Just off the coast of Sicily is an archipelago so diverse and so beautiful that you’ll have a hard time believing it’s real. The Aeolian Islands are varied, wind-swept and home to smoldering volcanoes, and their natural beauty is enough to attract travelers from all over the world. But that’s not all these islands have to offer, though–the Aeolian Islands also have great beaches, stunning blue coves, charming villages and a distinctive culture. As soon as you start exploring the Aeolian Islands, you’ll realize it’s no wonder why Italians flock to this archipelago to play, relax and simply enjoy the beauty of life.
Prior to my recent trip to Italy, I knew relatively little about the Aeolian Islands. However, after some locals recommended I visit these stunning islands off the coast of Sicily, I decided I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to hike past volcanoes or swim in the crystal clear Tyrrhenian Sea. So I planned a spur-of-the-moment trip to these beautiful islands, and to make the trip possible I relied on HotelTonight to book my last-minute hotel in Aeolian Islands. Within minutes on HotelTonight’s website, I had a great hotel room waiting for me on the picturesque island of Vulcano, and I was ready to start exploring this breathtaking archipelago for myself.
You may have guessed by the name of this island, but Vulcano is home to a large, smoldering volcano. Because of that, Vulcano is also a great place to indulge in some natural spa treatments. On the island, I dipped my body in warm mud baths and I swam in hot springs, and, of course, I hiked to the top of the volcanic cone. Greek legend has it that the god Vulcan resided on this island, and it’s a must-visit while you’re in the Aeolian Islands. After all, where else can you see a smoking volcano just right out the window of your hotel room or from a restaurant patio?
The other Aeolian Island known for its volcano is Stromboli. However, Stromboli blew its top, so visitors are not allowed to climb to the summit. While Stromboli doesn’t offer as great of a volcano viewing experience as Vulcano, it does have a variety of small villages to visit, from hip coastal towns to tiny communities with only a few dozen inhabitants. I spent half a day exploring the island of Stromboli, and I felt that was enough time to really get the sense of the island’s unique culture, atmosphere, and scenery.
While Vulcano and Stromboli are rather dry and arid because of the volcanoes, the island of Salina is a small green gem in the middle of the Tyrrhenian Sea. With its dramatic coastline and charming old fishing villages, journeying around Salina will make you feel as if you’ve taken a step back in time to the era of Homer and The Odyssey. This island, with its rich soil, also has a vibrant viticulture scene, so you can bet I tasted my fair share of local wine while on Salina. In addition to its great wine, Salina also offers some delicious local cuisine, which you can find at a number of restaurants in the idyllic main street of Santa Marina Salina.
Lipari is the largest of the Aeolian Islands, thus it’s the most exciting, energetic island in the archipelago. Don’t worry, though, the pace of life on Lipari is still easygoing, so you’ll be able to enjoy “la dolce vita” anywhere you go in the Aeolian Islands. Lipari has a sizeable town where you can enjoy great dining, shopping and entertainment. Since it does have the largest town in this archipelago, Lipari does tend to attract more tourists, so be wary of falling into tourist traps while on this island.
If you want to rub elbows with the rich and famous during your stay in the Aeolian Islands, Panarea is the place to be. Panarea is widely regarded to be the most beautiful of the Aeolian Islands, with its golden beaches, colorful cliffs and ancient Roman ruins. While this isn’t the island to visit if you want peace and solitude, it’s definitely the island to visit if you want unparalleled beauty, luxury and a picture-perfect coastal village. Panarea ended up being my favorite island of them all, and I extended my stay one more night so that I could spend more time on Panarea.
Every once in a while, you take a trip you never expected to take in your life, and it completely blows you away. That’s exactly how I felt about my time in the Aeolian Islands. I didn’t expect to find myself on these remote volcanic islands, but once I did, I was in constant awe of their natural beauty. I already know that I would return to this archipelago in a heartbeat, so I just may be using HotelTonight to book another last-minute hotel in Aeolian Islands in the near future.