10 things to do in Ischia, the world's most beautiful island

Mara Noveni | Live the World

November 23, 2022

Did you know that according to the ranking drawn up by the readers of the international magazine Travel & Leisure, in 2022, Ischia appears to be the most beautiful island in the world, facing paradisiacal islands such as the Maldives, Bali and the Galapagos Islands? To decide the success of this place to visit in Italy were the evaluations based on the tourist experiences, the natural attractions, the sea, the beaches, the food, and the friendliness of the inhabitants. So, let's discover 10 things to do in Ischia, the world's most beautiful island

© iStock/todamo

Ischia is a volcanic island located in the Tyrrhenian Sea, north of the Gulf of Naples. Its history is covered by a series of seismic events, which over time have changed its shape and have often caused displacements of the inhabited areas. It is the third largest Italian island by population, with about 60,000 inhabitants, which during the summer reaches 300,000.

The island of Ischia offers everything you could want from a holiday at any time of the year between sea, spa, mountains, sport, culture and entertainment. Even if modernity and globalization have slightly changed the face of this island, we can still catch fragments of peace, emotions and suggestions by visiting every corner. As in the fishing villages, you can admire the colour of the sea and the light at sunrise and sunset. The light of Ischia is warm, enveloping and reassuring, a strong emotion, not easy to forget. In Ischia, the elements of nature seem to prevail over everything: the air smells of flowers and Mediterranean scrub, the views offer breathtaking spectacles, and silence reigns, broken only by the sound of the winds and the sea.

Ischia is one of the most coveted places for summer seaside tourism, but it is also very popular with nature and wellness lovers. Here you will find, in fact, coves, beaches, ports, rocks and lots of nature, but also the opportunity to experience a holiday dedicated to wellness and beauty. It offers a time to relax and regenerate and leave again in splendid physical and mental shape.

Ischia is one of the most important thermal basins in the world, with the healing properties of the waters that flow from the subsoil and the seabed, already known in Roman times. For example, the Greeks used to go to the thermal baths of Ischia to restore body and spirit and to heal wounds after battles.

But Ischia is also the perfect destination for sports enthusiasts: in fact, on the island, you can practice horse riding and mountain biking, as well as trekking and all water sports.

Historically, the various areas of the island have had an autonomous development due to their different economic characteristics. While agriculture prevailed in the Sant’Angelo area, the economy of Forio was mainly linked to fishing. Separate cases are Lacco Ameno and Casamicciola, home to thermal baths since ancient times. Geographically, the island is divided into six municipalities: Ischia Porto - Ischia Ponte, Casamicciola Terme, Lacco Ameno, Forio, Serrara Fontana and Barano d’Ischia. The maritime connections with Ischia depart from Naples and Pozzuoli by hydrofoil and ferry.

So, let’s go to discover 10 things to do in Ischia, the world's most beautiful island:

1. The Aragonese Castle

It looks like an island within an island. The majestic Aragonese Castle of Ischia retains 25 centuries of history and has seen various civilizations pass over the island: Greeks, Romans, the Aragonese dynasty, and the Colonna family. It is a fortress built on an islet in front of Ischia, a strategic place for defence against attacks by sea.

The castle is connected to Ischia by a bridge 220 meters long and is accessible from the island port, with a walk of about half an hour, through a tunnel or 15 minutes by bus. Originally the castle could only be reached by sea, using a ladder. Today, it can be reached by crossing paths that offer beautiful views leading up to the top of the islet.

© iStock/font83

2. The Thermal Parks

The Greeks and Romans were the first to create thermal establishments to benefit from the therapeutic properties of the waters of Ischia. Among Ischia's thermal parks, the Gardens of Poseidon are the largest ones, with 22 thermal pools. Each tub has a different temperature and different therapeutic powers. In addition, the Gardens of Poseidon have a private, equipped beach and offer spa and beauty treatments. A rejuvenating day in one of Ischia's thermal parks is an experience not to be missed!

© iStock/todamo

3. The Mortella Gardens

The Mortella Gardens are located in Forio and were created by the wife of an English orchestra composer, who wanted to make a place with the most particular plant species in the world. This garden was born after World War II, when Lady Walton moved to Ischia, and offers a unique spectacle in the world, with plants and flowers of species still unknown today. In 2004, it was awarded as the most beautiful garden in Italy.

