Best Islands in the World for Vacation

Beach chairs, sun and cocktails illustrate island vacation life

Plunge into a journey beyond the ordinary as we explore some of the best islands in the world for vacation. Whether you’re yearning for the rugged charm of Ireland, the ethereal landscapes of Iceland, the cinematic beauty of New Zealand, the historical richness of the Greek Islands, or the natural wonders of Madeira,this article invites you to discover some of the world’s best island getaways.


Ireland one of the world's best islands in the world for vacation

Our exploration begins in Ireland, also known as the Emerald Isles, the second-largest island nation of the British Isles. From the cinematic landscapes of Achill Island to the archaeological wonders of Bere Island’s Beara Way hiking trail, Ireland is a treasure trove for outdoor enthusiasts. The jaw-dropping natural scenery like the Cliffs of Moher, the historical sites like Blarney Castle, and the draw of Irish folklore make Ireland a must-visit destination for those seeking an otherworldly experience. Delve into the rich history, stunning road trips, and fantastic hiking trails that make Ireland a true outdoor adventure.

Our top hiking recommendations:

Dingle Peninsula

  • The Dingle Peninsula is located on Ireland’s southwest Atlantic coast, hosting Mount Brandon and Dunmore head, the mainland’s easternmost point. Check it out for sunset.

Howth Cliffs

  • The charming seaside village of Howth hosts several hiking trails that hug the sea-worn cliffs and are a short 40-minute drive from Dublin.

Wicklow Mountain National Park

  • South of Dublin, the largest National Park in Ireland, Wicklow boasts expansive vistas, winding roads, rushing waters, and a diverse ecosystem. Enjoy a short, flat jaunt, or a difficult trek to a viewpoint.  

Ireland Hiking Tour


Iceland one of the best islands in the world for vacation

Venture north to the edge of the Arctic Circle, where Iceland’s untamed wilderness loudly calls. As the least populated country in Europe, Iceland stands as proof of the power of nature, boasting mountains, volcanoes, glaciers, geysers, and alien landscapes. With endless days during the summer, and Northern Lights in the winter, visitors can soak in geothermal wellness at the iconic Blue Lagoon, and explore Viking history through museums and cultural experiences all year long. Dive into Iceland’s hiking trails, including Thorsmork Glacier Valley, Fimmvorduhals Trail, and Askja Trail, to uncover the magic of this land of fire and ice.

Our top hiking recommendations:

Thorsmork Glacier Valley

  • Named after Thor, the god of thunder, this trail is located in the highlands, nestled between three glaciers. Experience incredible scenery on this multi day hike.

Fimmvorduhals Trail

  • This 14.8-mile point-to-point trail in the southern region of Iceland brings intrepid explorers to Eyjafjallajökull and Mýrdalsjökull glaciers, through dramatic scenery, canyon waterfalls, and volcanic landscapes. 

Tag along with us as we explore Iceland’s best trails and most prized adventures!

New Zealand

New Zealand another one of the worlds best islands for vacation

Off the eastern coast of Australia, New Zealand unfolds as a sanctuary for nature devotees, with two islands—North and South—offering a diverse array of landscapes. From the majestic Milford Sound and Fiordland National Park to the turquoise beauty of Lake Tekapo, New Zealand’s natural beauty is unrivaled. Explore unique adventures like J.R.R. Tolkein’s Hobbiton, Waitomo Glowworm Caves, and Castle Hill alongside world-class dining, a thriving arts scene and rich Maori culture. Discover the best hiking trails, from the Tongariro Crossing on the North Island to the challenging Ben Lomond on the South, as we navigate through the breathtaking beauty of Aotearoa (the Maori name for what we call New Zealand).

Our top hiking recommendations:

Tongariro Crossing, North Island

  • The most popular day hike on the North Island winds trekkers along a volcanic plateau of the central highlands, catching sight of wondrous natural features along the way like Devil’s Staircase, the Three Emerald Lakes, the Red Crater, Mount Tongariro, and Mount Ngauruhoe. Don’t miss out on this jaw-dropping experience.

Lake Marian Track, Fiordland National Park, South Island

  • This alpine hike offers explorers the opportunity to cross suspension bridges over rushing rivers, experience the unique native forests of Fiorland, and gaze upon the stunning alpine Marian Lake, surrounded by snow capped peaks.

