We’ve been to Italy over a dozen times and while we love the fan favorites like Florence and Rome, we wanted something a bit off the beaten path for our summer vacation, which is why we chose to explore the island of Ischia. While nearby Positano and Capri become crowded with tourists, the volcanic island of Ischia has long been one of Italy’s best kept secrets for hundreds of years…until now. With the popularity of the Elena Ferrante
“My Brilliant Friend” novels as well as good old Instagram, travelers looking for a different kind of La Dolce Vita are flocking to Ischia.
- Language: Italian
- Currency: Euro
- Transportation: Taxi, Scooter, Bus, Water taxi
- Who It’s For: Beach lovers, true travelers
- Closest Airport: Naples
- Best time to Visit: May and September
How to Get There
Ischia is not easy to get to and that is part of its allure. While throngs of tourists flock to nearby Capri and the Amalfi Coast, Ischia makes things a little difficult, which tends to weed out the tourists. There is no airport in Ischia so most arrive by ferry from Naples.
There are multiple ferries – the fast ferry that takes an hour (operated by Alilauroro & Caremar) and the slow ferry (Medmar and Caremar) that takes an hour and a half and stops at the nearby island of Procida
If you want to be a high-roller, you can book a private boat or a helicopter to the island, but obviously this is much more expensive than the ferries.
The First Thing You Should Do
We’re all about exploring and roaming around cities on our own. We love the freedom of it all. However, there are limited articles and videos on the island of Ischia so webooked a tour with a local during our first night in Ischia and it was the best thing we did. Our tour guide, Fernanda, grew up on the island, traveled the world, and then returned to her home island. It was amazing to see the island through her eyes and enjoy her favorite local spots. This was not a sponsored tour in any way – it was just AMAZING and we highly recommend booking a tour with Fernanda!
Ischia is not for the tourist – it’s for the traveler. It combines the majestic beauty of the Amalfi Coast with the grittiness of Naples. It’s not infested with tourists, the locals barely speak English, and it’s not an easy place to navigate. There is an authentic rawness in Ischia that you don’t find on many other Italian islands. It’s not polished like Positano or overrun with tourists like Capri, but it does exude a certain charm that you won’t find on other Italian islands.
Where to Stay
There are plenty of hotels in Ischia, but only three are truly five-star. When it comes to neighborhoods, the area of Lacco Ameno has a cute downtown, plenty of restaurants, and easy access to the rest of the island.
San Montano Resort & Spa: A member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World, this prestigious hotel sits on top of a mountain with sweeping views of the Bay of Naples and Mount Vesuvius. There are six outdoor pools at San Montano to relax in and the hotel focuses on its wellness offerings. If you’re a spa lover, San Montano is the hotel for you.
One of the many pools at San Montano
Mezzatorre Hotel & Thermal Spa: A Leading Hotel of the World, this exclusive resort is owned by the same family that owns the prestigious Il Pellicano Hotel in Tuscany. Located in a 16th century watchtower, it has a private beach, thermal spa, and beautiful views of the Bay of Naples.
Regina Isabella: Located in the heart of Lacco Ameno, the Regina Isabella is a gorgeous five-star hotel in Ischia. It has wonderful views of the sea, a world class spa, and even a Michelin-starred restaurant.
We chose to stay in an AirBnb during our time in Ischia, which was lovely. However, if we could do it all over again and had the budget to do so, we would have stayed at Mezzatorre or San Montano.
Where to Eat
Indaco: Located at the prestigious Regina Isabella hotel in Lacco Ameno, Indaco is a one-Michelin starred restaurant. Indaco specializes in fresh farm-to-table food and it is the perfect location for a romantic evening out in Ischia.
Pizzeria Rosticceria “Piccoletto”: Located in Lacco Ameno, this charming pizzeria has some of the best pizza in the world. We highly recommend the ricotta stuffed pizza!
Garden Fruit: Instagrammer’s rejoice – we’ve found you the most ‘grammable spot on the island of Ischia! This small fruit and vegetable stand in Ischia Ponte is the perfect place to grab fresh produce, a glass of wine, and fresella.
Porto 51: Porto 51 is a fabulous place to grab an aperitivo while people watching in Ischia Ponte.
Cantine Perrazzo: For local wines, head to Cantine Perrazzo in Ischia Ponte for delicious crisp white wines.
Things to Do
Sant’Angelo Beach: Located on the southern coast of Ischia, Sant’Angelo Beach is one of the most beautiful on the island. Similar to Positano, but wuthout the crowds, Sant’Angelo is the perfect place to spend a relaxing day at the beach and dining at delicious restaurants.
Scannella Beach Club: This private beach club and restaurant is reserved by reservation only, but it’s well worth it. Reservations gain you access to a pool overlooking the sea, a swimming area, and the magnificent cliffs on the west coast of Ischia. Be warned: there are many steps to get down to the club so if you have mobility issues, this might not be the best choice of beaches.
Visit Castello Aragonese: This 15th Century Castle is a must visit on any trip to Ischia. Privately owned, this castle is a mini-city of its own and it’s worth it to pay to enter. We recommend visiting around sunset and grabbing an apertivo at one of its scenic cafés.
Hike Monte Epomeo: For those of you looking for a heart pumping way to see the island, head out for a hike on Mount Opomeo, the highest peak on the island of Ischia. The hike begins in the village of Fontana and heads upwards to Mount Epomeo for about 3 km.
Walk along Corso Vittoria Colonna: The charming Corso Vittoria Colonna is a street filled with dozens of restaurants and shops. Take a late afternoon stroll along the 1-mile long cobblestone road before visiting Castello Aragonese.
Spiaggia dei Pescatori: Also known as “Fisherman’s Beach,” Spiaggia dei Pescatori is located close to Ischia Porto. This area used to be an area where only fishermen were allowed, hence the name. Now, it’s a great place to watch the fishermen come in during the morning hours.
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