In the upper part of the garden, on the slope of the hill, a theatre has been built that can accommodate up to 400 people, where various kinds of theatrical and musical performances are held in the summer season.

© iStock/KarelGallas

4. Borgo Sant’Angelo

Borgo Sant’Angelo is the ancient fishing village of Ischia and represents the classic Mediterranean landscape, with its colourful houses perched on the tuff ridge. The Piazzetta, which directly overlooks the marina, is a meeting point with its shops and clubs and is pedestrian. On the tower, in the upper part of the village, there is the church dedicated to the Archangel Michael. On 29 and 30 September, the saint is carried in procession along the streets of the village, then returned to the church by sea on a boat, accompanied by music and fireworks.

© iStock/Balate Dorin

5. The Church of Soccorso

The Church of Soccorso is one of the most Instagrammable places in Ischia. This church, dedicated to the Madonna della Neve, stands out in white and overlooks the sea. It is a very interesting church to visit, as it houses in the sacristy some paintings representing the ex-votos of the sailors and their wives, who prayed to the Madonna to return home safe after sailing at sea, or who tell of shipwrecks or miracles.

© iStock/Tomoland

6. The Torone Tower

The Torone Tower in the Forio area is a watchtower near the Church of Soccorso. It is a strategic place for the island's inhabitants, given that the danger signal was sent from here in case of the sighting of invaders. In addition, the Torone houses an art gallery and a municipal museum.

© iStock/Jan Mach

7. The Nitrodi spring

It is the only thermal water that flows from the island and can also be drunk. This water has therapeutic properties for various ailments and diseases, treats any skin impurity and has healing properties.

© iStock/ArtTim

8. Baia di Sorgeto

It is a small rocky inlet, famous for its sulphurous hot springs, located in the municipality of Forio. In short, it is a free spa park open 24 hours a day for 12 months a year (even in winter!). The only fee to pay for this unique experience is the over 200 steps to take to reach the bay (during the summer, there is a taxi boat by sea from Sant’Angelo).

© iStock/EStruk

9. The Ischia-style rabbit

In addition to the places to visit, the Ischian culinary tradition also has a lot to offer. A famous saying says that "In Ischia, you eat, drink and whistle" (it sounds better in Italian "A Ischia si mangia, si beve e si fischia").

Despite being a seaside resort, Ischia has a gastronomic heritage linked mainly to agriculture, the main source of livelihood for the islanders, also thanks to the fertility of the volcanic soil that characterizes the island. Suffice it to say that the rabbit, imported to the island by the Romans, has always been the animal most raised by the Ischitans, and the vine is the most practised cultivation.

The traditional dish par excellence is the Ischia-style rabbit, the recipes have been jealously handed down for generations, and each family has its variant.

© iStock/robypangy

The rabbit is cleaned, washed and cut into pieces, then browned in a pan with oil and garlic, blended with white wine, and then cooked slowly over low heat with fresh tomatoes. In the end, the dish is flavoured with chopped parsley. With the sauce that remains on the bottom of the pan, it is traditional to season the pasta and thus obtain a complete meal.

10. The bench overlooking the sea

Ischia is dotted with benches along its paths to allow visitors to enjoy the many spectacles of nature. But the sea view bench we are talking about has been defined as the most beautiful bench in the world. Located on the trekking route that crosses the promontory of Sant’Angelo, it is right above Maronti Beach, the largest and most popular on the island, which it overlooks. At the height of 100 meters, the view embraces the whole promontory.

It is a bench built by hand with pieces of logs and wooden boards. Here, the atmosphere becomes a fairytale and reminds us of a slow and sustainable tourism that can be practised on this island, already very popular for its spas, hills, beautiful views and crystal clear sea.

© Gianni Mattera

This is just a taste of this wonderful island. After discovering the 10 things to do in Ischia, the world's most beautiful island, if you still have time available, do not hang out! Instead, take up this time to discover hidden corners, panoramas to photograph, flavours to taste, and places to keep in your memories ... And maybe, when you return home, sip a glass of Ischia wine that you have brought with you as a souvenir, and it will feel like being there again. Who knows, perhaps you will want to go back very soon! Enjoy!

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