If you’re planning a trip to Italy, maybe you want to visit some Italian islands. You probably wonder how many islands Italy have.
There are 450 islands in Italy. 100 islands are located in lakes and lagoons. Italy has 350 sea islands, from which not all are inhabited. The two most famous islands are Sardinia and Sicily. Sicily is both Italians biggest island and the biggest island in the Mediterranean Sea
To help you learn more about the islands and maybe choose your next holiday destination, I will explain more about the most popular and unique Italian islands.
Italian Islands by Region
Italy is divided is several regions and in almost every region you can find a few islands. The only regions that don’t have any islands are Abruzzo, Molise, Aosta Valley, and Marche.
Sicily and Sardinia are both islands and autonomic regions in Italy. The other. Here are the biggest islands divided by region.
Islands: Capri, Procida, Ischia
Islands: Elba, Giglio, Giannutri, Capraia, Gorgona, Pianosa, Montecristo,
Islands: Bargeggi, Gallinara, Palmaria, Tinetto, Tino
- Friuli-Venezia Giulia
Islands: Barbana & Grado Lagoon (many uninhabited islands)
Islands: Gavi, Palmarola, Santo Stefano Island, Ventotene, Zannone, Ponza, Pontine islands
- Lombardy & Piedmont – Lake islands
Monte Isola, Isolino Virginia, Isola Comacina, Borromean Islands, Isola del Garda, Isola del Sogno, Isola di San Biagio.
Many of these islands are uninhabited. You can only visit during a boat trip on the lakes.
A few small uninhabited islands in Lake Trasimeno
This region has over 118 islands! The region with the most islands in Italy. A few islands you should consider to visit are;
Lido di Venezia, Burano, Murano, Torcello.
Best Time to Visit the Italian Islands
Best time to visit the Italian islands would be in May and June. The weather is perfect, not too warm and it is not that busy regarding tourist seasons, so prices tend to get a bit lower. However, the Italian islands are a good year-round destination. Which each season having its own charm.
The Italian islands having a typical Mediterranean Climate. Mild, wet winters and dry, warm summers. Best time to visit the islands in terms of weather conditions will be between April – June, and September – November. Avoiding the hot summer months and the wet winter months. Cost-wise these months are also a good choice because both periods are shoulder season, less busy with tourists so often prices will drop.
Looking for guaranteed hot summer days? Then you should be visiting the islands during the peak season between July and August. It is much busier with many other tourists and prices may be a bit higher, but you’ll have the best weather you can wish!
Visiting the Islands During Winter Months
During winter you’ll get less sunshine and day can be wet. Temperatures are mild on average between 48 and 59 Fahrenheit (9 and 15 Celcius). December until March the islands experience much rainfall, on average 3.5in (90mm).
Some of the mountainous islands like Sicily can experience heavy snowfall during the winter months. Which invite winter sports enthusiasts to come over and go skiing on Mount Etna, the worlds most active volcano!
What are the best Italian Islands?
With 300 sea islands in Italy, the list feels endless, you can’t visit them all. So to be more helpful we focus on the most popular and unique islands you can visit in Italy. We will give you in-depth information about the islands of Sicily, Sardinia, Capri, Ischia, and Elba
Let’s start with the biggest island of Italy and the Mediterranean Sea; Sicily. You’ll find Sicily right at the toe of Italians boot, the island is easy to reach with several international airports and ferry connections. You can even drive from the Italian mainland to Sicily, but you need to take a short ferry to cross the sea.
Sicily is an autonomic island of Italy since 1860. Before that, it was influenced and governed by many other countries including Greece. Sicily is an island with great history, which makes it a very special island to visit.
Difference between Sicily and Italy
Sicilians, the people originally from Sicily, consider themselves different than Italians. There’s always a discussion between the Sicilian and Italians about the difference in culture and traditions. You can read about the differences between those two in this article.
Top things to do in Sicily
You can spend your whole trip visiting Sicily. There’s so much to see it is easy to spend 10 days or more on the island. Of course it also easy to combine a trip to Sicily with other parts of Italy, or other islands.
