10 Secret Islands In Italy That Have All Of The Beauty And None Of The Tourists
Published in Jan 2021 / Updated in Feb 2021
Here are tranquil islands in Italy you probably didn’t know existed, and which you need to visit this year.
Italy is a land of ancient history and marvelous beauty, famous for food, wine, art and fashion.
And for most of us, Italy stops at the main tourist destinations such as the Grand Canal in Venice, the Ponte Vecchio in Florence, the Colosseum in Rome, and the divine Amalfi Coast.
Of course, these destinations offer stunning historic sites, sun-kissed sandy beaches, and Instagrammable towns that attract millions of tourists every year and make millions more daydream about these iconic places.
However, these destinations are almost always overcrowded with tourists.
If you want your next Italy trip to turn out the best, explore deeper into this country, and you’ll discover some of the world’s most tranquil islands that are completely picturesque.
What’s more, these islands have fewer tourists, allowing you to enjoy every bit of your trip to the fullest.
One word of advice, though. If you don’t want to share your slice of paradise with lots of others, avoid traveling during the summer months.
If true solitude is what you’re seeking, don’t visit the country between July and August or any holiday season. Spring and autumn months are the best times to visit.
Lying just an hour ferry ride from Sicily’s western coast, Favignana is the largest and most famous of the three Egadi Islands.
It’s a butterfly-shaped mass of land fringed by a jagged coastline interspersed with sandy beaches and small, secret coves.
Here, you’ll find crystal clear, azure waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea with sailing boats and yachts gliding silently along the rocky coast.
And in terms of simplicity, Favignana fits the bill. It’s one of the least-commercial islands you’ll ever have the pleasure of seeing, and it’s populated mainly by locals.
If you haven’t visited Elba yet, you definitely need to. This lovely small island is destined to become one of the coolest destinations of the decade.
The island is located in the Tuscan archipelago. While it’s not famous like Sicily or Sardinia, which are Italy’s largest islands, it’s magnificent.
It’s lapped by pristine turquoise waters, perfect for swimming.
Additionally, being a spot off the beaten path, Elba offers many advantages.
One of them is the lack of tourists, so you’ll not find hordes of people or lines and crowds like in other Mediterranean islands.
Elba locals mostly frequent the island, and it’s also easy to avoid them to enjoy solitude.
Additionally, if you’re a sports enthusiast, Elba is the ideal location.
Here, you can go hiking, biking, kayaking, and trekking. Lazier tourists can spend their days on the beaches relaxing.
There’s no doubt Panarea is a much more popular destination in Italy, even though it’s small and can’t welcome many tourists.
But there are some hotels available which are open to tourists. The trick is booking and traveling early before the masses.
Panarea offers some of the most stunning views and a great look over Stromboli.
And the island isn’t filled with traffic because cars are not allowed. The only vehicles that’ll transport you are electric golf buggies.
And the fact there’s also no electric street lighting (only Moroccan lanterns) in the streets also adds to the whole scenic experience.
In addition, Panarea is one of those islands that are easily accessible from the sea. Siremar and Ustica lines offer daily services from Milazzo and Messina.
If you’re in either Naples, Cefalú or Palermo, there are ferry connections too.
The charm of tiny, nearly traffic-free Marettimo— the most remote of the Egadi Islands—lies in its simplicity.
Relative inaccessibility and lack of hotels have kept things in this destination mostly rustic.
Visitors and locals in this area spend their time exploring sea caves and grottoes, swimming off the rocky shore, and retreating to shady terraces with a book before feasting on local lobster soup in one of the simple trattorias.
Marettimo is also an ultimate wind-down destination.
However, if you have the energy, walking trails through the scented macchia are worth exploring.
In the middle of the seven Aeolian Islands, sleepy, verdant Salina formed from two extinct volcanoes.
Lying off northern Sicily, Salina has become famous for its sweet Malvasia wine and capers.
You can find small, whitewashed towns and villages along the coastline.
Salina’s main port is located in Santa Marina, where you can hire a boat to explore the sea.
On the island, you can enjoy swimming in crystal clear waters off pebbly beaches, drinking in the magnificent views, and feasting on marvelously fresh fish and seafood.
This small island is Italy’s southernmost point. It’s also the island that’s furthest away from the mainland.
The rocky caves and unspoiled landscapes of Pantelleria will make you feel like you’re not even in Europe, which wouldn’t be too far from the truth.
All this makes Pantelleria a perfect destination for a restful vacation and multiple opportunities to immerse in Italy’s wild nature.
Most people visit Vulcano to climb its active volcano or to bathe in its famous mud baths.
Visitors slather themselves in this therapeutic mud from an open-air pool, then jump in the sea to rinse it all off.
But there’s more you can do in the area.
For instance, you can rent a Mehari and explore the lush, green interior, where goats roam the mountainside.
You can also trek on the winding road down to the black-sand beach at Gelso, where you will find superb waterside restaurants.
Ponza is a bit different from most islands we mentioned above for one simple reason. It attracts a lot of tourists.
Nevertheless, authorities have ensured the destination is still unspoiled.
There is a lot more accommodation on offer in Ponza, but if you’re looking for a private getaway, that might be difficult due to the island’s small size. Also, it sometimes attracts a larger number of tourists.
And as the largest of the Pontine Islands, Ponza boasts an otherworldly feel and is shrouded in ancient myth and legend.
Speaking of hidden gems in Italy, we can’t fail to mention Procida. This is a small hidden island in the Gulf of Naples.
Once you visit this charming island, you’ll feel like you’re in a fairytale. And unlike its more touristy counterparts, it’s one of the islands with an authentic vibe.
The most surprising aspect about Procida is that it’s just 30 minutes away from Naples.
That means this island will not be tourist-free much longer. So, you better hurry up and plan your trip before the masses ruin its authentic vibe.
#10 La Maddalena
In the translucent seas of the La Maddalena, it’s like you’re in another world. It also doesn’t feel like the Mediterranean here. It feels more like a rugged version of the Caribbean.
Suspended between Corsica and Sardinia, La Maddalena has some of Italy’s most spectacular beaches and some of the cleanest and clearest water.
The island attracts lots of visitors from the US, many of whom actually live there. This is because the US Navy have their own submarine tender situated on a nearby island.