Lost Civilisations and UNIQUE Cultures: Discover Europe's Ancient Islands

The island of Crete, Greece, is home to the world's oldest olive tree plantation, which bears the iconic fruit that has been a key component of Cretan cuisine for centuries. Cretan cuisine is distinguished by its use of olive oil in meals, which often feature vegetables, herbs, and meats. Dacos salad, a traditional Cretan dish, was ranked the world's best salad by Taste Atlas in 2023.

Faro, Sweden, is an island in the Baltic Sea that served as a haven for filmmaker Ingmar Bergman for most of his life. His legacy is preserved at the Bergman Center, which hosts a week-long festival honoring his work and life. The center offers permanent exhibitions, guided tours, and a cinema dedicated to the renowned director. Additionally, many of Bergman's films were shot on the island, and safari tours of the famous locations are available.

Sardinia, Italy, is home to several ancient sites, including the Giants of Mont'e Prama, which were discovered in the 1970s and are thought to date back to the Nuragic civilization of the third century BCE. These fascinating monuments depict warrior-like figures, some of which hold bows and arrows. The island's other historical highlights include the National Archaeological Museum in Cagliari, which houses the Nuragic bronze statuettes and the Nora Stone, the oldest Phoenician inscription discovered outside the Levant.

Menorca, one of the Balearic Islands, was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2023 for its Talayotic sites, which date back to the 1600s BCE. The Talayotic people were prolific builders who left behind villages with chamber-like talayots as landmarks of their culture. These sites offer a glimpse into the lives of this ancient population, and guided tours are available on the island.

The Azores, a Portuguese archipelago in the North Atlantic, is an example of unique biogeography and endemism. Several endemic species have evolved on the islands due to their distinct geography and volcanic origin. The Azores noctule bat is the archipelago's only endemic mammal and is often observed hunting during the day. For wildlife enthusiasts, the Azores bullfinch, which is found only on Sao Miguel, and the Santa Maria goldcrest, which is found only on Santa Maria, are among the elusive species found on the islands. Guided wildlife tours with expert biologists can help uncover the evolutionary history of these species.

Malta, an island in the central Mediterranean Sea, has a long and complex history that includes occupations by various empires and struggles for independence. The island's distinctive culture has been shaped by its turbulent past and is proud to have regained its official language, Maltese. Despite English being widely spoken, locals have enthusiastically preserved their culture and language. Malta's Independence Day on September 21 celebrates its hard-fought sovereignty. The event is celebrated at St. John's Cathedral in Valletta and the Granaries in Floriana with various events planned by the tourism board.

The Isle of Skye, Scotland, has a rich musical heritage that is closely tied to its Celtic roots. The island is home to many traditional folk music venues and festivals, including Skye Live, which features traditional Scottish music, Gaelic rhythms, and dancing. The festival also offers tastings of Scotch whisky and views of the Old Man of Storr, a iconic rocky outcrop on the island. In addition to its musical heritage, Skye is also known for its folklore and dramatic landscapes, making it an enchanting destination for nature enthusiasts and history buffs alike.

These unique destinations offer a glimpse into the rich cultural and historical heritage of Europe's ancient islands, from culinary traditions to artistic masterpieces, military history, and natural wonders. Whether you're interested in exploring prehistoric monuments, soaking up the sun on pristine beaches, or enjoying the delights of world-class cuisine, there's something