The Mediterranean is richly dotted with charming Italian islands, many of which today serve as prized resorts. One of the most important islands in the Campania region is undeniably Ischia, valued not only as a tourist destination, but also as a health resort.
Located in the Gulf of Naples, the volcanic island is a nice springboard for tourists looking to get away from mainland Italy for a while and immerse themselves in a slightly different climate. Ischia certainly offers such an opportunity. It is here that the world-famous thermal waters are located, whose positive properties were known as early as the 8th century. The first patients here were the ancient Greeks, later the island was appreciated by the Romans, and today it is eagerly visited by tourists from all parts of the world, who are attracted to Ischia by the local postcard-perfect landscapes and the health-promoting properties of the thermal baths.
The island is not large, with only 8 km², but the charm of the place makes it worth visiting Ischia when traveling in Campania - if only for a weekend stay. It will be a visit rich in walks through picturesque streets, dotted with colorful houses, and full of relaxation in luscious green parks and on charming beaches.
Ischia - attractions
Number 1 on the list to visit is, of course, the thermal baths. The island is rich in thermal springs and there are many places that offer health-promoting baths. Let's take a look at the most famous ones.
Giardini Poseidon Terme is the most popular and largest thermal park on the island. It is impressive in sheer numbers - Poseidon Gardens offers 6 hectares of terraces, 20 thermal water pools and a wellness center. The coastline here is 500m long, and the park's beaches cover an area of 8,000 m². In addition, the park has 3 seawater pools, optimal for children, as well as a thermal steam grotto, carved in limestone rock, according to Greco-Roman traditions. The park also offers alternating baths in 40ºC and 15ºC water, which promote circulation and are a form of cardiovascular training.
You can spend all day at Poseidon Gardens, as it has all the best of Ischia. In addition to the excellent thermal waters and their benefits, there is a private beach with sun loungers and umbrellas, arranged in such a way that the various resting areas are spaced far enough apart from each other, which provides more space for visitors and gives a feeling of privacy. The beach is ideal for families with children - the park has ensured the presence of a qualified lifeguard, and the swimming area is marked with buoys.
After having fun in the water, it's worth having something to eat - there are restaurants Il fauno and Caffè a mare, as well as the Grotta del Vino wine bar on the grounds of Poseidon Gardens. The first establishment offers primarily hot and cold dishes, the second specializes in salads, grilled vegetables, seafood and sandwiches, and the third serves local wines. The restaurants are located in scenic parts of the park and are a tourist attraction in their own right.
The cost of a full-day stay at Poseidon Gardens is €35 in the low season and €40 in the high season. Children between the ages of 4 and 11 have a 50% discount, while younger children get in for free. More information here.
Gardens of Eden
For those who are discouraged by the price of admission to the Poseidon Gardens, a smaller thermal park such as the Eden Gardens may be a good option. They are located on the opposite side of the island and offer a slightly different, though equally spectacular, view. Not far from the park is a small, rocky island, and on it is one of the biggest attractions here, the Castello Aragonese, a castle that is the hallmark of Ischia.
The Eden Gardens has a hotel, a beach club, and a restaurant serving local delicacies - including pasta and seafood, and regional wine from a nearby vineyard. In addition, the thermal baths include a sauna, Turkish baths, as well as 3 saltwater and 1 freshwater pool. This facility is smaller than the Poseidon, but offers much more affordable prices. The cost of a full-day stay at the Eden Gardens is €20. Official site here.
The small rocky island adjacent to Ischia boasts an exceptionally long history - the first settlements were established here as early as the 5th century BC. - The terrain provided great shelter and over time a fortress began to be built here, which has been improved over the centuries and today pleases the eye of visitors. The medieval castle is open to tourists all year round, 7 days a week, from 9 a.m. to sunset. The castle is connected to the island of Ischia by a stone causeway. Once on the side of the castle, visitors can get to the top by elevator or enter through a tunnel hollowed out of the rock that extends for several hundred meters.
Castello Aragonese offers several tourist attractions, such as the religious buildings preserved here, the former prison, and the torture museum. It is a venue for local events and concerts. There is an observation deck on the tower of the castle, which offers one of the most beautiful views in the area.
The cost of admission to the castle is €12 for an adult, youths between the ages of 10 and 18 pay €6 for a ticket, and children under the age of 9 get in free. More information can be found on the official website.
Giardini la Mortella
Ischia is also a treat for lovers of exotic plants. There are two large botanical gardens here, which are great places for an educational walk. One of them is la Mortella garden. The garden is divided into two parts - a lower and a higher one. On the lower, L-shaped designed floor of the park, called the valley, there are fountains and streams, and you can see rare species of trees, shrubs and flowering plants. This floor of the garden has a very cozy and private character. The upper floor, called the garden on the hill, is much more exposed and sunny, with a mass of great views of the countryside and a multitude of Mediterranean plants. The upper floor of the garden is festooned with many interesting architectural forms, alluding to the island's archaeological history.
