If you are currently on the hunt for the best Italian islands to visit, you have come to the right place! It is no secret that the Italian islands are some of the most beautiful places on the planet, so the choice is more difficult because you have to decide which ones you want to visit. If you have time to visit all of the islands listed here, then we hope you invite us along on the trip!
From big and famous to small and remote, the islands of Italy have something to offer everyone. If you are looking for culture and history, there is an island for you. If you would prefer to get off-the-beaten-path, there are plenty of options for you as well. The islands of Italy are centrally located to many European countries, making them relatively easy to get to from both Eastern and Western Europe. With just a short flight or ferry ride, you will be transported to the island paradise of your choice where you can let the relaxing begin!
Below you will find the best Italian islands that you really shouldn’t miss! The only part left is choosing which one you want to visit!
17 Of The Prettiest Italian Islands You Must Visit
Asinara Island Is One Of The Most Unique Islands In Italy
Asinara Island is easily one of the most unique islands in Italy. Located off the north coast of Sardinia, it can be reached via a short ferry ride from either Stintino or Porto Torres. In the 19th century, this Italian island was used as a leper colony and it was then turned into a prison colony. It eventually became a high-security prison where Mafia bosses were held and where famous judges spent their time to prepare for the trials. The prison was eventually closed in the 1990s, following strong protests of the people living in northern Sardinia who complained that, due to the presence of Mafia bosses in the prison, their family had moved nearby and this increased the crime rate.
In 1997, Asinara became a National Park. Nobody lives there except for the Rangers. The Italian island can be visited on day trips from Porto Torres or Stintino, and it’s possible to stay overnight in the only hostel available, in Cala d’Oliva village. It’s a completely pristine island, packed with stunning beaches that, thanks to the fact that cars aren’t allowed and nobody lives there, remain uncrowded. There are many hiking and biking trails, making it perfect for nature and adventure lovers. Overall, this unique Italian island is a great place to have a break from the stress of city life.
Sicily Is The Largest Of The Italian Islands
Sicily, the largest of the Italian Islands, may be synonymous with the Cosa Nostra and beautiful beaches but it is much more than this. Visitors should hire a car and tour the Island, exploring the quieter south side with its sleepier beaches and wonderful UNESCO World Heritage Site Towns. There is the old town Ragusa Ibla. A baroque delight with an impressive Duomo, fans of the world-famous Italian crime drama Inspector Montalbano will no doubt recognize some locations End the day in the Giardino Ibleo with a Granita, the regions traditional drink of crushed ice and fresh fruit.
Don’t miss the nearby Italian island of Ortygia in Syracuse. With yet more jaw-dropping architecture and wonderful views of the lagoon. Nearby Noto and Modica are equally spectacular. Hikers should not miss the undisturbed Madonie National Park. Less than half an hour from the popular coastal town of Cefalu, escape from the crowds and get back to nature. Visit in early spring or autumn to enjoy warm weather and a more peaceful atmosphere. The summer months in Sicily are stiflingly hot, extremely busy and a haven for the dreaded mosquito. If this is one of the islands of Italy you want to visit during the summer, make sure you stay prepared!
Stromboli Is Home To An Erupting Volcano
Stromboli isn’t just a delicious type of stuffed Italian-American pizza. It’s also an island off of the north coast of Sicily and home to one of Italy’s three active volcanoes. One of the eight Aeolian Islands, Stromboli is known for its’ active volcano. One of the most active volcanoes on Earth, it’s been in constant eruption since 1932 and active for nearly 2000 years. The volcano can be seen at night spewing its fiery lava into the air, earning it the nickname of the “Lighthouse of the Mediterranean. Adventure lovers can get up close and personal with a trek up Stromboli to sit on the rim and watch the fireworks of lava. It’s one of the most spectacular natural shows on earth and well worth the legs-to-jello inducing trek up. If you have always wanted to visit an active volcano, this Island in Italy is perfect!
