Home DestinationsDestination: Italy Exploring Sicily’s Charming Archipelago. Why Island-hopping Is The Best Way.

Exploring Sicily’s Charming Archipelago. Why Island-hopping Is The Best Way.

by Paola Fiocchi Van den Brande

When we think of island hopping, idyllic Greek or tropical Caribbean islands first spring to mind, right?

Have you ever considered island hopping in Sicily? It can be an incredible and memorable experience. Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea and is surrounded by several smaller islands, each with its own unique charm and attractions. The Sicilian archipelago includes several notable islands, the most famous of which are the Aeolian Islands (Isole Eolie), a group of seven main islands and several smaller islets. In addition to the Aeolian Islands, there are other smaller islands and islets near Sicily that you might consider visiting as well, such as Ustica and Pantelleria.

Sunset on the island of Vulcano


Vulcano. Photo by Mark Lewis for Unsplash.

Here are some of the popular island in Sicily you might consider including in your island-hopping itinerary:

Lipari: This is the largest of the Aeolian Islands and offers a mix of stunning landscapes, historical sites, and beautiful beaches. You can visit the Archaeological Museum, explore the town’s charming streets, and relax on its beaches.

Vulcano: Known for its mud baths and hot springs, Vulcano offers a unique experience for visitors. You can hike up to the crater and enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding islands.

Salina: This island is famous for its lush vegetation, picturesque villages, and excellent wines. It’s a great place for hiking and enjoying the natural beauty of the Aeolian archipelago.

Panarea: A chic and fashionable island, Panarea is known for its nightlife, luxury resorts, and crystal-clear waters. It’s a great destination for those seeking a lively atmosphere.

Stromboli: Home to one of Europe’s most active volcanoes, Stromboli offers the opportunity to witness volcanic activity and even hike to the summit to see the eruptions at night.

Pantelleria: Though located a bit further from the Sicilian coast, Pantelleria is worth a visit for its unique landscapes, thermal waters, and traditional stone dwellings.

Ustica: Often referred to as the “Black Pearl of the Mediterranean,” Ustica is a haven for divers and snorkelers due to its clear waters and underwater biodiversity.


Lipari. Photo by Lyle Wilkinson for Unsplash.

Traveling with kids? Then probably Lipari would be your best choice.

7 Reasons to visit Lipari

Diverse Attractions: Lipari has a mix of attractions that can appeal to both adults and children. Families can explore the historic town, visit the Archaeological Museum, and learn about the island’s volcanic history.

Beaches: Lipari offers several beautiful beaches with clear waters, making it an ideal destination for swimming, playing in the sand, and enjoying water activities with children.

Boat Tours: The Aeolian Islands are known for their boat tours, and Lipari serves as a central hub for exploring the other islands in the archipelago. Taking short boat trips to neighboring islands like Vulcano or Salina can be exciting for kids.

Accessibility: Lipari is relatively easy to reach from the mainland, making it convenient for families traveling with children. You can take a ferry or hydrofoil from various ports in Sicily.

Natural Beauty: Lipari’s landscapes are diverse and captivating, providing opportunities for family hikes and outdoor exploration. The island’s volcanic features and lush vegetation can spark children’s curiosity.

Relaxed Atmosphere: Lipari has a laid-back atmosphere that is suitable for families seeking a peaceful and enjoyable vacation. The island offers a break from the hustle and bustle of larger cities.

Cultural Experiences: While enjoying the natural beauty, families can also learn about local culture, traditions, and cuisine through interactions with the friendly residents.

When planning your island-hopping adventure in Sicily, make sure to consider ferry schedules and availability unless you are renting your own private yacht or catamaran. Depending on the time you have and your preferences, you can create an itinerary that allows you to explore the beauty, culture, and history of these diverse Mediterranean islands.


Stromboli. Photo by Gianluca Baio for Unsplash.


Best time to visit the Sicilian Islands?

If you are chartering your own private boat, then May to September would be the best months to visit the Sicilian Islands. If you are planning to visit the islands by ferry and staying in hotels/B&Bs/villa rentals, then avoid the month of August if you can due to its hot temperatures and huge crowds.


How to reach the Sicilian Islands?

Reaching the islands of the Sicilian archipelago is an enriching journey on itself. 

As there are no airports on any of the islands a part from Pantelleria and Lampedusa, the quickest way is to fly to Sicily first.

Choose Catania or Palermo for the Eolian Islands. From there, you need to reach the ports of Milazzo, Messina or Palermo from which you can take ferries or hydrofoils. Timetables vary according to the season so please check carefully to ensure there transport is available in mid or low seasons. 

Choose Palermo for the Egadi islands. From there, travel to Marsala to catch ferries or hydrofoils.

Choose Palermo, Trapani and Catania to  fly to Pantelleria.  During peak seasons there are also flights from major Italian airports.

Choose Palermo and Catania to  fly to Lampedusa  Or fly to Lampedusa from Milan, Rome and Naples.


Helpful Summary

  • Eolian Islands Archipelago: Lipari, Vulcano, Salina, Filicudi, Alicudi Panarea, and a few smaller inhabited islands such as Basiluzzo, Lisca Bianca and Strombolicchio.
  • Egadi Islands Archipelago: Favignana, Levanzo, Marettimo, Formica and the smaller islands of Maraone and Preveto.
  • Pelagie Islands Archipelago: Lampedusa, Isola dei Conigli, Lampione and Linosa.

Less known by tourists are the Stagnone Islands Archipelago and Ciclopi Islands Archipelago.

The unique island of Pantelleria and the island of  Ustica (sadly known for a deadly plane crash in 1980) do not belong to any archipelago.


Google Maps. View of Sicily and its Archipelago

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