Land of water and fire, sea and lava, with a thousand-year history and land- and seascapes that are idyllic yet powerful: the volcanic island of Ischia is the largest and most varied in the Gulf of Naples. Known as The Green Island for its lush countryside and coastline and famous for its therapeutic thermal waters, vast volcanic beaches, and excellent cuisine, Ischia is an ideal destination for a relaxing three-day getaway from the Amalfi Coast or other mainland location.
Discover the top things to see and do in Ischia in three (or more) days with our insider itineraries, and enjoy an unforgettable holiday on the island basking on the seaside and exploring the local attractions.
How Many Days on Ischia?
You may be wondering how many days you need to visit Ischia. A quick ferry ride from the port of Naples or Pozzuoli (and from the Sorrento Peninsula and Capri in the summer months), large but not too large (it ranks eighth among the Italian islands for size), the island of Ischia is the ideal destination for a weekend or short three-day brea, but you won't be bored if you decide to stay a bit longer.
Ischia is large enough, however, to make it impossible to see the entire island in one day. Though you can’t see all of Ischia in a single day, we still recommend hopping over to the island for a day trip if you have limited time to check out its top sights, spas, and beaches.
What To See and Do in One Day on Ischia - 3 Itineraries
Ischia Ponte: the Aragonese Castle and Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta
The Aragonese Castle is Ischia’s blockbuster sight, at least for visitors interested in its art and history. It is located in Ischia Ponte, the oldest fishing village on Ischia (which can also be reached on foot from Ischia Porto in about 30 minutes) and dates back to the 5th century BC.
Inside, be sure to take in the Putridarium, the unique cemetery of the Clarisse nuns who lived in the castle in the 1500s. Nuns visited here daily to pray over their decomposing sisters, meditating on the transient nature of mortality.
How to Visit the Aragonese Castle
The castle is located on a small island connected to Ischia by a stone walkway built at the time of the Aragonese reign. It is open every day from 9 in the morning until sunset. Tickets cost €12; children under 9 years old enter free of charge.
The Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta sits a short walk from the castle. This monumental Baroque church is the seat of the diocese of Ischia. After visiting the castle and cathedral, spend some time exploring the historic center of Ischia Ponte, with its atmospheric lanes and Mediterranean architecture.
This small vase has great historical importance because it bears one of the oldest examples of writing in ancient Greek, dating back to the time of Homer. The Cup is housed in the Archaeological Museum of Pithecusae inside Villa Arbusto in Lacco Ameno. If you’re interested in archeology and ancient civilizations, be sure to visit the museum while spending a few days on Ischia.
How to Visit the Cup of Nestor
From October to May: 9 AM to 1:30 PM and 3 PM to 6:30 PM
From June to September: 9 AM to 1:30 PM and 4 PM to 7:30 PM
Closed on Mondays
The Best Beaches on Ischia
If you love beaches, Ischia is the best island in the Bay of Naples for you. It’s the only one that offers wide, beautiful beaches with both beach clubs and free public area, perfect for enjoying leisurely hours of sunbathing and swimming. There are dozens of sand and pebble beaches that line the island’s coast, but here are a few of our favorites!
The Bay of San Montano, set between Lacco Ameno and Forio, and the Bay of Citara in Forio d'Ischia are among Ischia’s most beautiful and popular beaches. They both offer fine golden sand, calm crystalline waters, and a wide variety of services and entertainment. A must for anyone spending a holiday on the island of Ischia, these beaches host two of the largest thermal spas on the island, Negombo and Poseidon Gardens.
Chiaia Beach, also in Forio, is particularly family-friendly, with soft sand, shallow waters, a cliff to shelter from the wind, and easy access to the town center.
The longest beach on the island is popular Maronti Beach between the villages of Serrara Fontana and Barano. This stretches for about 3 km along the coastline, though erosion has slightly shortened the beach over the years. There are beach clubs alternating with stretches of free beach, fine sand, and all the services you need for a relaxing day at the seaside (restaurants, bars, etc.). There are also several hot springs (the Fumaroles, the Olmitello spring, and Cavascura Bay) where you can soak in natural thermal mineral baths for free or unwind on sand heated by thermal gases.
Top 10 Beaches on Ischia
Thermal Baths on Ischia
No visit to Ischia is complete without a soak in the island’s thermal waters. You can choose between free natural hot springs that bubble up along a number of island beaches or one of the beautiful thermal parks and spas, with mineral-water swimming pools, wellness centers, and private beaches (in addition to those already mentioned above, there is Castiglione in Casamicciola Terme). Be sure to put aside at least a few hours of pure R&R to take advantage of the therapeutic properties of the island’s thermal mineral waters, much loved by the ancient Greeks and Romans.
The Source of the Nitrodi in Ischia
The oldest thermal spring on Ischia, Nitrodi was named for the nymphs who were believed to protect the forest and the mineral waters that bubble up from below its surface in ancient times; there was once a sanctuary dedicated to the god Apollo and the Nitrodi located near the spring. The source is located in the hamlet of Buonopane near Barano d'Ischia and the water, which flows from the spring at a temperature of 27°C, is believed to have a variety of therapeutic properties. A structure with showers, fountains, and a sundeck has been built in the area, but you can still access the Nitrodi water for free for a quick shower or a drink directly from the spring.
