When we think of islands, we usually don’t think about cities. But quite a few cities in Europe have a hidden island. They can provide a little break from the sometimes busy and chaotic city life – a way to get connected with nature or to experience a city from another perspective.
We have done some research online amongst our locals’ tips in 59 European cities and found some really cool islands within the city borders of European cities that are definitely worth a visit. Are you ready to trade in crowded places for some peace and serenity? Here we go.
Chalet Robinson – Brussels
Need a good reason to visit an island? How about eating? Chalet Robinson is a restaurant that lies on a tiny islet in the middle of Bois de la Cambre, Brussels’ biggest park. To reach Chalet Robinson you have to take a barge that ferries you across the 50-odd-metre stretch of water. It’s a very short ride, but seeing colonies of swans, ducks and a few rabbits hopping around makes it feel like your miles away from the city.
Seuraasaari – Helsinki
Helsinki has many little islands surrounding the city. Seurasaari is the biggest. And because it’s so big, there’s more stuff to do. On the Northern half of the island, you can find an open air museum. The southern part of the island is pure untouched nature. Our Spotter Kathrin adds: ”bring a bag of nuts (and patience) and with a bit of luck you will be met by a bunch of hungry squirrels and birds that will eat from your hand! The most peaceful and soothing thing ever!”
Île Saint-Louis – Paris
Many are familiar with the island Ille de la Cité, home to the now sadly badly damaged Notre Dame Cathedral. This is why they usually overlook the other island Île Saint-Louis. Going to this island is like heading back to the 17th century. Named after King Louis XIV, it functioned as a calm oasis in the busy Paris city life. Now it’s home to a population of 4,453 people and includes shops, restaurants, hotels and cafés. Take a visit and enjoy the beautiful Parisian architecture.
Skinnarviksberget – Stockholm
It would be kind of weird not to include Stockholm in this list as the city itself is built on 14 islands! Skinnarviksberget is one of them that also provides a view. Not just a view, the best view. With its 53 meters above sea level, it’s the southern’s highest natural point. Don’t worry about the walk up to the island though. It promises a pleasant 10 minute walk where you can enjoy old traditional Swedish houses that once belonged to fisherman or factory workers. The locals that come here enjoy the view while picnicking or enjoying some wine.
San Michele Island – Venice
Now, don’t get freaked out, but this island is actually a cemetery. But I guess this means you’ll find real peace and quiet. San Michele Island is home to a few famous historical figures from politicians to poets. What makes this island interesting is that it has beautiful architectural buildings and is considered a historical importance. In the beginning of the island you’ll find a map with all the spots you can visit. Take a good look at it. You don’t want to wined up getting lost on this island till night time.
Střelecký Ostrov – Prague
On the river Vltava in Prague you can find twelve islands, one of them is in the center of the river: Střelecký Ostrov (Shooter’s island). You can reach it by crossing a bridge or renting a paddle boat. There is plenty to do here, you can get drinks and good or watch the swans and the boats. They have (free) cultural events almost daily, so you’ll never be bored here. One of the best activities here is the open air cinema, make sure not to miss it!
More on open-air cinema’s? Read our blog on outdoor cinema’s here.
Park Skaryszewski – Warsaw
This island lives within a park. Not just any park, though. The Skaryszewski Park was once voted third most lovely park in the world. It has everything: picturesque alleys, several ponds of different sizes, water cascade and a grotto, rose garden and several flower beds. On top of that there are several sculptures spread out through the alleys and lawns. The best part? It has its own island!
Read more about parks in our 25 Best Parks in Europe blog!
Ada – Belgrade
Looking for more activity on an island? Ada – just outside the city center in Belgrade – is the place to be. It was proclaimed a national treasure in 1821 and is protected us such. You can not only swim in its waters but also engage in various water sports. And if you don’t like waterski or jet ski’s, just lay down and do a little sunbathing!
Museum Island – Berlin
As the name already suggests, Museum Island is an island full of museums. Located on the River Spree in Berlin, many believe this is the place where Berlin originated. The island includes five museums. It is seen as a cultural and architectural monument of Berlin and in 1999 they even received an award from the UNESCO World Heritage Status for it.
Werdinsel – Zurich
Werdinsel is one of those places where people love coming during the summer. On the east side of the island, they put down their bath towels and go for a dip in the water. Now, you have to be a bit careful on this island. On the westside, there is a famous gay nudist park. If you’re into that, have fun. If you’re not, you might want to make sure of your navigation on the island.
We have tips by locals in 76 cities!