One week Aeolian Island guide: Explore Vulcano Island, Salina, and Stromboli.

What are the Aeolian Islands?

Did you know that you can experience a fantastic exotic island-hopping adventure, complete with erupting volcanoes, right here in Europe? The Aeolian Islands, situated between Sicily and mainland Italy, offer just that! Stromboli, Europe’s most active volcano, erupts consistently every day and has been on my bucket list for years. After enduring the challenging times of the infamous COVID-19 lockdowns, I finally set out to explore Stromboli, along with Salina and Vulcano Island, destinations that surprisingly many Italians are unfamiliar with!

This one-week adventure provides the perfect mix of excitement and relaxation, combining a beach vacation with easy hiking. By following in my footsteps, you’ll find it straightforward to plan and reach these destinations on your own. For the best experience, I recommend visiting between the start of May and the end of September.

Discover everything you need to know about how to get to Vulcano Island, how to get to Salina, how to get to Stromboli and all the exciting activities awaiting you on the Aeolian Islands right here on this blog. Start planning your own unforgettable adventure today!

Disclaimer: This blog contains affiliate links to booking partners, if you make a booking through my link with them I get a commission with no extra costs for you. This way you support my travel budget so I can keep gathering valuable travel information for you. Thanks for your support.

How to get to the Aeolian Islands? A one week itinerary for Vulcano Island, Salina and Stromboli.

If you’re starting your journey from Bruges like me, here’s how you can reach the airports conveniently with Flibco or Flixbus. Both bus services also offer airport connections from various other locations in Belgium and Europe, so be sure to check their websites for options near you. Regardless of the bus service you choose, it’s always wise to allow extra time for potential delays. Personally, I frequently use Flibco and have never experienced any delays.

Flibco:
Flibco provides a direct bus service from Bruges (train station) and Ghent (St. Pieters train station) to Charleroi Airport (Brussels South) airport. Buses depart 12 times daily, starting from 1:45 until 18:45 , and the journey takes approximately 2 hours and 20 minutes. You can find Flibco airport bus connections from Antwerp, Arlon, Bruges, Brussels, Ghent, Kortrijk, and Mons. These routes service both Brussels Airport and/or Charleroi Airport (Brussels South), depending on the location. Tickets can be booked on the Flibco website.

Need help booking a Flibco bus? Visit ‘How to use Flibco?

Flixbus:
Flixbus offers a direct bus connection from Bruges (train station) to Brussels Airport. The bus departs at 16:30 and arrives at 18:40, with a travel time of 2 hours and 10 minutes. Flixbus provides 6 direct connections from Antwerp to Brussels Airport, with departures starting at 08:40 and running until midnight. The travel time is approximately 45 minutes to one hour .Tickets can be booked on the Flixbus website.

Need help booking a Flixbus? Visit ‘How to use Flixbus?

Finding affordable flights from Belgium to Catania? Here are some budget-friendly options:

One of the most economical routes is via Charleroi (Brussels South) airport. Both Ryanair and WizzAir operate flights from Charleroi, and sometimes combining their services can result in very low fares. Additionally, TuiFly, offers flights from Brussels Airport to Catania, occasionally featuring cheap last-minute deals.

My personal strategy for securing affordable flights to Catania involved booking separate legs of the journey:

  • Brussels Airport to Rome Fiumicino with Brussels Airlines for €36
  • Rome Fiumicino to Catania with Ryanair
  • Catania to Rome Fiumicino with WizzAir both for €20
  • Rome Ciampino to Brussels South (Charleroi) for €37

Please note, these fares only included hand luggage. For peace of mind, I left more than three hours between connecting flights. On my return journey in Rome, I had a 12-hour layover, allowing me to explore the city briefly. The total cost for my flights was just €96! However, it’s worth remembering that cheap doesn’t always mean comfortable, and connections aren’t guaranteed. If you have flexible travel dates and are exploring different options, you might also find affordable direct flight prices. For those on a tight budget, consider traveling with only hand luggage to save on additional fees.

