Searching for the next summer getaway? These beautiful Italian islands all deserve a spot on your bucket list. From tiny islets to the idyllic havens of the Aeolian Islands, Italy is home to over 450 islands. There’s bound to be one that is your perfect vision of paradise. Check out these seven Italian islands famous for their pristine beaches, mild waters, culture, culinary and arts.
Sardinia is what comes to mind when I think of a Mediterranean holiday. On the north-east coast, Costa Smeralda is known as a hotspot for the rich and famous. But away from the billionaire jets and yachts, wonderful adventures await. Sardinia is characterised by clear waters, mountains, forests and hiking trails. You will also find quaint villages with welcoming locals, and history on display with Bronze Age relics and ruins scattered throughout the island. When it’s time to dig in, sip on some fantastic wines unique to the island and try local seafood dishes.
Sicily is the largest island in Italy, offering a little something for every kind of traveller. With over 1,000 kilometres of coastline, there are many amazing beaches in Sicily, such as the Scala dei Turchi with its beautiful white limestone cliffs. For the outdoor loving individual, here’s where you can hike to the top of Mount Etna, Europe’s highest active volcano. For history buffs, Sicily is home to important sites like the Valley of the Temples, Necropolis of Pantalica and Cappella Palatina. Another reason to visit Sicily is for its blend of unique culture, which showcases art, architecture and traditions that stem from the Byzantine, Arab, Roman and Norman rule.
3. Aeolian Islands
Off the northwestern tip of Sicily, the seven islands that make up the Aeolian Islands are some of the most beautiful Italian islands. The most famous one here is Stromboli, defined by a massive active volcano that visitors can climb up to. You won’t find any roads here and there are only a few hundred residents in two towns. While the largest of the Aeolian Islands, Lipari, is known for its beautiful pastel-hued houses and beaches perfect for sundrenched days. Vulcano is aptly-named as a volcanic island, and a popular day trip spot from Lipari. Panarea is the smallest, but also the most exclusive of the Aeolian Islands, with luxury yachts dotting the harbour in summer. For foodies, Salina is a must-visit for its culinary scene and wine traditions. And the most remote in the archipelago, head to Filicudi and Alicudi for ultimate peace and serenity.
Capri is one of most famous Italian islands, with a reputation for luxe hotels and a long list of jetsetters. But there’s a wild side to it too, with breathtaking landscapes like sea caves, rock formations, beaches, pretty gardens and whitewashed buildings. Many of the island’s natural sights are on the slopes of Mount Solaro, near Anacapri. While you’re in Capri, make sure to drink some world-famous Limoncello with a slice of torta caprese, a flourless cake made with chocolate and almonds.
Ischia is only a few miles away from Capri, but feels completely different. Here, you’ll discover charming villages, a laid back pace and surprisingly many things to do on a six-mile wide island. One of them is soaking in the many thermal springs, where ancient Greeks and Romans came to enjoy too. Other top attractions include Castello Aragonese, a medieval castle perched dramatically on a rocky islet. Keen hikers will enjoy hiking Mount Epomeo, a dormant volcano in the centre of the island.
If you’re visiting Venice, Murano is a must-see colourful island in the Venice lagoon. It is completely surrounded by water and the only way to get here, like most of Venice, is by boat. The island is famous for its glass-blowing art, and you should definitely visit a glass-making factory and head to the Murano Glass Museum to learn more about the history of glass. It goes without saying that Murano produces some of the best art glass in the world, but do your research and purchase from a reputable crafter, as many imitation pieces also exist on the island. You can usually purchase something and have it shipped, saving you the hassle of packing a fragile item in your luggage.
7. Borromean Islands
The Borromean Islands are known locally as the country’s ‘Garden of Eden’ – that should tell you all you need to know! Historically, the islands were where aristocrats came to enjoy the lavish parties held by the wealthy Borromeo family. Today, anyone can visit three islands here – Isola Madre, Isola Pescatori, and Isola Bella – to see the baroque palaces, botanical gardens and white peacocks. A holiday in Lake Maggiore would not be complete without a trip here, which French poet Montesquieu describes as ‘the most beautiful place in the world’.