In this article I plan to tell you everything you need to know to get the most out of your trip to Vulcano Island. This information includes where you should stay, the sights to see, and where you can eat the best food.
Ciao everyone, your friendly Sicilian friend Nico here to tell you more that you need to know about Sicily. Today is all about a distinctive and memorable islet, Vulcano.
Allora, there are so many things you should know about this amazing place, but since you are not going to stay in Sicily forever, we must condense. I am going to tell you what you REALLY need to know before you visit Vulcano.
First, I’m going to give you an overview of the island, so don’t skip it. Then, I’m going to tell you what you should do you why you are here, including where to stay and eat.
Ready to begin?
Let’s not waste any more time.
Quick Overview of Vulcano Island
Even without being fluent in Italian, you should be able to figure out that Vulcano is our way of saying volcano. As you might guess, this is a volcanic island and one of the larger Aeolian Islands around Sicily.
In total there are seven Aeolian Islands, the others being Lipari, Salina, Stromboli, Filicudi, Alicudi, Panarea.
The name of the island itself comes from a combination of the four different volcanoes present, including:
- Vulcano della Fossa (Biggest)
- Vulcanello (Youngest)
- Monte Aria (Tallest)
- Monte Saraceno (Peculiar Shape)
I suppose you want to know if these volcanoes are still active , and if you risk getting toasted and dying by traveling to the island.
Good news, you are not going to die!
The last reported eruption of the volcanoes discussed above occurred over a two-year period between 1888 and 1890. Since then, their activity has never completely ceased, but it’s not a pressing concern for visitors.
In fact, a phenomenon known as ‘fumarole’ is frequent.
This term indicates sprays of steam on the crest and underwater that gets used to power an industrial complex producing sulfur.
This entire island seems to exist for the purpose of relaxing visitors with its mud baths, crystal-clear water, and impressive vista views on extensive hiking paths.
Vulcano alone should be a 2-3 day trip for a visitor. Any of the Aeolian Islands should be experienced, not just seen on a quick pass through the area.
Vulcano is a remarkable volcanic island in the Aeolian chain that features clear waters, breathtaking hiking paths, and activities to relax you like mud baths. For those that really want to kick back and experience nature in Sicily, here is where that happens.
What To Do on Vulcano Island
Though the island is small, there are still many things that you can do while you are here. Let’s take a look at the top three:
1. Explore the Cratere della Fossa
This crater is roughly 500 meters in diameter, and you must absolutely set aside a few hours to see the spectacle as you should.
It is not something that you will see often in your life.
The ‘fumaroles’ springs are the only visible manifestations of volcanic activity after the last considerable eruption occurred in 1890.
Getting to the top requires a little more than an hour walking, although this walk itself is not overly demanding physically.
It is worth taking some time to appreciate the beautiful sights you will see as you make this hike to the top. You will pass through stretches where the surrounding environment looks much more like a painting than real life.
Well no one is going to stop you from making this hike on your own or with your group, I would suggest you go with the guide. This will help you learn more about the volcano, but will also assuredly keep you from burning your shoes.
You will find that towards the top, there are areas where the soil gets very hot between both the blazing sulfur and the fumarole. The safest way to traverse this area is with a special gas mask provided to you by the guide that you choose.
Through your hike, you might want to take a moment to appreciate the Valle dei Mostri (Monster Valley), located in Vulcanello. If you look at its natural shape, it appears like an amphitheater complete with lave rock statues all around eroded by the sea and the wind.
These statues created by nature can take the appearance of monsters, which provides the valley its name.
I think this is the coolest thing to see in Vulcano. It is not every day that you get to hike through the breaths of an active volcano to see a substantial 500m crater. Without hostile terrain, you can easily make this climb with a good pair of shoes and some water.
2. Relax on Beaches and Bays
The island is defined by its steep and rocky coastlines, so it does not have vast beaches. What do exist are mainly black sand. Some of the primary beaches to check out include:
- Baia di Ponente – This is one of the most beautiful beach destinations, especially as the sun is setting. The seabed is shallow for many meters, so those who cannot swim will find it appealing. There are also many boat tours for the island that leave from this beach.
- Spiaggia delle Fumarole – Picture place surrounded by rocks and pristine greenery, defined by waters heated through the sulfurous vapors throughout the island. In some places you can even see the water boiling due to the effect of underwater springs. Be careful because there are some places where the water is too hot to use by humans.
- Spiaggia del Gelso – If you are looking for a secluded sandy area, this is a place you should not overlook. It is on the south coast of the island where you will find Spiaggia del Gelso, the solitary, quiet beach. This beautiful black sand location gives you a remarkable view of the clear blue sea.
Also, it should be noted that there are many bays and caves worth of exploration. You can only reach some of these by boat, including the famed ‘Grotta del Cavallo’ which can be translated to ‘Seahorse Cave’.
You will find that many fishermen offer trips to these locations that you cannot access by land every day.
Most of these fishermen stay at ‘spiaggia nera’ or translated, black beach.
There are many excellent beaches that you can see and visit around Vulcano, but it should be noted that while there are many stretches of coastline, there some are not comfortable due to this being a volcanic island.
3. Mud Baths & Warm Seas
In my opinion, there are two attractions that you definitely do not want to miss.
