Your Next Island Escape: Ischia, Italy
Arts & Culture
What makes Ischia so special is how it mixes natural beauty, ancient history and modern beach resort amenities into one idyllic island. Its volcanic origins provide natural thermal springs perfect for relaxing spa treatments. But you can also explore impressive historic castles, villages dotted with pastel-hued houses and excellent dining thanks to Ischia’s locally-grown produce and seafood. With its laidback vibe and plethora of activities, it’s easy to see why Ischia has been a favored island escape for centuries.
I recommend visiting Ischia in shoulder season – April through June and September through October – when the weather is pleasant and crowds are smaller than summer. Hotel rates also tend to be cheaper.
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Where to stay in Ischia, Italy
San Montano Resort & Spa
Upscale property overlooking the Pontine Islands with nautical-themed rooms and suites.
$100 food / beverage credit.
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Villa Livia Ischia
Discover a haven of tranquility and natural beauty at Villa Livia Ischia, where charming accommodations, lush gardens, and breathtaking views of the Mediterranean Sea come together to create a serene and rejuvenating escape on the enchanting island of Ischia.
Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.
Food & beverage credit.
Albergo Della Regina Isabella
Stylish high-end hotel located in a tranquil bay in Ischia, Italy surrounded by private beaches and Mediterranean pinewoods, featuring a thermal spa and fine dining restaurant.
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Things to do in Ischia, Italy
Visit Aragonese Castle
No trip to Ischia is complete without visiting the magnificent Aragonese Castle, which sits on its own tiny island just off Ischia Ponte, connected by a stone bridge. The site was first fortified in 474 BC, with the current castle dating back to the 1400s when it was rebuilt under Ferdinand I of Aragon, King of Naples. Wander the charming medieval hamlet within the castle walls and visit sights like the Cathedral of St. Anna and the Church of the Immaculate. Climb up to the top of the fortress for panoramic views across the island and sea.
Relax at Ischia's Beaches
With its 30 miles of coastline, Ischia offers no shortage of spectacular beaches. For a lively scene, head to Spiaggia dei Maronti on the south coast, the island’s longest sandy beach with beach clubs and watersports. For something more secluded, visit the picturesque San Pancrazio nestled at the base of cliffs on the northwest coast. The thermal beach of Cava Scura has warm mineral waters perfect for a soak. Cartaromana Beach has crystal-clear water great for snorkeling. And the north coast’s sandy Citara Beach is surrounded by luscious pine forests.
Explore the Gardens of La Mortella
Designed by the English composer William Walton, these stunning gardens sprawl across a hillside estate. Wander through terraces filled with exotic plants from around the world, from water lilies to cacti. Don’t miss highlights like the Tropical Garden with water features and cascades, the colorful Flower Garden and the upper Terrace of Infinity with panoramic vistas. The gardens are at their best in spring when azaleas, camellias and rhododendrons are in full bloom.
Soak in the Natural Hot Springs at Poseidon Gardens
Ischia’s volcanic activity heats up mineral springs across the island that have attracted visitors since ancient Roman times. The Poseidon Gardens spa is one of the best places to experience the therapeutic benefits of Ischia’s hot springs. Relax in the range of pools, from the large sea water pool to warmer thermal pools, or book treatments like massages and mud facials. The lush grounds also have archaeological ruins like an Ancient Roman pool and water tanks.
Take a Hike on Mount Epomeo
The highest point on Ischia at over 2,500 feet, Mount Epomeo offers wonderful hiking with spectacular panoramas across the island and Bay of Naples. Trails wind through chestnut groves and vineyards with the imposing volcanic peak looming above. The main path leads to the top, where you’ll find the 15th century Eremo di San Nicola hermitage carved into the mountainside. On a clear day, you can see all the way to Capri and Vesuvius. The hike up takes around 3 hours roundtrip.
Explore the Sea Life at Cartaromana Beach
Located on Ischia’s west coast, this small beach has calm, clear waters perfect for snorkeling. Rent a mask and fins from one of the beach bars to discover the diverse marine life just below the surface. Schools of fish like sea bream and mullet swim around the rocky outcrops. You may even spot an octopus hiding in crevices or sea stars in tide pools. The beach also has a cool underwater statue of Jesus Christ blessing the waters that makes for a one-of-a-kind sight while snorkeling.