More details about thermal springs and spas on Ischia
Soaring almost 800 meters above sea level, Mt. Epomeo is the only real peak on Ischia. A must for walking and hiking enthusiasts, there is an easy trail from Fontana that climbs in altitude about 400 meters and is about 3 kilometers in length. At the top of the mountain, you can admire the hermitage of San Nicola, built in the 15th century directly into the cliffs.
La Mortella Gardens
This unique botanical garden dates back to the 1950s and houses thousands of examples of Mediterranean flora and subtropical plants. Giardini La Mortella is located near San Francesco Beach in the municipality of Forio and was built by Susanna Gyl, wife of the English composer William Walton. Today they are among the top things to see in Ischia and are open from June to October on alternating days and weekends (always check opening days and times); there is a charge to visit.
The Chiesa del Soccorso
The Church of Santa Maria del Soccorso is famous for its breathtaking view of the Mediterranean and for a wooden crucifix dating from the 1400s, to which the islanders are very devoted. According to local tradition, the cross was left on the island by a group of sailors who had escaped a terrible storm so that it would forever protect passing boats and sailors. Between the sea views and the moving piece of art housed in the church by sailors long gone, a visit here is unforgettable!
The Torrione di Forio
Another top sight on Ischia is the massive tower guarding over the town of Forio. Built in the second half of the 1400s, this tower was used to guard against the attacks by the Saracens and the Turks. Currently, the Torrione houses a small civic museum open daily, except Mondays (tickets cost €2).
Day Trip: Procida
If you are planning on visiting Ischia for more than three days, add on an excursion to the delightful nearby island of Procida. With its tiny size, the island can easily be covered in one day and you can experience its authentic, timeless vibe. Hop a hydrofoil or regular ferry from Ischia or join one of the boat tours that depart from Ischia every day in high season.
How to Visit Procida from Ischia
Here are a few ideas for a three-day stay on Ischia at a relaxed pace:
Once you've arrived at your hotel, get an overview of the island of Ischia with a tour by land to see its highlights and views.
Rent a scooter: independent couples who already have experience driving a scooter can explore the island on their own.
Hire an open-air taxi: on Ischia, you can explore via a traditional open-air taxi (similar to a tuk tuk or rickshaw). These fun vehicles seat 4 passengers on benches covered with an awning, and a three-hour tour of the island costs around EUR 80.
You can ask your hotel reception or concierge to book a taxi or have a rental scooter delivered directly to your hotel.
Getting Around on Ischia
After you've cased the island, it's time for an afternoon aperitivo and walk in vibrant Ischia Porto: on the "riva destra" there are a number of lively bars and cafès perfect for an aperitivo...our favorite is Porto 51.
For dinner, you can stay on the riva destra of the port to dine at Terrazza di Mimì or get a waterfront table at Dai Tu near Punta Molino. Otherwise, stroll (or take a scooter or bus) to Ischia Ponte where you can visit the historic center and Castello Aragonese before dining in one of the many traditional trattorias like Da Cocò or Da Ciccio.
For a walk after dinner, we suggest heading back to Ischia Porto and taking Via Roma, the main thoroughfare lined with shops open late into the evening and cocktail bars with live music and entertainment.
The few dance clubs on Ischia are also located here, including “New Valentino”. Otherwise, for nightlife the best spot is again the riva destra, where the island's youth gather for cocktails late into the night...
Where to Eat on Ischia
Dedicate your second day to "taking the waters" at Ischia's famed thermal baths! Linger over breakfast and then head to one of the two most famous thermal spas on the island: Poseidon or Negombo. Both offer a number of thermal pools at various temperatures, a sandy beach with crystalline water, and a spa center for massages and treatments. There's no better way to relax for a day!
Poseidon or Negombo: Which is Best?
Both of these thermal baths are beautiful, but we prefer the atmosphere at Negombo, with a lush garden, a number of private terraces, and excellent cafè and restaurants. Remember that the spa grounds are very steep, so those who have limited mobility and problems climbing stops may want to opt for Poseidon. Children are not allowed in Poseidon, while at Negombo children under 12 are not allowed in the thermal baths (this type of spring water is not recommended for children under 12).
After your day at the spa, you can take a stroll or guided tour through one of the many villages on Ischia. We recommend Forio, which has pretty historic lanes and artisan workshops. Try to arrive in time to take in the sun set from the terrace in front of the Church of Santa Maria del Soccorso: if you're lucky, you may catch sight of the rare “green ray”, a flash of emerald light just as the sun dips below the sea. Be sure to make a wish!
For dinner, try one of the many farm restaurants on the island to sample authentic country cooking. In Forio, we recommend Cantina di Zio Jack (call to request their shuttle service, as the road to the farm is hard to navigate) or head inland to try coniglio all’ischitana at Il Focolare.
Your schedule today depends on how much time you have before you have to catch the ferry. If you aren't leaving until the afternoon, deposit your bags at your hotel and spend the morning visiting the Mortella Gardens, one of the most beautiful parks in Italy. Afterwards, head to Borgo di Sant’Angelo to enjoy this postcard-perfect hamlet. From here, you can take a water taxi to the Baia di Sorgeto or walk to Fumarole, two spots on Ischia where there are open public thermal springs.
Public thermal springs on Ischia
Your relaxing break on Ischia has come to an end, so it's time to hop on a ferry and bid arrivederci to Ischia!