Reaching the Aeolian Islands is a "journey within a journey" and we will explore how you can easily get there in all the ways possible.
Reaching the Aeolian Islands is beyond anyone's dream: the opportunity to get there is somehow what in Italy we usually call a journey within a journey.
This archipelago located in Northern Sicily, in the Tyrrhenian Sea, is provided by no airports. That means that staying there is a moment to be enjoyed calmly. The colors and the scent of the earth and the sea, the beauty of the volcanos and the kindness of the people will make visitors at ease, letting them experience every moment intensely.
You may choose to visit one or more islands with a daily excursion, or choose to stay longer: in any case it will be an experience you will not be able to forget.
So, let's begin our magic journey to Aeolian Islands, discovering how to get there in this detailed guide.
Aeolian Islands, how to get there: the nearest airports
There is no airport on Aeolian Islands.
The only way to reach this Sicilian paradise is to land in one of the nearest airports. You may choose between the airports of the regions of Sicily or Calabria. Just in case, you may also consider the Campania region, but your journey to the Aeolian Islands will be much longer.
Once you have landed, you will have to make your way to the nearest port and then embark to the archipelago.
Let's discover the airports one by one.
1. From the airport of Catania or Palermo the Aeolian Islands
Sicilian airports are the best to reach the Aeolian Islands.
Once you have landed in Palermo or Catania, you will have to reach the port of Milazzo and then embark to the islands.
From Catania airport you could take the bus to the port and reach Milazzo in 2 hours (150 km / 93 mi approximately). Alternatively, you could choose the regional train which usually includes one changeover in Messina. The entire ride lasts approximately 2 or 3 hours.
From the central station to the port, you may take a bus or a cab (3 km / 2 mi), but we will explore this later in the article.
Landing in Palermo requires a much longer trip (250 km / 155 mi). You could choose to take the regional train (with a changeover in Palermo city center) with a 3 hours and a half ride or select one of the many private transfers.
If you are travelling during the summer, anyway, you could get to the Aeolian Islands by hydrofoil, as we will see later on the guide.
2. From the airports of Reggio Calabria or Lamezia Terme to the Aeolian Islands
You may reach the archipelago also landing in Calabria, but it can be way more complex. Beyond this, ferries and hydrofoils are usually seasonal, so be aware of the timetable of the sea companies before booking.
Landing in Reggio Calabria, the so-called Aeroporto sullo Stretto, you can reach the port of the city by taking a cab. If you are not travelling during the high season, you may have to reach Messina by hydrofoil and then embark to the islands.
From Lamezia Terme is more difficult. From the airport, you will have to take a train to Vibo Valentia-Pizzo station (approximately 40 minutes' ride), and then a private transfer to the port of Vibo Valentia. From there, the marine connections are seasonal.
3. From the airport of Naples to Aeolian Islands
Landing in the airport of Naples, you may reach the port of Mergellina with a bus, called Alibus, provided by ANM.
Once you reach the port, you may embark to the islands by ferry or hydrofoil as we will discuss later.
If you select Naples, please consider that the navigation will be longer than the navigation from the other ports will see during the reading.
How to get to the Aeolian Islands by train
Undoubtedly the best choice you have, in case you decide to travel by train, is to reach Milazzo station.
The station is well connected to the port by a public bus, organized by AST, or by private transfers.
The bus timetable normally follows departures and arrivals at the port, but it is always better to check it in advance.
Aeolian Islands by car? Yes, but keep in mind one simple rule
Visitors travelling by car should come to Milazzo and then embark to the islands.
If you want your car with you during your stay, you may want to know one simple Aeolian rule, established year after year by the local municipality.
During high season, in fact, generally from June to October, depending on the island you select, travelling by car is not allowed for visitors. You may take you car with you, only if you have a 7 days reservation at a local hotel.
Hydrofoil or ferry? How to get to the Aeolian islands
Once you reach your favorite port, you have to embark to the islands. Luckily, many Italian ports provide many connections to the islands.
As a general rule, hydrofoils are faster but more expensive than ferries.
Let's discover all the connections from the main ports one by one.
1. From the port of Milazzo
Milazzo is frequently connected to the islands, either by ferry and hydrofoil. From this port, in fact, the connections are daily and annual.
2. From the port of Messina
3. From the port of Palermo
Connections from Palermo are available during high season provided by the hydrofoils of the Liberty Lines.
Ferries are not available, instead (in case you want, you can refer to the section of the article dedicated to the port of Milazzo).
4. From the port of Reggio Calabria or Vibo Valentia to the Aeolian islands
The ports of these 2 cities are connected to the Aeolian Islands by Liberty Lines hydrofoils. The connections are available only during high season and not every day.
In case you don't find the right choice for you, please consider taking a hydrofoil to Messina and then embark to the islands.
5. From the port of Naples or Salerno to the Aeolian islands
Maritime connections are available from Naples and Salerno.
Hydrofoils are operated only during high season by SNAV or Alilauro from Naples, and by Alicost from Salerno. The crossing is generally done during the day and it lasts from 4 to 6 hours, according to the chosen island.
Ferries from Naples are annual and usually operated at nights: the journey usually lasts 14 hours.
Embarking from Salerno is usually more complex by ferry. In fact, you have to reach Messina and then take another ferry to the island. In case you want to take your car with you, anyway we suggest you reach Milazzo. Please refer to Siremar for more information.
6. Cilento coast (Sapri) to Aeolian Islands: the unexpected connection
A new maritime connection has been set recently by Alicost hydrofoil, connecting the town of Sapri in Cilento with the Aeolian Islands.
The journey takes 2 hours and departures are organized 6 days a week from the half of June to the end of August.
It is an incredible opportunity to discover not only the Aeolian Island, but also the wild nature of Cilento coast.
Finally, there is one last way you can get to the Aeolian islands. It surely is very spectacular.
Reaching the Aeolian Islands by helicopter: an overwhelming experience
An adventurous (and fast) way to reach the archipelago is by helicopter.
The airline company that offers this kind of connection is the Air Panarea, organizing flights from the main airports: Catania and Palermo, Reggio Calabria and Lamezia Terme, Naples.
It's truly a "journey within a journey", isn't it?
Once you reach the archipelago, the best is yet to come and you will have the incredible opportunity to live unforgettable experiences.
For example, have you thought about discovering the Aeolian Islands by boat?