In 2000. UNESCO declared the Aeolian Islands as a World Heritage Site of Humanity. Among them there are two islands with active volcanoes – Stromboli and Vulcano – and some others have various phenomena of secondary volcanic activity.
What to see
The Lipari Islands are located in the Tyrrhenian Sea north of Sicily. If your trip starts from the island of Vulcano, be sure to climb up to the crater of its extinct volcano for a mind-blowing view of the island itself and the other six islands in the archipelago. In good weather, the Tyrrhenian coast of Sicily near Messina is also perfectly visible.
Another island, Panarea, is famous for its many underwater fumaroles. The Lipari Islands are of volcanic origin, so there is nothing surprising about that. You can observe volcanic gases bursting to the surface from a fairly close distance.
Fumaroles are found in all volcanic areas, and the Aeolian Islands have many of them as well.
On the island of Stromboli, mountain guides will help you get to the top of the volcano of the same name (if, of course, it is not too active). You will have an unforgettable experience and memories to last a lifetime.
The Aeolian Islands have many healing springs; they are natural open-air spas with healing sulphurous water. No club cards or schedules, you can enjoy as much as you like.
There are 5 small islets near the island of Panarea: Basiluzzo, Dattilo, Lisca Nera, Bottaro and Lisca Bianca. You can get to know them better by taking a boat trip.
Isle of Lipari
Lipari, which the ancient Greeks called Meligounis, covers 37 square kilometers. It is the largest island of the Lipari archipelago, populated by 9,000 inhabitants. Its five towns (Akvakalda, Canneto, Pianoconte and Kuattropani) are connected by a picturesque road that runs along the coast.
Monte Chirica is the highest mountain on the island: from a height of 602 meters you can admire the whole archipelago.
The main attractions of Lipari, in addition to the wonderful and comfortable beaches, are the Archaeological Museum, the streams of frozen obsidian and the caves in the pumice rocks, where this valuable mineral is mined.
It’s also where the famous Malvasia wine is made. On Lipari, volcanic activity is limited to fumaroles and thermal springs, mainly located on the west coast. Do not forget to visit Lipari Castle with its ancient Benedictine cloister, built during the Norman period, and the 13th century cathedral. In Marina Court, there is a 13th-century church, an acropolis and ruins of ancient Greek tombstones. Do not ignore the Archaeological Museum of Lipari and its Baroque churches. All along the coast between Canneto and Acquacalda there are magnificent beaches of white pumice, and the color of the water varies from tourmaline to dark blue. In ancient times, obsidian was mined here, which played an important role in the islanders’ economy.
The island of Vulcano was so dubbed by the ancient Romans, although the Greeks called it the skeleton of Hephaestus, Termesa, home of the god Aeolus. It remained uninhabited because of periodic eruptions from the Great Crater. The volcano has now subsided, its activity is reflected only in the fumaroles that can be seen everywhere, but most of all near the crater of Fossa and on the isthmus between Farallone and Vulcanello. The last big eruption occurred in 1888, after which the locals were forced to stop the extraction of alum and sulphur, trades that had been practiced on the island since time immemorial.
The area near the port and the isthmus of Vulcanello, although densely built up, remains one of the most picturesque and unusual in the whole Mediterranean. The Isthmus has a firth that attracts many species of birds, including lapwing, snipe and wader. The estuary is covered with thickets of reeds, and its shores – sand dunes, on which grows santolina, bluegill, pancratium. Remarkably, they grow only in this place of the entire archipelago.
Vulcanello became a peninsula relatively recently, the result of three successive eruptions. The last one happened in the 16th century. Another interesting place on the island is called Piano, where at an altitude of 350-400 meters above sea level grows endemic Aeolian butterwort, which blooms with beautiful yellow inflorescences.
Somewhere on the island grows a wild gourd whose fruits are like small watermelons, no more than twelve centimeters in length. This rare species was brought to the Mediterranean from southern Africa. On the western shore of the island for centuries, the petrel, or great petrel, and the much rarer lesser petrel have been nesting.
