With the global tourism sector on track for full recovery, European vacations are once again in high demand. A recent study analysing Google data from the past 12 months across 185 countries lists the most popular European destinations among tourists. The highest-ranked Croatian destination was the island of Hvar, situated in the Adriatic Sea off the famous Dalmatian Coast. It earned the 12th spot on a list dominated by other Mediterranean countries like Greece, Spain, and Italy. Read on to learn more about why these were chosen as the most sought-after vacation spots in Europe.
As previously mentioned, the picturesque island of Hvar, Croatia, ranked 12th on the list, besting other coastal areas like Bodrum, Turkey, and Algarve, Portugal. Before this study, Hvar also gained recognition for being included in Travel + Leisure’s list of the most beautiful islands worldwide. Its main town, also called Hvar, was described as the perfect mix of rich history, medieval charm, and beautiful beaches, such as the easily accessible Bonj Beach and the pebbly Dubovica Beach. Equally notable is Hvar’s wine scene, which tourists can explore through excursions that combine wine tastings in a cliffside vineyard and swimming in the Adriatic’s crystal-clear waters. Hvar may be the highest-ranked Croatian destination, but Croatia has other islands worth visiting, especially those near Dubrovnik, like Mljet and Lokrum.
Meanwhile, Santorini, a Greek island located on the southern side of the Aegean Sea, secured the top spot on the list. With approximately 2 million visitors annually, Santorini was lauded for its distinct blue-and-white architecture, coastal views, and unique topography like rugged cliffs and volcanic landscapes. But beyond Santorini, tourists booking a holiday to Greece will get to see the country’s diverse culture and history across its islands — from ancient ruins and world-class museums like the Acropolis Museum to its fantastic cuisine and guided wine and honey tasting tours. As a result, Greece continues to be extremely popular, with other island destinations like Corfu, Kos, Mykonos, and Crete appearing on the list as well.
After Santorini, Spain’s islands, Ibiza and Tenerife, ranked second and third, respectively. Ibiza is one of the Balearic islands known for both its vibrant nightlife in Ibiza Town and quiet villages like Santa Eulalia del Río, where tourists go for yoga retreats and family holidays. Meanwhile, Tenerife, the largest of Spain’s Canary Islands, is best known as a winter getaway due to its average temperature of 20 degrees Celsius during colder months. While Tenerife’s tourist volume has been bouncing back this year, the island plans to prioritise quality over quantity in the tourism sector. Specifically, it aims to cater to travellers interested in its culture, heritage, and gastronomy, and not just its beaches.
Like Greece and Spain, Italy also appeared on the list multiple times, highlighting the islands of Sicily, Sardinia, and Tuscany as tourist spots. As the highest-ranked island (4th place after Tenerife), Sicily’s unique charm can be attributed to its sprawling and sophisticated landscapes. For example, the island houses the luxurious hotel Four Seasons San Domenico Palace, where the hit HBO show ‘White Lotus’ was filmed. The other Italian region, Tuscany, is dubbed the birthplace of the Renaissance, with the Uffizi Gallery and the Duomo Basilica as its cultural landmarks. Lastly, the large Italian island of Sardinia is renowned for its nearly 2,000 kilometres of coastline, turquoise waters, and hiking trails.
As millions of individuals travel around Europe all year round, these popular destinations must ensure that tourism remains sustainable and leaves as little environmental impact as possible on the islands.