This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Located off the northern coast of Sicily and worlds away from the crowds of Capri, the seven volcanic islands in the Aeolian chain include lush Salina, the jet-set playground isle of Panarea and ethereal Stromboli, whose eponymous active volcano is a sight that has mesmerized travelers since ancient times. Gnarled, reddish lava formations grace many of these chiseled island coasts, sometime jutting up from the sea floor. The Aeolians are arguably the most pristine archipelago in the entire Mediterranean, and are also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Get there via the mainland Sicilian town of Milazzo, or by flying into Naples or Palermo and taking any number of ferries from those cities to the islands. Here’s why this intriguing part of Italy is worth a visit.

1. Stromboli: Don’t Blow Your Top!

Stromboli’s volcano is rightly known as the “lighthouse of the Mediterranean” because every night lava erupts from the top and streams down from the Sciara del Fuoco into the sea. It’s a truly mesmerizing sight, especially when enjoyed from the outdoor deck of a night boat — it’s easy to find one in the little port of Ginostra. Lately, there has been an uptick in volcanic activity. The volcano is actually 8,000 feet tall, with only about 3,000 feet are above sea level. There are a couple of small villages and some decent black-sand beaches on the island, but basically Stromboli is a volcano, and for that alone, it’s pretty awesome.

Image by drcooke/Getty Images.
Image by drcooke/Getty Images.

2. Salina: Of Sweet Grapes and Green Slopes

Two lumbering extinct volcanoes form the spine of Salina and the taller of the two, Monte Fossa delle Felci, at 3,156 feet is the highest peak in the Aeolian archipelago. Unlike stern Stromboli, this island is lush and verdant. Its most famous products are capers and Malvasia, a sweet, fragrant white wine made from dried grapes. The main port is Santa Marina, but for the best vistas and most interesting places to stay, hop a bus to the village of Malfa, where Hotel Signum has a pleasant al fresco restaurant and a restorative indoor/outdoor spa. At the clifftop Capofaro Malvasia & Resort, you may need to cross a vineyard to get to your room — not necessarily a bad thing. Movie buffs may also recognize Salina as the place where the classic Il Postino was filmed.

Image by Gappino/Getty Images.
Image by Gappino/Getty Images.

3. Panarea: Get Your Chic On

Panarea is one of the smallest islands and with its combination of stark geography and reputation for attracting A-listers from Uma Thurman to Princess Alessandra Borghese, it’s like the Italian answer to Mykonos. In fact, the whitewashed lanes of the main village are very reminiscent of Greek island towns. It’s no surprise then that the before the ancient Romans were here, Panarea was settled by Mycenaean Greeks. In August, the big guns call in with their yachts — Giorgio Armani and Roman Abramovich are regulars — but even then a chill vibe prevails. The breezy Hotel Raya helped put Panarea on the map in the 1960s and is still the best place to stay. Take a short boat trip to the deserted islet of Basiluzzo where you can swim in the translucent blue waters.  Above the water, Air Panarea offers helicopter tours of nearby Stromboli’s volcano.

Image by Gabriele Scotto di Fasano/Getty Images.
Image by Gabriele Scotto di Fasano/Getty Images.

4. Lipari: Think Capri, Minus the Tourists

At nearly 15 square miles, Lipari is the largest of the Aeolian Islands and bears evidence of settlements long before the arrival of ancient Greek colonists. Its main town, also called Lipari, is the commercial capital of the Aeolians and feels like a more down-to-earth version of Capri. It’s also home to a can’t-miss archaeological museum, known for its displays of some ancient shipwreck cargoes and rather wonderfully, the biggest collection of mini ancient Greek theater masks in the world. From the Quattrocchi (Four Eyes) lookout point, about two miles out of Lipari town, you can get an eyeful of dramatic scenery and a view across the water to Vulcano.

Image by Rosmarie Wirz/Getty Images.
Image by Rosmarie Wirz/Getty Images.

5. Filicudi: A Bit of Caribbean in the Mediterranean

When approaching remote Filicudi, don’t miss La Canna, a volcanic rock that juts up like a sentry 243 feet above sea level. It’s a fitting introduction to an island that truly feels like it fell off the map, which is a bit deceptive, as this mountainous green island has been settled since Neolithic times. Have a gander at the ruins of a seaside Bronze Age village at Capo Graziano, about a 10-minute ride south from the small harbor. For the best seafood, try Ristorante La Canna, perched just above the harbor, or La Sirena in the even tinier Pecorini A Mare.

Image by EStruk/Getty Images.
Image by EStruk/Getty Images.

6. Vulcano: Don’t Worry, It Probably Won’t Erupt

Ancient Greeks called it Therassia and ascribed it to Hephaestus; the Romans renamed the island Vulcano and thought it was the chimney of Vulcan, god of fire. It’s hard to argue with that as you hike or drive past smoking sulfurous fumaroles on the way to the Gran Cratere della Fossa, the biggest of the stratovolcanic cones. On the north end is little Vulcanello, product of an eruption in 183 BC and connected to the main island by an isthmus. It’s there, at Porto di Ponente, where you can indulge in a therapeutic mud bath and work in a swim at a broad black-sand beach. The place to stay in Vulcano is the Therasia Resort — the views from there across the sea to Lipari will blow you away.

Image by Tamas Szendrei/Getty Images.
Image by Tamas Szendrei/Getty Images.

Have you ever been to Italy’s Aeolian Islands? Tell us about it below.

Featured image by Gianni Sarasso/Getty Images.

The Platinum Card® from American Express

The American Express Platinum card has some of the best perks out there: cardholders enjoy the best domestic lounge access (Delta SkyClubs, Centurion Lounges, and Priority Pass), a $200 annual airline fee credit as well as up to $200 in Uber credits, and mid-tier elite status at SPG, Marriott, and Hilton. Combined with the 60,000 point welcome offer -- worth $1,140 based on TPG's valuations -- this card is a no-brainer for frequent travelers. Here are 5 reasons you should consider this card, as well as how you can figure out if the $550 annual fee makes sense for you.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
  • Enjoy Uber VIP status and free rides in the U.S. up to $15 each month, plus a bonus $20 in December. That can be up to $200 in annual Uber savings.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
  • 5X Membership Rewards points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.
  • Enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
  • Receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts. Learn More.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
  • Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required.
  • $550 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
N/A
Annual Fee
$550
Balance Transfer Fee
See Terms
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.