Aeolian Islands, Sicily: A Complete Guide to Italy’s Island Paradise



Just north of Sicily in the Tyrrhenian Sea, the Aeolian Islands are a unique Italian paradise.

The seven islands that make up this area were formed from volcanic origins – creating uniquely beautiful landscapes. With black-sand beaches, volcanic craters, and a lush Mediterranean coastline, these islands near Sicily in Southern Italy are truly amazing destinations.

Each island is completely unique, offering different experiences wherever you go. Here’s our complete guide to the UNESCO-protected Aeolian Islands, Italy, to help you have an unforgettable trip.

How to Get to the Aeolian Islands?

Ferry Calypso, Italy, people departing the boat onto the pier

These islands off the coast of Sicily can be reached by fast hydrofoil boats. The most popular way is to take the boat from Milazzo in Taormina. There are 10 boats daily, with the journey to Salina taking only 1.5 hours.

Boats also depart from Messina (3 boats daily), with the journey taking 2.5 hours. During the summer months, there are ferries to the Aeolian Islands from Palermo (3.5-hours), and Naples (5.5 hours).

Once you reach the islands, there are various options for getting around and between them. We explored the islands with a hired boat, which was a fast and fun way to do it! You could also take a ferry between the islands.

Click here to book a guided day tour to journey between the Aeolian Islands.

How Long to Stay on the Aeolian Islands

Aeolian Islands, Italy, three daughters looking out towards the islands laying down on the front of the boat

Many people choose to experience the islands through a day tour. This is a great way to easily see the different islands and towns available. However, with so much to explore on these islands, we would have to recommend spending some time here.

In order to really see all that is on offer, we recommend spending at least 3 nights. This gives you enough time to do some exploring, and soak up the different island atmospheres. There are also plenty of great Italian places to stay on the islands.

5 Aeolian Islands to See

With seven islands and many uninhabited islets, there is so much to see and do. Choosing which islands to visit can be tricky, as they are each so unique. Here is our guide to the different islands.

1) Vulcano

Aeolian Islands Sicily, Italy, drone view from the top, some sailing boats in the water

Possibly the most unique Aeolian island, Vulcano is famous for its one-of-a-kind landscape. There is a constantly smoldering volcano, warm mud baths, and bubbling fumaroles in the sea – which you can swim over.

Mud Baths on Vulcano Island, Italy, mud pool surrounded by rocky grey land

People visit this island to hike up the active volcano and enjoy the interesting natural landmarks.

The small town on Vulcano is not quite as charming as other islands, but it still makes for an interesting stop. Be aware that there is a strong sulfur smell around the island – it is a really unpleasant smell and if you choose to have a mud bath you will probably smell a bit rotten for a few days (so take along some old bathers). 

2) Salina Island

Salina-Aeolian-Islands, Italy, green and rocky view, yellow flowers, white buildings and some tourists

If you are after a quieter island to base your stay on, then Salina is your best option. This is the greenest of all the islands – mostly thanks to the many vineyards growing around here. This is where we stayed for our trip.

Santa Marina Salina is the main port on the island. There is a charming main street here, full of quaint shops and places to eat. There are two interesting museums on the island for those wanting to learn about the history of the place. Be sure to taste the local wines while you enjoy the peace and quiet of this beautiful island.

Salina has a popular stony beach (Malfa Beach) where you can go and sunbake and swim. Be aware though that the stones here are MASSIVE and really tricky to maneuver with little kids.

Malfa Beach Salina Island, Italy, rocky beach, father and three daughters siding down on the rocks

The locals take a blow-up camping mattress to this beach to use as their sunlounger! There is also a great little restaurant where you can buy some drinks and coffee.

If you have little kids, you will most likely prefer the interesting great black sand beach (Spiaggia di Rinella).

Spiaggia di Rinella Salina Island

I must admit I had a bit of a giggle at the kids who were covered in a layer of blackness from the sand – so be ready for a shower before entering your hotel or Airbnb.

3) Lipari Island

Lipari Island, Italy, few motor boats in the harbour, church and other buildings on the shore

If you are traveling with kids, then Lipari would be our recommended base. This is the largest of the islands with the busiest and most well-developed town.

The coastline around Lipari is rocky and unspoiled – offering a wonderful natural escape. This is best experienced through the coastal walking path between Terme di San Calogero and Bagnosecco.

There is a great beach found at Valle Muria and the beautiful White Beach is worth a few hours as well. Take some money with you for White Beach so you can rent some sun loungers and grab some cocktails. The water is spectacular here due to the white sand at the bottom of the ocean.

White Beach Lipari Island, Italy, straw and blue umbrellas lining the beach, sun loungers, beach

Lipari’s main attractions include the acropolis, the pretty Marina Corta harbor, and some lovely flower-hung alleys.

4) Panarea Island

View of the island of Panarea, Aeolian Islands, Italy, white buildings, rocky beach, mountains in the background

Panarea is the smallest, and possibly the most beautiful of the islands. There are golden beaches, unique rock formations, a historic Roman port, and lavish hotels. During summer months, Panarea Italy is a popular destination for wealthy tourists. Expensive yachts can be found around the bays, while the fashionable bars, hotels, and Panarea restaurants fill up.

Boating Around Panarea Island Sicily, Italy, drone view of the rocky island, small white sailing and motor boats below

When visiting Panarea, exploring the stunning coastline of the island is a must. This can be enjoyed through a number of walking routes, or by taking a scenic boat tour around the island.

5) Stromboli

Stromboli Island, Italy, small white boat with blue roof in the water, big volcano island in background

Stromboli is famous for its spectacular active volcano. Visitors come to Stromboli mainly to summit this impressive volcano, or admire it from below. Reaching the top during sunset is a special experience.

