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Stromboli Island

Stromboli holidays, Aeolian Islands: volcano explosions and black beach

Stromboli Island: you love it or hate it! Why? Because it is unique in the world! To me, since the first time I step in it, it has been neverending love, thanks to the magnetism of its active volcano as well as the beauty of its black beaches contrasting with the white washed houses of its village…

 

Black sand beach, Stromboli,©Antonella Ravidà

 

During my eight years working as travel agent for sicilian tour operators, I had the chance to arrange several guided and selfguided trips to Aeolian Islands and now I want to give you my personal travel tips for your holiday on Stromboli island focusing on the top must see and do as well as the less popular curiousities and facts on this volcanic island of the Aeolian archipelago.

 

a corner of Stromboli
A corner of Stromboli,©Antonella Ravidà

Introduction: Aeolian Islands map and Stromboli location

 

Before we even say more about the island of Stromboli, it might be useful to remind that we are talking about a volcanic island which is part of the Aeolian islands archipelago, situated in the northen side of Sicily, into the Tyrrhenian sea.

 

Aeolian Islands map
Aeolian Islands map,©openstreetmap contributors

The “seven sisters” as the aeolians are called with love, are nowadays among the most popular summer destinations in Sicily because of the endless beauty of their landscapes, beaches, trekking paths, authentic food and glamourous experiences. The Aeolian Islands are part of UNESCO World Heritage not only because of the natural wealth of this land which, since its origins, has been characterized by the volcanic activity, but also for the human activity of the people that during the centuries have been taking care of this heavenly beauty.  

 

view of Aeolian islands from Vulcano
view of Aeolian islands from Vulcano,©Antonella Ravidà

The islands names are Lipari, Vulcano, Panarea, Salina, Alicudi, Filicudi and Stromboli. They are quite close to each others and, as part of their charme, they can only be reached by hidrofoils, due to their harbours very limited size (there are also few boats from Messina or Naples). The ferries depart from Milazzo harbour, in the northern coast of Sicily and Liberty Lines is the main company that runs the journeys.

Stromboli is one of the farthest islands from Milazzo and the journey takes roughly three hours. You can reach it also from Messina, Naples, Reggio Calabria and Palermo, but mostly during summer season (from June to September).  Being detached from the other islands, once you disembark, you can really feel yourself isolated in the middle of the sea, feeling suddenly into a new dimension.

 

watching Stromboli from the boat
watching Stromboli from the boat,©Antonella Ravidà

 

Bear in mind that Stromboli has a peculiar structure open to the sea, which is why when the weather is not good, especially when it is a windy day, the hidrofoils cannot disembark and none can leave or reach the island (sometimes for days)! This is a very important clue I give you when you plan your trip to Stromboli: never spend your last night in Stromboli before your flight departure, as you might end up loosing it!

 

“Iddu”: Stromboli Volcano

 

One of the main reasons the italian island of Stromboli is famous for is clearly the presence of Iddu, meaning “him”, as locals refer to the Mountain in sicilian dialect.

The Volcano height is 924mt above sea level, and you would definitely not define it as a dormant volcano, but on the contrary, it is one of the most active volcanoes in the world! Stromboli eruptions take place more or less every 15 minutes 24h/7, a phenomenon that volcanologists precisely call “strombolian eruptions”.

 

Stromboli lava eruptions
Stromboli lava eruptions,©Antonella Ravidà

 

It is as if you were in a fantastic amusement park where the greatest attraction is represented by the power of nature, in front of which, as a respectful spectator, you can only contemplate its beauty.

 

Hiking Stromboli Volcano in 2022

 

Can you hike up Stromboli and see up close the explosions? Yes, but… As a matter of fact, climbing the top of Stromboli used to be one of the most popular tourist experiences to live in Stromboli and many travelers and trekking lovers used to join the guided excursions with volcanological guides till the Volcano summit, scheduled everyday – have a look at one of the best company for hiking tour in the island.

 

Magmatrek volcano excursions, Stromboli
Magmatrek volcano excursions, Stromboli,©Antonella Ravidà

 

Unfortunately, after the last severe eruption occurred in 2019, the hike to the volcano top craters is currently prohibited.

I was lucky enough to experience this adventure some years ago and I am able to explain you how the excursion used to be run: small groups of 20 people started the climb in one line from S. Vincenzo Village along the volcano hill sides, with breathtaking views over the seacoast.

As you climbed, you would see the white houses becoming smaller and smaller and the uphill paths getting steeper and narrower (not suitable if you suffer from vertigo!)

 

group of hikers and view to S.Vincenzo village
group of hikers and view to S.Vincenzo village,©Antonella Ravidà

 

The hike up used to last 3 hours with many stops to rest and admire the landscape. Once you reached the summit at sunset, the view in front of you suddenly payed off all the efforts: you would sit at the edge of the summit with your feet dangling towards the craters, eating your packed dinner and just witnessing the explosions lightening the dark with lava splashes accompaigned by deep roars!

