The island of Ischia, located in the Bay of Naples, offers everything you’d want from a Mediterranean holiday: Stunning views. Bright-blue water. Lush hillsides. Beaches. A castle.
And it’s really, really easy to get to from Rome. Not to mention cheap. (At least if you book in advance).
The largest island in the Bay of Naples, Ischia has a history that stretches back to the Bronze Age. In later years, it was settled by the Greeks, who built its famous castle back in 474 B.C., and then by the Romans. It’s now called Castello Aragonese, thanks to being rebuilt in the 15th century by Alphonse of Aragon.
The castle isn’t just picturesque from afar; it’s a must-see up close. Several churches are tucked inside, as are walking paths and lush gardens with some of the most beautiful views I’ve seen in Italy. And that’s saying something. (Don’t believe me? Check out the video below).
But the Castello Aragonese isn’t Ischia’s only attraction. The island also has famous gardens, especially La Mortella and Villa Ravino; thermal pools and spas; and resort towns that are as lovely as they are, necessarily, touristy.
Beaches, you say? Well, like lots of islands and stretches of coastline in Italy, you won’t find miles of white-sand beaches here—the volcanic terrain tends to be steep and rocky. But there are beaches here, and what they lack in size, they gain in accessibility. There’s a significant stretch right near the port where the ferries come in.
Then there’s the food. While it can be tough to access Ischia’s most authentic restaurants unless you have a car (or a lot of patience to deal with the island’s bus system), some of the little bakeries and trattorias in the resort towns weren’t half-bad. Although the culinary highlight of the trip was the sfogliatella I had at a little bakery in Ponte Ischia—second only to those I’ve had in Naples.
Convinced? Luckily, getting there is easy.
First, take the train from Rome to Naples. Do yourself a favor and take the high-speed Frecciarossa: It takes slightly over an hour and is way more comfortable than the alternatives. Plus, if you book in advance, it’s often just as cheap. I lucked out and, for my journey there, got a spot in business class (you get a roomy seat! and snacks! and a newspaper!) for just €29. On my way back, I spent €25 for a seat on the Intercity local train, which was uncomfortable, crowded, took more than 2 hours, and reminded me why I should always take the Frecciarossa instead.
Once you’re in Naples, you can grab a bus to the port, or a taxi. The flat rate for a taxi from the train station to port is €11. If there isn’t traffic, it takes less than 10 minutes.
Then it’s time for the ferry. Mine, with Alilauro, took an hour and cost about €20 each way. (Seats aren’t reserved, so you want to arrive about a half an hour early; make sure especially to give yourself time on the trip there, since that’s when you’ll exchange your printed-out ticket confirmation for the tickets themselves).
Add it all up, and it’s a bargain. This weekend, it took me less than 3 hours, and €60, to get to Ischia. Not so bad… at least when you’re exchanging a hot, chaotic city for a peaceful Mediterranean island.
If you liked this post, you’ll love The Revealed Rome Handbook: Tips and Tricks for Exploring the Eternal City, available for purchase on Amazon or through my site here! I’m also free for one-on-one consulting sessions to help plan your Italy trip.