Italian islands are scattered all over, from the Mediterranean to the Adriatic and Tyrrhenian seas. These beautiful islands are the perfect escapade and offer the perfect Italian island holidays. The turquoise waters, green volcanic hills and the aesthetic architecture found on these islands can heal your soul. So if you want to do some soul searching and just experience nature at its best then, these Italian islands should be on top of your list.
There are more than 400 of these islands spread across the territory of Italy. Of these, here is a list of the 15 best Italian islands holidays that will be perfect for your summer in Italy.
Ischia is one of Italy’s most picturesque green volcanic islands which rests by the Gulf of Naples. The essence of both the historical and modern times together can be found on this island. Being one of the largest islands of the Campanian Archipelago, it houses various natural hot springs along the coast. Along with resting on the beaches enjoying the translucent waters, you can also detoxify at one of the well-established wellness and treatment centres. The exquisite volcanic mud treatments can uplift your mood and enhance your experience on your Italian island holiday.
The island of Ischia is not just all about its beaches and mountains; you can visit the archaic old town area of the island, Ischia Ponte and admire the Aragonese Castle in the main city. At the same time, Ischia Porto brings you back to modern life with its restaurants and boutiques. One of the most interesting places to visit on this island is the hydro-thermal Negombo Park. Have you heard of ruins in Rome? Well, here you get a chance to look for underwater Roman ruins at Cartoromana Beach. To satisfy your adventurous side, the volcanic trek around Mt Epomeo will do the job. The thermal activity is a by-product of the Ischia volcano, which makes the terrain fit to be an adventurous destination. While you’re there don’t miss the Poseidon thermal Gardens in the bay of Citara. The picturesque town of Forio and the fishing village of Sant’Angelo can also be visited by water taxis or hired boats and are on the outskirts of the island.
Capri is one of the more famous and known Italian island holidays. It is comparatively more approachable because of its proximity to Naples. Few of the attributes of Capri are deep blue seas and the steep rocky hills which make up for a multitude of things that can be done on the island. This picturesque town is set at the foothills of Monte Solaro and surrounded by the Tyrrhenian sea.
The coast of Capri houses the Blue Grotto, where you can admire and explore one of the world’s most beautiful sea caves. You will witness a dramatic view when the sunlight passes through the water and makes it sparkle in the dark cave. To complement its natural beauty, Capri also offers you the chance to engross yourself in its rich culture and heritage. The streets of Capri are lined with elegance and beauty in the form of boutiques and restaurants. The centre of the town is Piazza Umberto, a lively hub of the island. On the coast of the island is an unusual rock formation of Faraglioni and the lighthouse Punta Carena, both are places you should not miss during your upcoming trip to Capri.
The island is divided into two parts, Capri and Anacapri, and they are connected by the ancient Phoenician steps. For some tranquillity and calm, you should visit Anacapri. Also while you’re there don’t miss the iconic limoncello liqueur that is made from the native lemons.
Ponza is the island where you go to get away from the hustle and bustle of metropolitan Italy making it one of the perfect Italian island holidays. Situated about 50 km off the coast of mainland Italy, Ponza has a very laid back atmosphere. You can experience the slow-paced Italian island life while enjoying every tiny bit of your day. A day in Ponza can be as simple as you indulging in the best of Italian cuisine and wine with an unspoiled picturesque horizon and crystal clear waters. Ponza gets lost in the shadows of its more famous island siblings.
Explore the beaches and coves of Ponza by renting a Gommone (dingy) for a more fulfilling experience. You can visit the Grotte di Pilato, a complex system of tunnels and pools and admire the man-made marvel. Ponza is one of the largest islands in this chain and is a must-visit. For some early morning, exploration visits the Punta Incenso Natural Park and be one with nature. Ponza’s tiny villages and beautiful harbours will let you want to participate in the local boating life.
Ponza is not more than an hour’s drive and a ferry ride from Rome. You may not get a 5-star hotel here, but you can experience authentic Ponza living in a family-run bed and breakfast. Another plus for you, it is definitely way cheaper than Capri.
Elba is one of the largest islands in Italy and is situated between Corsica and Tuscany. The island is just 10 km off the Tuscan coast and is the perfect destination for underwater exploration and adventure. Elba, the biggest island of the Tuscan Archipelago, has a royal history. Napolean lived on this island in exile in 1814-15, and the fact still attracts people from all over.
Elba has a lot to offer which ranges from beaches to museums and nature to adventure. You can come here to relax and laze around or indulge in various adventures and activities. You can enjoy the sea by going diving, snorkelling and windsurfing; and you can enjoy the island by going on treks, hikes, mountain biking and even playing golf. Visit the largest protected marine park, Tuscan Archipelago National Park, and enjoy both wild and marine flora and fauna. The history of the island can be looked at through the Etruscan and Roman museums. You can also find traces of Napolean’s time on the island displayed at the museum in the town of Portoferraio. Lastly, do not forget to visit the beaches, Sansone, Laconella and Biodola; the largest beach in the Biodola Bay.
