In today’s article, I want to tell you what I know about the largest of the Egadi Islands: Favignana. My full guide here will help you to have the best time when you visit this island for your holiday getaway.
Buongiorno a tutti! It is your full-blooded, pure-bred Sicilian friend Nico here with another comprehensive guide about a favorite destination in Sicily: the island of Favignana.
You might not know that Favignana is a little island belonging to the Egadi Archipelago located roughly 4 miles, or 7 kilometers, off the west coast of Sicily.
There are a few reasons that true Sicilians love this isle:
- You can experience crystal clear waters. Two of its popular beaches are considered among the most beautiful in the Mediterranean, Cala Azzurra and Cala Rossa.
- It is easy to get to. You can reach the island from Palermo in a matter of hours.
- There is a bustling life on the island. You can travel around by bicycle, enjoy some scenic hiking excursions, and eat great authentic food as you sip special drinks from the bars along the sea.
It is easy to say that beyond being the largest of the islands in this archipelago, this is also the liveliest and probably the most attractive.
Don’t get me wrong: Marettimo is wilder and beautiful, and you have the Levanzo Islands that are also amazing and beautiful, but Favignana stands out.
If you find the time, it never hurts to check out the other islands for yourself to see if you agree about which one is the t best.
For now though, I want to go over what I think you should know about Favignana to make the most of your upcoming vacation.
Favignana is very popular among Sicilians and locals for its incredible crystal clear water and attractive beaches. You can expect from June-September that these beaches will be populated by many locals, but surprisingly few tourists seem to know about it.
What is There to Do in Favignana?
You should not come to this island expecting to be catered to like it is a tourist destination. There are not ready-made activities and tours being promoted at every intersection to take your money.
Instead, you will get a much quieter experience that requires you to do a little responsible digging ahead of time and create a daily plan on your own.
Luckily you have me – and here are some of the best things that you can do on the island:
You won’t need to be a ship’s captain to appreciate that the best views of the sea happen on the sea. So unless you can walk on water, you are going to need a boat to do this.
You can experience the thrill and adventure of being a pirate on the Mediterranean, an experience that will stay with you forever. It is fun and pretty affordable for the memories you will make.
Don’t want to risk learning to walk on water (which we know of only a couple documented cases)? You need to get the experience booked well in advance.
July and August are scarce to find a boat to take you out on the sea surrounding Favignana, even if you personally know the man who did walk on water.
Regardless of the boat you take or how you travel around the permeter of the island, you will not soon forget the experience.
Smaller boats are the cheapest option, costing you usually around 130€ (which does not include fuel costs) for a whole day. The boat can seat up to six people. If you bring a group of six to do it, you can expect each of you to only have to contribute roughly 30€.
Another fun fact: You don’t need a license to drive these boats – anyone is allowed regardless of experience.
I always rent a boat from Sea Taxi Company when I go. They have a fairly good value for what you are paying, and they are friendly. But there are no shortages of rental companies to choose from if you want to shop around.
2. Scuba Diving
Another highlight of the island is good for beginners and experts alike.
An easy dive to get you started, as well as one of the most attractive diving areas is the Galeotta. This small island comes alive with intense wildlife and scenery, allowing you to encounter entire herds of dream fish, diplodus, moray eels, and octopi.
You can also check out Cala Rotonda for another easy, charming dive to get the blood pumping.
This is a dive that has you entering a cave at the depth of 8 meters. The entire cave structure is roughly thirty meters long, and when inside, you will be surrounded by umbrine, congers, moray eels, and brown meagre.
Looking for a little more excitement than the beginner dives? Try out the Secca del Toro for mid-level divers. This is considered the most beautiful outings on the island, but it could be considered among the more dangerous as well.
Experts say that beginners can experience this dive with a trained diving buddy, but this is no option for first-time idiots looking to do something stupid and get hurt.
Doing this you can expect to see several interesting and colorful species like the yellow and red gorgonians. You can see several clusters of yellow anemone and Mediterranean fan forms. You can also expect to see shoals of barracuda living in the area.
Experienced divers should also check out the Scoglio Corrente.
This point is known for its strong currents, but the upside to this is that it makes the dive particularly interesting. A lot of large fish are brought in with the current, making surface fishing an attraction, and the under sea viewing tremendous.
If a dive sounds like something you might want to do, you can opt to check out a company on the island named Egadiscubadiving. Personally, I do not know them as I don’t usually scuba dive – but friends have told me that they are the best you can get.
3. Try the Local, Traditional Foods
If you have about 3 hours before you go diving, you should make sure to indulge in the local cuisine as well. There is no mistaking that the best option available is His Majesty’s Fish.
