This year’s World’s Best Awards survey was open for voting January 11 through May 10, 2021, as destinations around the world were lifting COVID-19 restrictions. Survey rules have always allowed readers to reflect on their travel experiences over a three-year period. We hope that this year’s honorees will inspire your own travels as you get back out into the world.
Europe is a forever-favorite destination of T+L readers, and they often turn to the continent’s picturesque islands when searching for their ideal getaways. Case in point: This year, eight of the continent’s islands have been voted not only the best in the region but the best in the entire world.
Every year for our World’s Best Awards survey, T+L asks readers to weigh in on travel experiences around the globe — to share their opinions on the top cities, islands, cruise ships, spas, airlines, and more. Readers rated islands according to their activities and sights, natural attractions and beaches, food, friendliness, and overall value.
Greece continued to take top honors, including Folegandros, which is No. 2 not only on this list but in top islands anywhere. Barely more than 12 square miles in size, the Cycladic paradise is only a ferry ride away from the bustling Santorini (No. 5) and Mykonos (No. 13). The same crowds have yet to discover Folegandros’s similar whitewashed architecture and aquamarine waters. One popular place to stay: the Anemomilos Boutique Hotel. An easy walk from the main village of Hora, it has 17 rooms and suites, with verandas overlooking the Aegean, perfect for basking in sunset views.
Spain won accolades for Mallorca (No. 8), which also landed on the World’s Best Islands list. Located in the Mediterranean, this 1,400-square-mile island entices visitors with its thriving nightlife, galleries, and beach resorts, while those who’d prefer to explore the island’s quieter side can easily do so in its smaller villages like Deià, spending days visiting little-discovered coves and the island’s Roman and Moorish ruins. The Serra de Tramuntana mountain range, designated a UNESCO World Heritage site, is also home to wonderful wineries. “Absolutely beautiful,” enthused one reader, while another said time on the island was “a true adventure.”
But no island quite impressed as much as Mílos — voted by T+L readers as both the best island in Europe and the best island in the world.
1. Mílos, Greece
This island—also voted the No. 1 island in the world—may be known as the place where the Venus de Milo statue was found in ancient ruins, but it has so much more to offer visitors than its ties to antiquity. Visitors can explore the family-run, award-winning Kostantakis winery, sun on the volcanic rocks at Sarakiniko Beach, and snorkel through the island’s caves — all before dinner at one of the island’s exceptional restaurants. Accommodations on the island tend to be small but stylish spots like Skinopi Lodge, which consists of three modern one-bedroom accommodations on a cliff overlooking the Aegean. As one voter summed up, “Drop-dead gorgeous!”
2. Folegandros, Greece
3. Madeira, Portugal
4. Sicily, Italy
5. Santorini, Greece
WBA Hall of Fame honoree. Score: 89.61
6. Hvar and the Dalmatian Islands
7. Sardinia, Italy
8. Mallorca, Spain
9. Skye and the Hebrides, Scotland
10. Páros, Greece
11. Ibiza, Spain
12. Capri, Italy
13. Mykonos, Greece
14. Crete, Greece
15. Corfu and the Ionian Islands, Greece
16. Azores, Portugal
17. Rhodes and the Dodecanese, Greece
18. Corsica, France
19. Canary Islands, Spain
See all of our readers’ favorite hotels, cities, airlines, cruise lines, and more in the World’s Best Awards for 2021.