Volcanic mud baths and pastel ports: Leave Italy’s mainland for these island idylls this spring

Italy is a dreamy holiday destination year-round but, in spring, its islands are the place to be.

Temperatures hover around the comfortable low-20s, flowers burst into bloom and the crowds of summer are held at bay.

You’ve probably heard plenty about Italy’s larger islands, like Sicily and Sardinia, but the country’s long Mediterranean coastline is dotted with endless smaller gems.

Here are Italy’s best small island havens to escape to this Easter.

Capri, for a taste of the high life

View towards the sea and the Faraglioni rocks from Mount Solaro on Capri.Getty Images via Canva

There’s a reason why the world’s rich and famous flock to Capri. It’s the same reason why the small island off the coast of Sorrento was favoured by Roman emperors.

From its steep cliffs rising out of impossibly blue seas to the elegant houses draped in bougainvillea, perfectly manicured gardens and exclusive restaurants, this Bay of Naples idyll offers a taste of the high life.

Travelling on a budget? You can visit Capri on a day trip from Naples in under one hour by ferry.

Ischia, for sanctuary from Naples

The Aragonese Castle viewed from Old Prison Beach, Ischia.Vercingetorige/Getty Images/iStockphoto

When the grit and edginess of Naples proves too much, the island of Ischia offers sanctuary. 

The largest of the Gulf of Naples islands, the volcanic outcrop is a microcosm of what Italy does best: languid beaches, wholesome food and laid-back attitudes. 

There is a lot of ground to cover but make sure you take time to visit Ischia’s thermal spas for some much-needed rest and relaxation.

Procida, for pastel perfection

IschiaGetty Images via Canva

With its pastel-painted houses and sun-drenched, narrow streets, it’s a wonder that Procida is still one of the Bay of Naples’ best-kept secrets.

Usually swarming with visitors in August, the rest of the year, the small island is reclaimed by the locals. 

While beaches are in short supply, there are plenty of bars and restaurants, particularly around the main harbour of Marina Grande.

Aeolian islands, for volcanic vitality

Hiker on a trail on Vulcano, Aeolian Islands.Flavio Vallenari/Getty Images/iStockphoto

This archipelago of rocky islets off Sicily’s north coast is still bubbling with volcanic activity.

The aptly named Vulcano is home to an active volcano and worth a day trip to wallow in its warm mud baths.

Lipari, home to most of the islands’ residents, is a showpiece of treasures from antiquity, from the archaeological museum to the 16th century Lipari Cathedral.

Stromboli, itself home to a volcano, is also where designers Dolce & Gabbana once had their holiday home.

Egadi islands, for unplugging from the world

Lagoon on Favignana, Egadi islands.Serbek/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Another island chain off the coast of Sicily, the Egadi, or Aegadian, Islands are a cluster of three small volcanic islets. The trio remain one of Sicily’s best kept secrets to all but well-healed Italians.

These islands wrote the book on slow-paced life; there’s little to do but relax and unplug from the world as you satiate yourself with platefuls of local pasta, glug carafes of red wine and spread out on your own sandy cove.

Pelagie islands, for an ocean escape

The Rabbit Beach in Lampedusa, Pelagie islands.Guido Nicora/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Derived from the Greek for ‘of the sea’, the Pelagie islands – located between Tunisia and Malta – are adrift from the rest of Italy. 

They can be accessed by boat or plane via Lampedusa Airport but, given their distance from Sicily and the mainland, they continue to be off the radar of most visitors Italy. 

That being said, they boast some of the best beaches in the country. Lampedusa’s Isola dei Conigli, or Rabbit Island, has been voted one of the world’s most beautiful beaches. The islands are also home to the endangered loggerhead turtle.

Tremiti islands, for stepping back in time

Views of San Domino and Cretaccio islands from San Nicola island.vololibero/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Used as penal colony for millennia, Puglia’s Tremiti archipelago is now an off-grid refuge complete with secluded coves, clear water and sleepy country lanes.

Taking the boat from Termoli in the east of Italy, you’ll land on the larger of the chain’s five islands, San Domino. A visit to the laidback island or its neighbour San Nicola (where most of the population lives) is like stepping back in time.

Elba, for a different side to Tuscany

The village of Rio Marina on Elba, Tuscany.StevanZZ/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Lying between Corsica and the mainland, Elba is famously where Napoleon Bonaparte spent his first exile. It’s also the third largest of Italy’s islands after Sardinia and Sicily.

Despite being in the Tuscan Archipelago, Elba is not your typical Tuscan getaway. This small offshore idyll has snorkelling, beautiful beaches and thermal baths beckoning you away from the region’s ubiquitous rolling hills and cypress tree alleys.


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