With the euro continuing its crash against the US dollar, Europe is shaping us this summer and fall to be relatively inexpensive for Americans on the ground. Here are four islands that get little media or guidebook coverage yet offer volumes of quaint, picturesque charm. All use the euro as official currency, and are thus all markedly cheaper for Americans than they were last summer.
To entice your budget-minded enthusiasm, a mid-range accommodation option is paired with each destination.
1. Porquerolles, France.
The dreamily quiet Porquerolles, with its bouquet of aquamarine inlets, can be reached by ferry from the town of Hyères, near Toulon. The largest of the three islands of the Hyères archipelago, Porquerolles is largely protected as a national park. There are a number of very expensive hotels on the island, to which the mid-range Hotel Le Méditerranée, with double rooms starting at €98 per night in high season, provides a fairly-priced alternative.
2. Fasta Åland, Finland.
The semi-autonomous Swedish-speaking Åland islands, located between mainland Sweden and mainland Finland in the Gulf of Bothnia, are part of Finland. Fasta Åland, the largest island in the group, can be reached by ferry and air from Helsinki, Stockholm, and Turku. Mariehamn, the island’s capital, has cute lanes and museums to offer. Reasonably-priced accommodations can be found at Hotell Esplanad in Mariehamn, with high-season double rooms from €73.
3. San Domino, Italy.
The largest tourist attraction within Italy’s Tremiti archipelago, San Domino is a picturesque island covered with pine trees and studded with beautiful coves. San Domino is located about two-thirds of the way down the Adriatic coast and can be reached by ferry from the coastal port town of Tremoli. Albergo La Pineta charges between €45 and €75 per person for room and half-board between now and the end of September. Avoid the first three weeks of August and you won’t pay more than €65 per person per night.
4. Vlieland, Netherlands.
Wind-whipped Vlieland, one of the Netherlands’ atmospheric Frisian islands, can be reached by ferry from the city of Harlingen on the mainland. The island restricts car ownership to residents, and the streets are accordingly full of pedestrians and bicyclists. The island is one of the least densely-populated municipalities in the country, and there are forests, sand dunes, and beaches to explore. The Hotelletje de Veerman offers a sea-facing double room with terrace or balcony for €50 per person per night.
(Image of Porquerolles: Flickr/sgustin78)