Seven islands in the Tyrrhenian sea in the province in Messina, all of volcanic origin: Alicudi, Filicudi, Panarea, Stromboli, Salina, Lipari and Volcano, the nearest island to Milazzo.
It would be very easy to lump the Aeolian Islands in with the multitude European islands which offer sun, sea, sand, and that certain soulless ubiquity which comes from decades of persistent tourism. However, to do so would be a mistake. The Aeolian Islands are quite unique, and absolutely brimming with lively individuality and ancient cultural quirks which render them as refreshing for the mind as for the body and soul
The Aeolian Islands (italian Isole Eolie) are a volcanic archipelago in the Tyrrhenian Sea north of Sicily. They are a popular tourist destination in the summer, and attract up to 200,000 visitors annually.The largest island is Lipari, and tourism marketing often names the entire archipelago the Lipari Islands because of the ease of pronouncing Lipari compared to Aeolian. The other islands include Vulcano, Salina, Stromboli, Filicudi, Alicudi, Panarea and Basiluzzo. The town of Lipari has about 11,000 inhabitants. Vulcano is famous for its fango (mud) baths.
You can reach the Aeolian Islands (Vulcano, Lipari, Salina, Filicudi, Alicudi, Panarea & Stromboli) by ferry and hydrofoil from various points in Sicily.
As one would expect from any island-grouping with a soul, each island has its own differing characteristics. Lipari, the ‘main’ island, has a town and a reasonable degree of industry - yet maintains a gorgeously wild coastline and an absolutely wonderful coastal footpath. It’s the island for those who like their wildness moderated with the option of a predictable town experience in the evenings. For a more sophisticated time, Panarea is the place to be, and to be seen. The hotels are expensive, but it’s a stunningly beautiful little island, popular with the rich, the famous, and those who would like to be either. Of course, given that the glitterati don’t come to places like this merely to sunbathe and drink in the view, one can expect a certain amount of ostentation. However, if you’re in the right frame of mind (and your wallet can cope with the strain) then Panarea truly is quite an experience. It also has some of the most wonderful beaches and coastal scenery, making it very popular as a cruising and yachting destination. Vulcano, as the name suggests, is blessed with a muttering volcano, as is Stromboli. Stromboli’s black lava beaches, and the opportunity to trek up the volcano gives it an ‘outdoorsy’ vibe – it’s the island for the adventurous. Then there are Filicudi and Alicudi – small, quiet, ancient, and quite incredibly beautiful. If you want to wander through little fishing villages, and enjoy good, local food, these are the islands for you. Not to mention Salina, which provides the full Mediterranean experience. If you want to drink Italian wine on a sun-warmed terrace, gazing out over a green and pleasant land fringed by pebble-beaches, then head for Salina.
Things To Do
All of this naturally leads to an atmosphere which, while differing in its particulars from island to island, is nonetheless universally wonderful. However, quite apart from the amazing scenery, history, culture, and climate, the islands also offer a whole host of more specific attractions to suit every taste. Whether it’s diving on pirate shipwrecks, taking a cycling tour of the islands, enjoying the scenery and history from the comfort of a luxury boat tour, or absorbing the sumptuous delights of geothermal mud baths and springs, there is plenty for everyone. All topped off, of course, by the delectable cuisine of the islands. As you would expect from an area so in tune with the ocean, seafood abounds on the local menu, but there’s plenty to please everyone’s palate. All cooked to perfection, of course – you’ll be hard pressed to find a bad restaurant on the islands!
Hydrofoils (passengers only)
Milazzo is the main departure point for the Aeolian Islands with several hydrofoils leaving daily throughout the year. Crossings take between 45mins to 3 hours depending on which island your are heading for.
NB: all timings must be confirmed as they are subject to change and weather conditions.
Ticket offices are: in the port, by the dock in Palermo/Cefalù and Messina; on the main road opposite the port entrance in Milazzo; in the main "piazza" by the port on the islands
Although this isn’t necessary in low and medium seasons as there are several daily, we recommend booking between July and September. Bookings may be made directly with the companies concerned.
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