For a holiday in the sun off the beaten track, choose the archipelago of the Aeolian Islands in the north of Sicily and go visit Salina! This volcanic island with breathtaking landscapes is full of things to do. It allows you to immerse yourself in island life and enjoy the Dolce Vita of southern Italy.
Two volcanoes rise majestically on either side of Salina, giving it an impressive appearance when seen from the boat. On site, the hospitality of the inhabitants, the many activities, the beaches and the gastronomy guarantee an unforgettable and relaxing stay. To prepare for your trip, we’ve listed the top 15 things to do in Salina.
1. Village of Santa Marina
Populated by less than 1,000 inhabitants, the city of Santa Marina is nonetheless the capital of the island . It hosts one of two ports where ferries dock and is an ideal base to start your visit to Salina.
Stroll through the historic center and the narrow streets overlooked by beautiful wrought iron balconies. The light-coloured houses plunge you immediately into the Mediterranean atmosphere. Some shops already allow you to stock up on souvenirs, while restaurants and ice cream parlors will delight your taste buds.
The tour of the village will take you about an hour and a half . Santa Marina also has one of the only scooter rental companies on the island, a good way to visit Salina with your hair in the wind!
2. Cliff of Pollara
Following the road to the west of the island, one reaches the end of the road and the charming village of Pollara. The place served as the setting for the film Il postino (“The postman”), which tells the story of the exile of Pablo Neruda, played by Philippe Noiret.
Cross this pretty village then follow the steps that lead to the sea. You will find a beautiful pebble beach lined with stone huts and troglodyte shelters that serve as refuges for the fisherman.
As you enter the turquoise waters, turn left to admire the majestic Pollara Cliff, one of the must-do things to do in Salina. At the end of the day, you will watch the sunset from the lighthouse, on the heights of the village.
3. Percioto Rock Arch
Not far from Pollara, a new must-see in Salina is the rocky arch of Percioto. This geological formation impresses with its size and the finesse of its natural architecture. It rises above the Adriatic Sea like a perfect bridge.
This place to visit in Salina is only accessible by boat , so you will need to book an excursion to take advantage of it. On a clear day, you can see Stromboli in the background, ideal for taking original photos with beautiful views of the volcano.
4. House of Pablo Neruda
Pablo Neruda’s house is the one in which Philippe Noiret resides in the film. Pablo Neruda never really lived there, but it serves as a symbolic place for film lovers.
This small property with ocher-coloured walls is perched on the heights of the village of Pollara. Pippo Cafarella, its owner, will be happy to tell you the anecdotes of filming and the many purchase requests he has received for his little corner of paradise.
On the way down, have fun following in the footsteps of the postman. You will find a statue in his homage, the fresco representing the actor Massimo Troisi on the church square and visit the mini-museum. Every evening, a screening of the film is organized under the pine forest of the Oasi snack bar , an opportunity to meet the inhabitants of the island!
5. Sanctuary of Madonna of Terzito
The Maria Santissima de Terzito sanctuary stands in the center of the island, in the municipality of Leni , on the road that leads to Rinella, the second port of Salina. This church was built around 1630 in homage to the Virgin.
You will discover the story of Alfonso Mercorella, a woodcutter to whom the Virgin appeared in 1922, and the legend surrounding the construction of the sanctuary. It’s one of the Aeolian Islands’ most popular venues for weddings, and it’s easy to see why. Between sea and volcano, the church offers an enchanting setting to immortalize the most beautiful day of a life!
6. Admire the falcons on the slopes of Pizzo del Corvo
To visit Salina is also to discover a varied fauna, and in particular many species of birds. The most easily observed are the buzzard, the kestrel and the imperial raven. On the west coast and the slopes of Pizzo del Corvo , you may be lucky enough to spot a specimen of the queen’s falcon. One of the few falcons in the Mediterranean, it lives almost exclusively on the Aeolian Islands.
7. Visit the fishing village of Rinella
Rinella is a must when visiting Salina. The village is built by the sea and rises rapidly on the foothills of the volcano. At the bottom, a large black sand beach is just waiting for your bath towel.
