The best things to see and do in Ischia
Why the Island of Ischia is still an under the radar destination in Italy doesn’t make any sense to me. All I can say is that after spending 5 days in this magical island with BSO Group, I can’t wait to be back. Beautiful landscapes, a great culinary culture, history and natural healing waters merge to make this island as dreamy as ever. Whether you’re spending a weekend or a few weeks in this Italian gem off the coast of Naples, here are 6 of the best things to do in Ischia.
Relax in Ischia’s famous thermal baths
Ischia is known as the European capital of wellbeing. So not treating yourself to its healing waters and natural thermal baths would be a shame. There are hundreds of places you can go to pamper yourself, but there is one that is an absolute must: the Giardini Poseidon Terme. This thermal park in the Forio area is the largest in Ischia, boasting over 20 pools offering sensational views of the Bay of Citara. Immerse yourself in this relaxing scenery and don’t forget to try the natural sauna, the Japanese bath and the Kneipp groups. While if you’re in the Sant’Angelo area of the Island, don’t miss out on the dreamy Thermal Park and Spa Aphrodite Apollon. With its 8 pools with varying temperatures immersed in 7000sqm of vegetation, you’ll surely relax the mind and body.
Have wine from the Cantine di Crateca
One of the absolute highlights of our trip to Ischia was visiting the Cantine di Crateca: a family-run winery with stunning views of the island and sea. We visited the winery’s vineyards that extend for 2 hectares at an altitude of 250m on panoramic terraces with views of Mount Epomeo and the sea. Fun fact: “Crateca” is an inactive crater which has been recovered by the Castagna family and transformed into a fantastic winery. The family replanted selected vines and turned the panoramic terraces into picturesque vineyards. The star of the show? The Crateca Biancolella – a dynamic, fresh and savory wine with great texture that has the perfect balance. Definitely get yourself a bottle (or two)!
Visit the Aragonese Castle
Dive into the Island’s history by visiting the beautiful Castello Aragonese. Step inside to travel through 25 centuries of conquests, reigns and stories by visiting the castle’s convents, churches, prisons and gardens. From the macabre death chairs in the convent of the order of St. Clare, to the eerie Bourbon Prison where political prisoners of the Italian Renaissance were imprisoned. From the Crypt of Nobles below the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption where you can admire stunning frescoes, to the unfinished Church of the Immaculate Conception. You can visit the castle on your own or with a guide. We had a passionate guide from Platypus tours showing us around!
Sunset aperitivo at Casa al Sole
Whether it’s a romantic evening with your loved one or a drink with your friends or family, Bar A Mare must be on your radar. Located on the rooftop of the beautiful boutique hotel Casa al Sole, Bar A Mare is a rooftop terrace offering jaw-dropping views of Borgo Sant’Angelo and the sea. As the colors of the sky turn into shades of pink and orange, sit down in the comfy chairs, enjoy the wind breeze through your hair, sip on a bubbly and listen to the sound of music floating in the air. Notice the beautiful maiolica floors from Vietri sul Mare, the picturesque setting and the homey service. Bar A Mare is the perfect way to kick off your evening with perfect drinks and home-cooked finger food. I’m still dreaming of those yummy polpettine al limone!
Organize a boat excursion
While the island of Ischia boasts many beaches, the best way to enjoy the sea is by organizing a boat excursion. You can rent small boats for the day or you can organize a boat excursion with Imperatore Travel World like we did. We explored the island, learned of its many wonders and legends, and went for a swim. Before reaching the beach coves for a swim, we navigated along the coast and admired the rocky landscape (at times characterized by strange and curious shapes). The one that struck me the most was the “Piede di Tifeo” or “Tifeo’s Foot”. There’s a rock along the coast that looks exactly like a food! Legend has it that the foot belongs to the famous Tifeo – the giant who was imprisoned by Zeus below the Island.
Indulge in Ischia’s culinary culture
Unlike you’d expect, Ischia isn’t only known for its seafood. After all, it’s an island with mountains too! Quality ingredients and simplicity reign in Ischia’s culinary culture. From tasting traditional Ischian recipes at Trattoria il Focolare, to tasting Italy’s most famous pizzaiolo’s pizza at Franco’s Restaurant; from enjoying seafood excellences with a view at Ristorante Il Mare, savouring delicious Ischian dishes with a twist and vegetarian cuisine at Il Corbezzolo. Check out my full guide to Ischia and its restaurants.