Located north of Sicily , in Italy’s Tyrrhenian Sea, the Aeolian Islands have risen from the waters over the past 200,000 years as volcanic eruptions. Surrounded by small islets and basalt rocks, this archipelago is well known to geologists and volcanologists, who have often come to study its rocks over the past two centuries. The Aeolian Islands mark the separation between the African and European plates, recognizable by their alignment!
Despite their same iconic conical shape, each of the 7 inhabited islands has its own particularity. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2000, they have gradually become a destination of choice for travelers in search of authenticity, calm, unique landscapes and crystal clear waters. So what to do in the Aeolian Islands during your trip? What do you absolutely need to find out?
To help you visit the Aeolian Islands, we have listed the 10 essential things to see or do in this unique archipelago, off Sicily!
- 1. Volcano
- 2. Vulcano Crater
- 3. The Castle of Lipari
- 4. Old Lipari
- 5. Salina
- 6. Stromboli
- 7. Alicudi
- 8. Filicudi
- 9. Panarea
- 10. A boat trip
So what to do in the Aeolian Islands? Vulcano is not the largest island, nor the most populated, but it is certainly one of the best known and appreciated! If not the capital island Lipari, it will probably be your gateway to the archipelago.
On site, you can discover a superb black sand beach, where locals and visitors come to relax. It stretches along the coastline of the isthmus connecting the island to the peninsula of Vulcanello.
There awaits you the Valle dei mostri , the “valley of the monsters” – frozen lava statues. Finally, take advantage of your stay in Vulcano to experience an amazing activity: take a sulphurous and hot mud bath. Which would likely be beneficial for the skin.
2. Vulcano Crater
Before leaving the island of Vulcano, you should absolutely climb to the top of the Fossa ! To reach it, a small hike of one hour will be necessary. Just be sure to start your adventure at dawn, before the sun comes out and the heat gets too intense!
Once up there, you can admire carpets of sulfur crystals and let yourself be enchanted by the fumaroles. You can then enjoy a superb view of the island of Lipari and the twin cones of the island of Saline to the north.
3. The Castle of Lipari
Lipari is the capital of the Aeolian Islands. This city is best known for its formidable bastion-acropolis! Located on its eastern coast, the Castello is an essential monument to visit in the Aeolian Islands. It has seen many civilizations succeed one another within it, each leaving a testimony of its passage.
The Archaeological Museum, installed in the episcopal palace, bears witness to this history punctuated by trade. Next to it, you can discover a beautiful baroque cathedral, which hides a small Norman cloister from the 12th century in its bowels.
4. Old Lipari
Before leaving the Aeolian capital to discover the island’s beautiful beaches and volcanic landscapes, take the time to linger in the charming streets of Old Lipari . In the small, narrow and picturesque streets, you can find typical trattorias, where you can enjoy a pizza or pasta with freshly caught fish.
Along the fishing port, the Marina Corta to the south, a charming promenade also awaits you, a real postcard setting with its small boats and picturesque buildings facing the sea.
In the shadow of its two volcanoes, now extinct, grow the superb Malmsey vines of the island of Salina . Charming and greener than its neighbors, it is a charming place to visit in the Aeolian Islands. You can taste the delicious local wines, admire the picturesque houses of Malfa, located on the edge of turquoise waters, or take a walk in the small port of Rinella.
No doubt: Salina is charm incarnate! There will be no shortage of occupations and little marvels to discover in this fantastic Aeolian Island.
What to do in the Aeolian Islands? Stromboli is certainly the best known of the seven islands in the archipelago. Distant, shrouded in mist, the volcano of Stromboli is still active. Amazed by its lava explosions, the ancients would even call it the “lighthouse of the Mediterranean”! You don’t come to this island for its beaches or its picturesque villages, but to climb its 926-meter-high volcano day and night.
After a rather difficult hike, you can admire a breathtaking spectacle. There is no doubt that this little adventure will leave you with lasting memories!
After discovering the stormiest island in the archipelago, why not take the time to do nothing? Alicudi stands out for its absolute calm. Here, there is no white sand beach, but slippery rocks and pebbles where you can enjoy the sun. Once you arrive on the island, you will be struck by its picturesque atmosphere.
Almost nothing has changed since the last century. As proof, the mule remains the main transport on the island! On site, you can climb the hundreds of stone steps leading to the peaks of the island, from where you can enjoy superb views, or walk along the pebble shore.
In the evening, there is no choice: everyone meets in the only bar on the island to enjoy a beer on the terrace facing the sunset. Picturesque, isn’t it?
If distant Alicudi frightens you, you can stop at Filicudi. Here too idleness reigns. If the island does not host beautiful sandy beaches, you can always rest and enjoy the sea on the pebble beaches or on some well-chosen rocks.
The more adventurous can also launch an assault on the paths, in the middle of stone walls and prickly pears. On the heights, old hamlets await you, as well as magnificent panoramas, such as that of Ficarrisi!
Are you coming to visit the Aeolian Islands? You cannot miss Panarea , or almost. Highlighted by the film L’Aventura , the island lives mainly from luxury tourism. If it has lost its aura of the 70s, it still attracts the Italian jet set.
Despite its superficiality, the island offers some incredible scenery: a superb view of Stromboli in the distance, a few old hamlets, magnificent white villas, preserved seabed and breathtaking landscapes.
10. A boat trip
And if to move between your different, while adding a magical dimension to your stay, you opt for a boat rental? In this way, you will enjoy even more the Mediterranean paradise offered by the archipelago, without having any constraints!
With or without a skipper, you can rent a boat in the Aeolian Islands from a private individual. Which also means that you will avoid mass tourism.