Several bars and restaurants with terraces give you the opportunity to taste island cuisine, quietly installed facing the sea. You will observe the ballet of fishermen returning to moor their colorful boats along the pier and unload their catches.
8. Grimper sur le Fossa delle Felci
“The fern pit” is the literal translation of Fossa delle Felci . With a summit at 962 meters above sea level , this volcano is the highest point of the island and of the entire Aeolian archipelago. It faces its twin, Monte dei Porri , and offers magnificent views as far as the islands of Lipari and Vulcano .
The climb is not very long but can be steep in places. Allow two and a half hours of ascent as part of a family outing. You can ask for a map at the tourist office before leaving. Arrived at the top, you will observe the ferns which cover the crater and give its name to the mountain.
9. Take a boat trip
Several companies offer day trips to discover the island from the sea. On an organized excursion or a private tour, with friends or family, you will contemplate the beauties of Salina from a boat. It is possible to go around the whole island or choose a combination to Lipari or Stromboli.
Swimming breaks are planned as well as a meal served on board or in a restaurant depending on the formula chosen. Be careful, find out beforehand whether a member of the crew speaks French! In any case, it’s a beautiful day in perspective, and magnificent photos to add to your vacation album.
10. Try scuba diving
The Aeolian Islands are among the best diving spots in the Mediterranean Sea. If you are going to visit Salina for the holidays, do not miss to discover its magnificent seabed. More than ten dive sites are listed around the island, accessible to beginners as well as experienced divers.
Sandy slopes for baptisms or drop-offs descending to 50 meters for the most seasoned, everyone will find what they are looking for when it comes time to put their head under water. Rich, the funds are home to a wide variety of fish and shellfish. Groupers, amberjacks, shrimps, lobsters, moray eels and other nudibranchs await you during an unforgettable immersion.
11. Sample local delicacies
Like any good Mediterranean island, Salina has a rich and sea-oriented gastronomy. Each small restaurant has its specialty, some even offering a unique dish depending on the catch of the day.
Capers, pride and specialty of the region, are present on all the tables. They go deliciously with dishes, as a condiment or to spice up sauces. Herbs such as bay leaf, fennel or absinthe go wonderfully with hare stew or fish.
12. Enjoy the beaches
To visit Salina is also to relax and enjoy the sun present almost all year round on the Aeolian archipelago. The island extends over 26 km² and has several tens of kilometers of coastline. On foot, by bike, by scooter or by boat, have fun discovering the small coves carved into the volcanic relief of the island.
Sandy or pebble beaches await you for long sessions of idleness . Remember to bring mask and snorkel, the water is clear and rich in fish, even a few meters from the edge!
13. Go to Lingua Lake
In the extreme southeast of the island is the charming town of Lingua, located directly by the sea. This peaceful place where it is good to rest has several hotels and restaurants perfect for spending a few days of vacation.
Separated from the sea by a dyke, the lake was used to produce the salt that gave the island its name. You can swim in the clear waters that border the large pebble beach and admire the rocky blocks testifying to ancient volcanic activity.
A lighthouse stands at the tip of Lingua to guide boats. The former caretaker’s house has been restored and now houses a small maritime museum.
14. Discover the village of Malfa
Visiting Salina without going through the village of Malfa is unthinkable! This picturesque locality in the north of the island reveals houses with pastel walls, which stand out harmoniously against the sea in the background. They make up a choice setting for amateur photographers!
Another reason to go to Malfa: il vino ! The vines cultivated around the village are used to produce Malvasia de Salina wine . This nectar with soft and sweet notes is ideal for an aperitif. It will go wonderfully with your meals on the terrace alongside seafood dishes or freshly caught fish. Stroll according to your desires along the narrow streets and discover local life!
15. Rent a scooter to go around the island
To be totally independent, we advise you to rent a scooter that will accompany you throughout your stay in Salina. Only two rental companies are present on the island, in Santa Marina and Malfa . If the prices are a little high, there’s nothing like browsing a small volcanic island with your hair in the wind. You can easily connect all the localities of the island and set off to explore the trails, in adventurer mode.