Spas, beaches, rapturous food and wine culture: Ischia is a must-see destination for anyone who wants to visit and experience a Mediterranean dream.
In this guide we will tell you everything you need to know about Ischia, the largest of the Phlegrean islands. Needless to say, it is one of the most important destinations for international tourism, also accomplice to the rich history, art and nature that inhabits this wonderful place. And then there are spas too!
We will also go over how to get to the island, where to stay and how to get around during your stay, as well as, of course, the various tips on what to do and see in Ischia. Ready? Let's get going!
Ischia: the ultimate guide
Ischia has so many places to visit, both naturalistic and cultural, and below in this guide we are going to dissect some of them.
On the island of Ischia you will surely see a majestic fortification dominating the landscape: it is the Aragonese Castle, built on a tidal island of volcanic origin, connected to the mainland by a 220-meter-long stone bridge. This islet, 113 meters high and 56000 square meters wide, is the result of an ancient eruption that created a "stagnation dome," or bubble of solidified magma.
To enter the castle, one must pass through a 400-meter tunnel, dug in the 15th century at the behest of King Alfonso V of Aragon. Before then, the only way to reach the fortress was by sea, with a staircase on the north side of the islet. The tunnel has skylights that were also used to defend against enemy attacks by throwing boiling oil, stones and other objects. After the tunnel, one goes up a mule track to the top of the island, where various paths branch off leading to the various buildings and gardens. Since 1970 there has also been an elevator that goes up to a height of 60 meters, carved into the rock.
The castle houses numerous historic and religious buildings, but most of the islet is covered by ruins, vegetable gardens, vineyards and cliffs. Ischia's Aragonese Castle can of course be visited, complete with tour guides ready to tell you its story.
La Mortella Gardens
La Mortella is the name of the garden that Susana Walton, the Argentine wife of the famous English composer and conductor Sir William Walton, created in Forio d'Ischia, where the couple settled after World War II. In this magical place, Susana Walton collected the most extraordinary plant species from around the world, creating a living work of art that amazes and enchants visitors.
Today La Mortella is managed by a foundation that promotes its conservation and enrichment, also organizing cultural events such as concerts and performances. In the garden one can also visit the museum dedicated to Sir William Walton, where his musical manuscripts are on display.
In the hillside garden one can also visit the Nymphaeum, a memorial dedicated to Susana Walton, where her ashes were laid next to the marble statue of Aphrodite. Taking advantage of the hillside's slope, an outdoor theater was also built that hosts music concerts during the summer and can hold up to 400 people.
The colorful villages of Ischia - The Definitive Guide
The beaches of Ischia - Ultimate guide
Ischia is an island, and islands have beaches, right? Ischia's beaches are among the most beautiful and varied in the Mediterranean. There are ones for all tastes and needs, from fine sandy to pebbly, from equipped to wild, from thermal to marine. Here is a brief overview of some of the most beautiful beaches in Ischia:
- Spiaggia dei Pescatori: is a sandy beach located in the municipality of Città d'Ischia, near the port and the village of Ischia Ponte. It offers a breathtaking view of the Aragonese Castle and the islands of Procida and Vivara. It is ideal for families and those seeking convenience and services.
- Scarrupata: is a pebble cove hidden among the rocks in the municipality of Barano d'Ischia. It can be reached on foot through a nature trail or by boat from Maronti beach. It is a wild and unspoiled beach, where you can enjoy the tranquility and crystal clear sea.
- Cava Ruffano: is a pebble beach set in a rocky ridge in the municipality of Serrara Fontana. It can be reached only by boat or by swimming from the nearby beach of Sant'Angelo. It is a picturesque and romantic beach where you can admire the sunset over the sea.
- Citara Beach: is a sandy beach located in the municipality of Forio, before the famous Poseidon thermal park. It has a clear and warm sea, thanks to the thermal springs that feed it. It is a popular beach with all amenities.
The thermal baths of Ischia
We promised you this in the introduction of our guide to discovering Ischia, and here they are. The thermal baths of Ischia are famous for their beneficial and healing properties, thanks to the thermal waters that flow from natural springs. There are many thermal parks and bathing establishments on the island, each with its own features and services.
Ischia is an island full of charming and picturesque villages that overlook the sea or hide among the hills. Here are some of the most beautiful villages to visit:
- Sant'Angelo: is Ischia's most famous and visited fishing village, characterized by white and colorful houses that overlap along a rocky promontory.
- Lacco Ameno: is a village located at the foot of Mount Epomeo, known for the "mushroom," a huge green tufa rock that emerges from the sea near the beach.
- Ischia Ponte and Ischia Porto: these are the two parts of the town of Ischia, the largest and most populous on the island. Ischia Ponte is the ancient area, where you can walk through the narrow streets and admire the Aragonese Castle, a fortress that dominates the panorama. Ischia Porto, on the other hand, is the modern area, where the port, stores and beaches are located
- Casamicciola Terme: is a small village that develops around Piazza Marina, where you can breathe the typical atmosphere of the island.
- Borgo Campagnano and Piano Liguori: these are two villages surrounded by greenery, offering breathtaking views of the island of Ischia and the sea. Campagnano is famous for its living nativity scene, which involves all the inhabitants during the Christmas season. Piano Liguori is a rural village, particularly recommended if you are looking for a food and wine trip.
How to get to Ischia
To reach Ischia you must first get to Naples (by car, train or plane). From Naples you have two options: take a hydrofoil or a ferry. The choice depends partly on your needs, but also on your budget.
Hydrofoils leave from Molo Beverello or Mergellina and take about 40 minutes to get to Ischia. They are faster and more expensive than ferries, but they do not allow cars (but you can rent one on the island).
Ferries leave from Porta di Massa or Pozzuoli, and take about an hour to an hour and a half to get to Ischia. They are slower and cheaper than hydrofoils and also carry cars.
Connections between Naples and Ischia are frequent and daily, but they intensify in the summer. The season also means major price changes, so we recommend that you check prices and schedules on the websites of the various shipping companies.
Because of the speed with which it is reached, if you don't have much time and you are on vacation in Naples, you can even consider a quick day tour of Ischia. You will not regret it.
Where to stay in Ischia - The ultimate guide
Ischia provides a wide range of accommodations for all tastes, needs and pockets. You can choose from hotels of various categories, apartments, villas, bed and breakfasts or farmhouses.
For a complete list of solutions, also according to your budget and needs, we refer you to the booking.com search, which aggregates several interesting solutions. Also watch out for mid-season offers!
How to get around Ischia
Ischia is a fairly large island (46 square kilometers) and has a pretty good public transportation network. You can use buses, which cover all the main areas of the island, or cabs, which are more convenient but also more expensive.
If you prefer the freedom to move as you please, you can rent a car, motorcycle or scooter. Alternatively, you can explore the island on foot or by bicycle, following the many trails that crisscross the island.