We’ve all heard of Sicily and Sardinia but how well do you know the smaller Italian islands? Check out our favourites here.
ISCHIA – Celebrity watching in style
The largest and greenest of the islands in the Gulf of Naples, Ischia has great sandy beaches and rocky bays, overlooked by vine-covered hills. With ancient villages clinging to sun-baked cliffs, fishermen landing their catch at dawn and lush Mediterranean gardens such as the Giardini La Mortella, the atmosphere is more Neapolitan than on its sister island of Capri.
Natural thermal springs and a large concentration of spas have helped attract royalty and celebrities and placed the island firmly on the world map as a great spa destination. Check out our selection of accommodation in Ischia and the Bay of Naples
ISOLA BELLA, SICILY – Best beach
Florence Trevelyan, a distant relative of Queen Victoria and dispatched to Taormina in 1879 for indiscretions, was lucky enough to get her very own island in the form of Isola Bella. There she built a small house and scattered exotic plants amongst the Mediterranean scrub.
Easily accessible from Taormina via a narrow footpath, the pretty island is now a nature reserve with a pebbly beach offering a choice of free areas and well-equipped lidos, and strikingly clear crystal waters.
Stay at Villa Angela for spectacular views over the Bay of Naxos.
SALINA, AEOLIAN ISLANDS – Island hoppers’ idyll
The second largest of the eight Aeolian islands to the north of Sicily, Salina is best-known for its role in Il Postino. Explore the rocky and lava-sculpted coastline by boat, hire a scooter and zip along the islands’ two roads or follow some of the 18 marked walking trails through the volcanic landscape, for some astonishing sights and views of nearby Stromboli and Etna.
Salina is also a good base for exploring the other Aeolian islands and Santa Marina, (the hydrofoil pick-up point) is just a 10 minute stroll from our Hotel Principe di Salina, a charming 12-bedroom hotel with large infinity pool.
TAVOLARA, SARDINIA – Divers’ delight
This tiny island off the northeast coast of Sardinia remained an independent state and one of the smallest kingdoms in the world until the 1960’s when the Tavolaran sovereignty came to an end.
The present ‘King Tonino’ is an Italian citizen, and owner of the ‘Da Tonino’ restaurant on the island.But it’s the beaches and astonishingly clear waters that attract visitors, and particularly divers, to this island.
Top tip for guests at the Paradise Resort in San Teodoro: even if you’re not a diver, rent a dinghy from La Cinta beach and head for Tavolara for the perfect day out.
VULCANO, AEOLIAN ISLANDS – Best beauty therapy
For the ultimate away-from-it-all retreat, take time out on the car-free island of Vulcano, with its hot mud pools, black-sand beaches and thermal springs.
Enjoy the natural jacuzzi pools created by hot springs on the beach of Acquacalda, spend a day kayaking around the island or take a boat trip to nearby Stromboli to watch its daily eruption.
For the ultimate treat, stay at Aeolian islands’ only five-star hotel, the Therasia Resort, and re-energise yourself in the wellness and fitness centre or chill out alongside one of two large infinity pools.