Insight /

Italy

Islands of Italy

Picturesque and profuse, Italy’s islands are also as diverse as its boot-shaped mainland.

Explore Italian islands

Looking for picture postcard beaches or dramatic views? They’re present and correct. Rich history and culture? Check. World-class cuisine? No problem. In fact, with every type of trip from active family adventure to rejuvenating retreat covered, there’s nowhere better to sample that famous dolce vita…

  1. Aeolian Islands

    Best for: Volcanic views

    Set just north of Sicily in the Tyrrhenian Sea, the alluring Aeolian Islands are home to dramatic rocky coastlines, black-sand beaches and incredible sea-swimming. Each unspoilt, rustic gem has an individual charm to reward island-hoppers. Two of the islands are active volcanoes – Vulcano is famed for restorative mud baths and smoking craters, while thrilling excursions to climb permanently-erupting Stromboli and witness its natural fireworks can be arranged. Ruggedly beautiful Lipari is the largest isle, with a wide range of activities and boat trips to match, while chic Panarea attracts jet-setters craving cool. But the relaxed atmosphere of Salina makes it our favourite base for day trips.

    Getting there: The quickest, most frequent ferries to the islands run from the Sicilian port of Milazzo with Vulcano a 45-minute journey and Salina taking 90 minutes. There are also regular inter-island services.

  2. Elba

    Best for: Active families

    Elba’s best known as the location of Napoleon’s 1814 exile, and it’s hard to imagine he minded his banishment to such lovely shores and crystalline blue waters. Boasting over 150 beaches – from wide, sandy stretches to sheltered coves – Elba is the particularly ideal for active family holidays. It’s part of the protected Tuscan Archipelago, and water-based fun abounds with snorkelling, diving, sailing and kayaking among the offerings. Back on dry land, the island’s mountainous interior is home to numerous hiking and cycling routes.

    Getting there: Fly to Pisa and drive just over an hour to the port of Piombino for the 60-minute ferry or hydrofoil crossing.

  3. Ischia

    Best for: Relaxing getaways

    The largest island in the Bay of Naples, Ischia is a beautiful medley of volcanoes, pine groves, sandy beaches and traditional waterfront towns. It’s also relaxed and low-key, that vibe encouraged by the abundance of natural hot springs and thermal spas. La Mortella’s botanical gardens, created by the wife of English composer Sir William Walton, are an extremely pretty and tranquil place to get lost in for an afternoon or longer, while classical concerts are held on summer evenings in the amphitheatre. Numerous hiking opportunities await active visitors, with photographers directed to medieval Castello Aragonese.

    Getting there: Ischia is reached easily by ferry or hydrofoil from Naples in as little as 45 minutes.

Accommodation Highlights

Hotel Signum, Aeolian Islands

Tucked away among citrus groves near the sleepy village of Malfa, Salina’s friendly and family-run Hotel Signum is a genuine haven. Its airy rooms are all individually decorated with tiled floors and antiques, and many throw in private terraces and striking sea views for good measure. Wander down to the nearby pebbly beach at Scario, get lost in your book within fragrant gardens or relax by the large infinity pool with a chilled glass of Malvasia in hand. Thermal steam baths and pampering treatments are offered at the spa, while the open-air restaurant serves home-cooked specialties with Stromboli as a wondrous, sputtering backdrop.

Hotel Del Golfo, Elba

Set directly on a long, powdery expanse of beach, Hotel del Golfo offers interconnecting rooms, clear shallow waters and a plethora of leisure pursuits, making it a winner for families. There’s a large outdoor pool, and the complimentary mini-club offers activities for children including tennis and golf lessons. An on-site sailing school caters to all ages and levels, and introductory dive courses are also available. Beachside and fine-dining restaurants serve delicious local fare, with further options rewarding short strolls to the charming seaside town of Procchio.

Garden & Villas Resort, Ischia

This beautiful resort is made up of nine individual whitewashed villas, totalling 52 rooms scattered around peaceful gardens. Those spacious grounds are dotted with lemon trees and home to a large, inviting outdoor pool, while the beach of San Montano and Negombo thermal spa are both within strolling distance. Seafood risotto and salt-baked sea bass are among the restaurant’s mouthwatering Neapolitan specialities, but it is the excellent service by warm and attentive staff which really sets Garden & Villas Resort apart.

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