Procida Is Just 4 Square Kilometers
Procida is the smallest Italian island in the Bay of Naples, and although it’s only a 40-minute hydrofoil ride from Naples, it receives nowhere near as many foreign visitors as the popular neighboring islands of Capri and Ischia. The tiny island is only 4 square kilometers, so it’s easy to walk everywhere through the winding narrow lanes past lemon groves and hidden gardens. Procida’s highlights include its black sand beaches and colorful fishing villages. Marina Corricella is one of the most beautiful spots—a tangle of houses painted in pink, yellow, blue and green are built into the rock leading to the sea.
The 17th-century settlement is traffic-free and can only be reached by stairs in passageways through the houses. You can enjoy a meal with a view in one of the patio restaurant along the waterfront next to piles of fishing nets and bobbing boats. The Terra Murata is the oldest village and highest point on the island. Its fortress walls were built as protection from invaders in the 15th century. The views down to Marina Corricella and from the terrace of the quirky, crumbling church Abbazia di San Michele are the best on the island. This is one of the smallest Italian islands on the list but worth the visit!
The Termiti Islands Are An Archapeligo Off Mainland Italy
The Termiti Islands is a beautiful archipelago of three islands, 36km offshore from mainland Italy. It is a picturesque composition of rugged cliffs, sandy coves and thick pine woods, surrounded by the glittering dark-blue sea. These Italian islands will take your breath away and you are in for a real treat. The islands’ main facilities are on San Domino, the largest and lushest Italian island formerly used to grow crops. It’s ringed by alternating sandy beaches and limestone cliffs. The island of San Nicola is the cultural and historical center of the three islands and bears the traces of a history often confused with legend.
You can start your trip from Acquedotto, a rocky beach, and then head to the Punta del Cimitero on the northern tip of the island to admire its steep cliffs, typical of the raw Mediterranean landscape. On the eastern part of the island, you can explore the cave Grotta del Ferraio with its mystical vibes and La Muratta, an ancient promontory hanging from the cliffs, reminiscent of the times when the island was isolated enough to attract pirates. For the last leg of your trip you can visit Isola Caprera on the north of San Domino. The island is uninhabited most of the year, but it is home to a gorgeous lighthouse and a small remote beach to explore with your boat, Cala dei Turchi. If you are looking to hit three of the prettiest islands of Italy in one place, the Termiti Islands are the perfect place for you to visit!
Sant’erasmo Is A Foodie Paradise
The small Venetian island of Sant’erasmo was known for centuries as the Garden of the Doges, and that’s literally what it was – the agricultural hub that grew the foods and wine grapes which fed the aristocracy and the Ruler of Venice. Sant’erasmo is a 10-minute boat ride and a world away from bustling Venice, though few visitors take the time to explore the quiet, idyllic bounty this small island in Italy provides.
Besides killer views of the surrounding lagoon, foodies and eco-travelers will love exploring the island by bike, riding along fields of violet artichokes, fresh honey farms, and prosecco vineyards as far as you can see. For the best experience, take a local food tour to meet the producers and even have an impromptu vineyard wine-tasting. And be sure to stop at Orto di Venezia, the only winery in Venice, to taste their crisp white organic wines grown from Malvasia and Vermentino grapes, overlooking the most scenic view of the lagoon. If you love food and wine, this is one of the prettiest Italian islands that will not disappoint!
Capri Is One Of The Most Famous Islands In Italy
Located in the Bay of Naples, the beautiful Italian island of Capri lies just 40 minutes by hydrofoil from Naples and 25 minutes from Sorrento. Famed for its rugged landscapes, boutique shopping and glamorous celebrity visitors, Capri is not just the perfect day trip option, but a great island vacation destination in its own right. Even the Roman Emperor Tiberius, back in his days of 27 – 37 AD, is quoted to have lived in and governed his empire from Capri and it’s easy to see why it has remained a popular holiday spot.
