This secret of the Tyrrhenian Sea is gaining in popularity - and rightly so! The Italian island of Ischia is often overlooked by tourists who get sidetracked by the Isle of Capri or the Amalfi Coast. But this volcanic island is truly a jewel and well worth a visit!
Ischia is almost entirely mountainous and has been used for its thermal springs since ancient times. Come for the spas, the landscape, the tree-lined boulevards, or the history - Ischia has it all!
Below, we'll tell you all you need to know to make your visit to the "Green Island" as idyllic as possible. Whether you stay only for a day or two as you hop from island or island or take a relaxing week-long retreat, the island of Ischia is the perfect getaway location.
Best Time To Visit Ischia
Ischia is a summertime destination, and many restaurants, hotels, and spas will close during the off-season. The peak season for tourists is in July and August, and the island will be very crowded. The best time to visit Ischia is in the shoulder seasons of May and June on one side and September on the other.
Connected to Ischia Ponte by a long causeway, the Aragonese Castle tops the list of things to do when visiting Ischia. It sits on a small rocky outcropping, towering over the town and offering incredible views. It was built in 474 BC, but it's more than just an old building! The Aragonese Castle includes chapels, wine presses, beautiful gardens, a prison, and a particular unique cemetery of upright nuns.
Madonna del Soccorso in Forio
There's always a church within a stone's throw of anywhere in Italy, and there's one in Ischia as well! The bright white Chiesa del Soccorso in Forio sits atop the cliffs, overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea. A miraculous crucifix inside it is said to protect the island. This is one of the most popular spots for seeing the sunset.
The small fishing village of Sant' Angelo is one of the most relaxing places on an already relaxing island! The narrow streets make it so that cars aren't an option, so you can explore the village on foot as they did in days gone by. From Sant' Angelo, grab a boat to the thermal water at Baia di Sorgeto or head over to the Maronti beach.
Giardini La Mortella
Even if you're not a gardening fan, you'll enjoy a visit to the La Mortella gardens. Susanna Walton, the wife of the English composer William Walton, created this lush garden. It's built right into the volcanic cliffs and is unique in that each of the two levels naturally has a different climate and biosphere! The tropical and Mediterranean plants grown in the volcanic soils have reached amazing proportions. A museum dedicated to the life and works of William Walton is part of the garden, as well as an amphitheater where his pieces are performed.
When you first arrive on the island, you'll find yourself in the town of Ischia Porto. This is a great place to serve as the base for your island explorations, and there's plenty to do in town! Stroll down the tree-lined Corso Vittoria Colonna and pop into the clothing boutiques, artisan storefronts, and souvenir shops. This is the main shopping thoroughfare for Ischia, and many cafes and wine bars are scattered along the street.
If you're looking to get off the beaten path, visiting this beach club is right up your alley. The two cold saltwater pools, heated pool and beach, are only accessible by walking down a steep cliff or taking a taxi boat. There's no phone reception, and the bathing area has enforced silence. You'll hear nothing but the waves lapping and seagulls' crying. The restaurant nearby offers amazing dishes of local cuisine.
Ischia has a rich history, and a visit to the Pithecusa Archaeological Museum in the Villa Arbusto will help you to appreciate it. This museum houses a collection of ancient Greek and Roman artifacts. It outlines the role volcanic eruptions had in the creation of the island, as well as the significance of the thermal springs in the spiritual and physical life of Ischia.
Cartaromana Beach is a picturesque beach on Ischia Island's southern side. The beach is popular for swimming and sunbathing, with crystal-clear waters and stunning views of the island's castle.
Things To Do
Visit A Thermal Springs
Ischia was sought after by ancient Greeks and Romans for its hot springs. Even if you're not typically interested in spas, you should visit at least one of the thermal spas while you're here! Many options suit your fancies - such as Poseidon-themed thermal parks, beautiful thermal gardens, or Sorgeto Beach, where you can enjoy thermal waters for free.
