Skip the sweltering southern Europe and head to these gorgeous, crowd-free islands instead

Kvarkin Archipelago: the best for geological wonders

While climate change threatens sea level rise in most parts of the world, the opposite is happening here. Crushed by the ice sheet 10,000 years ago, the Earth slowly began to rebound at a rate of a quarter of an inch per year. Although you won’t feel the land moving, the effects are clear: once submerged boat houses are stranded on the land, beaches turn into jungles and many islands are surfacing from the sea. Climb the watchtower at Swidgehamn to study the Serpent De Geer moraines, another geological curiosity.

How do I do it: Watch the scene unfold from Kalle’s Inn Glasshouses in Soderudden. From £264 per night for two with breakfast (

Hailuoto, Oulu: Best for bird watching

Throughout the year, more than 300 species of birds have been spotted in the wetlands of this island located north of the Baltic Sea. Towering over meadows and reed beds, the many bird hides provide excellent viewing platforms. Spread your wings a little by visiting a ramshackle lighthouse, colorful fishing villages, and an organic brewery. He discovered why woodland, carved dunes and sand dunes have attracted artists since the early 1900s.

How do I do it: Luotsihotelli – Arctic Lighthouse doubles from £92 with breakfast (

Sumenlinna: the best of history

It takes less than 20 minutes to reach one of Finland’s most important UNESCO World Heritage sites from the mainland, but a visit will set you back over 200 years. Originally built by the Swedes, it is a sea fortress spanning several islands in the Helsinki archipelago, with museums, bunkers and a World War II submarine open to the public. Guided tours take place throughout August, along with short excursions in a traditional sailing ship.

How do I do it: For a complete nautical experience, stay at Villa Silo, a 19th-century log house in the Russian Merchant’s Quarter. From £211 per night for four people (

Pellinge: Best for Moomin . fans

Moomins, as Finnish as saunas and Santas, embody the patriotic spirit of the Nordic countries. Creator Tove Jansson found inspiration for many of her stories on the small island of Cloveharon, where she owned a summer cottage. Now run by a heritage group, the former artist’s home is only open for one week each July. But it is possible to explore the landscapes that inspired her work. The Pellinge Islands are a two-hour drive from Helsinki, and are part of the Porvoo Archipelago.

How do I do it: Pellinge Cottages has several properties to rent, including Dalen Beachfront Cabins (six people) from £493 for a week (+358400670785;

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