Ischia (pronounced ISK-ee-a) is a beautiful island in the Gulf of Naples. Known for its thermal springs and close to the island of Procida (PRO-shi-da), Ischia came to be on my radar a few years ago (don’t ask me how, my memory is awful). I had forgotten all about it but when a friend invited me to Sorrento for a week and I did some research I realised I’d be really close to Ischia so knew I had to go!
So after a week spent in the lovely Sant’Agnello and the Amalfi coast my friend headed back to the UK and I set off for Ischia for a blissful four nights on my own. I love my solo time and I needed it as I was still reeling from my wonderful Dad’s death the month before. I have written about travelling with grief here.
GETTING TO ISCHIA ISLAND
I took the hydrofoil from Naples “Molo Beverello” ferry port to Ischia port – the main harbour on Ischia. With a journey time of just over one hour the ticket was €21. You can take a slightly slower ferry which is cheaper but it depends what time you want to go. Sailings are pretty regular – check the timetable, prices and book online at https://www.traghetti-ischia.info/
If you book online, the website tells you to turn up really early but all you will end up doing is waiting around. There isn’t really a queue system (as I found out when taking buses around Amalfi!) and plenty of people turned up not long before departure. If you have your ticket then 30 minutes before should be fine, probably even less than that but I don’t want to be responsible for anybody missing the boat!
You can buy tickets at the ferry port but there may be queues. For your information, crossings are available to two other ports on Ischia – Forio and Casamicciolo – but less regularly. And you can sail from Pozzuoli – the other ferry port in Naples but I did not go here.
Arriving on Ischia I was immediately struck by the old world fisherman’s town feel of it at the harbour. I went in October and it was sunny and warm, thank goodness as we had had some bad weather in Sant Agnello! Although there were plenty of tourists on Ischia, it still felt real and relatively untouched. Hopefully most people keep going to Capri, the more famous island, and Ischia can retain the charm that makes it so, charming.
Walking from the harbour to the bus station (2 minutes over the road) I got a bus timetable (free) and a bus ticket (€1.50 for a single journey). If you want to know how the buses work in Italy I have written a short article about it.
Here is a map of Ischia. I booked a B&B in the southern area of Barono d’Ischia overlooking Maronti bay.
WHERE TO STAY ON ISCHIA
To find true peace and great views I booked somewhere that is only reachable on foot. If you want help bringing your luggage up the stepped pathway you can ring the accommodation and they will come and help you. This is where I stayed – https://www.booking.com/hotel/it/casa-antonio.html
A small family run place you’ll feel like you have just stepped into their home, because you have really! The room I had was great, fairly simple but with everything I needed including a great bathroom, a spacious wardrobe and a mini fridge. The view from the room was simply beautiful and I really enjoyed some quiet time on the balcony reading, nibbling on Italian cheese and watching the sun go down.
There are lots of hotels, B&B’s and private rentals available on Ischia to suit all budgets.
If I was to go back I would probably stay in Ischia town (the town has the same name as the island) nearer to the ferry port and just so that if I wanted to walk around in the evening there would be more choice. In fact I would probably do a bit of both – town centre first and then finish up with seclusion at somewhere like Casa Antonio.
Because the island is so small and the bus system so good, you can’t really go wrong wherever you stay.
WHAT TO DO ON ISCHIA
There are many things to do in Ischia. Apart from lazy beach days you can:
- Spoil yourself at one of the thermal parks – check times as most close out of season. There are seven at the time of writing in 2019 and you can see them all here: https://www.ischia.it/en/healthy-waters/thermal-parks
- Find one of the public (and free) thermal spring areas around the island – I’m not telling you where these are, some things must not be given up so easily (Maronti beach would be a good start, but sshhh)
- You must visit Castello Aragonese (in the footsteps of Will Smith!) – it’s well worth the entry fee of €10 and the views are incredible
- Go and explore each town. I got the bus to Forio and wandered round here for a time – my favourite beach was in Forio
- Take a boat tour around the island
- Visit botanical gardens:
- Go hiking – the best way to explore a new area and find places off the beaten track. Check out hiking trails on the official site: https://www.ischia.it/en/discovering-ischia/what-to-do/hiking-and-trails
- Take a water taxi, at least once! Recommend to do this (depending on your itinerary) from Sant’Angelo as this pretty area is worth a visit. Then take the taxi across water to Maronti beach, from where the bus stop is just a few minutes walk.
- Go to the ferry port and book yourself a day trip to Procida – Ischia’s smaller neighbour. One full day here would be fine, although I did spend a night here when my Ischia itinerary changed.
For a more detailed look at my Ischia itinerary you can read
GETTING AROUND ISCHIA
I did a lot of exploring on foot while I was here. Ischia is a pretty small island and it has a good bus system considering, although sometimes you find your nose in someone else’s armpit. Note where I stayed in Barona d’Ischia you could not travel clockwise, it was like the end of the bus route and you have to take the bus anti-clockwise to the port area to get on different buses that serve the rest of the island. Not a problem as such but something to consider.
You can hire a car or a scooter and I was going to do this but after reading about it I decided against doing so. The roads here can be quite narrow and the Italian drivers quite fast and unforgiving. I wasn’t sure this would fit in with my vision of relaxing, and the bus system coupled with my feet proved to be all I needed to get around. Maybe in the winter season.
There are also water taxis in various areas and I took a water taxi from Sant’Angelo to Maronti beach for €3 – such fun!
Side to side Ischia is 10km (6 miles) and from top to bottom only 7km (4 miles) so in theory you could easily walk around the whole island. If it was flat, which it isn’t. Ischia is a volcanic island so you will find mountains in your way, and thank goodness, because you find incredible views from them.
DAY TRIPS FROM ISCHIA ISLAND
From Ischia island you can reach Procida by ferry in 30 minutes. Or you can take a trip to Capri. You’ll find the timetables and prices on the link near the top of this article. Or you can go to the harbour in Ischia and book tickets and get information there.
I hope this has helped to convince you to visit Ischia island – although I enjoyed writing it and reliving the memories part of me still wants it to remain the jewel it is, so don’t tell too many people 🙂