Panarea is the smallest island of the archipelago. Only 3.4 km in area, the maximum height above sea level is 421 m in Punta del Corvo. Nevertheless, the island is quite diverse, especially in terms of vegetation. That is why naturalists often come here. One version of the appearance of Panarea is that it is a large crater of a collapsed volcano, and the islets Basiluzzo and Lisca Bianca are parts of its edge.
Stromboli is a unique island with active volcanic activity. The island has been known since the time of the first sailors who plied the Tyrrhenian Sea, who could not fail to notice the dark cone that glowed at night during the eruptions. If you caught a volcanic eruption during a trip to the Liparian Islands, you won’t forget it either.
It is the northernmost island of the archipelago with an area of 12.6 km and an altitude difference of 924 m above sea level. The highest point is at Cerro dei Vancori. The inhabitants of the island, of which there are about five hundred, live mainly through tourism. Because of the high gradient, only a small part of the island is accessible to visitors. The few plains are planted with grapes, from which the famous Malvasia is made. Beyond the village of Ficogrande there are stone oaks, a small island of forest that survived massive logging in the past. Here, in Fikogrande, there is a magnificent black beach. The opposite part of the island with the old town of Ginostra (southwest shore) is also picturesque. It owes its name to the local species of broom, which grows abundantly in those areas. To get to this town is possible only by sea. The coastal path in the rocks, which could be used to get there, was called “bad road” in the old days. Nowadays it is absolutely impossible to walk along it: in some places it was cut by landslides.
Recent studies have established the age of the lava that makes up Mount Dzucco Grande to be more than a million years old. Thus, Philicudi is the oldest island of the archipelago. Aristotle believed that the name comes from the Greek “Phoinikodes”, “many palm trees”. Modern scholars believe that the toponym comes from the word “felche,” or “fern,” which grows on the island’s uplands. Local agriculture is centuries old, as evidenced by the abandoned terraces all over the island, mainly in the area between Monte Palmieri, Riberosse and Valle Chiesa, besides the south and west coast. At the sea cave “Bue Marino” (“seal cave”) there is a colony of pale swifts and numerous pairs of doves nest in the crevices of the rocks. Among others, two endemic varieties of orchid grow here: the orchid yellow and l’Orchis mario L. The magnificent orchis bee orchid is also common.
The cave is not called a seal for nothing, because Philicudi was once the fiefdom of the white-bellied seal, or the Mediterranean monk seal. Unfortunately, their population has not survived to this day. A colony of the magnificent Eleanor’s falcon nests on the northern coast.
Alicudi, although it looks very ancient, is actually the youngest island of the archipelago. Some scientists believe that it is no older than 90,000 years. Now it is inhabited by no more than a hundred people and there are no paved roads. But at the end of the nineteenth century, there were many more inhabitants. Almost the entire east coast has been converted into terraces, evidence of former agriculture. And the west coast, harsh and wild, has remained unpopulated, which, however, is not surprising: the slopes are too great for economic activity.
The island with the high volcano in the west rises out of the water to 860 meters (Mount Monte dei Porri). To the east are two more volcanic formations, slightly lower, 850 and 962 meters (Monte Rivi and Monte Fossa delle Felci, respectively). In the center of the island, the terrain drops to 285 meters (this is the fertile saddle of Valdichiesa, where the vineyards of the Malvasia producers are spread). The ancient Greeks, who were the first to colonize the island, called it “Didyma”, meaning “twin”, because they saw two identical mountains as they sailed up to it. The island appeared during the Anthropogenic period and the last eruption took place about 13,000 years ago. At present, the only manifestations of volcanism are marine fumaroles.
There is a salt lake in Salina, located at Cape Punta Lingua. Salt was once mined there, hence the name of the island. In the lake itself, you can see the ruins of an ancient Roman wall. The area of the lake is about one and a half hectares, and the depth does not exceed three meters. The marsh adjacent to the lake plays an important role for many migratory birds resting there during their migration to Africa and back.
