Blessed with an abundance of natural beauty that includes sparkling beaches, volcanic mountains, placid lakes, skiing destinations, thermal springs and rocky coves, the beautiful Italian islands have enjoyed adulation for a very long time indeed.

One should, therefore, not be surprised to see a good spread of historical and cultural landmarks too, all of which also give a nod to Italy’s rich heritage. Indeed, the gorgeous islands of Italy are every bit as fascinating as the mainland itself.

Best Italian Islands

  1. Capri

Best-Italian-Islands-CapriPixabay

Location Region: Campania,  Province: Naples Sea: Tyrrhenian Sea (Gulf of Naples)

The picturesque beauty of the famous Italian island of Capri has been celebrated since antiquity. It is not without reason that Greek poet Homer mentions this sun drenched island as home of the sirens in his epic, the Odyssey.

When you approach Capri, it will be clear why he chose it to be so. Yes there are no mythical sirens, but one look at the idyllic island rising from the sapphire blue waters, and you too will be seduced by this magical paradise with its captivating shores, array of roman ruins, spectacular grottos and bougainvillea lined streets.

Main Tourist Attractions in Capri

  • Natural Wonders: Blue Grotto (Grotta Azzura), Faraglioni, Green Grotto
  • Cultural Sites: Villa Jovis, Villa San Michael, Church of St Michael (Chiesa di San Michele), Charterhouse of St Giacomo (La Certosa di San Giacomo)
  • Best Beaches: Marina Grande, Marina Piccola, Bagni di Tiberio, Faro di Punta Carena, Gradola
  • Other Attractions: Piazza Umberto I, Via Camerelle, Gardens of Augustus
  1. Sicily

Best-Italian-Islands-SicilyPixabay

Location Region: Autonomous Sea: Mediterranean Sea

A living ode to bygone civilizations, with the remnants of architectural wonders and rich historical sites representing a cultural heritage interspersed with Phoenician, Greek and Byzantine legacy ‐ it is not difficult to see why Sicily is one of the most popular islands of Italy.

The fabled past of this island combines with the spectacular visual imagery and alluring beaches to weave a rich tapestry, which invites one and all to experience the Sicilian delights.

Main Tourist Attractions in Sicily

  • Natural Wonders: Mount Etna, Riserva Naturale Orientata dello Zingaro, Stromboli Volcano, Scalata al Cratere, Grotte bue Marino
  • Cultural Sites: Valle dei Templi, Villa Romana del Casale, Temple of Concord, Monreale Norman Cathedral, Duomo di Monreale, Centro Storico di Noto, Greek Amphitheatre
  • Best Beaches: Cala Rossa, Spiaggia di Macari, Piscina di Venere, Isola Bella, Spiaggia di San Vito lo Capo
  • Other Attractions: Piazza IX Aprile, Piazza Pretoria
  1. Sardinia

Best-Italian-Islands-SardiniaFlickr/Michele Testini

Location Region: Autonomous Sea: Mediterranean Sea

Sardinia stands like a queen in the Mediterranean, adorned with sparkling emeralds and sapphires  ‐  yes this is exactly how she looks, surrounded by the vivid waters that mimic the rich colour of precious stones.

The long coastline attracts its own share of rich and famous jetsetters, and the line of luxurious yachts anchored in the crystal waters confirms that Sardinia is among the top Italian islands, to see and be seen at.

Of course, this is not its only claim to fame. The island’s historical heritage blends nicely with the diverse landscape to create a brilliant visual, that can’t be forgotten easily. Truly, Sardinia is unique, a trait that it shares with its nuraghe, a one of its kind megalithic structure which is exclusive to the island.

