Rich in culture and natural beauty, Italy is home a collection of beautiful islands that offer an enchanting landscape of secluded, white sand beaches and dramatic volcanoes. You can explore charming old towns, archaeological landmarks and indulge in fantastic food and wine, or spend your days swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving in the crystal clear coves. Venture offshore for a summer adventure in the best islands in Italy.
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Italy’s largest island, Sicily sits in the Mediterranean Sea and is known for its beautiful architecture and collection of mountains, beaches, national parks and ancient villages. You can climb its two active volcanoes, admire the Sicilian Baroque architecture in Palermo or plan a culinary adventure to sample fresh seafood cuisine and sweet street food snacks in open-air markets. You’ll be lured in by its rich cultural heritage, where you can relax in seaside resort towns such as Taormina and Cefalu, visit a 12th century cathedral or see a concert in the largest opera hall in Italy.
Lined with spectacular beaches, Sardinia sits right in the middle of the Mediterranean. Marvel at the fine white sand and emerald waters of Costa Smeralda, where you can spend your days sailing, surfing and snorkeling. History enthusiasts can explore ruins and archaeological sites or visit Gola di Gorropu, the largest canyon in Europe. Visit mountain towns like Orgosolo whose walls are covered in murals, walk the charming streets of the seaside town of Alghero and explore Olbia and its historic seaport that dates back to the Middle Ages.
It’s impossible to resist the Mediterranean charm of Capri, a popular vacation spot since Roman times. Make sure to see the famous Blue Grotto, Villa San Michele, the picturesque towns of Anacapri and Capri and the unique rock formations that line its coast. It’s Italy’s most glamorous island getaway destination, where you can stroll through a delightful maze of narrow streets and browse a collection of fashion boutiques and local restaurants. Admire the super yachts bobbing in the harbor and you might even spot a celebrity or two.
The largest island in the Tuscan Archipelago, Elba is a beautiful beach retreat when you need a break from the bustling city life. It’s known as the place of Emperor Napoleon’s exile from France in the 1800s, but today you’ll find beautiful piazzas and beach clubs that hug the coast. Spend your time in Elba experiencing its lively marinas, golden sand beaches and well-preserved Etruscan towns. You can also stretch your legs with its various hiking and trekking trails, while boat excursions in the archipelago offer a new perspective.
Just a short ferry ride from Palau you’ll find the beautiful islands of the La Maddalena archipelago. Its idyllic beaches are unparalleled, as you’ll practically have the shoreline to yourself with its lack of tourists. Make sure to venture out to Caprera’s Cala Coticcio, which is thought to be one of the most beautiful coves in the Mediterranean. Visit the island of La Maddalena to marvel at Roman ruins, explore its quaint collection of cafes and boutique shops or sign up for a sailing adventure.
Within view of the island of Capri, Ischia is a popular destination for its beautiful landscapes and natural thermal springs. This volcanic island lies in the Gulf of Naples and is surrounded by the postcard-perfect waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea. A wander around Ischia reveals the towering Aragonese Castle, while Ischia Porto is the island’s modern center with plenty of restaurants, boutiques and bars to explore. Venture to Forio for wonderful beaches and fine dining, explore the Poseidon Gardens in the bay of Citara or step back in time in the fishing village of Sant’Angelo.
The largest of the Aegadian Islands, Favignana sits off the northwest coast of Sicily and charms travellers with its collection of alluring, white sand beaches and stone outcrops and crystalline blue waters at Cala Rossa. Go on an adventure to explore the island’s undersea caves, like Lovers’ Grotto, Grotto of Sighs and the Blue Grotto, which are perfect for scuba diving enthusiasts. If you prefer to keep your legs on solid ground, tour the island’s Paleolithic and Neolithic cave art and Tonnare di Favignana, a former tuna canning factory that showcases the island’s history.
Procida is the smallest island in the Gulf of Naples, where you’ll find a scenic landscape of picturesque beaches, ancient harbors and pastel-colored houses. A quieter island destination compared to nearby Ischia and Capri, travelers flock here to enjoy a vacation of seaside relaxation mixed with rural charm. It’s been the locale for hit movies such as “The Talented Mr. Ripley” and “Ill Postino”, but some of the most interesting spots can be found at Marina di Corricella, which is a colorful fishing harbor lined with bars and restaurants and the medieval old town of Terra Murata.
One of the five small Tremiti Islands, San Domino is a car-free archipelago in the Adriatic Sea. Sitting east of Italy’s Puglia region, it is part of the Gargano nature reserve and is famous for its rugged scenery with secluded coves, sea caves and coral reefs. It’s a dream destination for scuba diving enthusiasts, where you can even explore a Roman shipwreck off San Domino’s Cala Zio Cesare. It’s one of the two inhabited Tremiti islands, accessed via water taxis, boat tours and motorboat rentals.
If you’re looking for an off-the-radar island destination in Italy, venture to the postcard-perfect landscapes of Pantelleria. You’ll find various lakes, lagoons, hot springs and wineries to explore around this hidden gem, which is nestled between Sicily and Tunisia. It lures in those looking for peace and quiet, where craggy black rock land draws in the occasional celebrity, such as Giorgio Armani, who has a villa here. Relax your weary muscles in the thermal features of the island, such the sauna-like grotto on the side of Montagna Grande or at the hot springs-fed lake in the volcanic crater, where you’ll find shores of mineral-rich mud and a center that showcases a vivid color of teal water.