I found Ischia on a random blog post while researching where to go on our Italian adventures, and I’m so glad I did! Ischia is an Island off of the port of Naples, about 45 minutes by ferry from Naples, and 45 minutes from Capri (where we came from). Ischia isn’t similar to the Amalfi Coast and Capri in many ways. The island is almost fives times the size of Capri, and is spread into many different towns and villages (see map below). We stayed in Aragonese d’Ischia, which is right in the middle of a large spread of beach, hotels, a town filled with shops and restaurants, and home to the most famous landmark in Ischia, the Aragonese Castle. This was a great home base for us, and we loved exploring the other towns all over the island, each special in their own way. Ischia is very much unknown by American tourists – we only saw 1-2 our entire stay, and English is not widely spoken as much as it is on the Amalfi Coast. Although not popular with Americans (yet!), Ischia is the go-to vacation spot for Italians, Russians, and Ukrainians. We met lots of awesome and friendly people along the way. Ischia is also significantly cheaper than the Amalfi Coast and Capri, we couldn’t believe how affordable the restaurants were, and we totally enjoyed our luxury hotel on the island for a fraction of the cost it would have been elsewhere.
Where We Stayed
Hotel Mare Blu is located right on the water in Aragonese d’Ischia. We were a bit nervous about our hotel in Ischia, since we weren’t clear how dated the island and its accommodations were, which is a usual expectation to have when traveling in Italy. Thankfully, we were gladly surprised! Mare Blu was pure luxury, and we even made our stay a little bit grander by upgrading to a corner balcony suite for a very small nightly extra, it was so worth it. We spent our mornings on the peaceful balcony sipping complementary coffee that was delivered to our room, and sipped chilled prosecco there in the evenings. Our hotel also had a complimentary breakfast, with delicious pastries, green juice and mimosas. Mare Blu had two pools, a natural thermal bath, and spa. Guests of the hotel also have access to its sister hotel nextdoor, Hotel Miramare e Castello, where you can expect five star service while relaxing on their beach chairs, enjoying a cocktail at the rooftop bar, or getting your fitness on at their rooftop, outdoor gym with stationary bikes (SoulCycle who?!).
After checking in around 6pm, we settled in and took a dip in the hotel’s natural hot spring thermal bath and headed to have THE BEST PIZZA EVER at Ristorante Pizzeria Aglio Olio e Pomodoro! Tell Luigi, our now BFF that I sent you. Seriously, I’m still dreaming of the cheesy, perfect, pizza. This restaurant had incredible pasta and seafood dishes, too. We completely over ordered with no regrets! We followed up dinner by window shopping in town and enjoying a scoop of sweet gelato.
We really wanted to get a feel for the island and check out the surrounding towns. We rented scooters from the hotel front desk, and they delivered them to us within 30 minutes. I think we paid around 50 euro for one scooter for 24 hours. I rode on the back, since homegirl was not comfortable driving in Italy, and it was my first time ever on a scooter! We were quite nervous at first, but thankfully the roads were much wider than those on the Amalfi Coast. This ended up being so fun and allowed us to see much of the island fairly quickly.
After driving for about 20 minutes, we stopped off for a mid morning cappuccino in the adorable little town of Forio.
After our caffeine break, we headed to a thermal spa park. Ischia is known for their healing waters, and natural thermal spas. Don’t think day spa when you think Ischia, though. Most of these are located in “parks”, which are almost like amusement parks for adults, with thermal baths and water rituals instead of rides. We ended up stopping at Poseidon, one of the largest parks on the island. We spent about two hours exploring the countless baths, saunas, and healing waters. Make sure to bring towels and clean clothes to change into for the rest of the day, we were so glad we did!
After the spa, we hopped back on our scooter and made our way towards the popular beach town, Sant’Angelo. This adorable village reminded me of what I think Santorini would look like, with blue and white hues all around. It’s so small that you can’t drive cars directly into town. We easily parked nearby and walked the rest of the way, about .25 mi. We had a little bit to eat at Ristorante Dal Pescatore, and really enjoyed having a crisp Belgian beer after so much red wine in Italy! We walked around the beach for a bit while enjoying a Sfogliatella, the pastry we discovered in Ravello, which was probably the 10th one of the trip! Whoops.
After arriving back at the hotel, we hopped in the pool to relax for a bit, then popped some prosecco to enjoy on the balcony. For dinner, we went shamelessly went right back to Ristorante Pizzeria Aglio Olio e Pomodoro! I never like repeating places while traveling, but this restaurant was just that good.
This was the first morning of the trip it rained! After a leisurely breakfast, we walked over to the famous Aragonese Castle. I’m usually reluctant to go on any kind of tour, but the castle was beautiful and super photogenic! I’m going to be that weirdo that comments on the tourist stop cafe, but we stopped for a cookie and it was THE BEST cookie I’ve ever had! We finished our self-led tour at the tip top with a glass of champagne (and a visitor..)
The afternoon was spent at the hotel beach sipping our last few Aperol Spritz’s. We walked back into town for happy hour at a cute little wine bar, Vino e Olii. Then, we took a water taxi, caught right next to our hotel, to dinner around the bay. Gardenia Mare was a romantic waterfront restaurant and the perfect place to end our incredible Italy trip.