From active volcanoes to pristine beaches, the Aeolian Islands have something to offer everyone.
The Aeolian Islands are a volcanic archipelago located off the coast of Sicily, Italy. They are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and are known for their stunning scenery, diverse wildlife, and rich culture. The seven main islands are Lipari, Vulcano, Salina, Panarea, Stromboli, Filicudi, and Alicudi.
How to get there?
The easiest way to get to there is by ferry (Liberty lines is the biggest company, maybe even the only one 😅). Ferries depart from the ports of Milazzo, Messina, and Catania in Sicily. There are also direct flights to Lipari from Catania and Naples.
I personally recommend getting there the way I did, which was getting to Milazzo and taking a ferry from there. The ferries that depart from Catania or Messina usually stop in Milazzo anyway. Keep in mind that you can't take a car to the islands unless you're willing to spend more than 12 days there!
What to do on each of the islands?
Each island has its own unique character and charm and has something different to offer for every type of traveller, some of them are more urbanised and you can find a lot of restaurants, but some others are a bit less crowded and offer more nature and hikes.
If you want to visit them all you can take day trips from Lipari (the biggest one of them all). I personally don't like those day trips because you are rushed the whole day and can't decide on your own if you want to stay longer somewhere.
Lipari is the largest and most populous island, therefore there are a lot of things to do and it is the one that has the most amount of restaurants and hotels. It is a good base for exploring the archipelago because it's well connected with the other islands and you'll find locals offering you day trip adventures to visit the other islands.
The thing that I enjoyed the most while in Lipari was going to the Osservatorio Geofisico di Lipari to view the sunrise and appreciate the amazing view of Vulcano and the Etna:
Vulcano is known for its volcanic activity and mud baths. You can hike to the top of the volcano and see the crater from above. Depending on the season the volcanic activity is higher or lower and sometimes they close the hiking trail to the top of the volcano because of the toxic gasses. If hiking the volcano is something you definitely want to do, check if the path is open or not.
Some of the beaches on that island expel some kind of warm bubbles from the ground and you can swim on top of them.
This island is probably the most exciting one and the hike to the top is class! I'd say that it's not a hard hike, but it does require some effort.
Salina, the second largest Aeolian Island is the greenest of them all, it offers a variety of hiking trails and secluded beaches.
The best way to explore Salina is by hiring a scooter for the day. I don't recall precisely but I think we paid around 60 euros for the whole day plus about 10 euros for gas.
In my opinion, Salina is the most beautiful of all of them and I would recommend you spend a full day there.
Panarea is the smallest and in theory most exclusive island. I went there during the low season period and there was practically nothing to do. Just like a one-hour walk to the "Prehistoric Village" which is literally in ruins. I don't think it's worth it, to be honest.
If you want to party this should be the place for you, but you gotta come during the high season, otherwise you won't find anything open.
There are several day tours departing from Lipari which take you to Panarea and then to Stromboli so you can do both in one go. I did it this way but I would have preferred skipping Panarea and spending more time in Stromboli.
Stromboli is home to an active volcano and is a popular destination for night boat tours because you can see the volcano erupting from a safe distance.
There are some hikes to see the eruption from a panoramic point. I was expecting a hike almost to the crater but they don't do it for safety reasons, you go to a viewing point that is located at 1/3 of the total height of the volcano.
Stromboli has some black sand beaches as well where you can go for a swim or just chill a bit.
Filicudi & Alicudi
Filicudi and Alicudi are the most remote islands, unfortunately, I didn't have the time to visit Alicudi and Filicudi during my trip there, so I'll let you discover them on your own and give me advice for the next time I visit them!