Tramping (as the locals call hiking) through New Zealand is a definitive adventure as many of the popular sites and adventures are miles away from the nearest down. Join our guided trip to explore the wonders of this phenomenal country with knowledgeable local guides. You will quickly discover why New Zealand is one of the best islands in the world for vacation.

The Greek Islands

The Greek islands

Scattered across the eastern Mediterranean, the Greek Islands sing their siren song with rich history, traditional villages, and diverse activities. Explore the iconic Santorini and Mykonos, hike the cliffs of Mount Olympus and the Samaria Gorge in Crete, and indulge in cliffside wineries and seaside parties. Immerse yourself in Greek mythology, enjoy the traditional villages’ charm, and savor exquisite, fresh cuisine. With activities ranging from windsurfing to cliff jumping, the Greek Islands offer an enticing blend of adventure and relaxation.

Our top hiking recommendations:

Mount Olympus

  • Situated to the north of Athens sits the highest mountain in Greece, Mount Olympus at 2917 meters. Home to the 12 Olympian gods of ancient Greece, this World Biosphere Reserve was the first National Park in the country.

Milos Island, Cyclades

  • Located in the Cyclades archipelago, Milos is half as busy as Santorini and twice as beautiful. With multicolored volcanic rocks, vibrant swimming lagoons, exotic beaches, and quaint fishing villages, this island has it all. Hike to the Kleftiko Caves lookout for a vast view of the Sea of Meteora and the caves in Kleftiko. Aim for sunset for an unforgettable experience.

The amount of Grecian islands can be overwhelming, to avoid the planning fatigue join one of our guided trips to explore the best they have to offer.


Madeira island territory of Portugal

Set off the coast of Africa, the Portuguese island of Madeira offers a friendly and laid-back charm. With dramatic landscapes, diverse hiking trails, and the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Laurissilva Forest, Madeira is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. Enjoy the island’s affordability, unique cultural experiences, and ample marine life. Travelers can dive into Madeira’s unique flavors, explore traditional Santana houses, and savor an unforgettable experience in this hidden gem of the Atlantic.

Our top hiking recommendations:

Pico to Pico

  • The most famous hike on the island, Pico do Ariero to Pico Ruvio (PR1) takes adventurers through narrow pathways, staircases, and dark tunnel chambers, to the highest point on Madeira. Wake up early to climb through and above the clouds for an unparalleled sunrise experience.

Levada do Calderao Verde 

  • The Caldeirao Verde Waterfall Hike (PR9) brings explorers through dense jungle forests, past several waterfalls, and through tunnels, for an amazing walk in the woods.

Join Wildland as we travel through this exotic island playground.


Mallorca Island Spain

Our journey concludes in Mallorca, the third-largest of Spain’s Balearic Islands, where beauty and adventure blend seamlessly. Discover secluded coves, limestone mountains, and historical Roman history intertwined with Catalan culture. Engage in a variety of activities from sailing to canyoneering, explore UNESCO-listed Serra de Tramuntana, and relish the island’s complete experience of sightseeing, gastronomy, and relaxation. With endless opportunities for outdoor activities, Mallorca emerges as the perfect destination for those seeking restful tranquility and exciting adventures.

Our top hiking recommendations:

Cuber to Puig de l’Ofre

  • Beginning at the Cuber Reservoir, enjoy a straightforward hike up a river valley for expansive views of the Cuber Reservoir, Puig Major, and Cornador Gran.

Torrent de Pareis Gorge

  • From Escorca deep in the Serra de Tramuntana range, to the sea, intrepid travelers will scramble over boulders, squeeze through narrow gaps, and navigate their way along this narrow gorge to find themselves at the quaint, sandy cove of Sa Colabra. Enjoy this perfect swimming hole and picnic spot before turning around for the journey back.

Whether you’re drawn to the mystical landscapes of Ireland, the volcanic allure of Iceland, or anything in between, these 6 diverse destinations are some of the best islands in the world for vacation, beckoning travelers to unravel their secrets and create memories that last a lifetime.

Explore Norway’s Lofoten Islands

About Shelby Lynn

Shelby Lynn Wildland blog contributor

Shelby is a whimsical writer, and wanderer. Her curiosity constantly introduces her to new and inspiring escapades. Her passion for rock climbing fields adventures near and far. And rarely is she without a small library in tow. She currently resides in Salt Lake City but will forever call the Pacific Northwest home.

View more posts by this author