 

after reaching Stromboli summit
Me after reaching Stromboli summit,©Antonella Ravidà
Stromboli craters from its summit
Stromboli craters from its summit,©Antonella Ravidà

 

The descent to the village was in the night dark using just an head torch and following the people in front of you almost running down along the sandy slope of the volcano.

At the moment of writing, you are allowed to hike in Stromboli, however you can just reach 290mt asl on your own and 400mt asl with an authorized guide. Check up to date regulations here.

If you wish to explore the Volcano more in depth, I do suggest you to walk the path to “Sciara del Fuoco”, a sand depression formed by lava and lapilli which descend from the crater into the sea.

This easy walk of about 2 hours between the wild vegetation of the island, leads to a paved path which will bring you to the viewpoint (290mt) – by the way, did you know that this path was actually built during the set of Roberto Rossellini’s film “Stromboli, Terra di Dio” with Ingrid Bergman? If you want to learn more about this, don’t miss a visit to the “museo del cinema di Stromboli”.

 

Ingrid Bergman's house in Stromboli
Ingrid Bergman’s house in Stromboli,©Antonella Ravidà

 

Make sure you reach the view point at sunset time, the image of the sun down to the sea will fascinate you and once it’s dark, the show begins! The volcano jets of red lava and the pieces of rock rolling down along the Sciara and splashing into the sea will literally hypnotize you!

 

Sciara del Fuoco view point, Stromboli
Sciara del Fuoco view point, Stromboli, ©Antonella Ravidà

On the way back to San Vincenzo Village, bear in mind you will need an head torch as there is no light in the path…

Actually, all the streets in Stromboli have no lights, so after the first weird feeling, you will enjoy a calm and relaxing atmophere in the evening, walking between the narrow streets of San Vincenzo in the dark (you can use your phone torch anyway)…and don’t be scared, the village is super safe!

 

Stromboli’s beaches and water activies

 

It is known as all Aeolian Islands offer great beaches and crystal clear waters for summer holidays in the name of sea sports and unforgettable boat tours!

Wether you are spending just one day in Stromboli or wether you will enjoy more time in this island, there are plenty of choices for you to relax and enjoy great divings! You can find long black sand beaches or small hidden bays at each corner of the island, all of them free to access and characterized by fine black sand or small pebbles.

 

Scari beach, Stromboli
Scari beach, Stromboli,©Antonella Ravidà

Stromboli best beaches are:

  • Spiaggia di Scari (visible from the harbour)
  • Spiaggia di Ficogrande (wide beach perfect for lying down and sunbathing)
  • Spiaggia Grotta di Eolo (a lovely little bay between white strombolian houses)
  • Spiaggia di Forgia Vecchia (a very quite beach reachable on foot through a natural path in 15 minutes from the harbour)
  • Le piscine di Ginostra (natural sea pools near Ginostra’s harbour)
  • San Lazzaro (15 minutes walk from Ginostra, ideal for snorkeling and diving lovers)

 

small bay in Stromboli
small bay in Stromboli,©Antonella Ravidà

 

One of the must things to do in Stromboli is for sure a boat tour around the island! There are many small family run companies that arrange these excursions, usually using sea dinghy or small boats (12/15 people).

It is very easy to book a private or group boat tour as there are many tickets kiosks in the harbour. The average price is 25 € per person for a 2 hours tour.

You can choose between morning or sunset boat excursions and the experiences are quite different! If you want to enjoy great divings, circumnavigate the island or even take the chance to explore the tiny village of Ginostra which you can only reach by boat, then my suggestion is to book a morning tour.

 

snorkeling during Stromboli boat tour
snorkeling during Stromboli boat tour,©Antonella Ravidà

On the other hand, the evening boat rides are just amazing because of the opportunity you have to experience the Volcano explosions from the sea! After a stop at Strombolicchio rock for some snorkeling, at sunset the boats stop in the middle of the sea just in front of Sciara del fuoco.

Wearing a warm sweater and eating a good sandwhich, you will spend the evening watching this great lava show, comfortably cradled by your boat!

 

Accommodations and restaurants in Stromboli

If your visit to Stromboli is part of a longer tour of Aeolian islands, my suggestion is to consider spending at least 2 nights in Stromboli, in order to be able to explore its highlights.

San Vincenzo village is where most of the accommodations are located, and you can really find a place suitable with any budget as long as you consider to book in advance!

As a matter of facts, Aeolian islands are extremely popular, mostly in summer. Moreover, remember that many accommodations close during winter season, but not all of them, so if you have the chance to schedule a trip during low season, you are strongly adviced to do so, in order to save a lot of money and, most importantly, being able to enjoy the islands in a quieter atmophere.

 

view of Aeolian Islands from Ginostra
view of Aeolian Islands from Ginostra,©Antonella Ravidà

 

My list of five best hotels in Stromboli (also shown in the map above):

 

It is a real challenge to pick the best restaurants as the island hosts some great places which you can follow in love with thanks to the tasty food and awesome locations.

