Ischia is a volcanic Phlegrean Island in the Bay of Naples, rich in idyllic scenery and dazzling coastlines. The charming island that's popular with local Neapolitans is home to over one hundred thermal springs, boasts exotic sceneries, and is somewhere you need to visit on your next trip to Italy. Here are ten things to do in Ischia.
1. Castello Aragonese & Cattedrale dell'Assunta
The crown jewel of Ischia is Castello Aragonese and Cattedrale dell'Assunta, a medieval castle and cathedral that's perched on the top of a volcanic rocky islet connected to the rest of Ischia by a narrow causeway. Castello Aragonese is the best place to soak in breathtaking panoramic views over Ischia, as well as the surrounding islands and bright turquoise waters. There is a cafe and bar waiting for you after your crawl up. Tip: wear comfortable shoes with grip as the carved stone path gets slippery.
2. Stay In A 16th Century Monastery
Albergo Il Monastero is a converted monastery hotel sitting next to the castle on the monumental islet. The rooms boast terraces overlooking Ischia Porto with 16th century vaulted ceilings, and a restaurant with an exquisite servings made from produce harvested in its own garden. The hotel prides its scenic vistas with cascading bougainvilleas and olive trees, only accessible to hotel guests where you can enjoy Italian wine, and watch the purple and crimson sunset. The Italian fairytale doesn't end there. When the castle gates close off in the evening to tourists, you have the islet all to yourself! I stayed here in the summer and can't recommend it highly enough!
3. Unwind At Ischia's Thermal Baths
Mother Nature blessed Ischia's coast with natural thermal baths that are dotted along the coast, generated from geothermal volcanic vents in the area. Sorgenti Termali di Sorgeto is one of the naturally heated pools that is entirely free to visit, and open year round. The best way to reach Sorgenti Termali di Sorgeto is by boat then swim in, otherwise via steep stairs.
4. Bask At A Beach Club
With its long stretches of sand and foamy shallow waters, Ischia's gorgeous beaches can get really busy. Instead, head to a private beach club to laze and loll in style, cocktail in hand. Hotel Club Scannella is perched in a cove and is a perfect paradise and oasis of tranquility. There is no sand, but there are perfectly lined umbrellas and loungers with spectacular sea views, access to three thermal pools embedded in the beach rocks, and an impeccable food and drink menu. Reserve in advance.
5. Spend The Day In Forio
On the west side of the island, nested between the colorful landscapes of Mount Epomeo and the glittering sea lays Forio, Ischia's second largest town. Forio is picturesque in every sense of the word with its charming and bustling shops and piazzas, balmy terrace restaurants, fruit stalls on the corners of the tangled streets, impressive churches and a quaint harbor with its lapping turquoise waters. Forio is home to Giardini la Mortella - a private garden open to the public filled with exotic plants and tranquil fountains. After meandering through the garden and the sticky and stifling streets, cool down with an aperitif of Aperol Spritz with olives and taralli at one of Forio's many bars, before having a pasta rich dinner.
6. Take A Day Trip To Procida
Procida is a tiny island only twenty five minutes away by boat, and should not be missed when visiting Ischia! Its blissfully colorful, happily untouched, incredibly beautiful, and is a great way to spend the day. Discover hidden beaches, enjoy a seafood lunch harbor-side, and soak in the sweeping panoramic views before heading back to Ischia. Boats run regularly and cost around €15 return per person. You can also hire a private boat giving you more flexibility.
7. Indulge In Beautiful Italian Cuisine
If you are anything like me, undoubtedly one of the best things to do when visiting any Italian town or city, is to indulge in the beautiful Italian cuisine. Ischia has so many excellent restaurants and cafes that you will be spoilt for choice. Here are the best restaurants in Ischia:-
- Restaurant inside Albergo Il Monastero - romantic, fine dining, grow their own produce in their on-site garden.
- Garden Fruit Ischia - picture perfect fruit and vegetable store that also serve hearty, healthy and nutritious food.
- Trattoria Casa Colonica al Negombo - local food and wine in a garden setting inside Negombo Spa & Resort.
- Ischia Salumi - excellent selection of cured meats and cheeses with outdoor seating, perfect for take away sandwiches to take on a boat trip.
- Da Ciccio - classic Italian restaurant with outdoor seating, highly recommend pasta alla norma.
- Ice Da Luciano - for the most delicious gelato - best pineapple gelato I have ever had (I had it maybe five times in two days).
- Restaurante Guarracino - waterfront restaurant, traditional Italian and seafood, perfect place to stop when on boat. Restaurant boat will collect you from your boat to take you there.
- Ristorante La Rosa dei Venti - best pizza in Ischia.
8. Hire A Private Boat
The best way to see Ischia is by hiring a private boat and skipper to see the island from the water. We hired a boat for the full day and it cost around €400, including tip. We stopped at the thermal baths, a number of towns, for lunch at Restaurante Guarracino and multiple swimming spots and coves, as well as watching the sunset. Our skipper was a local that knew all the hidden gems on the island which he proudly showed us. He came equipped with Italian baked goods, grapes and very strong Italian coffee! He has began doing boat tours in his stunning private boat since the coronavirus pandemic has slowed sales in his Italian leather shoe shop. Therefore, he doesn't have a website but if you would like his details, drop me a message!
9. Soak In The Sun In Sant'Angelo
Sant' Angelo is an old fishing village built next to a giant rock with a slender stretch of beach connecting both parts of the village. Sant' Angelo oozes charm with its white washed and pastel buildings that line the narrow streets, following the crescent shape of the coast. Sun worshippers flock to this part of the island for swimming, quiet coves and sunbathing. Sant' Angelo's piazza dominates the village with lots of places to stop to eat, drink, have gelato and people watch.
10. Explore Lacco Ameno
Lacco Ameno is the smallest, yet possibly the most beautiful town in Ischia. Renowned for its sensational scenery, azure clear waters and its affinity for luxury tourism, Lacco Ameno is the perfect place to spend some time in. Visit the beach, soak in the thermal baths, and have an exquisite meal at Regina Isabella, sitting on ancient Greek-Roman ruins. The waterfront promenade sets the scene for romantic walks with the faint sound of live music trickling from the bars and restaurants. Don't forget to spot 'the mushroom' tufa stone formation that pops out of the sea!
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