Hike Mount Epomeo
Starting at Fontana, you can hike up the highest mountain on this volcanic island - Mount Epomeo. It's not an easy hike, but it is beautiful, and the view from the top is breathtaking!
Enjoy A Beach
The coast of Ischia is filled with wonderful beaches! In addition to the thermal pools of Sorgeto Beach and Le Fumarole Beach, there are other sandy beaches perfect for spending an afternoon.
Maronti Beach - This great beach is the most popular. The water is clear and calm, perfect for swimming and other water activities.
Fisherman's Beach - The Spiaggia dei Pescatori is the perfect beach for people-watching, with the Aragonese Castle nearby.
San Montano - If you're heading to the Negombo thermal spas cool off afterward with a dip in the San Montano beach.
Citara Beach - Situated near the Poseidon Gardens, this beach has the perfect water for snorkeling.
Go On A Boat Tour
One of the best ways to explore and enjoy the island is through a boat tour. Boat tours in Ischia offer a unique and unforgettable experience. You can rent a private boat or join a group tour to explore the island's beautiful coastline, beaches, and nearby islands. Many boat tours include stops at hidden beaches and coves, snorkeling, and swimming in crystal-clear waters.
Eat Delicious Food
As with most islands around the Mediterranean Sea, the food in Ischia is delicious! There are many locally-owned spots across the island to explore. You might expect seafood to be the highlight, but the star of the local cuisine is Coniglio all'lschitana - a rabbit stew cooked in a terra cotta pot with tomatoes and local spices. Ischia is also known for its citrus fruits and wines, so keep an eye out for both as you browse the menus!
Where To Stay
There is a wide range of lodging options in Ischia! You have everything from backpacking hostels to 5-star hotels, from charming Airbnb to all-inclusive resorts with a private beach! Since the island is small, all the hotels and guesthouses are within walking distance from any location on your itinerary.
One particularly luxurious resort is the Regina Isabella Hotel, which has hosted stars such as Matt Damon, Jude Law, and Gwyneth Paltrow. However, most of the hotels in Ischia are budget-friendly and, while clean, aren't of the glamorous caliber you'd find in the nearby islands of Capri and Positano.
Where Is Ischia Located?
The island of Ischia is located at the northern end of the Gulf of Naples, only 19 miles from Naples itself on the Italian mainland. Although it's the largest of the Phlegrean Islands, Ischia is a very small island! It is only 6 miles wide and 4 miles long and was formed by a series of volcanic activities in southern Italy.
How To Get To Ischia Island
You won't find an airport on this small Italian island, so you must fly into Naples International Airport. It has connections to destinations all across Europe and runs a direct flight to New York City during the summer.
From Naples, you'll take the airport bus to one of two ferry ports. Depending on the type of ferry your take, the crossing from Naples to Ischia will take anywhere from 50 minutes to 1 hour and 45 minutes.
If you'd prefer to avoid air travel, you can take a train to Garibaldi. From there, take a bus to Naples.
Transportation Within Ischia, Italy
The best way to get around Ischia is to use the bus! There are two bus routes, and they actually run the same route. One stops clockwise around the island, and the other makes the same stops counter-clockwise! Pick up a bus pass at the station at Ischia Porto, which is good for multiple days.
Of course, Ischia isn't a particularly large island, and there will be many times when everything on your itinerary is within walking distance. Bike rentals and scooter rentals are also available. The roads are generally not congested, so using a bike or scooter to navigate is easy!
Golden Tips When Visiting Ischia
Here are a few of our top tips to make the most of your trip to Ischia Port!
Have A Translator On Hand
English is widely spoken in many of the main tourist destinations around Italy. This isn't the case in Ischia! Keep Google Translate on your home screen, and be prepared to do a lot of pointing.
Follow the Spa Etiquette
Keep in mind that, for many, the natural hot springs and thermal spas are places of spiritual significance with healing properties. Enjoy yourself, but be respectful, and don't be boisterous.
Rent a Scooter Or Bike
Rent a scooter or bicycle to easily explore the island's many scenic routes and hidden beaches.