Wondering if Ischia is worth visiting? Keep reading for my honest take (as someone who has been there)!
I visited Ischia with my dad and partner for the first time in 2022 on the advice of an Italian friend. He told us that Ischia is one of the places in Italy where Italians take their holidays. We stayed two nights on the island at a hotel near the Port of Ischia and loved our time there.
There’s a bygone quality to Ischia that’s immediately captivating. You’ll find people on scooters riding around the island, clothing dying on the lines in the hot Italian sun, and tiny garden plots where locals are growing tomatoes or grapes on the vine. Time seems to move a little slower, which is a welcome change of pace from the hustle and bustle of Naples.
Is Ischia worth visiting? My Honest Opinion
Yes, I loved visiting Ischia and would definitely consider it to be worth visiting. In particular, I’d say that the Castle of Ischia alone is worthy of a trip to the island. This small islet/fortress was one of the most memorable places I’ve visited in Italy, and it had incredible views throughout.
When I visited Ischia, I spent about three days on the island. Truthfully, it felt a little long – if I were to go back, I’d visit as a day trip from Naples. In one day, you can easily get a sense of the island, visit the castle, try a few local dishes, and spend a little time swimming in the water.
Alternatively, a longer trip would allow you to really settle into island life and slow down. If I had the trip to do again, I’d either cut it shorter or extend it by several days – three days felt like an awkward amount of time.
Ischia is a small island in the Tyrrhenian Sea on the northern end of the Gulf of Naples. It is one of the Phlegrean Islands, an archipelago in Southern Italy, and it has suffered many devastating volcanic eruptions during its history. Ischia’s known history dates back to the Bronze Age, and it was at different points run by the Greeks and the Romans.
Today, Ischia is a popular tourist destination and sees about 6 million tourists per year. It can get very crowded, especially during the peak tourist months of July and August. During these times, traffic on the small roads can get particularly congested and be difficult to manage.
There are naturally occurring hot springs on Ischia and some of them are even free to visit. The rocky pools of Baia di Sorgeto Ischia are the perfect place to unwind if you have a few days to spend exploring the island. Baia di Sorgeto is a public area and there are nearby bars selling food and drinks in case you get hungry.
Do people on Ischia speak English?
When I visited Ischia, most locals spoke enough English to get by but they weren’t fluent. I did meet a few locals who spoke English fluently, but more often than not I communicated with a mix of broken Italian, English, and pointing.
No one I met seemed irritated or annoyed that I didn’t speak Italian. Honestly, the generally friendly and forgiving locals is one of the top reasons I love to visit Italy.
How many days should you spend on Ischia?
In my opinion, one full day is enough time to spend on Ischia, unless you want to slow down and enjoy the island life. In one day, you can see the Port of Ischia, tour the Aragonese Castle, swim in the ocean, and try some fabulous gelato before making your way back to Naples or onward to Capri.
If I were planning to really slow down and take in the pace of the island, however, I’d want to stay for at least four full days. In this case, I’d make a point of staying walking distance from a nice beach and in an area with plenty of restaurants and a few shops. With a few days to fully unwind, I like to settle in and have most of the things I need within a short walk.
Don’t miss the hot springs if you decide to stay for two or more days!
What’s the best time of year to visit Ischia?
May and September are the best times of year to visit Ischia because there are fewer tourists and the weather is pleasant. If you can’t visit during the shoulder season, Ischia is still wonderful from May through September. I would avoid visiting in the winter unless you don’t mind exploring the island in the rain when fewer shops are open.
Top things to do on Ischia
If I’ve so far convinced you that Ischia is worth visiting, here are some of the top things to do on Ischia. From exploring the incredible Aragonese Castle to trying the local cuisine to going for a swim in the sea, you can easily fill a day or several days with activities on Ischia.
Visit Castello Aragonese d’Ischia
By far the largest tourist destination (and for good reason) is the Castello Aragonese d’Ischia or the Aragonese Castle of Ischia. This castle/fortress is actually located on its own island and connected to Ischia by a landbridge.
The walk up to the castle is quite steep, so be ready for a bit of a workout. The castle has an elevator available, but you’ll need to ask the staff to be able to use it. It is located behind the ticket counter, and I had to insist (a few times) that my dad couldn’t walk up the steep ramp before they allowed us to use the lift.
Try an Ischian Bruschetta
Piennolo are the special variety of tomato that grow on Ischia. Their tangy, sweet taste is attributed to the volcanic soil on Ischia, and their distinct shape piennolos easy to recognize. You can find dishes made with piennolos around the island, but I was the most impressed with the Ischian bruschetta I tried at one of the restaurants in the Port of Ischia.
My dad is still talking about the Ischian bruschetta that we tried at that restaurant!
Watch the Sunset
If you’re able to experience an Ischian sunset from the west side of the island, do it. Otherwise, you can watch the sunset from one of the terraces on the castle. Sipping an Aperol spritz, watching the sunset, and eating a few snacks was one of the highlights of my visit to the island.
It’s very romantic (and unforgettable)!
Shop for Souvenirs
Although Ischia isn’t as large or well known as nearby Capri, there are still plenty of wonderful souvenirs that you can buy while you’re visiting. Shop along Corso Vittoria Colonna for the best options, including plenty of lemon flavored candies and trinkets depicting the beautiful Ischian coastline.
Of all the places I’ve visited in Italy, I had the best gelato on Ischia at Pasticceria Trani. My favorite flavor was the baba – a rum-soaked pastry that’s often associated with Naples. All of the flavors I tried were fabulous, though, so I don’t think you can go wrong.