I often find my budget flight connections on Skyscanner and, when possible, book through Trip.com. For TuiFly, Ryanair, and WizzAir, I book directly through their websites.

Located just outside the Arrival Hall, in front of the Terminal Building, travelers can find a convenient bus connection between Catania Fontanarossa Airport and the city center, terminating at Catania Centrale train station. Operated by AMT ALIBUS, buses depart every 25 minutes from 4:40 until midnight.

Tickets can be purchased from the Bus Ticket Office, AMT vending machines, or online at AMT ALIBUS website. Additionally, tickets can be acquired directly from the bus driver, either by cash or card payment. A one-way ticket is priced at €4.

Arriving late in the evening, I opted to spend a night in Catania for convenience. I chose to stay at Etna’s Tourist due to its strategic location. The accommodation is situated just a few minutes’ walk from both the Airport Bus Stop and Catania Centrale Train Station, making it exceptionally convenient for travelers. Etna’s Tourist offers clean and comfortable private double rooms, ensuring a pleasant stay.

Reservations can be made through Booking.com. This was my choice of stay, but you can find accommodation to suit your own budget and standards on Booking.com and/or Trip.com.

There’s a small bakery located within Catania Centrale train station that offers a simple yet satisfying breakfast. My journey commenced with a train departing Catania Centrale at 08:06, reaching Messina Centrale at approximately 09:42. The duration of this scenic train ride along the Sicilian coastline was approximately 1 hour and 36 minutes.

Messina Centrale serves as the final stop, necessitating a train change. Fortunately, there was time between connections to grab a cold drink and ensure punctual boarding for the next train. Departing Messina Centrale at 10:05, I arrived in Milazzo at 10:35, with the journey lasting about 30 minutes.

For convenience, the entire trip can be purchased as a single ticket. I opted to book online in advance at a cost of €11.40. Tickets can also be acquired at the train station or online through Trip.com. To find trains from Catania Centrale to Milazzo, select ‘Trains’, choose ‘Europe’, select ‘Catania Central to Milazzo’, and enter your desired date and time.

Local bus number 5 (AST) departs directly from the train station and stops at the ferry harbor. Although the bus timetable is somewhat unclear, buses run hourly from 7 AM to 9 PM. The journey takes approximately 10 minutes, with a fare of €1.50 payable directly to the driver. While waiting, you can admire views of the occasionally erupting Mount Etna. Alternatively, walking the 3.5km route, which mostly lacks sidewalks, is an option. A taxi ride to the harbor should cost around €15. Please note that there are no food or drink facilities at the train station, not even a vending machine, but there is a ticket office for train tickets.

Locate the Liberty Lines ferry terminal entrance by walking a short distance back from the bus stop. Tickets are available for purchase there, but if you’ve already obtained an online ticket, you can proceed directly through the building. Inside, you’ll find restrooms and a small bar with a terrace.

Lines form for each departing ferry, and tickets are scanned at the front of the queue. Ticket prices start from €15,64, which includes only hand luggage, and the boat ride lasted 45 minutes. Seating on the ferry is unnumbered and can fill up quickly at times.

Tickets can be purchased at Liberty Lines website. Ensure you arrive at the ferry terminal at least 30 minutes before the scheduled boarding time.

This comfortable budget hotel is conveniently situated within walking distance (15 minutes) from the ferry terminal and the city center, nestled in a quiet area. Additionally, it’s close to the starting point for the volcano crater hike. Guests can enjoy a stunning swimming pool with views of the volcano.

I stayed for two nights in a double room equipped with a private bathroom, fridge, and terrace. Breakfast is not included but a bakery is nearby. I made my reservation through Booking.com.

This was my choice of stay, but you can find accommodation to suit your own budget and standards on Booking.com and/or Trip.com.

