I really didn’t think I would be lucky enough to visit the Aeolian islands again (I mean it felt like a long way from London, let alone coming from Aus)!!
Lucky for me though, my brother proposed to his gorgeous girlfriend Jess who’s ancestors are from the beautiful Island of Panarea, which is why I was lucky enough to visit again!!
A year in the making from engagement to Wedding, and so fun being involved in plans and watching everyones travel unfolding towards the big day! I still look on IG each day at where everyone is and what they are doing each day now I am back down under.
We planned to all go as a family trip, however my husband had only just accepted his new role in Melbourne at the time so was not able to take time off outside the School holidays….With my inlaws on board to mind the kids….I took one for the team and planned my European escape!
Not many people know the Aeolian Islands (Isole Eolie), North of Sicily in the Provence of Messina (among the Tyrrhenian Sea) sits 8 beautiful islands – Lipari (the largest), Salina, Panarea, Vulcano & Stromboli (both active volcanos), Alicudi, Filicudi & Basiluzzo.
There are no cars on the islands and can only be reached by boat or Ferry, (we took a 2 hour Hydrofoil from Reggio Calabria) most commonly a flight into Catania then a boat from Millazo, or an overnight ferry from Naples.
The islands are all about a 1/2 hr boat ride from each other so can be checked out on a day trip for lunch or the like.
Panarea itself is the second smallest island (only 3.4 km2) and has around 280 residents living there all year round, however the population increases dramatically in Summer! Make sure you go end Aug/early sept (check dates as island closes down mid sept).
As soon as the Ferry pulls up, you instantly get a welcoming village feel. People drinking aperols and granitas at the local port bar, restaurants spilling out onto the street and a lovely calmness sinks in.
We stayed at the lovely Lisca Bianca (which was also where the beautiful wedding took place….this will need a seperate post). Lovely rooms, the front ones have water views and balconies, super convenient in the heart of the village and can be accessed straight off the boat. Lisca has a lovely breakfast area however does not have a pool which may be an important one to note.
The village itself has cobbled streets, and is perfect for walking to discover the beautiful soft colours of the houses sprawled in Bougainvillea. I wandered to the top to discover all the beautiful cacti growing in rows and rows and smells from the little bakery wafting towards me.
Just relaxing watching the sailing boats and listening to the humming of life around this simple island really is just what the Dr ordered!
I highly recommend hiring a boat from the port and driving around to other islands (we went to Stromboli for a look around the volcano) and swam in coves back towards Panarea. The water is crystal clear and the perfect temperature for diving off the boat before hitting the port for lunch and a well earned drink!
There are some sweet shops, great little restaurants and bars with views to die for!!
Bridge Bar serves amazing sushi platters and has stunning views right across the sea!
Raya would be #1 for bar positioning, and number one all round for stunning chic accom (frequented by celebs) all white, modern and simply stunning views on the corner block of the island.
We also stayed at Raya for a few nights and although it is a bit more of a walk from the reception (and many stairs), is stunning once you arrive and has breathtaking views from your room, balcony and pool area (views from everywhere as you are so high up the back of the mountain). The infinity pool and 3 other pools (one being a geothermal pool which is supposed to have salt and therapeutic powers)…..just laying here, looking over the pool to the sea (with an aperol in hand) is was what dreams are made of!!
So there you have it, this stunning island is not the easiest place to get to, but I promise is worth the visit and will remain in your memories and heart forever!
A few links to help you x b
Transport – Libery Lines
Best food –
Da Pina – we visited most nights!! fresh pastas, fish, salads (the scampi pasta was amazing)
Hotel Carasco – great for pre drinks
Bridge Bar – Sushi with views
Bar Del Porto (lunch) – drinks and tuna salad watching the day trippers come in off the boats
Raya – definitely cocktail hour at sunset!!