Even if it is an hard task, I am happy to share with you my favorite places where to eat in Stromboli (find locations details in the island map above):

  • Ritrovo da Ingrid: It is a lovely cafè/restaurant/pub with a beautiful terrace with great sea view. I think I had one of the best granita siciliana in my life here. Its location in the main square makes this place a real meeting point as the name suggests. Why Ingrid? Of course in honor of Ingrid Bergman

 

 

Eating sicilian granita at Ritrovo Ingrid, Stromboli
Eating sicilian granita at Ritrovo Ingrid, Stromboli,©Antonella Ravidà

 

  • Ristorante Osservatorio: It would be no exaggeration to saythat this place is unique in the world and you cannot miss it during your holiday in Stromboli! This restaurant is not near the village and you have to walk on a mule track for roughly 25 minutes to reach it (they also arrange transfers with their small van). Once you sit in your table outside in their garden, you are suddenly captured by the volcano show that every 15 minutes entertains you during your dinner with incredible lava explosions which are clearly visible and audible! Everyone seating next to you will exclaim “ohhhh” and you’ll know another explosion just happened! The menu of this restaurant is the second attraction; try the typical strombolian pizza with capers and olives..delicious!

 

 

  • Ristorante Da Luciano: Do you want to eat fresh fish while enjoying the sunset over the sea?! This is the place to be. I never had fresher fried shrimps such as in this place…great pizzas too.
  • Ristorante/bar Il Canneto: a lovely cafè and restaurant where to stop for a refreshing ice cream, plenty of choice and good quality food

 

Ice cream brioche at Il Canneto
Ice cream brioche at Il Canneto,©Antonella Ravidà

 

  • Trattoria La Lampara: I like it because of the very cozy and easy going atmophere of it terrace…it is a typical eaolian building and you find traditional strombolian meals.

 

I hope this article has made you want to visit Stromboli and Aeolian Islands! If you found it useful, share a picture of you in the island and tag me on my instagram page! I am in love with this place and would love to read your comments below!

Antonella
Antonella

Ciao! My name is Antonella and I am a Sicilian Travel Designer based in Catania, Sicily. My mission here is to share my knowledge and love for this amazing island of Southern Italy and to help you tailor your dream trip to Sicily.

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24 Responses

  1. I think that visiting Stromboli is like living into an old italian movie, maybe is the volcano magic.

    1. Actually, Aeolian Islands are pretty similar to the typical Greek islands, because of the white washed houses, the beautiful sea around them and of course the wind! 🙂

  2. The Aeolian Islands are one of the destinations I have in mind for some trips in the future. I think they are all amazing places and Stromboli is for sure the most suggestive, thanks to its volcano.

    1. You should definitely schedule your trip to Aeolian Islands soon 🙂 It’s a natural paradise but also a very relaxing place thanks to the islands size and position.

  3. Stromboli is a destination that I have had in mind for a very long time! I’d really like to discover the most naturalistic part of the island, and immortalize the volcano eruption!

  4. Sabbia nera, acqua cristallina e il fuoco del vulcano, Stromboli è una cartolina molto rappresentativa della bellissima Sicilia

  5. A friend of mine always told me the Aeolian Islands are incredible, and she is madly in love with them and comes back every year, sometimes even more often.
    On the other hand, I never visited them, but I must admit that I would love to see the “sciara del fuoco” from the boat at sunset!
    I’ll take your advice and try to go during autumn or winter because I imagine it’s a beautiful sight!

    1. I wish I could go to aeolian islands as much as your friend does! They are truly unique and deserve your visit. The boat tour in the night to see to volcano explosions is definitely a must do in Stromboli!

  6. Black sand, good food, seaside and a steep hike: it reminds me of my Canary Islands! 😀 Including some unexpected eruptions that create a bit of a mess…. x_x Never been there. The first thing I’d do, it’s going for that super yummy ice-cream croissant! 😀

    1. 🙂 Food is definitely one of the main attractions for me at aeolian islands! You can still find very authentic ingredients and enjoy some amazing meals!:)

  7. I saw Aeolian Islands during an islands tour by boat, we stopped in any of them and I liked very much every island. Stromboli was one of my favorite island, really beautiful and interesting, “Iddu” is a great attraction

    1. exploring aeolian islands by boat is maybe the best way to be able to move easily among them and get the chance to see them all. I’ve always mooved from one island to the other by hidrofoil, so I might think about a sail boat holiday myself!

    1. I strongly suggest you to go and explore this island which can really offer many beautiful experiences to its visitors. September is a great month to go, just bear in mind that it is still quite high season, so book your accommodation in advance 😉

  8. I have never been there, but I have seen lots of pictures and documentaries about this island. It seems to be very beautiful and I would love to visit it; thanks for your precious advice!

    1. thanks Teresa, Stromboli is indeed an amazing island and it deserves more visits out of the crowded summer months because only then you can really appreciate its natural peace.

  9. Stromboli is one of my dream! Landscapes are so strong an mediterranean that they look like postcards. You shot very beautiful pictures of the eruption.

    1. I was lucky enough to be able to go up to the volcano summit when it was still possible to do it and this memory is well kept in my heart as it was an unforgettable experience!

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