Doing that, you’ll need to make a choice of the things you want to see in Sicily.
The best things to do in Sicily, that everyone should visit are;
- Mount Etna
The world’s most active volcano and Europe’s biggest volcano. You can visit this volcano with guided walks and depend on the activity of the volcano, you can even walk to the top. It is not advised to walk alone, because that’s considered dangerous.
- Valley of Temples
An archeological site with temples dated back to 500BC, when the Greeks governed Sicily. Temple of Concordia is the most famous building, it is probably the best-preserved Greek temple that’s found. The temple was built around the second half of the fifth century BC.
Valley of Temples consists out of 19 historical sites and a museum with artifacts found at those sites.
- Villa Romana del Casale
Remains of a luxury villa dated back to the Eastern Roman Empire. It shows the richness of the Romans with quality mosaics and beautiful design. A great visit for history and art lovers.
- Sicilian beaches
What is an island without some beach time? You’ll find some of the best sandy beaches in Sicily where you can enjoy a lovely sunny day and some fun in the sea.
How to Reach Sicily?
The easiest way to reach Sicily is to fly into Catania International Airport (CTA). Direct flights from the biggest cities in Europe are arriving at this airport. However, it is not possible to fly directly from the US to Sicily, you either need to book a flight with a stopover or rent a car from the airport and drive Sicily.
Renting a car and driving around Italy is very straightforward. When you’re planning a trip to Sicily and arriving from the mainland by car, you need to take a ferry to cross the sea. You’ll take the ferry from Villa San Giovanni (mainland) to Messina (Sicily). The ferry trip will take around 40 minutes.
Another commonly used ferry connection is to get on board at Naples and go to Palermo. The only downside is that this ferry ride takes around 11 hours.
How to Get Around Sicily
Getting around the island is very easy, Sicily even got a great public transport network! It is one of the few islands we know of where you can easily get around using public transport.
The cheapest and fastest way to get around Italy, without driving a car yourself, is taking a bus. There are several bus lines in Sicily divided by color. The blue buses are connecting the major cities of the islands. When you want to visit the smaller villages you can take one of the orange buses.
Another way to avoid driving is by taking one of the trains. The trains connect the major parts of the islands and while traveling by train you get a great view of the Sicilian countryside.
Driving around yourself is very easy, you can just go ahead and rent a car on the island or before you go to the island on the mainland. The road in Sicily are even better than on the mainland, and with less traffic in the countryside, it is comfortable to drive around and explore!
Surrounding Islands of Sicily
Sicily is surrounded by many smaller islands which are great for a day visit. The islands are easily reachable with local boats and ferries. The surrounding islands of Sicily are;
Known for its rocky beaches and great for fishing. Favignana is an island where many local Sicilians go during the weekends.
This island is closer to Tunisia than Sicily but still belongs to Italy. It is known for its famous wine production. There’s not much to do on the island, but you can stay at a luxury hotel. Most people go for a day, as part of an island tour. Pantelleria doesn’t have sandy beaches, but you’ll find crystal blue water.
This used to be a very popular island, but with the recent developments, many tourists avoid to go here. Many refugees coming from Lybia are reaching this island, which makes it more a refugee camp then a summer destination.
Around 31 miles north of Palermo you’ll find this small island. Very nice visit for a day trip to go snorkeling and explore marine life.
The second-largest island in the Mediterranean Sea also belongs to Italy. Sardinia is another autonomic Italian island, which means it is a region on its own. The island is famous for its coastline, which is more than 1200 miles long, its sandy beaches and mountainous inland.
Sardinia is located in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, the closest neighboring island is Corsica, which belongs to France. Closest mainland is actually Tunisia, which is around 200 miles. Rome, the closest major Italian city is around 215 miles away. The island of Sicily is also around 215 miles away of Sardinia.
Best Things to Do in Sardinia
Sardinia is also an island which was greatly influenced by different ethnic groups over time. The timeline in history is kind of the same as its neighboring Italian island Sicily.