We even have plenty for the vegetarian, as you will find amazing fresh vegetables in most of the dishes we enjoy.
Do not return home without trying the couscous, spaghetti with sea urchins, red grilled tuna steak, pasta with lobster, and tuna tartar. These are just a short list of amazing dishes perfected on the island.
I would also recommend the Pane Cunzatu, a seasoned bread sandwich with the simple ingredients of tomato, mozzarella, and basil. Other versions include anchovies or tuna, but the simple is good enough.
This is a sandwich and quick bite adored by the island. You can find the best version (and the original) in Scopello Village. Make sure to make time to try it out.
There are dozens of great places to eat, and each year the ranking of these restaurants is subject to change.
A crucial element is knowing that during July and August, you will want to make sure to book restaurants you intend to visit in advance. In some cases, you will want to secure this reservation weeks ahead of time. This is especially true if you intend to go on the weekend.
Bars during the aperitivo time run into the same problem. Those that overlook the sea are booked most quickly, so be sure to grab a table before you even arrive on the island.
Favignana is historically known for red tuna. The economy grew because of its high production of tuna for centuries. You can even still visit one of the most important tuna factories operating in Sicily when visiting the island.
4. Visit Santa Caterina Castle
If you were to climb the Santa Caterina castle, you will enjoy the most beautiful sunset you have seen.
Grab your better half and climb to the peak on the island to reach the castle and enjoy this once in a lifetime view.
Be warned: this is a very good workout for your heart, it features a 45-minute walk over hilly terrain to reach your destination. Half of this can be done on a bike to shorten this time. Your heart will also beat a little harder because of the romantic atmosphere.
For history buffs, this abandoned castle was used in World War II as an observation post to help spot enemy ships from afar.
The castle isn’t anything special on its own, it is not like something you would see in a Disney movie.
But even without the incredible aesthetic exterior, this is a historical landmark that has become a preferred place for taking pictures and winning the heart of the woman you love with a sunset that oozes romance.
You have a 360 degree look at all of the Egadi Islands, Trapani, Marsala, and even further.
The view from this castle is impressive and not an overwhelming walk to reach the top. While it takes about 40 minutes of hilly terrain, you should also be advised that this former observation post has long been abandoned and the structure is degrading over the years.
5. Former Florio Tuna Factory Museum
This former factory of the Florio family is a gem of industrial archeology. It was the largest location for the maintenance of equipment, anchors, and bots of the mattanza (killing.)
This gigantic structure was rebuilt and restored many years ago, but had long been the most important tuna trap along the Mediterranean Sea.
While the production here might have stopped, it now houses museums dedicated to the industry and this specific facility in recent years, including testimonials and an interesting exhibit.
This exhibit and display also shows the Florio family history and how their life influenced the island, including drawing up these villages from poverty to economic wealth over the years.
I would recommend that everyone books a tour if they have a chance, and you should do so early. The factory tours fill up fast, so be sure to grab your spot in advance.
You can schedule your visit in Italian or English, all conducted by former workers of the factory who are very passionate about their jobs and the work that they have done. Renovations have been exclusively made to improve these visits and allow for the displays and exhibits.
If you intend on spending a couple of days in Favignana, do not sleep on this tour. It is only an hour of your time, but you should definitely book it in advance. You can get a lot of backstory about how tuna fishing used to be, and because of industrial overfishing in the nearby waters, why it no longer occurs.
6. Tuff Cave Exploration
A remarkable stone was pulled from within Favignana called the Calcarenite.
This is a type of limestone characterized by its detrital sand-sized (0.0625-2mm) carbonate trains over the largest part of the stone.
This is considered a valuable stone for its compactness and fine grains, but it is also a brilliant white color with its infusion of calcium.
Inappropriately, the stone has been labeled ‘tuff.’ This extraction represented one of the island’s ancient and odd activities.
Removing the formations was painstaking and was done using very few tools.
An electric machine was introduced in 1949 to help, but there was no clear designation on its use or common practices. Techniques were shared between family members and the work continued.
As time went on, tuff extraction suffered because the locals failed to adapt to the changing conditions of the area and competitive pricing. As a result, the caves started to close and work slowed to a crawl. Today, there is only one site still excavating tuff stone, and it does not have a large crew.
Abandoned tuff caves were repurposed by creative and imaginative island locals, so now they house elaborate gardens.
Look at the edges of the road in Cala Rossa, Bue Marino, Lido Burrone, and Punta Fanfalo for abandoned tuff quarries supporting lush plant life.