Besides the volcano, there are some black sand beaches around the island offering amazing views out to sea. The main port town of Stromboli is a charming place with some lovely winding streets, cafes, and a beautiful old church.

Check out this beautiful guided tour of the island

Tip: The Volcano is not always displaying ‘fireworks’ for your viewing pleasure. On our visit it was blowing out some puffs of smoke. So best to ask what the Volcano sights are like before booking a trip at night or you might be dissapointed.

Where to Stay in the Aeolian Islands

We recommend choosing a base island where you can explore the others from. Here are our top 3 island picks, each with its own unique appeal.


Lipari is the most well-developed island and our top choice for anyone traveling with kids. Take a look at these beautiful places to stay on Lipari.

Hotel Residence La Villetta


This panoramic hotel offers unsurpassable views over Canneto Bay. Guests can enjoy well-equipped apartments, an inviting pool, and a free shuttle service down into the harbor.

Where to stay in Aeolian Islands Hotel Residence La Villetta, Italy,

Why should you stay here?
  • Well equipped apartment rooms
  • Great pool area
  • A free shuttle service is offered

Check out the current prices for La Villetta here!

Hotel Tritone


A luxurious hotel centrally located in the Lipari town. Besides the amazing views that you can enjoy from the quiet balconies, the hotel has a large pool, spa, and restaurant.

Hotel Tritone - Best Accommodation in Lipari, Italy, statue in the middle of the large pool, hotel in background

Why should you stay here?
  • Has a great spa
  • Excellent swimming pool
  • An elegant hotel

Check out the current prices for Hotel Tritone here!

Hotel Rocco Azzure


If you are after sea view accommodation, then it doesn’t get any better than this hotel. Built on the seaside cliffs, your room is only steps away from the water.

Hotel Rocco Azzure -  Best hotels in Lipari, Italy, building at the rocky coastline, boats

Why should you stay here?
  • Unbeatable seaside location
  • Amazing sea view balconies
  • Great spa and jacuzzi

Check out the current prices for Hotel Rocco Azzure here!


Salina, the beautiful green island, is the best place to stay for those after a quieter island. Check out these great accommodation options on Salina.

Hotel Signum


Housed in a beautiful old building, Signum Hotel is one of the most charming places to stay on the island. Enjoy the Sicilian restaurant, spa, and infinity pool overlooking the ocean.

Hotel Signum - Hotels in Salina, Italy, villa with large pool in front

Why should you stay here?
  • Set in a lovely old building
  • Has a great spa
  • An elegant hotel

Check out the current prices for Hotel Signum here!

Hotel Punta Scario


A clifftop hotel offering some of the most spectacular views over Salina Italy. The panoramic terrace really makes staying here special.

Hotel Punta Scario - top hotels in Salina, white hotel, patios, green bushes  with pink flowers

Why should you stay here?
  • Amazing views
  • Clean and comfortable
  • Has beautiful balconies and garden spaces

Check out the current prices for Hotel Punta Scario here!

Hotel Ravesi


A short walk away from Malfa’s central piazza and beach, Hotel Ravesi is the perfect Salina Italy hotel. Guests can enjoy the infinity pool with a view, and the peaceful garden surrounds.

Hotel Ravesi - where to stay in Salina, Italy, outdoor patio with view to the coastline

Why should you stay here?
  • Fantastic infinity pool
  • Panoramic views
  • The food is great

Check out the current prices for Hotel Ravesi here!


Looking for a unique experience? Consider staying on Vulcano for its one-of-a-kind landscapes. Here are some top accommodation options on the island.

Les Sables Noirs & Spa


Visitors looking for a truly special experience will love this hotel. This is an upmarket and elegant place to stay, right on the beach at Ponente Bay. Guests can enjoy the excellent spa, swimming pool, and really well-appointed rooms.

Les Sables Noirs & Spa -  Where to stay in Vulcano, Italy, outdoor sitting set and cocktails on the table, sunset and boats in the bay, rocky coastline in background

Why should you stay here?
  • Quality facilities
  • A beautiful seaside location
  • A hotel with a view

Check out the current prices for Les Sables Noirs & Spa here!

Rojas Bahja


A lovely little hotel right opposite the Baia Levante beach. Enjoy brilliant views from your room, and easy access to the popular mud baths.

Rojas Bahja - best hotels in Vulcano, Italy, vie of the villa and gardens

Why should you stay here?
  • Right opposite the beach
  • Rooms have sea or volcano views
  • The hotel offers a free shuttle service

Check out the current prices for the Rojas Bahja here!

Casa Arcada

A comfortable B&B

This cute little B&B is within easy reach of the Acque Calde beach and port. Guests can enjoy the garden, patio, and panoramic sun terrace.

Casa Arcada - Best Accommodation on Vulcano Italy, view of the villa from the patio area

Why should you stay here?
  • Centrally positioned
  • Value for money
  • Friendly hospitality

Check out the current prices for Casa Arcada here!

Final Thoughts on the Aeolian Islands, Italy

These Sicily islands offer visitors a look into some of the most unique and exciting landscapes in Italy. Visiting the Aeolian Islands is a fantastic experience, as each island offers something so different.

Whether you visit for the volcanoes, dramatic beaches, hikes, beautiful little port towns, or chic island living – the Aeolians are a special destination. This is a place with its own vibrant atmosphere and culture that just can’t be experienced anywhere else.

Photo of author

Jolene Ejmont

Originally from South Africa, now living in Australia, Jolene is a wife and a mother to three beautiful daughters. Together with her family, she is embarking on a journey towards changing her current stress-filled life to one focusing on her dreams and her passion for travel. She wants to share her stories in the hope to inspire you to chase your own dreams!