Mighty cliffs tower over the inviting turquoise warm waters perfect for a quick dip and luxurious boutiques in Capri Town lure you in with their fine linens and handmade ceramics colorfully decorated in summery lemons and royal blues. Explore the quieter town of Anacapri, visit the Villa San Michele and its picturesque gardens or take a thrilling ride on the single seat chairlift which ascends up the side of Mount Solaro. Offshore, hop on a private boat and ride around the island, leap off the back of the boat and swim to a hidden pebbled cove and discover the famous Blue Grotto, know for its deep sapphire colored water.
Isola San Giulio Is A Magical Inland Italian Island
In the Piedmont region, not far from Milan, lies the mysterious, magical island Isola San Giulio, in the middle of Lake Orta. A tiny Italian island, only 275 meters long and 140 meters wide, it is dominated by the Romanesque Basilica San Giulio. The church is dedicated to a missionary sent by the Catholic Church in Rome to build 100 churches in the north of Italy. Legend has it that the island was overrun by snakes and monsters who disappeared when San Giulio arrived. These days, the island is home to a community of Benedictine nuns.
Visitors to this magical island in Italy are encouraged to take the walk the “Way of Silence and Meditation” around the island toward the basilica. It is an easy walk with picturesque views of the lake and the Italian island’s historic buildings – some of which are over 1,000 years old. Make sure to enter the basilica that is filled with beautiful frescoes and paintings. It is a short boat ride to and from the island from Orta San Giulio, a pretty town on the banks of Lake Orta. As you make the return ferry ride back to the lake shore you will keep glancing back at the bell tower on this island of Italy wondering when you will return.
The Borromean Islands Are All Located On Italian Lakes
Since we are already talking about beautiful Northern Italian islands, why not include a few more so you can visit them all in one trip? When most think of the Italian Lakes District north of Milan, Lake Como typically comes to mind. But just as lovely and a little less touristed is nearby Lake Maggiore and its beautiful Borromean Islands: Isola Bella, Isola Madre, and Isola del Pescatori. They make a scenic and enchanting day trip from Stresa by ferry.
Isola Bella is the most famous of the three with its art-filled Baroque palace and white peacocks strutting in the famous Italianate garden. After touring the villa and underground grotto, a one way tour guides the visitor past manicured formal hedges, abundant climbing roses, and ultimately to the memorable Teatro Massimo sculpture, a structure built of a series of stone terraces and adorned with grottos, a unicorn and two obelisks. With more time, head next to Isola Madre for another tour of a gorgeous villa and exotic garden. Isola Pescatori (Superiore) is a tiny fishing village but makes a great spot for a delicious lakeside lunch. Tourists that want to skip the crowds often overnight on one of the three islands in Italy to enjoy serene evenings with locals only.
Murano Is Famous For Hand Blown Glass
Just a short vaporetto ride away, the island of Murano in the Venetian Lagoon makes for a wonderful full or part day trip from Venice. You can do the trip to Murano on its own, or combine it with tours of the neighboring Italian islands of Burano and Torcello [also discussed in this article!] You’ve probably heard of Murano before, in the context of glass. Murano’s hand-blown glass is famous the world over for its delicate beauty. Murano’s fame as the glass-blowing capital of the world came about somewhat fortuitously: the Doge of Venice decided that it was too dangerous to have the glass furnaces continue to operate in Venice because of its mainly wooden buildings. So the furnaces were moved to Murano, where the industry flourished in subsequent years.
When you visit the little Italian island of Murano, try to attend a glass-blowing demonstration at a local factory. It is awe-inspiring to see a craftsman or team of craftsmen expertly shape the molten glass into a beautiful object in a matter of minutes. Also, browse the glass showrooms for a pretty souvenir to take home. And make sure you see the huge Comet Glass Star sculpture at the Campo San Stefano. While glass is definitely everywhere in Murano, take the time to see the Duomo of Murano. The floor of the church features stunning Byzantine mosaics. You can get to Murano on a vaporetto or water taxi, or do a guided tour. However you choose to visit, you will love your time on the Isola di Murano!
