Whether you want to watch the sunset on a white-sand seaside or relax on a beach. Europe has an area for you, if you want northern lights from a white beach. Here are the best.

The spectacular diversity of Europe’s landscapes, which includes its beautiful islands, is one of its best traits. Europe has the ideal location for a white island getaway, whether you prefer to gaze upon white structures that cling to steep cliffs or to watch the northern lights illuminate the sky from a white island. From Lonely Planet’s The Islands Book, we’ve rounded up some distinctive and stunning islands across the globe. These are 12 of the best. 1. Korčula, Croatia A tapestry of grapes, olive trees and thick forests blankets Korčula, the greenest of the Dalmatian territories. It lies just 3km ( 1.8 miles ) from the mainland and is understandably busy in summer, but outside the peak season, it’s a serenely beautiful place to visit. From Korula Town’s Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque palaces to the interior’s easy rock cottages and farmhouses, the island’s well-maintained medieval towns and villages are replete with historic architecture. It’s a place to hike or bike to little- scale wineries and oil mills, see conventional folk dances, religious processions and musical performances, or greater however, sit on a sandy beach, an attraction virtually unheard of in Croatia. Rest in the tone of pine branches on Skiathos ‘ Koukounaries Beach© Aleksandar Todorovic / Shutterstock2. Skiathos, Greece Eyes closed, photograph the Greek shore of your dreams. A glinting rock- studded beach? A lush span of white, powdery dust? A rough sea- hugging rock at sunset? Skiathos is all this, and much more. This historical-rich pine-scented area, which is situated halfway between Athens and Thessaloniki, is the birthplace of the wonderful 19th-century Greek author Alexandros Papadiamantis and a significant area during the Greek War of Independence. Ancient temples are hidden in the quiet mountains, while the small, comfortable money, Skiathos Town, unfolds in a series of wonderful strands backed by rolling oil groves. Leave to the cliff-edged northern coast, where family-owned tavernas have been serving up feta-loaded salads, bright golden chips, and platters of super-fresh shellfish for years. Their rocky hills sweep down to remote silver-pebble coves. In a week, how many Greek islands can I visit? Swim at Cala Napoletana in the La Maddalena Archipelago National Park in Sardinia. Sardinia, Italy The largest island in the Mediterranean after Sicily, Sardinia is the feisty, brilliantly moody and charismatic offspring of conquest and occupation. Before the island became a part of unified Italy in 1861, there were numerous power-hungry masters, but the Sards never let time or the elements sabotage their brilliant story. The fierce passion and pride in Sardinian culture and heritage, the stubborn fraternity, the infectious zeal for la festa ( party ) and the slow food ethic that every islander shares is compelling. Beyond sweltering on Europe’s most idyllic white beaches, think about the possibilities. Exploring this natural habitat is a wild adventure, with vertiginous coastal paths and spectacular cliff- cradled bays, rugged mountains and sheep- specked hinterland, remote hilltop villages, Neolithic tombs and medieval cities riddled in mystery. The island of Corsica is markedly different from that of mainland France in Alexandre. ROSA / Shutterstock4. Corsica, France It has been part of France for more than 200 years, but wild and fiercely proud Corsica ( Corse or L’Île de Beauté, meaning the” Island of Beauty” ) is dramatically different from the mainland. Be it customs, culture, cuisine or language, a unique Corsican identity oozes out of every last pretty hilltop village, harmonious polyphonic song and haunting lamentu ( lament ) listened to over a glass of blood- red Cap Corse Mattei. Corsica’s natural landscape is kaleidoscopic. For outdoor explorers, its sandy beaches and gold-crusted coves, thick forests and verdant valleys, sawtooth mountain ridges and rocky promontories are paradise. The island’s compelling multifaceted history is also the backbone of its rich geographical diversity. Begin at ground zero with the enigmatic” Sea People” .Head to the Cala Macarella cove for the perfect Menorca experience © tagstiles.com- S. Gruene / Shutterstock5. The easternmost tip of Spain, known as the soulful, sun-soaked, beach-wrapped jewel of an island strewn in the Balearic Sea, where sustainability was the driving force behind regional tourism long before it became a buzzword, is known as Menorca, Spain. Beautiful Menorca, which was designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 1993, showcases inspiringly designed agroturismes ( rural hotels ), mystifying Bronze Age ruins, rippling wetlands, pine-scented coastal trails, and a number of the country’s most exquisite beaches. Its two elegant cities tell stories of its embattled past: harborside capital Maó ( Mahón ) bursts with British- influenced architecture, while colorful Ciutadella brings a more Spanish feel. This go-slow island is becoming known as a responsible travel destination thanks to its peaceful, protected beaches and strong gastronomic heritage. The island of Saaremaa in Estonia is a continuation of the ancient rhythms of rural life. Saaremaa, EstoniaIf you’re looking for the soul of Estonia, make the trip to Saaremaa’s vast open spaces and Tallinn’s medieval turrets and Tartu’s academic fervor. The island that is the largest in the nation is home to small villages that still abide by the traditional rhythms of rural life, including oak and juniper forests, craggy sea cliffs, and juniper and juniper forests. For Estonians, there’s an ineffable magic to Saaremaa’s old windmills, flower- strewn meadows and folkloric history that dates back many centuries. The mazelike corridors lining the island’s largest settlement, Kuressaare, are home to one of the country’s most magnificent castles, which stands above the picturesque town of Kuressaare. Saaremaa is also known for its earthy cuisine, which ranges from smoked fish