Ischia, Italy: the ultimate guide to Capri's romantic sister island

Rising from the azure waters of il Golfo di Napoli, the island of Ischia welcomes travellers in search of tranquility under the bright Italian sunshine - and we've created the ultimate guide to the island, telling you where to eat, stay and go
Ischia Italy the ultimate guide to Capri's romantic sister island
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Covered with lemon trees, vineyards and olive groves, Ischia in Italy is a beautiful, rugged island perfect for adventurers seeking the comforts of a beach holiday off the beaten track. While there are some museums and points of interest on the island – namely the 18th Palazzo dell'Orologio and the medieval Aragonese Castle – what makes Ischia and its locals truly magical is their pursuit of a sort of laid-back joy, as well as and proper holiday pampering through excellent food and days spent splayed on a lido and swimming in Ischia's mineral-rich waters (more on this later).

What is the best month to visit Ischia?

The tourist season in Ischia runs from Easter and lasts into mid-October. Shoulder months like May and September will get you the hot weather with fewer crowds. You'll find many hotels and outdoor restaurants closed from late October but the island still has many things to do once the weather cools, from hikes and castle visits to hot springs in Sorgeto.

How to get to Ischia

Restaurants on the sea in Ischia PonteFloriano Rescigno / Alamy Stock Photo

Set back in the Gulf of Naples, the islands of Ischia and Capri have long been the favoured destinations for holidaying Neapolitans. Just a few miles out from the Campania capital, Naples, both islands are accessible via ferry or sailboat, which means that getting to the island of Ischia requires some forethought.

There is no direct way to reach either island: you will have to fly into either Rome or Naples, head to Naples' primary ferry terminal and board the ferry heading for either island. Journeys to Ischia from Naples take about 50 to 90 minutes

Ferry terminals
  • Naples: Calata Porta di Massa, 80133 Napoli
  • Ischia: Banchina Olimpica, 80077 Ischia

Staying in Naples

Quartieri Spagnoli, Naples.

Ivan Vdovin / Alamy Stock Photo

In an effort to maintain a non-haggard state and feel less rushed on holiday, I usually opt to stay in Naples for a night before heading to the islands (and before my flight back home). I'd recommend staying at the Relais Della Porta bed & breakfast near the Quartieri Spagnoli and heading out for a Campari spritz, cuoppo napoletano, a giant cone of fried anchovies served with lemon and aioli, or a Neapolitan pizza from the famous L'antica pizzeria da Michele (if you think this is a tourist trap because of the long line or the poster of Julia Roberts in the corner, think again; a native Neapolitan friend of mine maintains it is indeed the best pizza in Naples, if not Campania, so it is more than worth the wait). In the morning, I like grabbing a traditional sfogliatelle and cappuccino from Scaturchio before heading to the ferry.

Naples addresses to know
  • Relais Della Porta, B&B, Via Toledo, 368, 80134 Napoli
  • Tandem, bar, Via Giovanni Paladino 51, 80134 Napoli
  • L'antica pizzeria da Michele, Neapolitan pizzeria, Via Cesare Sersale, 1, 80139
  • Scaturchio, bakery and coffee shop, S. Domenico Maggiore, 19, 80134



Ischia, unlike its nearby Amalfi island cousins, is yet to be massively built-up, meaning that most of its hotels are small boutique operations run by locals rather than international hotel groups. In an ever-globalising world, Ischia is perhaps one of the last holiday destinations where you can truly find a fabulous ‘diamond in the rough’ hotel – to help you get started, we've listed our three favourites on the island.

Punta Chiarito

Located high on a clifftop, the tiny Punta Chiarito hotel overlooks the gently kissing bays of Sorgeto and Sant'Angelo. With an outdoor thermal pool, fabulous panoramic views and lovely breakfast served each morning on the terrace, you'll begin to feel right at home.

Via Sorgeto, 87, 80075 Forio NA

Miramare Spa Resort

For those hoping to revel in the healing powers of Ischia, make Miramare Spa Resort your stay of choice. Set back in a thermal park, wellness and relaxation are paramount at Miramare. Guests have exclusive access to thermal pools, sea salt scrubs and secluded beaches, as well as a fabulous terraced restaurant high on a clifftop above the Sant'Angelo bay. Rooms are pared-back and modern, many featuring stunning sea views – the ideal oasis for a romantic Ischia getaway.

Via Comandante Maddalena, Sant'Angelo, 80070 Ischia

Mezzatorre Hotel & Thermal Spa

Since its reopening under the management responsible for Tuscany's Il Pelicano and La Posta Vecchia near Rome, the Mezzatore Hotel has become the most sought-after, coveted destination on the entire island. The hotel exudes a certain exclusive glamour made more concentrated by the Mezzatore's most faithful patrons, the Italian glitterati and international jet set. Perched high on a cliff in a 16th-century Moorish watchtower, expect amazing views, fabulous food and a host of stylish amenities.