Visit the Historic Santa Maria delle Grazie e delle Anime del Purgatorio
This picturesque church in Forio dates back to the late 1500s. Its facade is adorned with colorful majolica tiles in intricate patterns. Inside, don’t miss the series of 18th century paintings depicting souls in purgatory – the church was built for families to pray for their deceased relatives. Wander through the atmospheric crypt below the church with its evocative statues and tombs. On the last Sunday in May, a solemn procession takes the “anime” statues through the streets to commemorate the deceased.
Stroll Through the Picturesque Ischia Porto
Ischia’s main town has an atmospheric old port lined with colorful fishing boats and pastel-hued houses. Walk the seaside promenade and explore narrow lanes filled with shops, cafes and restaurants buzzing with locals. Look for the historic Sea Tower that once protected the port from pirate raids. Stop by one of the pastry shops like Pasticceria Buono or Gelateria la Sfogliatella to sample sweet treats like sfogliatella pastry filled with ricotta.
This breathtaking island with rugged cliffs, blue grottoes and cute cafes. Take the ferry over to explore Capri Town’s upscale shops or lounge on beaches reachable by boat like Blue Grotto.
Hop on the ferry back to the mainland to discover vibrant Naples. Must-see sights include the National Archaeological Museum’s ancient Roman artifacts and the world-famous pizza of Naples’ historic streets.
Visit the remarkably preserved ruins of Pompeii at the foot of Mt. Vesuvius to vividly imagine life in ancient Rome. Wander houses, temples, theaters and the haunting plaster casts of victims.
The Amalfi Coast is unmissable when traveling to the region of Campania. Don't miss charming towns like Positano and Ravello, connected by winding scenic roads.
Take a short ferry ride to Procida, another picturesque island in the Bay of Naples right next to Ischia. Explore its colorful fishing village and abbey-topped islet.
Places to eat & drink in Ischia, Italy
Coniglio all'ischitana at Umberto a Mare
This local rabbit dish slow-cooked in a clay pot with tomatoes, garlic, olives and herbs is an Ischia classic. Umberto a Mare serves a memorable version alongside ocean views in Forio.
Spaghetti alle vongole at Ristorante l’Arco
Perfectly cooked spaghetti tossed with fresh local clams, white wine, olive oil and parsley is a delightful primi piatti. Enjoy it on Ristorante l’Arco’s vine-covered terrace in Ischia Porto.
Ravioli at Da Nicola
Handmade pillows of pasta stuffed with fresh ricotta and herbs make a comforting meal. Da Nicola in Ischia Porto has been serving their melt-in-your-mouth ravioli since 1949.
Fresella at Il Focolare
This twice-baked bread rubbed with garlic and tomatoes makes a tasty snack. Try Il Focolare’s version warm from the oven with a glass of local Ischia Biancolella white wine.
Fritto misto di paranza at Ischia Sapori
This mixed fry platter with lightly fried seafood like shrimp, squid and anchovies showcases the day's catch. Ischia Sapori in Sant'Angelo serves an excellent fried seafood platter.
Nduja pizza at Pizzeria Di Massa Salvatore
Spicy spreadable ‘nduja sausage gives this pizza a kick. Pizzeria Di Massa Salvatore in Ischia Porto loads their pies with plenty of ‘nduja for the full flavor.
Panzanella salad at Ristorante La Capanna
Soak up Ischia’s famous tomatoes in this salad with crunchy bread, red onion and basil. Ristorante La Capanna serves an excellent panzanella along with bay views in Lacco Ameno.
Gelato at Gelateria Ice da Luciano
Stop for creamy artisanal gelato like zesty lemon or rich chocolate studded with hazelnuts. Gelateria Ice da Luciano uses high quality local ingredients.
Traditional Ischian Pizza at Pizzeria da Ciro
No visit to Ischia is complete without trying the island's famous pizza. Pizzeria da Ciro, located in Ischia Porto, serves up authentic Ischian-style pizza with a thin and crispy crust. Choose from a variety of toppings, including local ingredients like fresh buffalo mozzarella and flavorful tomatoes.
Pastries at Pasticceria Franco
Pasticceria Franco is a must visit if you love pastries and sweets. This renowned bakery in Forio offers traditional Italian pastries, including sfogliatelle, cannoli, and cream-filled croissants. Each pastry is expertly crafted with attention to detail and the finest ingredients.
Need to Know
Looking for more travel inspiration? Check out my guide, Florence Like a Local: The City's Best Family Activities.
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This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to Ischia.