To get to Elba, take the boat from Piombino on the mainland.
Burano is an island in the Venetian lagoon famous for its bright and colourful fisherman houses and the extremely beautiful lacework that is world-famous. The basic mode of livelihood on the island is fishing, and hence the seafood of Burano is well known. Burano makes for one of the perfect Italian island holidays for those visiting Venice.
The leaning tower of Pisa is definitely world-famous, but Burano has a leaning tower of its own. It is the former bell tower of San Martino Church of 17th century. To get acquainted with the history of lacework for the island you can visit Museo del Merletto, the lace museum and check out the best pieces put on display. You can visit the workshops where the lacework is done and buy something as a memoir from a local shop. Piazza Galuppi is the lively centre of the island worth a stroll. When in Burano, make sure you try Risotto de gò, a local speciality made from the go fish abundantly present in the Venetian lagoon. Burano for most people is a day tour from Venice, but spending a night in Burano can be a culturally rich experience.
Check out my guide to the best things to do in Burano here.
Procida is a tiny island between Ischia and Naples which makes for one of the perfect Italian island holidays for those visiting Naples. In comparison to other islands, Procida is quiet and laid back. The beauty of this little island lies in pastel-hued fishing villages, colourful fisherman houses, unspoiled rural charm and ancient harbours. It is the tiniest island in the Campanian Archipelago with harbour lined with yachts, restaurants, bars and small hidden bays.
You can walk around the coastline with scenic stretches of sand, go to places like Chiaia and Chiaiolella. Visit the colourful fishing harbour of Marina di Corricella and charming small ports like Marina di Chiaiolella and Marina di Corrie. Your vacation experience will be enhanced by spaghetti ai Ricci di mare, a local speciality pasta made with sea urchins. To appreciate the history and art of Procida, you can visit and explore Abbazia San Michele Arcangelo. Also, the heart of the island lies in the medieval old town of Terra Murata, which is also the highest point of the island.
Sardinia is an island surrounded by crystal clear turquoise water and white sand beaches making it one of the most stunning Italian island holidays. It will take you more than a few days to explore the island properly. It is one of the largest islands in the Mediterranean sea. Sardinia is quite elusive, and so you have to explore it layer by layer to get an authentic experience. It is one of the famous islands in Italy and is well known for its blend of Italian and African culture.
Sardinia has a wide array of wine and fresh seafood that you can enjoy. The Sardinian landscape is an amalgamation of picturesque beaches, caves, cliffs and sand dunes. On your upcoming vacation, you can explore the cliffs of Capo Caccia, Neptune’s Grotto, Dunes of Piscinas, the beach of Cala Goloritze and Costa Verde. The most popular spots on the island are Gola di Groppu, the largest canyon in Europe and Costa Smeralda, known as the emerald coast. To experience the city life on the island, you can visit Cagliari and Alghero in the northwestern section of the island. While you’re there the history of the island can be explored through the Phonecian, and Roman ruins, the archaeological site of Tharros and the UNESCO protected defensive structure of Su Nuraxi Di Barumini, which is from the second millennium.
For more diverse and off-island adventures you can visit the lighthouse of Capo Sandalo, the island of San Pietro in Carloforte and the seven island Maddalena Archipelago.
Among the lesser-known Italian islands, Lampedusa is the largest of the Pelagie Islands making it one of the perfect Italian island holidays for your Italian summer. Even though the island is a part of Italy, it most certainly doesn’t feel like Italy when you are there. The island has a North African feel in its landscapes, dusty roads, exotic nature and flora and fauna. It is like a mini Africa in the middle of the Mediterranean sea. The beauty of this island stands out with its white beaches, exotic landscapes and crystal clear bays.
Unlike other Italian islands, Lampedusa has more rugged and rocky beaches, jagged cliffs and coves. Now a nature reserve, Spiaggia Dei Conigli is a beautiful beach that will mystify you. The island’s coastline is a mix of cliffs, small bays, rock and powdery sand which attracts bathers and divers. If you want to experience underwater adventures, you can also snorkel and scuba dive. By and large, Lampedusa can be described as a pretty island with palm-lined streets and exotic grottos.
The best way go to around Lampedusa is either by cruising around on a rented scooter or a bicycle. You can also enjoy fresh-caught seafood at a local restaurant.
Lipari is the largest of the Aeolian Islands where you can experience the culmination of nature and culture. It makes for one of the perfect Italian island holidays.
The island both natural beauty and aesthetic architecture as beautiful beaches, streets and thermal hot springs to offer to visitors. Some of the beautiful places to be visited in Lipari are the Coral Beach, the Lipari Castle and the Belvedere Quattrocchi for a panoramic view over the island. The little adventure Lipari has to offer is in the form of various hiking trails around the island. You can also go for a serene walk or a boat tour for a scenic view.
