LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Some offer serenity, some counter culture, and others are just a good old-fashioned get-away from the city. Regardless, there's something incredibly appealing about an island in the middle of an urban setting. Online travel firm VirtualTourist (www.virtualtourist.com) offers its top 10 islands within cities destinations. Reuters has not endorsed this list:
1. Ile Saint-Louis; Paris, France
In a city known for its refinement and elegance, this small island stands out as being the quintessential example of French understatement. Perhaps its best attraction is the world-famous Berthillon ice cream store, easily found by following the long line of patrons that often snakes around the perimeter of the island.
2. Kampa Island; Prague, Czech Republic
Said by many to be the most romantic part of Prague, this part of the city is so stunning it looks almost unreal. Beatles fans know the area for its "Lennon Wall," a wall which visitors from around the world cover with poems, songs, and tributes to the fallen singer.
3. Ada Ciganlija; Belgrade, Serbia
A sports enthusiast's dream, this island offers just about every possible sporting facility imaginable. From water skiing to soap soccer, paintball to paddleboats, Ada Ciganlija has just about everything for the vacationing athlete.
4. Tiber Island; Rome, Italy
Keen observers of this island may be able to make out the faint shape of a ship. While legends vary as to the exact nature of how this occurred, it's generally agreed that Romans at the beginning of the last millennium added the Travertine that gives it its nautical silhouette.
5. Christianshavn; Copenhagen, Denmark
Known primarily as home to Christiana, a community famous for its hippie past and its tolerance, Christianshavn is heaven on earth for those who love freedom of expression, street art, and the underground music scene. Car lovers might want to think twice about a visit, however, as no cars are allowed on the island!
6. Fort Denison Pinchgut Island; Sydney, Australia
While it used to house convicts, today Fort Denison is more likely to be inhabited by wedding parties and tourists. A lovely place to spend a day, visitors should be forewarned that as per tradition, a very, very loud cannon is fired every afternoon at 1 p.m.
7. Zamalek Island; Cairo, Egypt
An affluent suburb in the middle of bustling Cairo, this island is often noted for the number of foreign embassies it houses. Patrons of the arts will love its renowned opera house which plays host to everything from ballet companies to visual artists.
8. Margaret Island; Budapest, Hungary
It's been a center for religious cloisters, a magnet for spa enthusiasts, and now a hot spot for locals who want to swim in the island's incredible public pool. Other highlights of the island include an art nouveau water tower that was has been granted UNESCO World Heritage status.
9. Shamian Island; Guangzhou, China
Leafy, tranquil, and peaceful are adjectives that frequently come up when describing this lovely island. Once presided over by the British as well as, in part, by the French, the area has a decidedly European feel to it.
10. Trôdelmarkt; Nuremberg, Germany
Looking at the cobblestone streets and charming architecture, it's hard to reconcile the city's past with its present. Enticing cafes and small boutiques make it the perfect place for a relaxed weekend stroll.
(Editing by Paul Casciato)