Main Tourist Attractions in Sardinia

  • Natural Wonders: Gola Su Gorropu Gorge, Grotta di Nettuno (Neptune Caves), Maddalena Archipelago, La Maddalena Archipelago National Park
  • Cultural Sites: Su Nuraxi di Barumini, Giant’s Grave, Nora, Tharros, Bastion of Saint Remy, Basilica di Saccargia, Basilica San Gavino, Cagliari Cathedral, Museo del Carbone Museums: Museo del Carbone
  • Best Beaches: Cala Spinosa, Cala Marilou, Cala Goloritz, Capo Testa, Berchida Beach, Cala Spinosa, Chia Beach, Spiaggia di Tuerredda, Spiaggia di Mari Pintau, La Pelosa Beach
  • Other Attractions: Costa Smeralda
  1. Elba

Best-Italian-Islands-ElbaWikimedia/Ferpint

Location Region: Tuscany Sea: Tyrrhenian Sea

The first thought that will strike you on stepping atop this Tuscan island is literally, “and they exiled Napoleon here?” Truly a mind boggling fact, if there ever was one! Indeed, if banishment to Elba is meted out as punishment, anyone would probably like to prolong the tenure, particularly when it concerns a place as visually delightful as this Tuscan island.

Holding the distinction of being the third largest island of the boot shaped country, Elba doesn’t leave any opportunity to show why it is also among the most famous Italian islands. Cradling a dazzling landscape, which is abundant in natural beauty, Elba is home to spectacular historic sites, charming villages, exquisite beaches and Napoleon’s legacy ‐ which is hard to miss, commemorated as it is, in the form of residences, souvenirs and plaques.

Main Tourist Attractions in Elba

  • Cultural Sites: Santuario della Madonna del Monte, Villa Napoleonica di San Martino, Villa Romana delle Grotte, Villa dei Mulini, Museo Nazionale della Residenza Napoleoniche, Parco Minerario dell’Isola d’Elba, Sapere Archeological Museum
  • Best Beaches: Spiaggia di Sansone, Spiaggia e Relitto di Pomonte, Spiaggia di Capo Bianco, Spiaggia di Biodola
  • Other Attractions: La Piccola Miniera
  1. Ischia

Best-Italian-Islands-IschiaFlickr/Julia Maudlin

Location Region: Campani,  Province: Naples Sea: Tyrrhenian Sea (Gulf of Naples)

Ample avenues for sun soaked relaxation and a dip in fabled thermal springs, against a backdrop of wooded hills and vineyards, lend a therapeutic charm to Ischia.

It is but natural that this volcanic island in Italy has played the perfect setting for big Hollywood movies like the Talented Mr Ripley and Cleopatra ‐ and in the case of the latter,  it was also the trysting ground for Liz Taylor and Richard Burton. Ischia has also attracted the likes of Charlie Chaplin and Clark Gable among many other celebrities.

Main Tourist Attractions in Ischia

  • Natural Wonders: Negombo Thermal Gardens
  • Cultural Sites: Castello Aragonese, Villa La Colombaia, Santa Restituta Museum
  • Best Beaches: Maronti Beach, Sorgeto, Bay of Saint Montano, Cartaromana, Fumarole Beach
  • Other Attractions: La Mortella, Giardini Ravino, Terme Poisedon
  1. Procida

Best-Italian-Islands-ProcidaFlickr/Fiore Silvestro Barbato

Location Region: Campania Province: Naples Island Group:  Flegrean  Islands          Sea: Tyrrhenian Sea (Gulf of Naples)

A colourful jewel, owing to an array of multihued buildings that provide an arresting background to the crystal water that surrounds it, the allure of Procida can be attributed to the fact that, though it is not the most known, it definitely is among the prettiest Italian islands.  This is precisely why it sees such an inflow of loyalists who want to be far away from the maddening crowd, enjoying an incognito respite on the island’s beautiful sandy beaches.

Main Tourist Attractions in Procida

  • Natural Wonders: Vivara Nature Reserve
  • Cultural Sites: Abbazia di San Michele Arcangelo, Castello d’Avalos
  • Best Beaches: Spiaggia del Pozzo Vecchio, Chiaiolella, Chiaia
  • Other Attractions: Port of Corricella, Marina di Chiaiolella, Terra Murata
  1. Lampedusa

Best-Italian-Islands-LampedusaFlickr/Sicilia!

Location Region: Sicily Province: Agrigento Island Group:  Pelagie Islands Sea: Mediterranean Sea

One of the southernmost points of Europe, closer to the African mainland than Italy, the charisma of Lampedusa resides in its magnificent sun bleached beaches, beckoning turquoise waters and enthralling rocky coves.

