The Island of Elba, or ‘Isola d’Elba’, is the largest of seven islands in the Tuscan Archipelago and the third largest in Italy, behind Sicily and Sardinia. Outside of Italy, Elba Island is best known for being the temporary refuge of Napoleon after his exile in 1814, but there’s a lot more to it than that.
Elba Island has an ancient heritage that stretches right back to the prehistoric Ilvati tribe who originally came from Liguria and named the island Ilva. The Etruscans and, later, the Romans settled on the island, making use of its rich iron deposits.
There are some great cultural attractions on the island, lovely towns to explore and delicious regional cuisine. Elba Island’s culinary traditions are mainly based on seafood and local spices with headlining dishes such as Palamita, Octopus and Stockfish with potatoes really stealing the show.
The island is a paradise for nature lovers and offers a wide range of outdoor sports including cycling, hiking, golf, snorkeling, sailing and kayaking. The island has beautiful beaches, charming coastal towns and unforgettable sea views.
Great Ways Of Traveling To The Island Of Elba.
The quickest way to get to Elba Island is to fly to Marina di Campo Airport. You can catch a direct flight to Elba Island’s airport from Florence, Pisa, Lugano or Milan with SilverAir Elba airlines. The short flight is extremely enjoyable and if you have a window seat you’ll be able to take in the fantastic views along the way. Alternatively, you can fly directly to Marina di Campo Airport from Bern and Zurich in Switzerland with SkyWork Airlines.
If you want to really savor the sea views on your way to the island you can take a ferry from Piombino, in Livorno. There are several main shipping lines that operate the route including Moby, Toremar, Blu Navy and Corsica Sardinia Ferries. There are dozens of daily crossings during the summer months but during the winter there are far fewer ferries in operation so you should check the timetables before making your plans.
Once you arrive at the ferry terminal or airport you can either catch a taxi or rent your own car to travel to your accommodation. If you decide to rent a car then “Elba By Car” is a great local car rental service. The company offers a free transfer service so you can just pick up the car when you get off the ferry or arrive at the airport.
When Is The Best Time To Visit The Island Of Elba?
The ideal time to visit Elba Island is between June and July. The weather at the peak of the summer is great and although there are plenty of other tourists on the islands it’s not overly crowded. The busiest time of year on the island is during August when Italians tend to take their vacations.
If you’d like to visit without the crowds then either May or September is the best time. The temperatures are a little cooler and although the sea is too cold for swimming the weather is perfect for sightseeing, hotel prices are cheaper and you won’t have to wait in any lines.
Great Things To Do In The Island Of Elba.
The following are some of the best things you can do in the Island of Elba:
Explore The Marciana Archaeological Museum.
Elba Island has several great museums but the most interesting is probably the Marciana Archaeological Museum. A visit to the museum is a fun outing for a family day trip as well as for anyone who is interested in the astoundingly diverse history of this remarkable island.
The museum is located in the center of Marciana, a historic town on the coast of Elba, and contains a treasure trove of artifacts that span thousands of years of the island’s history. The museum has exhibitions that include some of the island’s most important archeological finds, including Iron Age artifacts, Etruscan and Corinthian pottery, Greek bowls and jewelry.
One of the highlights of the museum are the exhibitions of materials that date back to the Bronze age. These settlers of the Monte Capanne were sheep farmers and were expert spinners and weavers of wool. You can see ancient millstones, cereal grinders, cookers for processing milk, looms, spindles and much more besides.
Visit The Spectacular Beaches Of Elba Island.
The beaches of Elba island are numerous and perfectly suited for a summer vacation in the sun. The island has white sandy beaches as well as pebbly coves, dramatic rocky coastlines and lots of fun inlets to explore.
If you’re visiting with children there are beaches with very shallow water where it’s safe for them to swim and paddle in the sea. The best beaches for families with younger children are Lacano, Fetovaia, Procchio and Marina di Campo. On these beaches, you can also find amenities, such as toilets, shower facilities and nearby restaurants, and in some places, there are even lifeguards to watch over the safety of the visitors. These beaches are free to visit as well.
If you’d like to go snorkeling or diving to see the beautiful marine world beneath the waves then Biodola beach is one of the top locations on the island. For a more active day trip, you can visit Capo d’Enfola beach which has a large car park, a diving center and you can rent a pedal boat or even go jet skiing.
Full-Day Sea Kayak Tour Of Elba Island.
If you’d like to see the island’s spectacular coastlines then why not join a full-day sea kayak tour? You’ll be guided by a fully certified kayak instructor in a small group as you explore the beautiful ocean waters of Elba Island, stopping off to swim in the sea along the way. Even if you’ve never kayaked before you’ll learn all the basics before setting off so you don’t need to be a pro to sign up!