Where Should You Stay in Favignana?
I should warn you immediately that you should not get accommodations anywhere other than the city center and its surroundings. This will help you to get the most out of your vacation.
Everything revolves around this city center in Favignana.
Everything that you are looking for when you arrive is within a short walking distance from the port and city center. This will include all the supermarkets, bars, shops, restaurants, and other attractions. This also means the areas for renting bikes, scooters, and boats.
Apart from taking time to enjoy the beach, you will spend most of your time in the city center. It would make sense to position yourself with accommodations in this area.
You might be one of the few that enjoy running around cursing loudly because you are wasting so much of your vacation time having an accommodation positioned far away from the attractions and shops of the island, but I doubt you are.
Spending a portion of your summer on the island, you want to book your stay well in advance to avoid high prices as the season gets closer.
When I say high, you should expect these prices to skyrocket within the months before the summer season begins. The farther in advance you can book your accommodation, the better your options will be.
I have listed a few potential hotels below ranging from the cheapest to more expensive choices.
Each of these options is well positioned to the city center. I would also recommend renting a bicycle (or even a scooter if pedaling seems like too much work) to reach nearby beaches and attractions beyond the city center.
Staying centrally located is critical to having the best time on your vacation. If you are far away from the action, you will spend most of your vacation moving from one place to the next rather than enjoying the experience.
How Long Should You Stay?
Every time that I visit the island, I find myself understanding Robinson Crusoe more and more. I wish to stay for the full 28 years or even more.
If you are an average tourist, however, you have limited time to vacation. At most I would stay three to four days, meaning two to three nights. This should be enough time to give you an adequate visit and enough ability to see the attractions of Favignana and make wonderful memories.
Every day I seem to get mail asking if it’s possible to see everything on the island and return in a single day.
My answer: I do not believe so.
Admittedly, it could be possible if you spend the night in Trapani. This is the city where you can catch a ferry that takes you to the island and other destinations in this cluster early in the morning.
The hydrofoil leaves early and then returns to the city that night.
This might be preferable for those that do not wish to stay the night on Favignana but want to see what it has to offer. Ticket offices are in front of the pier where boats depart. I would again suggest booking in advance online to avoid any unfortunate circumstances with full transport.
The hydrofoil to the islands should be booked as far ahead as you can manage, especially if you are visiting in July or August.
It is also possible to buy tickets at the port. During the summer months, hordes of people come from all over. This doesn’t just mean Sicily, but you will also have tourists coming from all over Italy to descend on the island. Everyone loves Favignana – and for good reason.
Moving Around Favignana
The good thing is that this is a small island, so you can get around the entire land mass in a single day. This can be done on a scooter or a bicycle, which is your choice.
Knowing that this is a popular tourist hub, you will find a shop in many locations renting either of these implements, there are no shortages of these rental areas.
If you want to rent a scooter in July or August, you can still do this in advance. More than once I’ve had trouble locating scooters on the weekends when arriving during this time of the year.
Rest assured, if there are no scooters available, there will always be bicycles. They will not run out of them.
Renting a scooter includes the helmets and often anti-theft locks. I would not worry about that, however. The island seems to have some sort of guardian angel looking after rented bikes and scooters to prevent theft.
As with any tourist destination, rental prices on Favignana are dictated by the season. You can see rentals for bicycles range from 4€ to 8€ a day. Scooters can range anywhere from 25€ to 50€ depending on their demand.
You also have the option of renting a car, but honestly it is a waste of time. A bicycle is sufficient, and if you are feeling a little lazy like I do sometimes, opt for one of the electric bicycles with the pedal assistance instead.
The Favignana Nightlife
For the most part, the island is quiet and peaceful. Locals here do not want to contaminate the island with wild nightlife scenes designed for the party animals in your group.
Because of this, you are not going to hear loud music, witness drunks peeing in public, find prostitutes or drugs in populated areas, or other untoward things.
To summarize: any deadly sins you might wish to indulge in our quite limited on the island. People do enjoy nightlife to an extent, but without typically loud DJs and craziness. On rare occasions you can dance to live music in the main square of the city center, or in the bars outside of this main area.
To all would-be Romeos: you have not lost hope to find your Juliet. You just won’t find one staggering in spike heels and skintight leather. The same could be said about unsavory Romeos.
Many people will stop for and aperitif at places within the center near the main road. After this aperitif, you will have dinner at one of the restaurants at the center of the island to get your night started.
And is often customary for villages to arrange private parties, but you can only learn about these through word of mouth. So, pay attention.