Pasticceria Trani is located on Ischia near the Aragonese Castle, so it’s the perfect place to stop before or after you see the fortress.
Swim in the Sea
Ischia is a beach destination, so I’d definitely schedule in some time by the beach. I swam at a beach on the far side of the island from the Port of Ischia and quite enjoyed it. However, I noticed that others brought their bathing suits and lounged on the volcanic rocks just in front of the Aragonese Castle.
Try rucolino Liqueur
When on Ischia, try the local rucolino liqueur that is made from arugula. It has a bitter, earthy taste that’s definitely unique. Many shops in Ischia offer free samples of the liqueur, so you can almost certainly try it before you buy it.
Honestly, I didn’t hate it!
Where to stay on Ischia
You can easily visit Ischia as a day trip, but if you decide to stay overnight you’ll have two choices: stay near the ferry terminal or on the far side of the island. Each has its advantages; you can be near all of the action and have more options near the terminal, but more privacy and seclusion (and potentially lower prices) on the further side of the island.
Put simply, for short trips, I would stay near the port. If you have more time on the island and plan to rent a car, you’ll find more peace and seclusion away from the port on the further sides of the island.
📍 Top Budget Hotel: Hotel Villa Fumerie
Set on the Ischian coastline on the far side of the island, Hotel Villa Fumerie is a great choice for budget travelers. Guests love the friendly and accommodating staff, incredible ocean views, and beach access. Note that air conditioning is available for an additional fee and you will want to have a car to access the property.
📍 Top Midrange Hotel: Casa Malo’
I stayed at Casa Malo’ when I visited Ischia on the advice of a friend and it was perfect for my group. The hotel had charming decor, beautiful rooms, and they made us tasty cappuccinos in the morning during breakfast (I’m not sure if this was the norm!). Casa Malo’ also perfectly located near the Port of Ischia – ideal for a shorter visit to the island and within walking distance of several nice areas and shops.
📍 Top Luxury Hotel: Ischia Blu Resort
For an incredible getaway on Ischia without the exorbitant price tags of other Mediterranean resorts, stay at Ischia Blu Resort. Guests seem to love just about everything at Ischia Blu – from the private beach to the fabulous location near the port to the spacious, comfortable rooms. It’s the perfect spot for an Ischian island retreat.
Getting around Ischia
Although the island is small, it’s spread out enough that you’ll need some way to get around. Your main options are to walk, take public transit, take taxis, or rent a car/scooter. When I visited, my group rented a small car at one of the local shops near the ferry terminal after shopping around for a few minutes to get the best price.
During the peak months of July and August, traffic on the island can get very congested and be difficult to manage. If you know how to drive a scooter or motorcycle, the rentals are a bit cheaper and usually come with a helmet. On a scooter, you can avoid or more easily navigate some of the most congested areas near the port.
Taxis on Ischia seemed safe and relatively easy to find, but the fares did feel a bit expensive for the island. Most locals I’ve spoken to prefer to drive or take public transit when they’re visiting Ischia.
FAQs: Is Ischia worth visiting?
Still wondering if Ischia is worth a visit while you’re in Italy? Have other questions? Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions from travelers considering visiting Ischia.
Is Ischia walkable?
Although there are portions of the island that are walkable, Ischia is far too large to be considered walkable on the whole. The main walking street is Corso Vittoria Colonna, but you can also walk and explore in a few other areas.
Is Ischia expensive?
No, I don’t think that Ischia is particularly expensive. It is relatively affordable as a vacation destination in Italy, and it’s much more budget-friendly than the nearby (and much more famous) island of Capri. The hotels that I saw were comparably priced, if maybe a bit more, than the hotels in nearby Naples.
In general, southern Italy is a budget-friendly destination and Ischia is no exception.
Is Ischia safe?
Yes, Ischia is a destination to visit in Italy. It’s much safer than Naples, but I would still suggest that you take normal precautions. Be mindful of your belongings while traveling, drive cautiously on mountain roads, and don’t enter the ocean if you don’t see a lifeguard present.
Is Ischia safe for solo female travelers?
I visited Ischia on a family trip, not solo. Still, I’d feel comfortable traveling here alone, especially on a day trip from Naples. The vibe of the island was laid back and relaxed, and I felt comfortable walking at night when I was there. As a solo female traveler, I would personally avoid the ferry terminal after dark and stick to the main streets.
How many days should you spend on Ischia?
There are two types of trips to Ischia. You can absolutely visit on a day trip from Naples, which will afford you plenty of time to see the Aragonese Castle, try some gelato, shop for souvenirs, and maybe see a few other sites. However, if you want to really settle into island life on Ischia, four to seven days is a better length for your trip.
Are there sandy beaches in Ischia?
Yes, Ischia has sandy beaches that you can visit around the island. The beaches are also swimmable, with plenty of beach cabanas available to rent. The water was swimmable and warm when I visited in September and most of the restaurants in the area served food.
Parking near the beach can be tricky in Ischia, so bring cash and be prepared to walk – sometimes considerable distances.
Conclusion: Is Ischia worth visiting?
As you might have guessed by this point, I definitely consider Ischia to be well worth visiting. This picturesque island might be small, but it offers incredible views of the Mediterranean, plenty of things to do, and even some wonderful restaurants offering unique local cuisine.
The most incredible sight on the island, in my opinion anyway, is the Aragonese Castle. It’s one of the coolest historic sites that I’ve seen in my travels, partly because the fortress offered so many incredible views out in every direction. I’ll never forget sitting on the patio at sunset and sipping my Aperol spritz as the sun started to set.