Via Mezzatorre, 23/d, 80075 Forio, Ischia


R1HNWW Bar terrace of the Aragonese Castle of IschiaAWP / Alamy Stock Photo
Ristorante da Ciccio

Ischia is full of excellent restaurants with stunning views and Ristorante da Ciccio is one of them. What makes this Campanian restaurant stand out from the crowd, however, is its claim to fame as one of the restaurants featured in the 1999 film The Talented Mr. Ripley starring Gwyneth Paltrow, Matt Damon and Jude Law. Food is well-prepared and the staff is friendly – especially the owner, Carlo, who will wax poetic about the charms of Jude and looks of Gwyneth to anyone who will listen.

Via Luigi Mazzella, 32, 80077 Ischia

Giardino Eden

With stunning views overlooking the Aragonese Castle and Procida, Giardino Eden is certainly one of the best restaurants on Ischia. Serving traditional Ischian fare and wine (the spiny Ischian lobster pasta is especially worth an order, as is the local white wine), you will want for nothing other than, perhaps, a nap after such a hearty, gorgeous meal. Luckily, you'll be able to rent a lido far out on a jetty just beyond the restaurant, to which you can have drinks brought to you for a post-meal tipple.

Via Nuova Cartaromana, 62, 80077 Ischia


High up in the hills between towns Forio and Panza sits this unassuming, traditional trattoria. Specialising in local, meat-heavy dishes, such as coniglio dall'Ischitana, a sautéed rabbit dish traditional to the island, Montecorvo is perfect for omnivorous foodies keen on tasting all that Ischia and its culinary culture have to offer.

Via Montecorvo, 65, 80075 Forio d'Ischia

Spadara Bistrò

Serving well-made Italian fare overlooking the bustling Piazza Giacomo Mattetotti and the Fontana Zampillante, this contemporary bistro is run by a newer – and younger – generation of Neapolitan locals who care greatly about their region and its culinary heritage. Expect well-priced (and well-made) plates of food from a daily menu, as well as a fabulous local wine list. After dinner, we'd recommend heading for a granità next door at the no-frills Caffè Il Re.

Piazza Giacomo Matteotti, 11, 80075 Forio

Ristorante da Nicola Fumarole

At Ristorante da Nicola Fumarole, the Earth is head chef. Indeed, nearly all menu items served at this unique Italian restaurant are cooked in an ancient Ischian style by using the island's hot springs and the heat of its underwater volcanoes. Pasta, fish, flatbread: you order it, it's cooked underground. To experience this Ischian magic, you'll only be able to reach it by boat: to get here, ask a fisherman in Sant'Angelo's port to take you to the Fumarole – it'll be well worth the faff, we promise.

Terme Fumarole (libere), Sant'Angelo, Ischia


Spend a beach day at La Capanna beach club along the Spiaggia dei Pescatori

If a beach day is of top priority during your Ischian holiday, you're likely to become overwhelmed at the prospect of choosing a good beach club. Worry no more: La Capanna is, in our estimation, one of the finest beach clubs on the island. With a laid-back atmosphere, comfortable lidos and an excellent seafood restaurant and café-bar, you'll want for little here. (If possible, have an Italian-speaking friend reserve lidos ahead of time via the telephone, as you're likely to receive a better spot than if you rock up without a booking or speaking in English.)

Via Giovanni Mazzella, 29, 80075 Forio d'Ischia

Stroll through Sant'Angelo
A view of Sant'AngeloFloriano Rescigno / Alamy Stock Photo

Sant'Angelo, with its colourful façades, tiny beaches and quaint fishing boats, is perhaps one of Ischia's most romantic villages. Enjoy gelato at one of the many gelaterie in town before taking a quick boat ride with a friendly fisherman to the nearby thermal baths.

Relax in Ischia's thermal baths
Tourists take a bath in the hot springs at Baia di SorgetoNature Picture Library / Alamy Stock Photo

The act of indulgence is certainly at the forefront of Ischian culture, partly due to the island's original history. Following a massive volcanic eruption millennia ago, the island of Ischia emerged from the depths of the Gulf of Naples and remnants of this explosion still survive today through the fumarole, Ischia's mineral-rich, naturally-occurring hot springs that dot the island's coastline. These springs are what first made Ischia a favoured destination of Neapolitans and Romans seeking relaxation and healing. Today, this tradition lives on, with Italians lolling about in this healing, boiling water in springs along the Spiaggia Le Fumarole, Baia di Sorgeto (accessible only by boat or a steep descent down a cliff) or the Negombo at Lacco Ameno. (Quite blissfully, the island has not been overrun with five-star resorts and high-end spas hogging Ischia's most precious resource – many of the springs are still public or low-cost.)

  • Baia di Sorgeto, Ischia
  • Spiaggia Le Fumarole, Arenile Maronti, 80070 Barano D'ischia, Ischia
  • Negombo, San Montano Bay, Baia di, Via S. Montano, 80076 Ischia
Aragonese Castle
The Aragonese CastleBobby Bogren / Alamy Stock Photo

If you're keen on sightseeing, we'd recommend visiting the medieval Aragonese Castle, which stands on a volcanic rocky inlet connected to Ischia by a narrow causeway. The castle was first built in 474 BC by Hiero I of Syracuse; today, it offers beautiful views overlooking the glittering the Gulf of Naples and Procida.

Via Pontile, 3, 80077 Ischia NA, Italy