Malvasia is a typical DOC Pasito, a sweet wine without added sugar, produced on Lipari and the other islands of the archipelago. It has a delicate raisin flavor and, like good poetry, never gets boring.
“At pani kunzatu” on the island of Salina
There are several cafes in the lakeside fishing village square, south of Santa Maria Salina, where you can try “u pani cunzatu” with pesto of capers, almonds, grilled eggplant, capers, tomatoes, mint and a whole mountain of grated baked ricotta.
Silkberry granita with whipped cream
As you know, granita is a semi-frozen dessert, traditional in Sicily. It consists of water, sugar and fruit juice. Silkworms grow in the yards of many homes in the Liparian Islands. Nets are stretched beneath them, on which the ripe berries fall.
How to get there
From Milazzo – Daily flights (Siremar – Ustica Lines). From Messina to Reggio Calabria: several daily flights in summer (Ustica Lines) and one in winter. From Naples, two departures a day in summer (Ustica Lines – S.N.A.V.). From Palermo, two departures per day in the summer (Ustica Lines). From Cefalù, two departures a day in the summer (Ustica Lines).
From Milazzo – several flights a day (Siremar – N.G.I.) from Naples – two departures a week in winter and six flights a week in summer (Siremar – S.N.A.V.).
By plane (with connection)
Land in Naples, then take a bus to the port of Reggio Calabria. The buses are docked with the arrival of each flight. When landing in Catania, take a bus to the port of Milazzo (runs from April 1 to September 30). From the airport to the train station of Messina there are several buses a day (GiuntaBus – S.A.I.S.). If you have landed in Palermo, you must go to the city center where the buses leave from the train station once per hour (S.A.I.S.).
If you are coming from the northern Italian side, you should take the Siremar ferry from Naples. In Sicily, the ferries depart from Milazzo (Siremar and N.G.I.).
The Aeolian Islands – how to reach, hotels, places of interest
The Aeolian Islands (Isole Eolie in Italian) are part of the Messina province of Italy. This archipelago consists of 7 large and several small islands of volcanic origin, so on some of them you can find thermal springs and fumaroles, and on the two islands with the same name are the volcanoes Vulcano and Stromboli.
Since 2000, the archipelago was included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
The 7 largest islands belonging to the Liparian Islands
- Stromboli and Strombolicchio
All of them are beautiful and diverse in their own way, originating from volcanic rocks, they have unique beaches and rocky coastlines. The islands of Lipari are washed by the Tyrrhenian Sea and the Atlantic Ocean.
Lipari can be called the main of the Lipari Islands. It is home to more than 10,000 locals . It is a transport hub between the mainland of Italy and other islands, thanks to the large port.
The infrastructure of the island is well-developed enough, so you should have no problems with the choice of accommodation, because there are a lot of hotels. One of the main attractions is the Archaeological Museum, located on the east coast in the building of the cathedral. Also worth seeing is the Greek Acropolis and Norman Cathedral.
Boat excursions around the island are also very popular with tourists. Lipari has a public transport (buses) which connects the main town (Lipari) with the other surrounding villages. The local rocky beauty is best explored on foot. Don’t miss the chance to visit another local attraction, a pumice quarry located on the seashore where the rock goes deep into the sea giving the water an amazing azure color.
Panarea is much smaller than the previous one, but no less visited by tourists, and most importantly hotel prices here are a bit lower (in winter) and there is a great view of Stromboli. Panarea is more suitable for those who need privacy.
Local beaches and coastal scenery is one of the most beautiful, so the main attractions are yachting and boat tours. The main influx of tourists is in August, the best time to visit are the spring and autumn months. There is no public transportation on the island, which gives it an additional quiet and uninhabited.
Vulcano is located near Lipari and is famous for its beautiful beaches and mud baths. There are numerous volcanic phenomena, such as clouds of smoke and vapor from the crater and water, fumaroles and mud springs known for their therapeutic properties.