Vulcano Island is one of Europe’s most unique hidden gems. From above, it resembles a scene straight out of a movie—a smoking volcano with a massive crater rising from the Mediterranean Sea. This captivating feeling only intensifies as you set foot on the island.

The experience reaches new heights when you hike to the top of the crater. The breathtaking views make you feel as though you’re on an exotic continent, and when you add a sunset to that backdrop, along with black sand beaches and volcanic bubbles emerging from the sea floor, Vulcano Island becomes the perfect blend of adventure and relaxation. I highly recommend spending at least two nights on this enchanting island.

Things to do on Vulcano Island:

  • Hike to Vulcano Gran Crater
  • Watch the sunset at Monte Saraceno
  • Experience volcanic bubbles in the sea
  • Relax on black sand beaches
  • Visit the Mud Volcano
  • Explore Monster Valley
  • Take a snorkel boat tour around the island
  • Collect special stones
  • Enjoy the local restaurants

Stay tuned for a full Vulcano Island itinerary. (Coming soon)

The ferry departs from the small stone pier in the harbor, which features a modest waiting area. The ticket office is located at Hotel Faraglione on the opposite side of the harbor.

Lines form for each departing ferry, and tickets are scanned at the front of the line. Ticket prices start from €9,26, which includes only hand luggage, and the journey took 40 minutes.

Seating on the ferry is unnumbered, and tickets can sell out on busy days. Tickets can be purchased at Liberty Lines website. Ensure you arrive at the pier at least 15 minutes prior to the scheduled boarding time.

This bed and breakfast exudes the charm of an old romantic Italian movie, perfectly capturing the island’s vibe. I stayed in a cozy single room equipped with a fan and a private bathroom, though they do offer larger rooms as well. The property is conveniently located within walking distance of a bus stop with direct connections to the ferry terminal, and it’s also close to the village center and beach.

Reservations can be made through Booking.com. This was my choice of stay, but you can find accommodation to suit your own budget and standards on Booking.com and/or Trip.com.

Island hopping between the Aeolian Islands offers a diverse array of experiences, with each island boasting its own unique vibe. After leaving the adventurous scenes of Vulcano Island behind, you’ll find yourself immersed in the old romantic charm of Salina Island, another hidden gem in Europe. It’s a favorite spot among celebrities like Sting, who owns property here. Salina has even been named the most beautiful island in Italy by CNN. I highly recommend spending at least two nights on this charming island.

Things to do on Salina Island:

  • Rent a scooter and explore the entire island
  • Watch Stromboli erupt from a prehistoric village
  • Hunt for souvenirs in Santa Marina
  • Fall in love with the picturesque town of Malfa
  • Watch ‘Il Postino’ in the village where it was filmed
  • Swim and snorkel to a large stone arch
  • Explore the island’s beautiful beaches

Stay tuned for a full Salina Island itinerary. (Coming soon)

The pier, marked by a white and blue shelter, is conveniently located directly in front of the Liberty Lines ticket office.

Lines form for each departing ferry, and tickets are scanned at the front of the line. Ticket prices start from €14,65, which includes only hand luggage, and the boat ride lasted 1 hour and 30 minutes.

Seating on the ferry is unnumbered, and tickets can sell out during peak times. Tickets can be purchased at Liberty Lines website. Ensure you arrive at the pier at least 15 minutes prior to the scheduled boarding time.

Villa Petrusa is conveniently located halfway between the city center and the lava rock beaches, and it’s also on the road leading to the volcano hike. The rooms are simple yet comfortable, and the garden boasts an incredible view of the volcano. I stayed in a clean, comfortable single room with a private bathroom.

If you’re arriving from the ferry, be prepared for a bit of walking, but it’s a pleasant stroll thru the city. For those feeling less energetic, golf carts serve as taxis on the island! There’s a small supermarket right next to the hotel, along with some charming bars.

Reservations can be made through Booking.com. This was my choice of stay, but you can find accommodation to suit your own budget and standards on Booking.com and/or Trip.com.

