Ischia Travel: La Dolce Vita

The sundeck at the Regina Isabella in Lacco Ameno, Ischia

Ischia travel is all about the sweet life (la dolce vita in Italian). And visiting this Italian island is a must. The moment I set foot in Ischia, I fall in love. From the bright hued flowering plants fragrant perfume to mountains tumbling into the clear aquamarine hues of the Tyrrhenian Sea. From the divine food and wine to the mineral-rich thermal spas, Ischia travel epitomizes la dolce vita. 

Located just 40 minutes by ferry from Naples yet world’s away, this magical isle has long been a favorite with vacationing Europeans. As of yet, however, it has not seen the number of American tourist its more popular (and ritzy) sister island, Capri attracts in throngs each summer. More down to earth and affordable, Ischia is an undiscovered gem that holds its own with a string of charming small towns. These are fronted by gold sand and black pebble beaches, old world glamorous hotels and top notch restaurants. 

Plan a visit to Ischia and I promise you won’t be disappointed. Travel here is one of my top picks for 2022.

Ischia Travel: Stay Here

Lacco Ameno Harbour, Ischia

Ischia’s north coast towns are where to stay as they have the most amenities. These include Ischia Porto, Ischia Ponte, Forio and Lacco Ameno. Ischia Porto has the most nightlife but Lacco Ameno has the best resorts. It also offers easy access to spas, shopping, restaurants and the beach. 

The Regina Isabella Resort in Lacco Ameno is my favorite place to stay. Built into the cliffs facing the sea, a visit to this five-star hotel feels akin to walking on to a 1950s Hollywood movie set in all the best ways. From the opulent crystal chandeliers to vases of fresh flowers, elegant pastel hued furnishings and gold gilding to the servers in white jackets, the old world glamour at Regina Isabella is fairytale perfect. I couldn’t get enough of the hand-painted blue tiles in my room in the Royal Wing that also had two balconies overlooking the sea with cushioned chaise lounges and two bathrooms with designer amenities. 

The service here is in a league of its own with every whim catered too. The staff remembered not only my name, but also my drink and dietary preferences. The food is equally delightful. The main restaurant, DolceVita, does a wonderful included breakfast buffet each morning and has ocean facing views. At dinner the ambiance is formal and the menu focuses on traditional as well as inventive Neapolitan fare with lots of fresh seafood options and an extensive wine list. 

The hotel also hosts a spa with its own hot thermal baths. Ischia is a volcanic island and home to numerous mineral-rich springs that visitors can experience as baths at hotels as well as in a public setting (see our What to Do section below). At the Regina Isabelle, the bioactive water gushes out of the ground at a temperature between 133 degrees F and 170 degrees F before it is cooled somewhat. The water’s mineral makeup here is pretty special and is currently at the center of research for three different universities. 

Guests can book a number of different treatments but the most famous is a bioactive thermal mud treatment overseen by a medical team. The mud is collected from Ischia’s natural quarries and steeps for six months in the thermal water before use. 

Other Places to Stay

Dinner at La Torre at Mezzatore Hotel and Thermal Spa

The Mezzatorre Hotel and Thermal Spa is another top property when it comes to Ischia travel, located just outside Lacco Ameno. The hotel is set on a cliff overlooking a private swimming cove and built around an ancient watchtower. Like the Regina, it also has a classy, old world elegance about it. Amenities include an indoor thermal spa that does excellent massages — these can be booked in a private outdoor area overlooking the harbor below. The restaurant here La Torre is also excellent. Dine outside by candlelight on beautifully prepared Italian fare.  

For more of a garden estate experience, check out Botania Relais & Spa set high on hill above Lacco Ameno town. The focus here is on relaxation and the health spa with more thermal pool treatments, a full range of massages and steam baths in a natural cave. There is a heated swimming pool and two house restaurants Il Corbezzol and Il Mirto, the later of which has an entirely vegetarian menu. The property is also adult-focused and children must be at least 12-years-old to stay. 

Ischia Travel: Eat Here

Dinner at Indaco is a must for Ischia travel
With Chef Pasquale Palamaro at Indaco

The Michelin starred fish and seafood focused Indaco on the grounds of Regina Isabella is our top fine dining choice. By Chef Pasquale Palamaro every course on the tasting menu is creative in flavor and texture and resembles a work of art on the plate. Palamaro is passionate about sustainability and educates his diners throughout the meal: one starter is served on a plate made from plastic dumped into the sea, another resembles sea urchin but is actually comprised from squid ink fried spaghetti since sea urchins are over fished. 

Right on the seafront in Lacco Ameno, Il Defino has been serving fresh fish and seafood since the 1920s. The mixed fried fish is a top choice among Ischia travelers. The low-key restaurant also does excellent pasta dishes. Prices are very affordable. 

Ristorante Bar da Coco’ in Ischia Ponte is set under the island’s famed medeival castle, Castello Aragonese, which gives it one of the most romantic backdrops you’ll find. They also serve some of the freshest fish on the island. Ask for the daily catch and your server will suggest the best preparation for your choice. Salads and sandwiches are also on the menu as is an extensive wine list and some decadent desserts. 

Play Here

Poseiden Gardens is a top Ischia travel attraction
Poseidon Gardens

Ischia is a volcanic island famed for its hot thermal baths. Besides the thermal spas at the resorts there are also excellent public baths and a visit to one is a must of Ischia travel. One of the most the beloved is Negombo Thermal Park, which can be directly accessed from a walkway at Botania Relais if you happen to be staying there. The pools here are very natural feeling and set in a grotto with waterfalls. 

Ischia’s other famous thermal bathing area is Poseidon Gardens. Set on multiple acres, it is Ischia’s largest thermal park and has more than 20 pools overlooking the beautiful Bay of Citara that are heated to various temperatures. There is also a long private beach for guests to use and a spa with health, wellness and beauty treatments. Both parks are seasonal (like much of the island) operating between mid-April and early October. 

On the south coast of Ischia, Sant’ Angelo is also well worth a visit. The dramatic town is accessible only by foot and you can stroll its charming streets and picturesque harbor that are completely car free. Grab lunch at Il Pirata, its most stylish restaurant. 

When to Visit

Note, that Ischia is a seasonal destination. Many attractions and hotels shutter for the winter. You’ll want to visit between mid-April and early October. 

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