The island didn’t play such a big role in history as Sicily. Sardinia is more like its little brother. Nonetheless, because of the different influences who stayed for a longer time at Sardinia, there are a lot of ancient places you can visit.
The islands renowned eco-system, which is in many ways untouched, is one of the biggest reasons for nature lovers to visit Sardinia.
Best things to do in Sardinia, that everyone should visit are;
The island’s capital, it is a great place to start your trip on the island. You probably will, because most people arrive in Cagliari. A beautiful city with many ancient sites just a few miles away from the city center.
- Nuraghe Su Nuraxi
There are many prehistoric stone towers to find in Sardinia, somehow they are very good preserved on the island. The Nuraghe Su Nuraxi is maybe the best you can visit. Dating back 1500BC is most of it is still intact. It is amazing to see how sophisticated engineering was at that time. Make sure you book a guided tour, which will help you understand more about this amazing historical site.
- Costa Smeralda (Emerald Coast)
Looking for the best beaches and clearest water you’ll ever find? Stop looking, and go the Emerald Coast. Known for its white sandy beaches and good snorkeling places. It is a must-visit when you’re in Sardinia.
This is also the place where the rich and famous hang around, but don’t let the big yachts scare you away, there are enough beautiful places where you can dip in the sea.
- Arzachena Prehistoric Sites
Another historical site which is worth a visit. Here you’ll find graves, tunnels, and towers dating back to the stone age, around 2500BC!
This small village located surrounded by green valleys and beautiful coastline is absolutely stunning. Make sure to visit Malaspina Castle, a medieval castle on top of the hill overlooking the village.
Best Unique Beaches in Sardinia
With over 1200 miles of coastline, it is certain you’ll have a few beach days during your visit. The emerald coast is the most beautiful coast in Sardinia, but there are many other beaches worth a visit.
Unique beaches that you must-visit are;
- CALA GOLORITZE’ – BAUNEI
This is probably the most beautiful beach in Italy. It’s secluded and known for its stunning views and crystal clear water.
Nonetheless, this beach is very popular, the authorities do a very good job to keep this beautiful environment in good shape.
You can reach this beach by land, it is a though, but amazing hike. Or you can take a local boat which brings you to the bay.
- Porto Istana beach – Olbia
Consisting out of four small beaches, located on the emerald coast. You can choose one and relax all day enjoying the crystal clear waters.
- Porto Giunco beach – Villasimius
You don’t need to go the Carribean to enjoy the same beach vibes. Porto Giunco Beach is a perfect example. Located close to Villasimius, here you’ll find a long white sandy beach ideal for wandering around and jumping in the sea. In the middle of the beach, you’ll find a pond, where flamingoes tend to relax, so a nice place to spot some wildlife as well!
- Su Giudeu beach – Chia
Located in the south of the island, it’s a more quiet beach. Easy to reach and surrounded by sand dunes, which makes it less windy.
How to Reach Sardinia
There are to easy ways to reach Sardinia. You can either take a flight or go by ferry.
When you don’t have much time on your hands, we recommend booking a flight to Sardinia. The islands have several international airports, where you can fly into from almost every city in Europe. You can even take a flight from Rome, which is around € 180,- and only takes 1 hour.
Traveling by ferry is also a safe and reliable way to reach Sardinia however, this takes much longer. The most common ferry routes are leaving from Rome, and take up to 9 hours to reach Sardinia.
How to Get Around Sardinia
Getting around the island is very straightforward. The most common ways of transportation are public transport: buses, and trains. Or driving yourself around with a rental car.
The roads are very good in Sardinia and when your driving around you can choose to take the highways, which connect al the big cities on the island. or you can take the scenic road, which is much slower, but more relaxed and you’re able to stop a few times to enjoy the beautiful views.
Public transport is very punctual and also a relaxing way of traveling around the island.
Surrounding Islands of Sardinia
The most famous neighboring island of Sardinia is Corsica. At the closest point, the islands are only divided by 5 miles. Corsica is a French island and great as a summer destination.
