aren’t beautiful but because there’s just so much to see and do on the islands that you’ll easily find yourself spending a week or two here and still haven’t gotten round to experiencing it all.
If you’ve never considered visiting before, the Azores are gonna be those tropical islands in Europe that will impress you so much more than you’d imagined. There’s just nowhere else quite like it.
4.) Madeira, Portugal
Speaking of surprise destinations, Madeira was one of the most recent surprise discoveries we had on our travels. It’s funny, back home in the UK, it’s just one of those places I’d put down to being just a regular beach holiday but there’s so much more to Madeira!
The thing that makes Madeira so special is how diverse the island is! You could be up in the clouds (quite literally), freezing your bum off and within a very short drive, be in the sweltering tropical heat down by the beach (preferably with a cocktail in hand 😉 🍸). You could then go inland and find yourself hiking through the jungle – it’s just unbelievable how many seasons in a day you can get from this one island!
This diversity, of course, means that parts of Madeira are tropical, parts are temperates and depending on the time of the year, you can even get positively arctic conditions in parts of the island (all the while still having tropical conditions on other parts). Madeira is that incredible.
Throw in the nearby island of Porto Santo (it’s got some incredible beaches) and a holiday to Madeira very quickly becomes the European tropical island holiday your travel plans need.
5.) Porquerolles, France
You’d be forgiven for having never heard of this tiny little French island located on the tail end of the South of France. It’s got like 200 people living on it, it’s protected so you literally can’t even pick a flower here, it’s fairly small and it’s absolutely perfect!
I mean in Porquerolles, France – we’re talking clear blue Caribbean-esque waters and tiny little coves that are perfect for whiling the day away while soaking up all of that Mediterranean sunshine!
In reality, Porquerolles is not really a tropical island, in the truest sense of the word. Its tropical-ness is more to do with the landscape, vibe, beautiful sandy beaches and seemingly endless sunshine. It’s more of rustic travel destination – you can’t even visit with cars or set up camp here, making you feel like you’ve wandered onto a tropical island, which feels so much further than it really is from mainland France.
Check our other places in the South of France worth visiting when you visit Porquerolles.