Here’s Why You Should Visit Ischia Italy: Europe’s Best-Kept Island Secret

With Europe once again open to vaccinated US visitors, we’re all daydreaming of that perfect Euro trip. If it’s sand and sun you’re looking for, complete with some wine, cuisine, and a little culture and history, too, there are plenty of spots to choose from on the European continent, especially in summer. And the Italian island of Ischia should be one of them.

The view From Aragonese Castle in Ischia.
The view From Aragonese Castle in Ischia.

Never heard of Ischia? Now you have!

Ischia is a volcanic island in the Gulf of Naples, Italy. Yes, you’ve obviously heard of Capri — maybe you’ve even been. But Ischia is Capri’s quiet little sister that nobody notices (except locals, and the occasional European visitor). 

Just a quick boat ride away from Naples, Ischia is full of gorgeous beaches, quaint villages, a castle unlike any other, and a number of natural hot springs. Read on to find out all the reasons why Ischia should be your next Italian adventure.

RELATED: 10 Essential & Authentic Things To Do In Naples, Italy

Here’s why Ischia should be at the top of your travel list

It’s easily accessible from Italy’s mainland

If you’re already planning a trip to explore the Amalfi coast or sample the pizza in Naples, Ischia is just over an hour ferry ride away from the southern Italian city. The most efficient way to get to Ischia is to fly into Naples Capodichino Airport, and you can browse current flight deals into Naples with Kayak.  Book your round-trip ferry tickets from Naples in advance. Once you get off the ferry, you can rent a car, motorbike, or grab a taxi and head to whatever part of the island you choose. There are ferries that allow you to bring a car from the mainland, too.

The best way to explore the island is by leveraging a local’s expertise. On our last visit, we were picked up by our private guide Alessandra from Tours of Ischia at the ferry dock. She took us to all of the must-see landmarks (we mention some of our favorites later), as well as recommended the best restaurants and gelato on the island that locals frequent. If you’re staying in Naples and prefer to have your round-trip ferry and private guide included, the same company offers a full package day trip.

You can spend weeks in Ischia, or just a few days, combining a trip to the island with various other Italian destinations.

Scenery in Ischia Italy
A view from the gardens on Castle Aragonese, Ischia.

It’s underrated and authentic

Ever been to Capri? It’s stunningly beautiful. It’s also expensive and crowded with tourists, and while it’s nice to experience a luxury trip, Capri is not where most Italians vacation.

Ischia, on the other hand, is just as beautiful. However, it’s affordable, authentic, and where you’ll get a real taste of Italian island life.

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But it still caters to tourists

Just because Ischia is an ‘authentic’ Italian island doesn’t mean you won’t get the comforts of home. With plenty of hotel options ranging from luxury to budget, as well as a number of villa and apartment rentals, you’ll have the vacation experience with the comforts you need without breaking the bank.

Castello Aragonese in Ischia Ponte
Aragonese Castle.

It has activities galore

From the Aragonese castle that sits on its very own islet off Ischia (trust us — this is one of the most unique castles you may ever see) to over 100 different thermal springs (we highly recommend the Parco Idrotermale Negombo, home to its own beach and a variety of unique springs rising up a cliff), Ischia has some truly special attractions.

The small fishing village of Sant’ Angelo is also a must-visit, as is the whitewashed town of Forio. Beaches are scattered throughout the island, though many have a darker, volcanic color sand (our favorite is the sprawling Maronti Beach). The smaller, nearby island of Procida is a vibrant, colorful spot for a day trip, too.

If you’re looking for a unique and romantic experience, schedule a day trip with your honey on a Gozzo Fratelli Aprea. These are the classic Sorrentine-style boats first designed in the 1890s, but now remade with modern amenities. This private guided experience operated by West Coast Ischia is fully customizable. Many couples love getting out on the turquoise water for the day and snorkeling. 

Indulge in food and wine

Winetraveler is all about gastronomy while traveling, right? And Ischia has a delectable food and wine scene that’s way more affordable and authentic than its neighbor Capri, or even many locations along the Amalfi coast.

For delicious eats, Ischia’s proximity to Naples means you can find traditional Neopolitan pizza almost anywhere on the island. Of course, being an island, sampling seafood is also a must. But the real winner on Ischia is the Coniglio all’Ischitana, Ischian rabbit stew, complete with olive oil, tomato and rosemary. Don’t forget to sample anything and everything lemon or orange, as there are plenty of citrus fruits grown in the region. If you aren’t sure where to eat and drink, then you must do an authentic private food & wine tour with a local (hotel pick up and drop off included).

Most of Ischia’s wines are cultivated on the mountainous slopes of the island’s interior. Seven different types of wine boast the island’s DOC: Ischia Bianco, Ischia Bianco Spumante, Forastera and Biancolella (whites), and Ischia Rosso, Per’ e Palummo, and Per’ e Palummo Passito (reds). Vineyards like Cenatiempo and Pietratorcia offer tours and tastings, and our favorite wine bar/restaurant on the island is Un Attimo di Vino (though there’s really no bad place to sip!).

Things to do and see in Ischia Italy

In Summary

If you’re ready to head to Europe anytime soon, don’t discount Ischia. The island’s charm is captivating, and who doesn’t love an affordable and authentic trip? Plus, it can easily be combined with all the most popular Italian hotspots like Capri or the Amalfi coast. Buon viaggio!

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