Stromboli, Vulcano and the other islands of the archipelago: what to see and how to get there
Located off the northern coast of Sicily in the Tyrrhenian Sea, the remote archipelago of the Aeolian Islands is an unspoiled paradise of beautiful Italian countryside. With its crystal-clear waters, rough nature, secluded beaches and picturesque villages the Aeolian Islands offer the perfect setting for an active or a quiet vacation. While the archipelago is a popular summer destination for Italians, foreign tourists have yet to discover the beauty these seven little islands have to offer.
The Aeolian Islands were listed by UNESCO in 2000 as a World Heritage Site. When the Greek colonized these islands in 580 BC, they named them after Aeolus, the Greek god of the winds. Their present shape is the result of a million years of volcanic activity, and there are still two volcanoes active today – Stromboli and Vulcano.
The Aeolian Archipelago
The Aeolian Archipelago is formed by seven main islands and other minor islets.
Lipari is the largest and also liveliest of the islands and offers the widest selection of lodgings, restaurants, shops, and things to do. Among its attractions, Lipari has an interesting archaeological museum, extensive Greek ruins, spa baths, and a Roman sauna cave. A trip around the island by scooter is the best way to explore the small villages and catch the breathtaking views of the other islands.
Vulcano is the closest to Sicily's mainland. The traces of the last eruption in 1890 that shaped its rocky coastline are still clearly visible in the lunar-like landscape and black beaches. To experience the smell of sulfur from up close, you can climb up to the crater's peak. The island also has several hot springs and hot bubbling mud pools where you can take a mud bath.
Salina is the second largest and also the highest island with green and fertile twin peek mountains where the grapes for the famous dessert wine Malvasia are grown. The peaceful island consists of three small towns and a large nature reserve.
Stromboli is the island furthest away from the mainland is rightly known as " the lighthouse of the Mediterranean" with its volcanic activity and lava continually erupting from the top and streaming down into the sea. It's possible to climb up to the crater with a guide to watch the fireworks for close by. If you don’t fancy the hike, you can also take an evening boat trip from one of the other Aeolian Islands to watch the volcano's fiery eruptions from the sea.
Panarea, known as the jet-set island, is the smallest and offers stunning views of Stromboli. With its clear blue waters surrounding a rocky coastline, this little gem is a popular destination for scuba divers and snorkelers.
Filicudi & Alicudi are the most western islands and are also the less visited, particularly Alicudi which is still mostly agrarian. These little rough diamonds of natural beauty are a paradise for nature lovers and hikers. Follow the panoramic paths and hiking trails to discover the most stunning view.
How to get there
You can reach the archipelago of the Aeolian Islands from the Sicilian mainland by boat from Milazzo in just 45 minutes and 1 hour and 15 minutes form Messina. You can also fly to Naples or Palermo and take a ferry from those cities to the islands. The two principal ferry companies providing ferry services to the islands are Siremar and Liberty Lines. Only Lipari and Salina permit cars from outside. To discover the islands, you can rent a car, scooter or boat. Lipari and Salina have local bus services to help you get around. The ferry services between the islands are frequent.
The best time to enjoy the Aeolian idyll is during the off-season from April through June as well as in September and October, after the summer tourists have returned home and the islands have returned to their usual quiet.
A great way to enjoy the Aeolian Islands is by private yacht charter. Kissfromitaly offers several options of boat from the ports of Portorosa/Milazzo and Giardini Naxos/Taormina. See here for more information.
If budget is not an issue a super fun way to see the Aeolian Islands is by helicopter. And it is also the fastest way to get there! See here for more information.