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10 Best Italian Islands to Visit on Vacation

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Portu Guinco Beach in Villasimius on Sardinia island in Italy

Portu Guinco Beach on Sardinia island, Italy

The 10 best Italian islands to visit on vacation capture the quintessential charm, unparalleled charisma, and ancient beauty of a country with a zest for life and an understanding of how to enjoy simple pleasures.

From grand elegance to imperial panoramas, a serene escape to hidden beaches, each island offers you a new way to experience the wonders of Italy. Whether in a well-known town with views to a legendary coastline or in a hidden resort beneath a looming volcanic peak, Italy's islands are a distinctive combination of luxury, mystique, and magnetism.

No matter the type of traveler, the country’s islands can inspire and delight, with promises of adventure, relaxation, and memorable experiences that last a lifetime.

  1. 1. Sardinia
  2. 2. Ischia
  3. 3. Elba
  4. 4. Borromean Islands
  5. 5. The Aeolian Islands
  6. 6. Procida
  7. 7. Capri
  8. 8. Ponza
  9. 9. The Aegadian Islands
  10. 10. Sicily
  11. Explore the Best Italian Islands on Vacation

1. Sardinia

View of Cagliari city and port on Sardinia island in Italy

Cagliari on Sardinia island, Italy

Sardinia is a majestic Italian island that feels a world away. With its own language and particular cuisine, emerald waters and shimmering white beaches, the island can feel like a different country.

Soaring mountains, hidden ancient villages, and famous pecorino cheese add to the captivating ambiance and endearing charisma that spreads from prehistoric tombs to coastal paths framed by limestone cliffs. Whether looking for adventure, culinary expertise, history, or the perfect coastline, Sardinia has it all.

Highlights: Poetto Beach • Sailing at Asinara Island • Cagliari city tours • Bosa comune tour • Su Nuraxi di Barumini

2. Ischia

Ischia Island seen from Castle Aragonese

Ischia island, Italy

Ischia is in the Bay of Naples and celebrated for gorgeous gardens, thermal spas, and a stunning Aragonese castle that crowns the landscape.

Compared with the glamor of neighboring Capri, Ischia has a relaxed ambiance, further emphasized by the glistening waters, boats bobbing in the harbor, and beach-goers lounging in the Mediterranean light.

The quiet island possesses serene opulence you can find when on a Zicasso luxury Italy tour, as you uncover chestnut forests decorating the interior, vineyards thriving in the volcanic rock, and each town’s unique personality offering an easy introduction to the unpretentious splendor.

Highlights: Spiaggia di Cava Grado • Le fumarole dei Maronti • Spiaggia di San Montano Beach • Giardini la Mortella Botanical Garden • Fine dining tours

3. Elba

Beach of Fetovaia at Elba Island in Italy

Beach of Fetovaia on Elba island, Italy

More than just the island on which Napoleon Bonaparte was exiled, Elba is a collection of jagged shores, crystal-clear azure waters, and sandy stretches of untouched beaches connected to secluded coves.

Hikers can blaze across the trails that lead to the peak of Monte Capanne and dazzling panoramas that sweep from rugged slopes to the glistening water on the horizon. Outside of peak season, the island can feel relatively untouched, with the beauty of the coastline accentuated by olive groves and grapevines. From Napoleon’s villa to a scenic cable-car ride, Elba is an island that usurps expectations.

Highlights: Sant'Andrea Beach • Pomonte's Beach • Beach of Fetovaia • Castello del Volterraio • Villa San Martino Residenza Napoleonica

4. Borromean Islands

Lake Maggiore Borromean Islands, Isola Bella and Isola Pescatori with, Isola Madre in the distance

Isola Bella and Isola Pescatori in Lake Maggiore, Italy

Instead of the quintessential Mediterranean island, the Borromean Islands are located in Lake Maggiore in the Italian Alps and reflect the opulence, prestige, and preservation of the aristocratic family.

Roaming peacocks and manicured terraced gardens reflect the Baroque grandeur of the palace that overlooks the water. With a view directly to the surrounding mountains, the island, with its faux cave, statuary, and gilded flourishes, provides the perfect setting in which you can experience 17th-century luxuries, while the neighboring Isola Pescatori hosts a tiny fishing village connected to the main island’s history.

Explore more possibilities for visiting the Borromean Islands when enjoying our Lake Como itineraries and vacation packages that further reveal Italy’s Lake District.

Highlights: Isola Bella • Villa Taranto Botanical Gardens • Lake Maggiore cruise • Cableway Stresa Mottarone • Santa Caterina del Sasso

Learn more: Lake Como Vacations

5. The Aeolian Islands

Vulcano island from Lipari island, Italy

Vulcano island from Lipari island, Italy

The Aeolian Islands provide a unique view of fireworks off the coast of Sicily in the evening. The volcanic archipelago can feel like a romantic escape into a mild climate and ancient heritage, with a settlement history that dates back to the Neolithic era. Hiking trails wind around the seven islands, and the warm waters and deep seabed provide a wonderful opportunity for watersports.

The Aeolian Islands can seem like the perfect Mediterranean paradise, where sailboats glide through the sea, gourmet restaurants serve local Malvasia wine, and black-sand beaches gleam in the sunlight. Adventure, luxury, and seclusion become the highlights of an Aeolian Islands visit, especially during the best times to visit Southern Italy.