Ischia Is Famous For Its Thermal Waters
One of the best islands to visit in Italy is Ischia, especially if you love relaxing! Ischia is located 30 km away from Naples and it’s very easy to reach by ferry in just 45 to 50 minutes. Ischia is a volcanic island and is famous for its thermal waters. There are plenty of thermal water parks and hotels that have swimming pools and spas with thermal water. Ischia is not as expensive and exclusive as neighboring Capri, however, it has some amazing restaurants and even local dishes that are native to the island, e.g. the rabbit stew in a clay pot. Ischia also has its own wines (mostly white).
Just as in Capri, you can hire your own private yacht or a boat and relax in privacy. Even though Ischia is not a big island and its population is only about 60,000 people, there are plenty of landmarks and things to do in Ischia such as the Castello Aragonese (the view from the top of the castle is absolutely stunning), La Mortella Botanical Garden (that also has a wonderful viewpoint from the top of the garden) and the little towns of Ischia such as St. Angelo d’Ischia. Ischia also has a pretty tall mountain – Mount Epomeo (almost 790 m) and you can choose from a wide variety of different hikes and routes to get on top of it and see the ultimate best panorama of the island. Ischia is a unique and relaxing Island in Italy that you are going to love!
The Aeolian Islands Are A True Italian Paradise
Greek myths may have associated them with winds, but the Aeolian Islands are soaked in the sunshine in the summer and dotted in bright blue waters all year round. It’s hard to believe that these Italian Islands are all here thanks to a volcano, except when you watch Stromboli in the distance giving off a bright red trickle of lava you realize that the land is active and alive. The other Italian islands are Vulcano, Lipari, Salina, Panarea, Filicudi and Alicud – each a little piece of heaven.
The most popular route for a visit to these wonderful little islands of Italy is to fly to Sicily, which a lot of budget airlines fly to within Europe, plus there are regular flights from Rome. Then, join a cruise which will hop between the islands and give you a real flavor of each in just a day or two. You’ll land at a sunkissed port and have the chance to either swim, sunbathe or walk through quiet streets with pretty cafes. If it’s an idyllic slice of the Mediterranean, where time stands still, streets are windy and the welcome warm – you’ve found it in these pretty Islands in Italy!
Lido Is The Perfect Italian Island To Escape The Hustle And Bustle Of Venice
Venice is easily the most well-known chain of islands in Italy and while it is an amazing place to see, it is also incredibly crowded. If you need to unwind and take a break, and after two days in Venice you surely have to do so, then plan a trip to Lido. Lido is an 11-kilometer long sandbar in Venice – and while there might be prettier islands in Italy, the proximity to Venice mainland makes this a beautiful island to visit.
The island has some attractions, like the Malamocco Lagoon, the Parrocchia Santa Maria Elisabetta Church (and in September the Venice Fim Festival takes place here) but most of all you can enjoy some time at the beach. How to get there? Nothing easier than this. Just hop on a water taxi (vaporetto) which costs around 7,50€ for a one-way trip and takes about 20 minutes, and enjoy some time at the beach. The wide and sandy beaches in Lido are probably the best place after the hectic and business you will experience in Venice. This little slice near Venice is one of the best Italian islands for escaping the big city for a short break!
Mount Isola Is Surrounded By The Italian Alps
Lago d’Iseo is referred to as “The Pearl of Italy’s Lake district ” and is a magical Italian island in the mountains! This beautiful island is surrounded by the Italian Alps, delicious food, beautiful scenery, and wonderful people. Making this area of Italy a perfect place to live and visit. It is the fourth largest lake in Italy. The largest lake island in all of Europe is in the middle of the Lago d’Iseo, Mount Isola. Mount Isola can only be reached by boats and ferries. However, for 16 days in 2016 visitors were able to walk there! Yes, the artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude developed the Floating Piers that connected Sulzano and Peschiera Maraglio, a village on Mount Isola. Locals and tourist from all over came to experience what it felt like to walk on water.