If sunbathing, snorkelling and swimming are the only things that you care about, without feeling guilty about skipping other attractions that come with gorgeous islands, Lampedusa is a strong contender for placating the beach bum in you.

Main Tourist Attractions in Lampedusa

  • Cultural Sites: Santuario di Nostra Signora di Lampedusa, Cala Madonna
  • Best Beaches: Rabbit Beach, Spiaggia Attrezzata di Cala Fiato Perduto, Lampedusa Cala Pulcino, Cala Croce Beach, Cala Calandra
  1. Lipari

Best-Italian-Islands-LipariFlickr/Patrick Nouhailler

Location Region: Sicily Province: Messina Island Group:  Aeolian Islands Sea: Tyrrhenian Sea

The macchia landscape which represents Lipari’s Mediterranean allegiance and rugged cliffs that rise high above the gorgeous blue waters, together with the sense of calm and leisure that this beautiful Italian island exudes, go a long way in attracting the interest of those who are not bound by rigid itineraries.

Lipari is the place to sit back and enjoy a glass of fine Malvasia wine on the Marina Corta, while appreciating the idyllic ambience over a romantic interlude.

Main Tourist Attractions in Lipari

  • Cultural Sites: Chiesa Vecchia di Quattropani, Museo Archeologico Regionale Eoliano, Bartholomew Cathedral
  • Best Beaches: Coral Beach, Havana Beach, Spiaggia Bianca, Spiaggia della Papesca, Spiaggia Valle i Muria,
  • Other Attractions: Via Vittorio Emanuele
  1. Pantelleria

Best-Italian-Islands-PantelleriaFlickr/Gino Roncaglia

Location Region: Sicily Province: Trapani Sea: Strait of Sicily

Pantelleria enchants a person with its untamed and rugged beauty as well as the unique architectural style of the dammusi ‐ domed‐roof houses made with lava stones ‐ that lend more character to the already spellbinding landscape with its many low lying vineyards.

An interesting feature of the island is also the absence of sandy beaches, which can be attributed to the rocky shores and shingled coastline. However, this is more than made up for by its exquisite lake shores and thermal pools; in fact one could literally say that Pantelleria is a natural sauna.

Admiring the island over the myriad colours of the sunset, while sipping on the locally made Passito or Moscato wine, local variants, is truly an experience to speak of. After all, there has to be a reason why Giorgio Armani fell in love with this cute Italian island and has a house here.

Main Tourist Attractions in Pantelleria

  • Natural Wonders: Stufa del Bagno di Arturo, Lo Specchio di Venere, Bagno dell’Aqua, Bagno Asciutto, Thermal Pools in Gadir
  • Historical & Religious Sites: Sesi at Murisia
  • Other Attractions: Piano Ghiraldia (Vineyards)
  1. Panarea

Best-Italian-Islands-PanareaFlickr/Ghost-in-the-Shell

Location Region: Sicily Province: Messina Island Group:  Aeolian Islands Sea: Tyrrhenian Sea

The playground of the crème de la crème, celebrities, royalty and Hollywood stars, Panarea is one of the chicest Italian islands. It is the closest you can come to for getting a feel of your own private island, for rubbing shoulders with the glitterati or to simply luxuriate at your own pace.

The island is almost pristine in its beauty. There are no cars here, you have to depend on your feet or motorbikes, which make it that much more exciting to explore. As the night comes, one can be excused for feeling as if they have been transported to a star spangled magical world, with the absence of street lights lending an added aura of enchantment. Well, as melodramatic a sentence as that may sound, it is the absolute truth.

Secluded beaches, lazy swims, a romantic ambience ‐ it is quite understandable why Panarea is such a darling with those who have seen it all.

Main Tourist Attractions in Panarea

  • Historical & Religious Sites: Bronze age Village, Villagio Preistorico
  • Best Beaches: Cala Junco, Spiaggia Fumarola, Spiaggeta Zimmari
  • Other Attractions: Nearby Islets of Dattilo, Lisca Bianca, Lisca Nera

 

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