You can reach Lipari by hopping on a boat from Milazzo.
Isola del Giglio is an idyllic island 15 km off the Tuscan coast making it one of the perfect Italian island holiday in Tuscany. The beauty of this island is meant to be explored, and with 90% of the island covered in lush green vegetation, it just feels otherworldly. The ecosystem is undisturbed that gives you the chance to scope out dolphins and whales in the azure teal waters.
Giglio is divided into three villages that represent different lifestyles of the island; Giglio Porto, Giglio Castello and Giglio Campese. The mild climate of the island makes it suitable for visits all year long, and it should definitely be on your list of Italian Islands. Monte Cristo, now a nature preserve, is famous for the legend that adheres to it and you can only visit it twice a year with a permit. The highest peak of the almost completely mountainous island is at 1600 ft, giving you the perfect panoramic view of the coast and all the other islands in the Tuscan Archipelago.
You can reach Giglio Island by boat from Porto Santo Stefano.
Not far away from Giglio is the crescent-shaped island, Giannutri. It is the least populated island in the Tuscan Archipelago making it one of the ideal Italian island holidays. The island is also known as the seagull island and is no less than paradise on earth.
The island is surrounded by an enchanting sea floor where you can find exotic corals and meadows of Posidonia seagrass. Even though swimming is restricted in certain areas, you can snorkel and dive to explore and be enchanted by the seafloor. Along with the Bay of Spalmatoio, Punta Scaletta should definitely be on your list where you can witness the ruins of shipwrecks from the Etruscan and Roman era.
Stromboli is one of the Aeolian Islands, which is full of natural wonders basically due to volcanic activity in the active volcanoes. The island has a contrasting combination of colours with its cobalt waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea, jet black lava beach and whitewashed houses. The island is one of the lesser-known places in the country and hence can give you an experience that is off the beaten path. This makes it one of the best Italian island holidays to experience in Italy.
The three active volcanoes on the island make it an astounding sight to behold, and you can get a better vantage of the volcano, Sciara del Fuoco from a boat ride. Climbing the volcanic mountain can be a dangerous and thrilling adventure, but it advisable to take a local guide along for a safer experience. Stromboli is a rather quaint island with a couple of beaches and the villages, Stromboli and Ginostra, which are worth visiting. One of the smallest ports in Europe is the port of Ginostra which is also on this island. If scuba diving fascinates you, then the nearby island of Strombolicchio can be a delight for you.
The island is located in the north of Sicily.
The island of Caprera is situated in the Maddalena archipelago which is off the coast of Sardinia. It is relatively closer to Corsica. The beautiful waters make the island one of the best Italian island holidays to add to your summer itinerary.
There are plenty of places to explore on this island such as Spiaggia di Cala Brigantina and Spiaggia I due to Mari, the gorgeous beaches of the island. The fort on top of Mount Rasu, Poggio Rasu, lets you experience naval fort establishments that were used during the peak of voyages.
You can get to the island by car (via a bridge) from Madelena Island or on a privately chartered sailing day.
The city of Venice stands on more than 100 islands. It is one of the most sought after romantic cities in the world making it one of the most unique Italian island holidays. The island is also known as the city of canals and is connected by bridges. The best way to explore the island is by walking around and admiring the architecture. The Gondola is a very unique and iconic Venetian way of travelling which should definitely be on your list. If you are looking for a destination to go on a honeymoon or a romantic getaway, it is highly recommended that you visit Venice.
Venice can easily be explored in two days. You can explore Piazza San Marco, St. Mark’s Basilica, Rialto bridge, Casino di Venezia and many other attractions in the city. You can experience local culture by indulging in a family made Venetian meal at a trattoria with a view of the canals. You can bar hop and try different aperitivos before dinner as they complete your Venetian experience.
Sicily is the largest and the most well-known island in the Mediterranean sea. The island is geographically surrounded by three seas, is mountainous and also has beaches, national parks and ancient village. The island has a versatile history which is influenced by years of foreign domination which is reflected in its architecture. Sicilian cuisine is a range of diverse culinary delights.
Europe’s highest volcanic mountain is the Sicilian Mt. Etna, hiking this volcanic trail can be a thrilling adventure. Two interesting cities to visit in Sicily are Catania, the historic city of Syracuse and Palermo, a city with an Arabian flavour. Like any other Italian city, Sicily has a history, and that can be explored through the Capuchin catacombs of Palermo where you can experience the relationship between the dead and the living. The Valley of the Temples in Agrigento, the temples of Selinunte and Segesta, and the Greek theatre in Taormina are some of the famous Sicilian archaeological sites. Sicily has its satellite islands, Pantelleria, the tiny volcanic island and the Aeolian islands which are protected by UNESCO.
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