One peculiarity is that the mud here is hydrogen sulfide, so everywhere not quite a pleasant smell wafts. There are on the island and specialized spas with thermal pools and whirlpools. To get from the port to the crater Vulcano on foot will take about 1 hour, in contrast to the warm mud baths that are a short walk from the pier.
By renting a boat you can see all the beauties and caves of Vulcano from the sea. You can travel around the island by bus or by renting a scooter.
Stromboli is the most remote island and is very popular with tourists because of the active volcano Stromboli. At nighttime you can see the breathtaking scene of real magma erupting from the crater, but to get to the top of the volcano on foot will take about 3 hours.
Other attractions worth visiting in Stromboli is a rocky island Strombolicchio, located about a kilometer from the island. The population living there is about 400 people. The local town is quite small with very narrow streets. Rocky bays and unusual beaches with black sand annually attract hundreds of tourists.
Hiking tour to Volcano Stromboli for groups of more than 10 people will cost about 30.00 € (per person), individuals respectively more expensive. Going on such a trip must have a comfortable walking shoes, warm jacket and water. Typically the duration of the tour takes 5 hours, and begins climbing about three hours before sunset, it is in the dark well see the eruption and lava spray.
Video of Stromboli volcano’s eruption:
Salina is the second largest after Lipari, and the greenest of the Liparian Islands. The population is more than 2 thousand inhabitants. Lush vegetation and hilly shores make Salina a great place for a relaxing holiday and leisurely walks.
Local rocky beaches are very clean and not very crowded. One of the main attractions is the salt lake, which used to be used for salt mining. You can also climb the old extinct volcano Monte Fossa delle Felci, which offers a beautiful view of the archipelago.
Many excursions along the island will give you the chance to see the beauty of Salina from the sea and the wild beaches and beautiful valleys, volcanic peaks and caves. Another popular activity here is fishing and diving.
Filikudi and Alikudi
Filikudi and Alikudi are also part of the Liparian Islands and are considered some of the oldest, geologically speaking. These islands are visited by a much smaller number of tourists, most likely because of their remoteness.
In Alicudi, cars are not allowed at all, so this unspoiled area is suitable for people looking for solitude. There are only a few houses and one hotel with a restaurant.
Alicudi is closer to civilization, so there are good hotels and restaurants, as well as entertainment in the form of boat tours and diving. The island has 3 villages that are within walking distance of each other. The beaches are mainly rocky and pebbly. Motor vehicles are allowed.
Accommodation in Lipari
If you are going to visit the Liparian Islands in the summer (in August), the best option is to book a hotel room in advance online. In other months, there should be no problem finding accommodation directly on the islands. Compare prices and book a hotel in Lipari Islands:
Things to do and see in the Liparian Islands
- The archipelago offers soaring sun, beautiful beaches and spectacular nature.
- For lovers of outdoor activities is the opportunity to climb volcanoes, of which Stromboli constantly spews lava.
- There is also an opportunity to improve their health with the help of hydrogen sulfide mud baths on the island of Vulcano.
- Boat excursions are a very popular activity in the Lipari Islands. During the high season, there are a lot of agencies offering such services, so you will not have a problem finding them. Typically, tourists are invited to travel by boat along the rocky coast, see the hidden coves, caves and local attractions, walk through the coastal villages.
- Do not miss the opportunity to visit local restaurants that specialize in seafood dishes.
- Visit the Archaeological Museum of Lipari – There are some important pieces of history of great value.
Watch underwater fishing videos at Lipari:
How to get to Lipari
From Naples you can reach the Lipari Islands by ferry or boat that reach the port of Messina (Sicily) and from Messina you can reach the Lipari Islands in 1 hour and 15 minutes. The railway station of Messina is a 15 minutes walk from the port.
From Milazzo you can also reach the Lieparski Islands by boat in 45 minutes.
During summer, the ferries from Milazzo, Messina, Naples, Reggio Calabria, Cefalù and Palermo sail to the islands of Lipari. In low season, flights are significantly reduced, and some are cancelled altogether.
The nearest airports are in Palermo, Catania, Reggio di Calabria and Lamezia Terme.