The lighthouse of the mediterranean, Stromboli, is one of the most thrilling destinations in the Aeolian Islands. On clear nights, you can even see its eruptions from neighboring islands. Walking on Europe’s most active volcano and spending the night while it continues to erupt is an experience that’s hard to beat! I highly recommend spending at least two nights on this fascinating island.

Things to do on Stromboli Island:

  • Hike to the highest eruption viewpoint
  • Enjoy the sunset from the viewpoint
  • Dine at Osservatorio with views of the eruptions
  • Relax on the black sand beaches between lava flow rocks
  • Go snorkeling
  • Take an eruption boat tour during sunset
  • Search for souvenirs
  • Visit the island’s unique graveyard

Stay tuned for a full Stromboli Island itinerary. (Coming soon)

The main pier is easily recognizable and hard to miss, with the ticket office situated at the beginning of the harbor.

Due to a weather warning from my hotel about potential afternoon storms leading to ferry cancellations, I opted to board an earlier ferry, which required paying a small additional fee on top of my pre-booked ticket.

Lines form for each departing ferry, and tickets are scanned at the front of the line. Ticket prices start from €20,15, which includes only hand luggage, and the boat ride lasted 2 hours and 20 minutes.

Seating on the ferry is unnumbered, and tickets can sell out during busy periods. Tickets can be purchased at Liberty Lines website. Please ensure you arrive at the pier at least 30 minutes before the scheduled boarding time.

Upon arriving at the Ferry Terminal, exit the building and turn right. Continue walking until you reach a bus stop near the roundabout, where you’ll find benches available for seating.

The bus serving this route is a local (AST) bus number 5. While the timetable may not be very clear, a bus departs approximately every hour from 7:00 to 21:00. The journey to the train station takes around 10 minutes, with a fare of €1.50 payable directly to the driver. Alternatively, a taxi ride to the train station should cost around €15.

Please note that there are no food or drink facilities at the train station, not even a vending machine. Therefore, it’s advisable to purchase any necessary refreshments before boarding the bus.

The small station in Milazzo offers little more than a view of Mount Etna. Apart from a ticket office, the station provides only toilet facilities with no other services.

My train departed from Milazzo at 17:24, arriving at Messina Centrale at 17:44, with a journey time of 22 minutes. Messina Centrale serves as the final stop, requiring a train change. Fortunately, there was sufficient time between connections to purchase food and drinks before catching the next train.

The train from Messina Centrale departed at 18:25, arriving at Catania Centrale at 20:22, with a duration of 1 hour and 57 minutes. This scenic route offers beautiful views along the Sicilian coastline.

The entire journey can be purchased as a single ticket. I booked mine online in advance at a cost of €9.90. Tickets are available for purchase either at the train station or online through Trip.com. To find trains from Milazzo to Catania Centrale, select ‘Trains’, choose ‘Europe’, select ‘Milazzo to Catania Central’, and enter your desired date and time.

Arriving late in the evening, I opted to spend a night in Catania for convenience. I chose to stay at Etna’s Tourist due to its strategic location. The accommodation is situated just a few minutes’ walk from both the Airport Bus Stop and Catania Centrale Train Station, making it exceptionally convenient for travelers. Etna’s Tourist offers clean and comfortable private double rooms, ensuring a pleasant stay.

Reservations can be made through Booking.com. This was my choice of stay, but you can find accommodation to suit your own budget and standards on Booking.com and/or Trip.com.

The airport bus departs from the bus stops located in front of Catania Centrale, with several other stops along the route through Catania. Operated by AMT ALIBUS, this bus provides a direct ride to Catania Fontanarossa Airport.

Buses run every 25 minutes from 4:50 until midnight, with the journey to the airport taking approximately 30 minutes. Tickets are priced at €4 and can be purchased from the AMT Ticket Office near the train station, online at AMT ALIBUS website, or directly from the bus driver using cash or card.