Sardinia is surrounded by many small islands, most of them are National Parks. You can all visit them during a day or half-day trip from Sardinia. The surrounding islands are:
- La Madelena
- Cala Santa Maria
All islands offering beautiful beaches, crystal blue waters and often great marine life. It is fantastic to go around these islands!
The island located in the bay of Naples. Known for its stunning natural sites, and popular as a summer holiday destination. During the summer months, it can be very busy on Capri, because of its ideal location close to the mainland.
Capri is a classic Italian island, developed by the Romans. The Roman Emperor Augustus, who led the Romans from 14BC till 27AD, developed the island and had a big villa on Capri. What we would call now a ‘summer house’.
Best Things to Do in Capri
Capri is a great summer destination and a lovely island to spend some time on a trip to Italy. The island is not too big, 4 square miles, so it is easy to get around. You can even add it to your Italian itinerary as a day trip!
Some of the best things to do in Capri are;
- Visit the Gardens of Augustus
Capri has its own botanical gardens, and they are stunning! Absolutely a must-visit while you’re on the island.
- Enjoy the view of the highest top on the island
You can take a chairlift to the top of Mount Solaro. Enjoy some stunning island views and even sea Italians mainland. Walk down for a relaxing hike back to the sea.
- Take a beach day
On every island, you’ll need to take some time to relax on the beach. The beaches on Capri aren’t as stunning as on Sardinia, but while you on the island, make sure to enjoy the vibe and dip in the sea.
- Visit the Blue Cave (Blue Grotto)
Capri’s most famous attraction. The cave where the blue water lights up because of the sunlight that’s entering the cave. An amazing thing to see. It can be quite busy here with a lot of tourist boats entering the cave. So be prepared to share your experience.
How to Reach Capri?
Many ferries leaving daily from Naples and Sorrento several times an hour. The fastest ferry will only take 25 minutes to reach Capri. You can’t buy tickets in advance. You just need to arrive at the ticket office and buy a ticket for the next ferry.
Getting Around Capri
During the busy summer months, it is not allowed to enter Capri with your own or rental car. This is only allowed for local residents who have a permit. So to get around to island you’ll need to take the islands public transport.
Bus connections are good at the island but can be very busy. So it will happen that you’ll need to wait a while to get a place in one of the buses.
You can also take a local taxi to go around the island, but these can be quite expensive depending on where you want to go. The most fun way to get around the island is to take a local boat, which can bring you from one side to the another.
Ischia (Best Kept Secret)
Another beautiful island in the Gulf of Naples is Ischia. Known for its mineral thermal waters, many hot springs, and great wine production. Ischia is less crowded than Capri because its lesser-known and not many tourists know of it.
When you’re looking for an island with an authentic Italian vibe, you must go to Ischia.
Like many other islands, Ischia is influenced by the same ethnic groups who developed Sicily. The history of Ischia dates back 700BC, and this time it was mainly the Greeks who set foot on the island. With such a rich history there are many ancient sites to visit, but there’s many more to do on this laidback island.
Best Things to Do in Ischia
- Enjoy the Thermal Bads and Hot Springs
A visit to Ischia is not complete before you relaxed at one of the many thermal bads. Full of minerals which are known to help against arthritis and common skin diseases. The water comes from natural hot springs, which can reach a temperature up to 100 degrees Celsius! Luckily in the thermal bads, the water is cooled, so you’re able to relax and experience the magical wonders of this healing water.
- Explore Ischia’s Wine Industry
When the island was colonized by the Romans they changed the name of Ischia into Eneria. Which means ‘Land of Wine’. Winemaking dates back until the time of the Greeks, so you can trust they know what they’re doing on this island!
Make sure to join a wine tour around the island and enjoy some of the renowned Italian wines!
- Enjoy one of Ischia’s beaches
The island offers many white sandy beaches and a beautiful crystal clear sea. A beach day on Ischia is something you’ll never forget. The laidback vibe will let you forget about all the stress you might have before starting your holiday.
Ischia is the best place to relax in Italy.