sold in tiny markets to rye bread made from old family recipes, along with some of the best farmhouse beer brewed in the Baltics. In Sakrisy in Lofoten, Justin Foulkes / Lonely Planet7, fin-shaped mountains loom over fishing huts on stilts. No fancy flights of fancy were the fabled maelstrom and fire-engine-red fishing huts on stilts in Lofoten that French author Jules Verne evoked in his classic sci-fi adventure novel Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. This end- of- the- Earth archipelago, linked by ferry or a series of road tunnels and bridges to mainland Norway, is straight off a cinema screen. The incredible beauty of the planet and the celestial Arctic light is simply astounding. This rugged string of islands is characterized by farming, farming, and tourism, where the flow of the Gulf Stream ensures a soft warmth unmatched elsewhere in the Arctic Circle. The midnight sun bathes the islands ‘ shark-fin chiseled mountains in gold on white summer nights and gives the Norwegian Sea a pale violet that no painter can truly capture. The coveted winter chase is majestic, unmatched, and utterly unforgettable to watch the northern lights tango purple and emerald green across the dark sky in a kayak or husky sled, on snowshoes, or on horseback. Gotland’s old town of Visby is a great place to see early Gothic architecture © Istvan Csomortani / Shutterstock8. Gotland, Sweden Known as the” Queen of the Baltic”, Gotland is a magical island where medieval towns and churches butt up to sandy beaches and dunes, sculptural sea stacks, lush meadows and sleepy villages. It is the largest island in Sweden and is located in the Baltic Sea, roughly halfway between Estonia and mainland Sweden, making it a strategically significant place to have been inhabited for 8000 years. Visby, its UNESCO World Heritage-listed capital, is home to the narrow, cobbled lanes and quaint cottages of Gotland, with stunning early Gothic architecture and the most alluring of long summer evenings. It’s a serenely tranquil location, sparsely populated, and best explored by bike outside the capital and away from peak season. Visit the medieval week in August to see jousters and jesters, the truffle festival in November, or just wander from the beach to a remote hamlet, taking in the views as you go. On the lovely Dutch island of Texel, Sara Winter / Shutterstock9, wander or pedal between villages and beaches. Texel, the Netherlands Sweeping white- sand beaches, wildlife- rich nature reserves, sun- dappled forests and quaint villages are just some of the highlights of Texel ( pronounced “tes- sel” ), the largest and most- visited of the Wadden Islands, which stretch along Holland’s northeast coast. Texel’s typically flat Dutch landscape makes it ideal for cycling, and sheep are everywhere: local lamb is always on the menu and local wool is highly prized. The first trade mission to the East Indies started and ended here. During lambing season around Easter, you’ll see bouncy lambs aplenty, join the locals in taking a Lammetjes Wandeltrocht ( a “walk to look at the lambs” ). With enough activities to keep you entertained for days on end, Texel is well-known among Dutch and German visitors but otherwise undiscovered, making it feel like a real find. In the turquoise waters off the Isles of Scilly, England may not be recognized, according to Julian Love / Lonely Planet10. Isles of Scilly, England Given England’s erratic and frequently depressing climate, it is extraordinary to think that the nation has managed to preserve an ecological Eden where subtropical succulents, desert cacti, and Seychelles-esque palm trees grow like weeds close to stunning beaches. But then again, the Isles of Scilly, 45km ( 28 miles ) off Cornwall’s southwest shore in the Atlantic Ocean, have always been cut off from mainland Britain, ensuring a unique ecosystem blissfully undisrupted by invasive plant or animal species. The Duchy of Cornwall, an ancient royal fiefdom where every local is a tenant of the Prince of Wales, owns this paradisal string of 200 odd islands, of which only five are inhabited. Leaving aside this Scillonian oddity, British tradition is still enchantingly alive and well, from crab sandwiches or fish and chips to creamy ice cream made from island milk and flowers or farmhouse fudge prepared in the Aga on a farm. One of Skye’s most dramatic landscapes is The Old Man of Storr. Isle of Skye, Scotland The second- largest of Scotland’s islands, in the Inner Hebrides, is its most spectacular, with a landscape that lurches from quiet coves and inky lochs to jagged pinnacles, tumbling waterfalls and pleated cliffs. The most breathtaking views and remotest corners can be reached by foot, by bicycle, on steep mountain roads, or by kayak along the puckered and indented coast. Temper it all with a visit to fairy- tale castles, colorful fishing villages and a host of museums, galleries and craft shops in the island’s lively towns. Bring a raincoat, though: the name Skye comes from the old Norse sky- a, meaning” cloud island”. The weather here is at best unpredictable, but the scudding clouds and cloudy skies only serve to heighten the drama. Wander among the stone walls of Inis Mór, one of western Ireland’s Aran Islands © matthi / Shutterstock12. Inis Mór ( Big Island ) is the largest of the three Aran Islands in Galway Bay, and it is home to Irish as the native tongue and traditional music, culture, and heritage. Its vibrant community also has a busy calendar of festivals and events. A vast network of hand- built stone walls crisscross the fissured limestone landscape, with the island’s one road joined by countless lanes and pathways leading to ancient monuments, medieval churches, high crosses, holy wells and stalwart lighthouses. Come to walk, ride or cycle along the edge of Europe, to join a yoga retreat or learn to weave a traditional basket, play a bodhrán ( goat- skin drum ) or sing in the traditional sean- nós style. Or you could indulge in fresh lobster, observe the summer solstice, or simply admire the region’s distinctive light and culture, which have drawn writers and artists for thousands of years.