A volcanic island covering 47 square kilometres of thermal hot springs, spas, sandy beaches, and cosmopolitan towns. From the Greeks, who arrived in the 8th Century, to the Romans who gave it away in return for Capri and now the modern-day visitor, Ischia has always held a charm that is difficult to quantify. It is regarded as one of the best-kept secrets in the Mediterranean, with many people forsaking it for Capri. Don't tell them, but the beaches and landscapes are much more dramatic on this island. Maybe they worry about the active volcano, but the last eruption was over 700 years ago, and the only activity noticed now is in the warmth of the hot springs and natural mud baths.
Location: Just a short ferry ride from Naples
Naples has the closest airport to the island, and it is simple and cheap to get a train, bus, or taxi to the port to catch your ferry or hydrofoil to Ischia. The island itself is served by a reliable and regular network of buses, but try one of the micro-taxis with their fabric awnings flapping in the open air for a fun experience. The ferries here run like buses in many cities, they are regular, cheap, and, best of all, reliable. Use them for day trips to see some other smaller islands around before coming back for your evening meal in one of the relaxed restaurants on the coast.
Culture: A wine lovers dream
The wine produced on the island is of such high quality that in 1966 it was awarded the Italian DOC mark of excellent produce. Many wine lovers relish the white wines that are grown on the slopes of the steep sided mountains in terraces cut out hundreds of years ago. The wines are sought after due to their freshness on the tongue with subtle hints of fruitiness and floral undertones.
Activities: Lazy days, water sports, and outdoor pursuits
This mountainous island offers many opportunities for water sports, but many visitors enjoy walking the many trails and routes through the interior of the island. For the rock climbers amongst you, some routes will definitely get your blood pumping, but beware the volcanic rocks in some areas that are extremely sharp to bare hands. There are spectacular scenic walks with some sheer drops that are not for the faint hearted, but gentler walks are available, too. A visit to the Giardini La Mortella gardens of the late British composer William Walton offers a place of shaded tranquillity. Here, occasional open air concerts are hosted amongst the twinkling sounds of the many pools and small waterfalls.