Highlights: Museo Archeologico Eoliano L. Bernabo' Brea' • Hiking Stromboli Volcano • Climbing Scalata al Cratere • Cave di pomice Porticello • Beach Punta dell'Asino

6. Procida

View of Marina Corricella on Procida Island, Italy

Procida island, Italy

Procida is another island in the Bay of Naples, but unlike Capri, it feels like a secret that locals don’t know about or don’t share. The authentic ambiance stems from narrow cobbled lanes, sun-drenched coastline, and colorful homes that line the calm water of the marina.

The island is an ideal destination to explore by strolling between the vibrant marinas and casual hotels, with an ambiance that caters mostly to locals.

From 17th-century fishing houses to the towering church with a facade that glows yellow, a medieval fortress with stunning views to quiet beaches perfect for relaxing, a combination of waterfront charm and local life makes Procida unmissable unforgettable.

Highlights: Meandering Marina Grande • Hiking Terra Murata • Seafood culinary tours • Chiaiolella beach • Day trip to Vivara

7. Capri

Faraglioni stacks off the coast of Capri island, Italy

Capri island, Italy

Capri is the Mediterranean embodiment of glitz and glamor. The gorgeous landscape and stunning seaside cliffs provide a majestic ambiance, emphasized by the blue water.

Elegant villas draped with bougainvilleas lead to ancient gardens that overlook the plunging bluffs. Panoramas to the Sorrento Peninsula provide ample entertainment as boats glide into view, while folklore about emperors and celebrities continues to add to the rich foundations of opulence and prestige.

From the legend of the shimmering Blue Grotto to the unique Faraglioni stacks, the elegant combination of cuisine and views from the piazzetta to the often-overlooked lanes of Anacapri, Capri is a sublime experience you can further explore with our best Amalfi Coast tours.

Highlights: Exploring the Blue Grotto • Touring the Piazzetta di Capri • Ascending Monte Solaro by Chairlift • The Pool of Venus • Anacapri tour

8. Ponza

The bay of Chiaia de Luna on Ponza Island, Italy

The bay of Chiaia de Luna on Ponza Island, Italy

While Ponza has been a consistently popular summer destination for Romans and Neapolitans, it remains little known to visitors, especially outside the summer months.

With a remarkable history connected to the Roman Empire and a destination for English speakers in the 1940s, the island retains a sense of opulence and charm, captured in the sunrise-colored facades that greet visitors along the marina.

With crystalline water and elegant beaches, the island maintains a small-town ambiance, while still providing access to exciting scuba sites, relaxing coastline, and remarkable hiking. From Roman cisterns to artisan boutiques, visitors even have access to a Michelin-starred restaurant.

Highlights: Exploring Via Banchina di Fazio • The bay of Chiaia de Luna • Hiking Monte Guardia • Visiting La Cisterna Romana della Dragonara • Sunset cruises

9. The Aegadian Islands

Levanzo island, Italy

Levanzo island, Italy

The three Aegadian Islands have mountainous terrain and civil histories that date back to prehistoric times, demonstrated in rock art found inside preserved caves. The waters gleam with azure colors against white cliffs and beaches offer pristine opportunities for swimming and scuba diving.

Classic architecture reflects the diverse cultures and civilizations that inhabited the islands, from Arab towers to Genovesi marinas, with contemporary culture respecting the untamed wilderness where land meets sea. Unique, untouched, and a secret treasure with hidden luxuries for you to enjoy in quiet seclusion.

Highlights: Spiaggia di Cala Rossa Beach • Grotte bue marino • Island hopping in Egadi • Cave of the Camel • Scuba diving

10. Sicily

Ancient theatre of Taormina in Sicily with Mount Etna in the background

Ancient Theatre of Taormina in Sicily, Italy

Sicily is its own destination, connected to Italy by a common language and shared history, but set apart by its staggering separate past, individual heritage, and unique dialect. The renowned island has acted as a crossroads of classical civilizations as they traveled around the Mediterranean searching for legends and leaving behind myths.

Glistening golden beaches, Baroque grandeur, sparkling azure seas, tremendous hiking trails, and a dramatic volcanic peak add to the luster of an island with seven Unesco World Heritage sites. Our top 7 things to do in Sicily can take you from ancient Greek temples to Byzantine cathedrals, lovely vineyards to elegant chocolates, while our sample Sicily tours and vacations demonstrate the island’s authenticity and opulence, while embodying traditional Mediterranean flavor.

Highlights: Palazzo Conte Federico • Climbing Mount Etna • Day trip to Isole dello Stagnone • Teatro Antico di Taormina • Ortigia tour

Explore the Best Italian Islands on Vacation

Portoferraio on Elba island, Italy

Portoferraio on Elba island, Italy

Idyllic beaches, unique volcanic landscapes, and shimmering turquoise waters demonstrate the wonders of Italy’s beaches. Beyond the shoreline, you can find ancient history coming to life and contemporary culture with a casual connection to the past, all with a focus on life’s little pleasures, from Elba to Ischia, Venice to Sicily.

Find inspiration for your custom trip by visiting our Italy travel guide, enjoy sample itineraries that can be tailored to your preferences on our Italy tours and vacations, or find your preferred island exploration with our 9 best Italian island itineraries.

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