Not all of the World's Best islands are thumbprints of sand in tropical waters. Ischia, one of Travel + Leisure's top islands of 2016, is just across the Gulf of Naples, and despite its laid-back, fishing village disposition, you'll find that it has everything travelers could ask for in an island getaway.
To get here, take an hour-long traghetto, or ferry ride, from Naples. Begin a tour of the isle in Ischia Ponte, a bustling port town with quaint storefronts. Locals flock here for important events and festivals.
The most prominent aspect of Ischia's skyline is Castello Aragonese, a fairytale-like castle that dates back to 474 B.C. You can access the landmark via a footbridge, but one of the most fun things to do in Ischia is to hire a private boat to take you out for the very best views.
Of course, if what you're after is an afternoon spent strolling around an iconic fishermen's village, go to nearby Spiaggia dei Pescatori. At this summer mooring spot, you can watch trawlers hail in the daily catch. Walk along the wide beaches and appreciate how untouristed this area still is. Grab a bite from any of the vendors dotting this beach to whet your appetite.
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If you're hungry for dinner, go instead to Ristorante Pizzeria Pirozzi. On balmy nights, the tables spill out onto the street. After bowls of fresh pasta or plates piled high with seafood culled from the Mediterranean earlier that day, bed down at Grand Hotel Excelsior—a seafront property with an outdoor swimming pool boasting some of the best views on the island.
What to do in Ischia to relax and unwind? The island is famous for its geothermal beaches and baths. Giardino Eden, in addition to four pools, hydromassages, and heliotherapy treatments, is filled with lush, tropical gardens.
Can’t get to this award-winning island just yet? Check out famed novelist Elena Ferrante’s beautiful descriptions of Ischia’s romantic beaches and the fabulous hike up Monte Epomeo to be instantly transported.