The choice of the most beautiful islands in Italy is quite vast. You surely have heard of two huge and well known islands: Sicily and Sardinia, but Italy has many more tiny hidden gems. Basically all Italian islands are pretty, yet some might be among the most awe-inspiring places you will ever see.
For summer 2020 it is important to remark that Sardinia, Sicily and the area of Naples were among the zones least affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, so most of the islands I describe might be among the best places to go to this year.
Read on to discover the most beautiful islands in Italy.
By far one of the most paradise places in Europe, Sardinia leaves a lasting impression. You will be delighted by pure, natural shores, shallow and calm turquoise water resembling a swimming pool – Sardinia is unbeatable for beaches.
The most famous part of the island is the luxury northern Emerald Coast (Costa Smeralda), where most of the richest Italians have their summer villas and moor their yachts. If you want something more low-key, head to the south. 50 km from the island’s main city – Cagliari, you will find spectacular beaches in Villasimius and Costa Rei. One more thing – you may see pink flamingos there!
I’m strongly biased towards this island… I lived in Sardinia for a year and it’s one of my favourite places on Earth. It stays in the heart forever.
2. La Maddalena
One of the most luxury parts of the Italian coast, La Maddalena is a splendid archipelago of tiny islands located between Italian Sardinia and French Corsica. The biggest island and its main town is also called La Maddalena. The archipelago is famous for secluded beaches, some accessible only by footpaths, hidden behind the fragrant Mediterranean macchia (shrubland).
One of the smaller islands, Caprera, was the residence of Giuseppe Garibaldi, the Italian revolution leader. There are some fortifications scattered around the islands, however the main attraction is the nature itself, in particular characteristic, beautifully shaped granite rocks, some of them intensely orange.
A symbol of jet-set and superior luxury, Capri is probably the world’s most famous island. That’s where famous brands shoot their ad campaigns. With its dramatic rocks, wide vistas and lovely streets, it’s undeniably beautiful and just can’t be omitted among the most beautiful islands of Italy.
It may get crowded on summer days, though. It is busy during the daytime, when ferries from Naples come over, but it’s very still in the night, as only a small percentage of visitors can afford to spend a night there!
Capri’s bigger, yet less famous sister is located much closer to Naples. This lovely volcanic island is famous for two attractions. The first are its thermal waters and fantastic spa built around them. And the second is the imposing medieval Aragonese castle located just off the island. The castle is linked to the island by a very photogenic bridge. It’s definitely one of those postcard-perfect Italian places!
Lipari is one of seven fascinating Aeolian Islands a.k.a. Lipari Islands (including also Stromboli that I tell you about below). They belong to the region of Sicily. This volcanic archipelago boasts some of the most spectacular sea views in Europe. Steep and high, yet quite small, these gems give you a view that you will never forget. From each of the Aeolian Islands you can see at least one, but usually several of their “sisters”.
The islands strictly preserve their natural and historical heritage. There are no new buildings, and the old ones are constructed from volcanic stones, such as pieces of lava, or porous tufo or pumice cubes. Many houses are decorated with characteristic (for entire Sicily) glazed and hand-painted terracotta tiles.
Lipari’s main town bears the same name. It’s very pretty and extremely photogenic. From there, you can go for a trip around the island, reaching its high parts from which you have a clear view to Salina and Vulcano island, and depending on visibility, even three more islands.
Veiled in never-ending fumes of its still active volcano, Stromboli might be among the most exotic places you will see. For me, one of the fascinating aspects of this scenic island is the fact that its (very few) inhabitants live in tranquillity in a constant danger of the volcano eruption. Obviously, it might be more-less predicted, but it is recurring. There was an eruption just a few days after I have visited the island.
Its beaches are pitch-black, which makes them unique and very attractive. You can hire a guide to hike towards the volcano. The main town on the island is very pretty, it’s an authentic old-fashioned fishermen village. There are no real cars on the island, the streets are too narrow for them. Instead, characteristic tiny old Piaggio Ape three-wheeled vehicles are used to transport people and objects.
The biggest island of the Mediterranean Sea, Sicily is legendary and mysterious. That’s due to its eventful history, as it was a melting point of numerous cultures, each of which left its strong mark. Its culturally complex identity and very rich culture and history, make it a fascinating place to explore.
But then, it’s also famous for its dark side: the world’s first mafia originated here. As a tourist, you don’t need to worry about it. You will be much more interested in incredibly delicious food (and very generous portions!), gorgeous beaches and unique ancient Greek and Arab monuments.
The island is huge, you can’t see all of it at once, so let me suggest you some of the highlights of Sicily: You can choose to see Etna volcano, Taormina, Syracuse, Ragusa, Cefalù, San Vito Lo Capo, Favignana islands, Palermo, the Valley of temples in Agrigento.
Among the most beautiful islands of Italy, I can’t omit the Tremiti Islands in the region of Apulia, belonging to Gargano National Park. This tiny archipelago is famous for fantastic diving spots and unspoilt nature.
But as it is always the case in Italy, it also has impressive monuments. On the island of San Nicola, you may visit a fortress, photogenically facing the beach – Castello dei Badiali. And don’t miss beautiful medieval abbey called Santa Maria a Mare.
9. Murano & Burano
On the list of the most beautiful islands of Italy there is one more to add… but it’s not really one island. I’m talking about Venice, of course, which is actually an archipelago of 117 mini-islands! Venice doesn’t need an introduction, so let me tell you instead about two famous external islands belonging to the Venetian Lagoon: Murano and Burano.
Murano lies closer to Venice and it is the birthplace of the world-famous Murano glass. All those skillful glass artworks and objects full of fantasy and colour come from here. There are only a couple of canals on each of these two small islands, but you can still feel the Venetian touch here.
Burano has hundreds of years of tradition in lace making. Moreover, it is famous for its tiny houses painted in intense vivid colours, many of them inhabited by artists. A curiosity: The colours are not random, they follow a traditional system and their owners can’t just paint their house as they please – they need a permit from the local government, which will allow for certain colours, but refuse the others!
Other Most Beautiful Islands in Italy
Other most beautiful islands of Italy include Elba, Capraia, Procida, other exquisite Aeolian islands like Salina, Vulcano, Panarea, Alicudi and Filicudi, as well as Favignana. And last but not least, even Italian lakes have beautiful islands with historical buildings – such as islands of Como Lake and Lago Maggiore.
If you liked the article – share it! Leave a comment or ask me anything you need to know. I visited every place I write about, so I can give you some useful advice – just ask!