If you enjoy the premise of a mud bath, you need to go to what is known as a ‘pozza’. This is a mud/clay lake located right next to the port.
Here is where many people benefit from the sulfurous properties of this volcanic island. The clay mud retains purifying properties.
This ‘pozza’ can be recreational or curative. Mud baths can give people a better psycho physical state of mind, but more than this, are an actual form of therapy. These approaches are ideal for those that battle respiratory issues, musculoskeletal system concerns, or skin disorders.
The ‘warm sea’, close to the Pozza, is a portion of the sea with many of the fumaroles releasing steam at high pressures.
With sulfurous gases released directly from the seabed, this naturally warms the water and provides a jetting effect in places. Vulcano is the best locations in Italy for thalassotherapy treatments.
Bubbles rising the surface make sea water more beneficial because it is enriched with minerals and circulates through a natural whirlpool.
Mud baths are definitely something I recommend that you try. You should definitely do so with a suit, as the smells of sulfur can feel impossible to remove from your skin at times.
How To Reach Vulcano Island
Getting to the island is not a considerable challenge from the Sicilian coast. There are multiple ferries and direct hydrofoils leaving Palermo, Milazzo, and Naples ports. The company to look for in these locations is Liberty Lines.
The hydrofoil from Palermo to Vulcano takes approximately 4 hours to reach the island. The same company can take you to the other islands in the chain as well, which I also would recommend to any travelers. Particularly Panarea and Lipari if you are pressed for time.
Vulcano is a very popular summer destination. If you do not book your ticket well in advance, you might not find passage to the island as you hope.
Where You Should Stay on Vulcano Island
Although the island is only 20 square kilometers, there are multiple accommodations to suit your budget and styles. I have selected three of what I considered to be the best solutions for travelers.
Let’s take a look at them.
Pensione La Giara
La Giara is only a short walk from the port, and the center of Vulcano. You will find this to be a typical structure found in the Aeolian chain. It is surrounded by lush vegetation, including palm and banana trees, hibiscus, and the bright colors of bougainvillea.
These rooms are not spectacular, but they are equipped with essentials such as a hair dryer, air conditioning, TV, safe, and a minibar. It also features a hearty breakfast on the beautiful terrace every morning, and free ADSL Wi-Fi.
I personally believe that the terrorist is one of them the primary highlights of this accommodation, as you can enjoy a view of the picturesque bay of the west, the port, and the Gran Cratere with many colors and fumaroles emerging from the slopes.
One of the cons with choosing this place is that the Wi-Fi is not always the most reliable in certain rooms, and also how many of these available units are not completely isolated from outside noise.
I Pagghiari di Vulcano
The spacious apartments here are found on the Black Spiaggia delle Sabbie nere di Vulcano. Each patio of the apartments has its own outdoor shower and private garden.
They offer different accommodation options based on the size of your traveling party, but typically these choices can get narrowed to two-room, three-room, and four-room. The price varies along with these options.
Each of the apartment units has television, air conditioning, and a full kitchen set up with cooking appliances. It has everything you need for a pleasant stay – regardless of how long that is. The central location of these apartments makes these accommodation choices even more desirable.
Guests do have issues with these options, however. There is a minimalistic approach to furniture and kitchen equipment compared to the cost of the stay. However, this is a problem you will find about anywhere there is to stay on Vulcano.
Residence Al Mare
These are much smaller apartments than what you might find with the previous option, but there are plenty of amentities that makes the choice an attractive one. Here, you have AC, TV, a safe, a kitchenette, refrigerator, and a private terrace.
In the garden behind the structure there is a barbecue available for guests to use to grill meats and vegetables.
The residence can be found about 100 meters from the beach in the center of the port. Thermal baths of Vulcano are accessible from these units within a few minutes on foot.
This place also has some negatives according to the guests who have stayed here, and it has much to do with the lack of furniture and kitchen equipment compared to the costs. The real drawback here is the lack of available Wi-Fi in the rooms.
Where in Vulcano Should You Eat?
I have not tried any of these restaurants I am recommending in this section, but I have trusted friends who live on Vulcano and I trust their input wholeheartedly.
- Il Cappero – Michelin-starred restaurant
- Ristorante La Forgia Maurizio – Local, authentic cuisine.
- Malvasia Pane Cunzatu – Site famous for its ‘Pane Cunzatu’
You should definitely take the opportunity to try some of the local wines as well. There is a little shop called Enoteca Mimmo Paone, which, while it has some flaws, gives you a chance to get a good aperitif with local wines. You should start there.
N.B. – I do not get paid to endorse restaurants. I give you the facts based on my own reviews and trusted suggestions.
I would recommend learning a handful of Italian words before you land on Sicily, specifically because few speak English. Most restaurants, especially reputable and renowned locations, do not even have an English menu..
Hopefully I have given you all the information you need to enjoy the island to the fullest.
In summation, there are three main things you should do while you are here:
- Hike the volcano
- Explore the beaches and bays
- Enjoy mud baths and warm seas
I suggest Vulcano for outdoor lovers and hiking fans, while I might discourage those coming here for the fun and nightlife.
You should understand that prices are reasonable, but with it being a tourist destination (especially in the summer) you can expect higher prices than Palermo, Catania, or any other Sicilian city.
If you have questions or comments, you can drop a comment below and I am sure to get back with you soon to answer it.