Ischia: Italy's Hidden Island Escape
Ischia is a majestic island off the coast of Naples just beginning to receive the recognition it deserves. While many flock to Amalfi and Capri, Ischia is a hidden gem Neapolitans have kept secret, until now. The volcanic island is home to natural thermal waters where ancient Etruscans went to heal their bodies after war. In more recent years, the breathtaking beaches and towns have appeared as a backdrop in The Talented Mr. Ripley and the television adaptation of Elena Ferrante’s series My Brilliant Friend. Today, Ischia is showing off in all her glory as each of the island's six towns are growing into a luxury traveler's dream destination. No matter which side of the island you find yourself, you will not be disappointed.
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Where to stay in Ischia
Mezzatorre Hotel & Thermal Spa
From the hoteliers behind Il Pellicano, this glam Ischia outpost attracts a low-key crowd to its Gulf of Naples perch.
$100 food / beverage credit.
Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.
Botania Relais & Spa
This eco-conscious, 40-room escape in Ischia is set amidst a lush natural landscape, complete with an onsite organic garden.
$90 hotel / resort credit.
Upgrade to next room category, based upon availability at check-in.
Guaranteed 1pm late check-out.
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Things to do in Ischia
Thermal waters run throughout the volcanic island making it an extraordinary destination for those seeking natural and holistic spa culture. Locals swear by the healing properties that can transform lifelong ailments. Whether or not you go to Ischia to cure anything, you must explore at least one thermal park.
Negombo is the most popular park on the island that caters to families and travelers of all ages. Located in the town of Lacco Ameno, Negombo has dozens of hydrothermal baths to choose between. Saunas embedded steep in caves, hot tubs of varying degrees, cold plunges to wake up the system, the options are endless. And the vista while you nurture your body is mindblowing. Nestled above the San Montano Bay, Negombo sits on one of the best swimming beaches in Ischia. There you can relax on Negombo’s beach lounges in the soft white or take a leisurely swim in the calm turquoise water. There are several food options where you can grab a bite or a beverage during your time at Negombo. I wouldn’t miss the frezelle at Bar Negombo where they pick the tomatoes from their garden on site.
Poseidon, another of Ischia’s exquisite thermal parks, is located on the West Coast of Ischia in the town of Forio. Larger and quieter than Negombo, Poseidon offers a more tranquil bathing experience. Less of an amusement park of baths and more of an outdoor spa environment, Poseidon has 20 pools to choose from overlooking the Bay of Citara. The Bay of Citara is slightly rocky in comparison to Negombo’s San Montano Bay but equally as swimmable. Poseidon offers medicinal treatments and therapies utilizing Ischia’s natural elements to bring beauty and wellness together overlooking the Mediterranean.
Activities & Tours
If thermal parks are not your thing, Ischia has plenty of other offerings. You can travel down to the southern point of the island to Sant’ Angelo, a sleepy fishing village, to sit by the sea and enjoy fresh seafood brought in by the local fisherman. Up in the north in Lacco Ameno, there are several shops and boutiques to collect souvenirs and local treasures. If Italian leather is high on your list, don’t miss Mario d’Ischia for custom made leather shoes and sandals that will be measured by hand to fit your foot. There are several local boat rental companies for you to charter a boat around the island. Departing from Casamicciola, private and group boat tours take you around the island making stops along the way to hop off the boat and swim. Boat tours typically last 4 hours and are a beautiful way to get your bearings on the island and see each of the six towns from afar. Beach clubs are a bit part of Italian island culture. Try to get a reservation at Scannella on the rocky southern coast or the hip Giardino Eden facing the historic Castello Aragonese d'Ischia.
Getting around Ischia is very easy by car or scooter. But if renting a vehicle is not in the cards, there are taxis and water taxis readily available. The island also has a robust bus system if you are looking to explore further distances on a budget.
Places to eat & drink in Ischia
No trip to Italy would be complete without enjoying all of the culinary delights the destination has to offer. From Neapolitan pizza to fresh seafood, you will not have a wasted meal in Ischia.
The fresh grilled mussels at Giardino Eden will leave you wanting to come back night after night.
The vongole at The Rooftop Dinner Club makes any seafood pasta you've tasted seem like an imposter.
For classic Neapolitan pizza from a family-run establishment, head over to La Locanda di Vito for endless pizza and live music under the stars.
And you will not be disappointed by the amatriciana at Mezzatore's La Baia Ristorante, overlooking the San Montano Bay.
Need to Know
For more travel tips, check out Fora Travel Advisor Bella Rose's guide, The All-Access Guide to Ischia, Italy.
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