Key information: Aeolian Islands
- These fascinating and beautiful volcanic islands have endless marvellous walking opportunities.
- Walkopedia rating87.5
- Natural interest15.5
- Human interest10
- Negative points0
- Total rating87.5
- Length: Variable
- Maximum Altitude: 986m
- Level of Difficulty: Variable
This walk description page is at an early stage of development, and will be expanded over time. Your comments on this walk, your experiences and tips, and your photos are very welcome.
This group of 7 fascinating and beautiful volcanic islands in the Tyrrhenian Sea off Sicily's north-east coast makes for some truly magical walking. They are World Heritage Sites for their “natural, savage, unspoiled environment”.
The islands have been subjects of myth for millennia: the home of the god Vulcan – ascribed with justice given the regular fiery displays at Stromboli – and of Aeolus, God of the winds.
While they range from highly active volcanoes to peaceful, green, hilly backwaters with huge sea and island views from their upper slopes, they share the steep drama, weird formations and black beaches of their fiery origins. All have charming towns to explore and eat in, with an African-Italian-fusion cultural feel. The water is clear.
Access by ferry from Sicily and the mainland. Island-hop between very different locations for marvellously varied joys – this is on Walkopedia’s bucket list.
The main islands are:
Stromboli: this spectacular volcanic island has been continuously erupting for over 2,000 years. Make an evening walk up the volcano’s flanks to see craters spewing extraordinarily “volcanic bombs”. See the sun set over the Tyrrhenian Sea. At the summit, you can view 6 active craters. Guided groups are compulsory. With its towering volcano, black beaches, small population and buildings made of volcanic rock, Stromboli is no average touristy island.
Lipari: the largest and most fertile of the islands, with a host of gorgeous paths to explore, through scented vegetation and small fields behind stone walls, with huge sea views as common backgrounds. The finest views of all are from [594m] Monte St Angelo, roughly at the centre of the archipelago. Walk to San Salvatore on the southern extreme of the island, and back around the western flank of 369m Monte Guardia.
Southerly Vulcano: a different world of bare rocky upper slopes, with the sort-of active 500m (ish – different height ascribed) Gran Cratere looming high above, with a proper crater in the middle – you need to climb it for incredible views. On the northern side is 123m Vulcanello, a 3-cratered little volcano just connected by an isthmus. Further south is the Monte Aria cone.
Salina: excellent walks on this steep and green twin-coned island include along the Monte dei Porre, Monte Rivi and 968m Monte Fossa delle Felci hillsides, for yet more thrillers of views. And woodlands of chestnut, poplar and fern, and birds. Also enjoy the semi–submerged crater at Pollara. A relaxed atmosphere (sleepy little towns) and many lazing options.
Panarea: a small island, but the largest in its broken little archipelago. Gorgeous (some think it the prettiest of all) and claimed to have a Greek feel. And popular in a glitzy, yachty sort of way. Less to write home about walk-wise.
Other accounts: share your experiences
Your comments on this walk, your experiences and suggestions, and your photos are very welcome. Where appropriate, you will be credited for your contribution.
See also expedition planning, including our universal expedition checklist.
Walkopedia encourages responsible travel.
Books and Maps
Books on this walk
Walking in Sicily – Cicerone: 6 Aeolian Islands walks.
Lonely Planet Italy – Damien Simonis/Lonely Planet
Rough Guide Italy – various/Rough Guides
An Aeolian Islands Trekking map published by Arbatus in Italian, English, French and German – sounds excellent.
Stanfords: www.stanfords.co.uk. An excellent (and user-friendly) online specialist source of worldwide maps (it is also good for guidebooks).
Maps also available at www.eolietrekking.com
Best times to walk/weather
Best times to walk
Lovely in Spring and Autumn, too hot for sensible walking in high Summer, and occasionally sees snow in winter.
From Milazzo in Sicily, the journey by hydrofoil takes 2 hours. Ferries go to Stromboli from various places, including Siremar Ferries ( www.siremar.it )
Ferries/hydrofoils from MiIazzo (near Messina) in Sicily and Naples and elsewhere on the mainland. Hydrofoils are quicker but more expensive but more expensive than ferries. More go to Lipari, but you can start on most of the islands and hop on to other islands. Given the limited use of cars and the expense of the ferry, most people leave their cars behind.
Those on organised expeditions are likely to be transported from/to arranged start/departure points.
No permits are needed to do this walk.
Possible problems, health, other warnings
- Active volcanoes: beware on Stromboli in particular.
- Heat and strong sun. Carry enough water and protect yourself.
- Heights: can be dangerous; not for those who have difficulties with heights.
See also the websites in our useful links page for more detailed, and up-to-date, information.
Safety and problems: All walks have inherent risks and potential problems, and many of the walks featured on this website involve significant risks, dangers and problems. Problems of any sort can arise on any walk. This website does not purport to identify any (or all) actual or potential risks, dangers and problems that may relate to any particular walk. Any person who is considering undertaking this walk should do careful research and make their own assessment of the risks, dangers and possible problems involved. They should also go to “Important information” for further important information.
Make sure you have appropriate insurance.
Guided or independent?
While these walks can be done independently, many people form or join organised/supported expeditions and guided is compulsory on Stromboli. Expedition organisers include:
ATG do an excellent looking Island-hopping walking holiday.
Explore! Does a ‘Scilian Volcano Hiking’ expedition. 8 days, including Stromboli and the famous Mt Etna [link later] on the north-east coast of Sicily. www.explore.co.uk
The guidebooks have a selection of possible accommodation.
See what the commentary on Tripadvisor is on possible places to stay – although do take their reviews with a pinch of salt, as they can be “interested”.
A good range of hotels can be found on the unimaginatively but effectively named Hotels.com.
Other information and tips
Useful websites and information
There are many websites with relevant information. Here are some that we think are useful or have been recommended to us.
Other things to do in the area
Safety and problems: All walks have inherent risks and potential problems, and many of the walks featured on this website involve significant risks, dangers and problems. Problems of any sort can arise on any walk. This website does not purport to identify any (or all) actual or potential risks, dangers and problems that may relate to any particular walk.
Any person who is considering undertaking this walk should do careful research and make their own assessment of the risks, dangers and possible problems involved. They should also go to “Important information” for further important information.
share your experiences
Add your experiences, suggestions and photos. We would be delighted to receive your writing and ideas (which will be attributed appropriately where published).
Anyone planning an expedition to this place should see further important information about this walk.
Responsible travel matters, a lot. How you travel will make a real difference - for better or worse. PLEASE consider this when making plans. Read more