The garden is open from April to early November, opening days are Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. Visiting hours start at 9:00 a.m. and end at 7:00 p.m., with the last tour starting at 6:00 p.m. The cost of an adult ticket is 12€, a ticket for young people aged 12-18 costs 10€. Children between the ages of 6 and 11 pay an entrance fee of 7€, while admission is free for the youngest tourists under the age of 5.
The most interesting attraction on the island for mountain hikers is certainly Epomeo, Ischia's highest peak. It is 789 meters above sea level and offers a 360-degree panoramic view of the surrounding area. At the top of Epomeo is the rock-carved church of San Nicola, which dates to the end of the 15th century. The beginning of the trail leading to this hill is in the village of Fontana, its length is about 3 km. In addition to the rock church, the summit is also home to a small, family-run restaurant, La Grotta da Fiore, which specializes in local flavors. Here you can eat delicious bruschetta, goat cheese, pork ham, as well as vegetable salads. The restaurant also serves local wine.
Ischia - how to get there?
The easiest way to get to the island is from the Naples. However, to move to the capital of Campania from Poland, it is best to take a flight with a low-cost airline. Ryanair flies from Warsaw Modlin to Naples, and the cost of a one-way ticket starts at a few dozen zlotys. The trip takes 2 hours 20 minutes. It is possible to get from Naples to Ischia by sea, but in order to do so, first you need to leave the airport and head to the Calata Porta di Massa, from where ferries depart. These two places are separated by about 5.5 kilometers, so this route can be covered on foot or you can support yourself partially by bus from the airport and get off at Naples Pisacane station, from where it is only 350 meters to the port. A bus ticket costs €5. Ferries to the island of Ischia depart from Calata Porta di Massa, ferry travel time is about an hour. Tickets can be purchased from €10 one way.
Beaches on the island of Ischia
Of the islands in the Gulf of Naples, Ischia is considered the one with the most beautiful beaches. The surrounding beaches are sandy, the water at the shore is shallow and crystal clear, and there is usually a well-developed tourist infrastructure nearby.
All the advantages typical of the local beaches can be found, for example, at. Spiaggia della Chiaia, located just 300m from the center. It is a small, intimate beach with sandy ground, surrounded by majestic cliffs. Due to its slight slope, it is especially recommended for families with children.
Another place worth visiting is Spiaggia dei Maronti - A large, sandy beach with a gentle descent into the water, especially recommended for lovers of water sports, such as scuba diving. Umbrellas and deck chairs can be rented on the beach, and there are bars and restaurants nearby. There is also a lifeguard on site.
One of the most beautiful beaches on Ischia is the Spiaggia di San Montano, divided into two parts - public and paid, belonging to the Negombo Thermal Park. It is a sandy beach with shallow water and beautiful views of the hills covered with tropical vegetation.
Many of the island's beautiful beaches are located on land belonging to the thermal gardens, where admission is charged. Nevertheless, Ischia is among those resorts in Campania where finding an interesting public beach is the easiest. Every part of the island has good spots for beachcombing - many of them are not heavily crowded even in high season.
The island of Ischia combines a Mediterranean climate with a humid subtropical climate. The warmest months here are July and August, when the average daily temperature is 25°C. Rainfall in summer is rare; it rains much more often in late autumn and winter. The rainiest month is November - the monthly rainfall then is more than 160mm. June, July and August are the months with the lowest average rainfall - less than 25mm of rain falls then for a month. The average daily temperature on the island remains above 10°C throughout the year.
Cuisine - what to eat while on Ischia?
Although Ischia's island location might suggest that the cuisine will be dominated by fish and seafood dishes, the most popular dish here is that of ... rabbit. The island's rich vegetation means that the small animals here have a very varied diet - perhaps this is what contributes to the excellent taste of meat from the local wild rabbits, which are considered a local delicacy. A popular dish is especially Coniglio all'Ischitana, which is braised rabbit meat surrounded by aromatic herbs, tomatoes and white wine.
Popular dishes also include La Pastiera - Wheat tart with ricotta cheese and orange water. The tart is a traditional dish served at Easter here.
Accommodation in Ischia
This Italian island is extremely popular in high season - it is worth taking this into account when planning a vacation and booking months in advance. A spontaneous trip to the island may involve difficulties in finding suitable accommodation, especially at a good price. The popular booking portal is dominated primarily by hotel listings, but you can also find private guesthouses and vacation homes. Prices for a room start at around €75 per night. It's more expensive in Ischia than in the popular resorts of mainland Italy. The limited number of hotel facilities, dictated by the small area of the island, as well as the high tourist traffic on Ischia influence the pricing of hotel services of this popular resort. However, this applies to high season prices.
The good news for tourists traveling outside the holiday season is that prices drop significantly as early as the beginning of September. By booking accommodations about six months in advance of a planned vacation, there is almost twice as much choice of accommodations in September as in August. The cheapest offers in September start at €45 for an entire apartment, while with €65 you can already rent a double room in a four-star hotel, just 200 meters from the beach.