- Explore the Ancient site
There are many beautiful historical sites you can visit while in Ischia. Perhaps the most famous one, which you can’t miss is Castello Aragonese. This medieval castle is something you’ll directly see when arriving on the island. It is the most eye-catching landmark of Ischia.
How to Get to Ischia?
Ischia is easily accessible from the mainland of Italy. The island is closeby Naples, only 18 miles. And a few miles further away you’ll find the city of Sorrento. Both cities offer several ferry connection to Ischia, with Naples the most common and quickest connection to the island.
A ferry from Naples will take you between 1 and 2 hours. There are two ferry companies connecting Naples with Ischia. Medmar Service which leaves 5 times a day and the Alilauro service which leaves 12 times a day.
When you’re traveling around Italy by car, you’re limited to take the Medmar Service.
Ischia doesn’t have an airport, so reaching the island is limited by taking a ferry. The closest international airport is the airport of Naples. The ferry port is easily accessible when you coming from Naples airport. It will only take around 25 minutes by bus.
Best Way to Get Around Ischia
There are several ways to get around the island. Because this island is not as busy as Capri, it is allowed to take your own (rental) car with you.
Driving around the island is easy and relax. There is not much traffic, to roads are good, and you’ll love the scenery. Such amazing views everywhere!
It is also possible to rent a car on the island. When you don’t drive a car there are many options in how you can get around Ischia:
- Public Buses
There over 20 different bus lines connecting all the places on the island. Timetables, prices, and routes can differ depending on the season.
Getting around the island by bus is a cheap way to explore the island.
A one-way ticket will cost around € 1,50 (depending on the season).
- Small Taxi’s (TukTuk)
Have you ever been to Asia? You probably drove in a TukTuk, a small three-wheel taxi. In Ischia, you’ll find these as well. It is a fun, but more expensive way, to go around the island.
You’ll find many taxi drivers when arriving at the port, so you can just pick one on the go.
- Water Taxi’s
The best way to reach the most interesting spots on the island is to take a water taxi. For a few euro’s a person the water taxi can bring you to the most popular spots on the island.
It is also possible to book a taxi for the whole day, but that’s more expensive. You’ll need to ask around for the prices because they vary per season.
Ready for some exercising? Rent a bicycle and go around the island, exploring the beautiful sites and stopping at a few unique places you won’t stop when you’re taking a bus.
Cycling around the island is a fun thing to do and there enough places where you can jump in the sea to cool off!
Elba is the third-largest island of Italy. Located only 6 miles away from the mainland. Piombino is the city that’s closest to Elba. Nowadays it is known for its stunning beaches and a perfect holiday destination.
World-wide the island is known for the place where Napoleon was exiled in 1814 after his forced abdication. He lived ten months on the island developing a series of economic reforms that should improve the quality of life. Early 1815 he escaped the island to France.
Best Things to Do in Elba
- Exploring beaches
Elba is great for a few days relaxing on the white sandy beaches
- Discovering Napoleon’s house
You can visit the house Napoleon used to stay during his exile. Interesting place in history!
- Go Snorkeling
With Crystal blue waters and great marine life, the sea around Elba is perfect for snorkeling and exploring the underwater life.
- Hiking around the island
Elba is great for hiking around, there are many beautiful walks along the coast you can explore.
How to Reach Elba
Reaching Elba is straightforward. You can take the ferry from Piombino at the mainland of Italy. Ferries leaving several times an hour and the trip is less than 60 minutes.
Getting Around Elba
As with many other Italian islands, it is easy to get around Elba. Public transport is very reliable. Buses connecting the different parts of the island and when you don’t want to wait for a bus, you can always take a taxi.
Driving around Elba is also very straightforward. The roads are similar as on the mainland of Italy. Traffic is not so busy, so it is easy to drive around and stop wherever you like to enjoy the beautiful views.
There is a lot to choose from when visiting the Italian islands. Even when you’re visiting Italy for a few days, make sure to include one of the islands in your itinerary. When you’re ready to book a trip, check out our recommendations for the best way to book your trip.