Rising out of the cobalt-blue seas off Sicily's northeastern coast, the Unesco-protected Aeolian Islands (Vulcano, Lipari, Salina, Panarea, Stromboli, Filicudi and Alicudi) are a little piece of paradise, a magical outdoor playground offering thrills and spills at every turn. Stunning waters provide sport for swimmers, sailors and divers, while trekkers can climb hissing volcanoes and gourmets can sip honey-sweet Malvasia wine.
The obvious base is Lipari, the largest and liveliest of the seven islands, but it's by no means the only option. Salina boasts excellent accommodation and good transport links, while Stromboli and Vulcano entertain nature lovers with awe-inspiring volcanic shenanigans and black-sand beaches. Ultra-chic Panarea offers luxurious living at lower prices in low season, while Filicudi and Alicudi have an end-of-the-line appeal that's irresistible for fans of off-the-beaten-track adventure.
- Lipari Digging through five millennia of island history at the archaeological museum.
- Salina Savouring local wine and capers in the tranquil vineyard-clad interior of the Aeolians' lushest island.
- Stromboli Watching the volcano erupt at sunset, then relishing the magic of the return hike, with the moonlit Tyrrhenian glowing far below your feet.
- Panarea Lounging poolside on a sunny whitewashed terrace on the island, or exploring its constellation of five offshore islets on a day trip.
- Filicudi Diving in search of sunken Greek and Roman ships off Capo Graziano.
- Vulcano Holding your nose and covering your body with sulphurous ooze in the island's other-worldly mud baths.
- Alicudi Escaping to this isolated outpost, where fishermen still run the show and donkeys sometimes seem to outnumber tourists.
When to Go
Mar–Apr Marzipan lambs in pastry shop windows and processions in the streets mark Easter in Lipari.
May Perfect hiking conditions on Aeolian trails, with sunny, breezy days and exuberant wildflowers.
Sep Beautiful late summer weather for swimming and diving, with still-warm seas and smaller crowds.