People do not come to Favignana for its amazing club scene. You go to relax, eat, swim in the crystal-clear waters, see its incredible beaches, and appreciate aperitivos at sunset along the beachfront bars. If you are looking to dance the night away on your vacation, this island is not the place.
Favignana’s Best Beaches
As I have said before, even earlier in this very guide, the best way to experience the see when you visit the island is by a boat. It should be one of your priorities to rent one, even for a single day. If you were looking to experience some of the beautiful beaches you will find on the island, I had listed the best options below:
- Cala rossa
- Cala azzurra
- Bue Marino
- Lido Burrone
- Cala rotonda
Nearly all of them are rocky beaches. This is a different type of experience that many are not prepared for when they are used to sand.
There is one sand beach at Lido Burrone, which is also the most comfortable option. You will be able to rent beach umbrellas and utilize nearby kiosks for refreshments to stay hydrated and fed.
If you rented a boat, there are a few beaches that you can visit as well. These include:
- Relitto allo scoglio
- Isolotto del Preveto
- Scoglio Corrente
- Secca del Toro
Make sure you remember to bring your snorkel, some beers, and even some music to entertain you. It is always a must to keep your captain sober, however.
You can reach any of the beaches I have mentioned in this section by using a scooter or a bicycle. I recommend seeing them all if you have time, as they each have a different charm and appearance. More than this, I would recommend that you rent a boat to make sure you see other beaches and areas you never would from the land.
Reach Favignana from Palermo
If you regularly read my blog, you will know that I typically suggest renting a car. Otherwise, you’ll just be institutionalized after having to deal with our public transportation system and expensive taxis for more than a day.
Renting a small car costs you very little, and you’ll be your own king of the road to choose when you want to be wherever you end up.
When driving, you can take the A29 highway connecting Palermo to Trapani Port. The distance is roughly 60 miles, or 100 kilometers.
If you did not listen to me and did not rent a car, you can still get to the port via coach through the Segesta Company.
At Via Filippo Turati, 3 in downtown or in other parts of the city, you can board a coach headed to Trapani and its port. Click here to see all of the Segesta bus stops to see what is convenient for your itinerary.
You can expect a coach to arrive once an hour usually. One-way, the cost is 9.60€. Round trip tickets are 15.10€.
It is possible to buy at the ticket offices, but once again, I would suggest that you book in advance online. During the summer months, tickets can go quickly, and you do not want to end up stuck. Buy your tickets online here.
Once you reach the airport, you will need to board the hydrofoil with the Liberty Lines company. This can have you reaching the Favignana Island in less than thirty minutes.
You must buy tickets for this ride as well, and I would recommend you going online to the Liberty Lines website to grab your seats on the hydrofoil in advance. They will book up quickly as well.
Whether you have a car or not, you can easily navigate the trip from Palermo to Favignana. The coach between Palermo and Trapani, as well as the hydrofoil from Trapani to the island is consistent and reliable, unlike the other forms of transportation around Palermo and Sicily.
Reaching Levanzo and Marettimo from Favignana
Once you reach Favignana, you might determine you have time to reach the nearby Egadi Islands of Levanzo and Marettimo as well. You can choose to continue your use of Liberty Lines hydrofoils to reach these spots, but there are more expensive boat tours possible as well.
Reaching Marettimo takes about 30-45 minutes and will cost you roughly 12€ round-trip.
Levanzo is closer, so the 10-minute ride only has a round trip cost of 7.50€.
I do not think it is a bad value at all. You will probably enjoy the ride as well. There are other options as well, however.
You will find stalls throughout the island where you can rent a private boat excursion to Levanzo from Favignana. Naturally, these will cost more than the Liberty Lines option, but if you have a beauty at the helm to entertain you, it is well worth the added costs.
If you are staying more than two days, it is worth it to take the short trip to the nearby islands in this archipelago. They are smaller and a little wilder, but they are certainly worth visiting if you get the chance. Buy your tickets on the hydrofoil online to be sure you don’t miss out.
I hope that you are now equipped with the right information to make the most out of an upcoming trip to the Egadi Islands. If you have other questions or comments, you can always reach me through the comment box below and I will get back with you.
In summation, you want to experience Favignana for its crystal-clear water and relaxing atmosphere.
You cannot beat the food here, either. Red tuna has been a primary export from the island for centuries, so you will see how authentic tuna dishes are prevalent in the cuisine here.
If you find the time, you can check out the other Egadi Islands of Levanzo and Marettimo for added adventures.
That’s all I have for you. If you have not yet done it, make sure to stop by the Tourist Information page for lots of valuable tips that will help you make the most of an upcoming Sicily trip.