Finding affordable flights from Catania to Belgium? Here are some budget-friendly options:

One of the most economical routes is via Charleroi (Brussels South) airport. Both Ryanair and WizzAir operate flights from Charleroi, and sometimes combining their services can result in very low fares. Additionally, TuiFly, offers flights from Brussels Airport to Catania, occasionally featuring cheap last-minute deals.

My personal strategy for securing affordable flights to Catania involved booking separate legs of the journey:

  • Brussels Airport to Rome Fiumicino with Brussels Airlines for €36
  • Rome Fiumicino to Catania with Ryanair
  • Catania to Rome Fiumicino with WizzAir both for €20
  • Rome Ciampino to Brussels South (Charleroi) for €37

Please note, these fares only included hand luggage. For peace of mind, I left more than three hours between connecting flights. On my return journey in Rome, I had a 12-hour layover, allowing me to explore the city briefly. The total cost for my flights was just €96! However, it’s worth remembering that cheap doesn’t always mean comfortable, and connections aren’t guaranteed. If you have flexible travel dates and are exploring different options, you can also find affordable direct flight prices. For those on a tight budget, consider traveling with only hand luggage to save on additional fees.

I often find my budget flight connections on Skyscanner and, when possible, book through Trip.com. For TuiFly, Ryanair, and WizzAir, I book directly through their websites.

Here’s how you can return from the airports conveniently with Flibco or Flixbus. Both bus services also offer airport connections from various other locations in Belgium and Europe, so be sure to check their websites for options near you. Regardless of the bus service you choose, it’s always wise to allow extra time for potential delays. Personally, I frequently use Flibco and have never experienced any delays.

Flibco:
Flibco provides a direct bus service from Charleroi Airport (Brussels South) airport to Ghent (St. Pieters train station) and Bruges (train station). Buses depart 12 times daily, starting from 00:30 until 23:30 , and the journey takes approximately 2 hours and 20 minutes. You can find Flibco airport bus connections to Antwerp, Arlon, Bruges, Brussels, Ghent, Kortrijk, and Mons. These routes service both Brussels Airport and/or Charleroi Airport (Brussels South), depending on the location. Tickets can be booked on the Flibco website.

Need help booking a Flibco bus? Visit ‘How to use Flibco?

Flixbus:
Flixbus offers a direct bus connection from Brussels Airport to Bruges (train station). Buses depart 2 times daily, starting from 12:35 and 18:30 , and the journey takes approximately 2 hours and 20 minutes. Flixbus provides 6 direct connections from Antwerp to Brussels Airport, with departures starting at 09:45 until 21:50. The travel time is approximately 45 minutes to one hour. Tickets can be booked on the Flixbus website.

Need help booking a Flixbus? Visit ‘How to use Flixbus?

This travel itinerary is based on my personal experiences and preferences, but feel free to tailor it to suit your own needs. You can adjust the number of days, choose your own accommodation, and select the places you’d like to visit. By booking through the links provided in the itinerary, you can support my travel blog at no extra cost to you.

If you’d like a personalized travel itinerary designed specifically for you, I can create one for an additional fee. This customized plan will include all transportation connections based on your preferences, though you’ll need to choose your own accommodation in the area.

Please note that this adventure includes visits to active volcanoes. While most visits are safe, there is inherent risk involved. Use this plan at your own discretion and risk.

What is the best time to visit the Aeolian Islands?

The Aeolian Islands are open for visits throughout the year, but the peak tourism season runs from early May to the end of September. During this period, you can expect more tourists as well as more open restaurants, shops, and rental services. July and August are typically the hottest and busiest months, while May and September may have fewer tourists but still offer fantastic weather and warm sea water perfect for swimming.

 Are there ATM’s on the Aeolian Islands?

On Vulcano Island, Salina, and Stromboli, you’ll find ATMs available for your convenience. Additionally, supermarkets, pharmacies, restaurants, and nightlife options are all accessible on these islands.

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