The maximum size for the group is 8 people so the guide is able to personalize the tour, depending on your interests. This is a great family day out although it’s worth noting that the minimum age for the tour is 14 years old. The tour lasts 6 hours and departs from Marciana Marina. You can find out more about the full-day sea kayak tour or book your tickets, here.
Half-Day Private Walking Tour Of Portoferraio.
To see some of Elba Island’s top cultural highlights you can join a guided private walking tour of Portoferraio. The tour starts off at the Forte Falcone, one of the town’s major landmarks. Built by the powerful Medici family in 1548, this military fortress was even used by Allied troops during World War II. Next, you’ll visit the Palazzina dei Mulini, Napoleon’s main residence on the island during his exile in 1814. Lastly, you’ll walk to downtown Portoferraio to see the Torre della Linguella, a Renaissance tower that is surrounded by the ruins of a villa.
This 3-hour walking tour is a great way to discover some of the best of Elba Island’s top cultural attractions and departs from Via Vittorio Emanuele II in Portoferraio. Throughout the tour, you’ll also have plenty of opportunities to take some spectacular photographs to remember the day by and you’ll get a real insight into the island’s heritage. After the tour is over, you can drop by one of the local restaurants to enjoy a relaxed meal. You can find out more about the tour, or reserve your tickets, here.
Private Boat Tour Of Elba Island At Sunset With Aperitif.
After sightseeing or exploring the towns and beaches, there’s no better way to complete the day than by taking a private boat tour as the sunset sets. You’ll be taken around the Eastern coast of the island in an 11-meter boat to visit some of the most iconic coves and coastal stretches of Elba Island. As you take in the stunning ocean scenery you can also enjoy an aperitif that consists of local products from both land and sea as well as wines and beer.
Perfect for a romantic evening before you have dinner in a local restaurant, you can book your seats on the private boat tour of Elba at sunset, here.
Great Places To Stay On The Island Of Elba.
There are several main towns on the island where you can base yourself but the ideal place to stay is in Marina di Campo. Not only is it just a short distance from the island’s airport, but it’s also a bustling community with numerous hotels, restaurants, cafes and shops. There’s also a post office, several supermarkets and a weekly outdoor market where you can browse for food and locally made arts and crafts.
Marina di Campo has a sheltered beach where you can sunbathe and swim during the day or take a romantic walk in the evening. After dark, the town has a fun nightlife with cocktail bars and venues that are open late in the night.
The town hosts some of the island’s main celebrations throughout the year, including White Night in June and the celebrations of Saint Gaetano in September which culminates in a dazzling fireworks display that is visible all the way across the other side of the bay.
This lovely, family-friendly hotel in Marina di Campo has free parking, free WiFi, a comfortable lounge and bar and air-conditioned rooms. Each morning, you can start the day with a breakfast buffet before heading out to explore the town. The hotel is great value for money and ideally located for your vacation on Elba Island.
This is a lovely B&B that has free parking, free WiFi and helpful staff in the reception who can give you tips about the best places to visit during your stay. The rooms all have air conditioning, a refrigerator and a compact kitchenette where you make your own food. There are also family rooms if you’re traveling with children and the B&B is also dog-friendly.
Great Places For Dinning In Marina Di Campo.
The following are some of the best restaurants in Marina Di Campo:
Ristorante La Cantina Del Mare.
Specializing in authentic Tuscan and Central Italian cuisine as well as fresh, locally sourced seafood, this wonderful restaurant serves lunch and dinner and is open late at night.
This seafront restaurant has spectacular views across the bay of Marina di Campo and serves seafood, Mediterranean and Tuscan cuisine. There are also plenty of vegetarian and gluten-free options on the menu and a fantastic wine list to sample. The restaurant is open for lunch and is very popular so it’s worth booking a table in advance.
Casa Sordi On Street.
This chic street-side restaurant has a fun vibe and serves seafood, Italian cuisine and barbecue classics. The fish and shellfish are super fresh and if you want some food to takeaway for later you can order sandwiches with a whole range of fillings to choose from
Elba Island – One Of Italy’s Best Kept Secrets.
Despite its beautiful coastal scenery, fascinating history and delicious cuisine, Elba Island is too often overlooked by visitors to Tuscany. However, as you’d see if you visited during the month of August, each year Italians flock to the enchanting island to take their summer vacations. And there’s a good reason for that, local Italians know some of the finest vacation spots in the country and don’t necessarily advertise the fact very widely.
So whether you’re an Expat living in Italy or a tourist who’s planning a trip to Tuscany, you should certainly consider visiting the Island of Elba.