Peschiera Maraglio is an old fishing village where many fishing nets are made that are used for catching little sardines, the gourmet meal of Lago d’Iseo. Mount Isola even has its own castle that was built sometime in the 14th century, Rocca Oldofredi. The fortress castle like many was abandoned but in the 1960’s it was restored however is still private property. Madonna Della Ceriola Sanctuary and the Church of S. Michele are also worth exploring while on the beautiful Mount Isola. If you are looking for unique and lesser-known islands in Italy, this will be the perfect place for you!
Burano Is Home To Cute Colorful Buildings
The Italian island of Burano is located in the Venetian Lagoon and is most well known for its beautifully colored buildings. Today the colors make the perfect Instagram backdrop and they are a popular subject for artists. The colors are an important part of the traditional lifestyle on the island. Before a house is repainted, an application must be made to the local government authorities who will decide what color the house will be through a system that has been in place for centuries.
Burano is also known for its traditional lace-making trades and delicious seafood caught in the surrounding lagoon served up in little pavement cafes dotted throughout the small town. Burano is less than an hour from Venice by ferry, and most visitors come here on a day trip, often combined with a visit to the nearby glass-making island of Murano which was mentioned above. Consider staying on the island for at least one night though, as the island is magical as the light changes when the sun goes down. One of the more famous Italian islands, Murano is a wonderful place to pick up a memorable souvenir.
Ortigia Is A Remote Yet Wonderful Island In Italy
Ortigia is the historic core of the ancient Greek city of Syracuse or Siracusa. It’s a tiny Italian island just off the shore of the modern Sicilian city, yet a world away in feel. The modern city has some of the best Greek ruins in Italy, but Ortigia (sometimes spelled Ortygia) is so much more seductive. The is one of the smaller Italian islands and is barely 1 km long by 500 meters wide, and much of it is closed to traffic.
Much of this island in Italy is a warren of lanes and alleyways lined with crumbling Baroque mansions and filled with beautiful backstreet trattorie. The two seafront walks either side of the island look out over the turquoise Tyrrhenian Sea. The jewel of Ortigia is the Piazza del Duomo, the Cathedral Square. It’s one of the most beautiful squares in Europe, dominated by the Baroque front of the Duomo. One side of the square is lined with cafes, a wonderful place to stop by for a caffè or gelato in the evening, for a tiny fraction of the cost in Venice or Rome. If you love getting away from the crowds and saving money, Ortigia is one of the best Italian islands to visit!
Torcello Is The Least Visited Island In The Venetian Lagoon
Unlike the heavy footfall that hits Venice, Murano and Burano on a daily basis, Torcello is in comparison the poor relation, with many visitors opting not to visit. For those that do decide to disembark and explore the tiny island, you will get a glimpse of what was once home to the first successful settlement in the Venetian lagoon. Today, the Italian island’s unique charm still draws people in and if you wish to get away from the hordes of tourists visiting its extremely popular sister island, you will fall in love with this tranquil, almost sleepy archipelago.
Head towards the main piazza of this cute Italian island where you can stand looking up in awe at the ancient cathedral which is crumbling in places but is still a magnificent example of Byzantium building success before wandering into the Church of Santa Maria Assunta which contains some of the earliest mosaics of the area. Amongst its most famous visitors was Ernest Hemingway who fell in love with the peaceful islet during his 1948 visit. In fact, the author loved it so much he actually spent an entire month there at Locanda Cipriani gaining inspiration for his novel Across the River and Into the Trees. If you loved Venice but are tired of the crowds, this is one of the best islands in Italy for you!
Map Of The Best Italian Islands
If you are looking for a map of the best Italian islands, you can simply download it below! Our Italian islands map has the Google Map locations of each and every island included in this article so you can easily find it during your trip. Some people are more visual so this map islands in Italy will help you see where they are all located around the country so you can better plan your trip. Better still, it can help you see which islands are close together in case you are able to stop at more than one during your visit to Italy! We hope you love the Italian islands as much as we did!
Each and every one of these Italian islands has something special to offer! From an island surrounded by the alps to a sandy shoal near Venice, there is something for everyone. Let us know which one of these Italian islands are your favorites in the comments. If we left something off of this list, let us know what it is and maybe we will visit on our next trip!
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