Island hopping the Aeolian Islands
Italy has long held a stronghold over my heart. We used to spend every Easter soaking up the Mediterranean sun as we had family in Verona, and ever since I've felt a pull to return as often as I can. So when we were deciding on our summer vacation, Italy and it's surrounding islands was top of the list. We also didn't want to venture to far from the UK and didn't have a huge budget which ruled out the likes of Santorini and Mykonos. In addition, we're a sucker for a more 'off the beaten track' type holiday where we can escape the tourists and immerse ourselves in local culture so the Aeolian Islands seemed like the perfect option as neither of us had been before.
Throughout the course of our trip we stayed at 5 different accommodation's which we had pre-booked in advance. We just used Air B&B and Booking.com to find the accommodation which suited our budgets. To get to each island we booked on the day at each of the ports of occasionally in advance via the Direct Ferries website. A quick note on the ferries - on our last day the ferry was cancelled due to bad weather which meant we lost out on a days accommodation and only just got our flight. Something to be mindful of when you’re booking.
I would say our budget was mid range. As a rule of thumb, we don't mind splashing out on accommodation if we think it's spectacular or if we want a specific amenity (usually swayed by an unbelievable view) but we won't splash out just for a fancy hotel room. Over 16 days we spent around £1000 each inc flights.
We flew into Palermo, which isn’t one of the 7 Aeolian Islands but the capital of Sicily, Italy's and as a matter of fact the Mediterraneans's largest island.
Accommodation - In Palermo we stayed at Casa Bellinio, a more low budget option on arrival. This cost us £85.30 for two nights which works out at £21.25 per person per night. I would recommend this accommodation, it had a rooftop and the amenities were perfectly clean but it was a bit on the basic side so bare this in mind if you're wanting a more glamorous trip.
On our return from the islands, we stayed at Hotel Fernando III for a slightly more luxurious options to end our trip. This cost us £130 for 2 nights which works out at £32.50 per person per night. This hotel was stunning, definitely worth the extra £10 each for the rooftop pool, breakfast and decor.
- Shopping at the street markets
- Aperol spritz in the main square
- Architecture walks
- Tour of the cathedral (and rooftop view of Palermo!)
Vulcano island is the Southernmost island of the seven Aeolian islands. It's named as such due to the ginormous active Volcano in the centre of the tiny island. It was my personal favourite of all the islands due to the dramatic scenery, volcano hikes and tranquillity thanks to the tiny population. It definitely felt the most isolated and rural of all the islands.
Accommodation - On Vulcano island we stayed at Casa Nidra. This cost us £194.84 for 4 nights so £24.35 per night per person.
- Hiking the Volcano at sunset or sunrise (or both!)
- Driving around in our little toy (not really) car
- Sulphur mud bath's in Vulcano's hot spring thermal waters
- Il Cappero at Therasia Resort - ££££
- Trattoria da Pina - ££
- Ficodindia Pane Cunzato e Sapori Eoliani - £
Lipari islands is the largest of the Aeolian Islands in the Tyrrhenian Sea. A bit too big to get around without a car or scooter, so I would recommend hiring one of these in the local town/port or from your accommodation if they provide transport. Alternatively you could get taxi's around but this could prove pretty costly.
Accommodation - On Lipari island we stayed at sunset house which cost us £224.83 for 4 nights. This works out at £28.10 per person per night. I would highly recommend this accommodation, just as the name implies we had a full sunset view every evening. It was around a 1 hour walk to the beach and about a 10 minute walk to the nearest restaurants/shops if you didn’t want to rent any transport it would still be doable to stay here and get around locally on foot.
- Hiking in the mountains
- Watching the sunset from our accommodation with a couple of beers
- Havanna beach
Salina is quite a small island but we still opted to hire a scooter between the two of us so we could explore the island it’s fullest. This worked out at about £30 per day.
Accommodation - On Salina island we stayed at la Balena del Capo which cost us £140.41 for 3 nights. This works out at £23.33 per person per night. I would recommend this accommodation, but you will to hire a scooter as it’s not very close to restaurants or beaches.
- Hiking around Monte Fossa delle Felci and Monte dei Porri
- Touring the Vineyards (we did Carlo Hauner Azienda Agricola)
- Eating lots of freshly caught fish & octopus