Self-Guided Hiking Tours

Italy | Sicily: The Aeolian Islands

Seven islands with more than 5,000 years of history await.

Italy flag
  • ITALY | SICILY: AEOLIAN ISLANDS
  • Sicily Hiking
  • ITALY | SICILY: AEOLIAN ISLANDS
  • Hiking in Sicily's Aeolian Islands
  • ITALY | SICILY: AEOLIAN ISLANDS
  • ITALY | SICILY: AEOLIAN ISLANDS
  • ITALY | SICILY: AEOLIAN ISLANDS
  • "The hike was fabulous. One of the best. Extremely well planned. Our weather was terrific, the directions were clear and the views amazing. Thanks so much."- Michael Kellogg

Trip Highlights:

  • Hiking with a cultural historian on the flanks of Mount Etna.
  • Expansive views over the Aeolian Islands.
  • Delicious Sicilian food.

From across the aquamarine waves, their call can be heard for thousands of leagues. Ulysses surely wasn’t the first to hear their sound as he crossed the Adriatic, Aegean, and Tyrrhenian seas on his Odyssey, but he definitely was a notable visitor to the Aeolian Islands, home of the sirens.

Active volcanoes, the ruins of over nine different cultures, societies stacked on top of each other, beautiful beaches with warm waters, and food that is sinfully delicious and fresher than the day, are things that sing the wonder of the islands. When traveling with Ryder-Walker, cliff side hikes looking into deep blue waters will satisfy the appetite of even the most adventurous hiker, and will not be forgotten.

When speaking of the Aeolian Islands, it is impossible to go without mentioning the volcanoes; they are the reason people first came to the region. The soil that resulted from their eruption is why everything that grows here has a special, magic quality. The craters and looking down into them has been intriguing travelers for centuries – in fact, St. Willibald once traveled to the crests of a local volcano to see if he could catch a glimpse of hell. With glistening obsidian moraines, the peaks that make up this chain of islands are absolutely fascinating.

The characters of the islands are friendly, bombastic, and oftentimes figments of themselves – August is pretty much the only time the chain has a significant amount of visitors. For the rest of the year, the islands are quiet, and the towns quieter.

Although many of the people on the islands have made the shift from agriculture to tourism over the past decade, there are still a few locals who make a living catching fish and shrimp daily with a spear and their hands. Not to mention, some would argue that traveling to Italy is just as much about the hiking as it is about the dining- and trust us, on this trip, there is no shortage of gastronomical excitement.

While the islands are small, the hiking is not. Steeper climbs abound on this trek and offer you many different vantage points of the area, often looking back at the island from the previous day. Whether you are hiking on a mule trail to the top of a volcano, peering into a giant crater, or following a steep staircase to some of the areas most historical landmarks, after touring all of the islands, you’re sure to dread the prospect of leaving. Perhaps you’ll start looking for the sirens to blame this on, and maybe you’ll be in the right for doing so!

Trip Itinerary

Choose from our standard itinerary or customize the trek by adding or subtracting days. We are happy to offer harder or gentler hikes where possible.

Begin your trip in the Sicilian city of Catania/Taormina. Catania is the airport and Taormina is a nearby town, where Greek ruins, Roman walls, and Norman buildings speak of the great history belonging to this land. We recommend transferring by bus from the airport to Taormina, where you will settle into an excellently appointed and perfectly located hotel.

Meet local historian and tour guide this morning for a two-hour tour of the stunningly located ancient Greek Theatre of Taormina and visit local environs. In the afternoon, you hike to a hilltop village of Castelmola, with splendid views of the Calabrian and Ionian coast topped by Mount Etna. After lunch at a peculiar local cafe, you descend next to the town’s citadel back to Taormina for a second night at your lovely hotel.

Distance: 4 miles. Elevation gain/loss: 1000 ft.

After a morning transfer, embark on a one-hour ferry ride to the small island of Vulcano, known for its tropical looks, volcanic sand, and the smell of sulfur fumaroles. Hike up to the Grand Crater and enjoy a picnic lunch with stunning views of the Aeolian archipelago, blue Thyrenian sea, and a rugged Calabrian coast. Loop the rim of the crater before descending the sandy slopes for a night at your beachfront property.

Distance: 4 miles. Elevation gain/loss: 1100 ft.

After a short ferry ride, you start your hike to the top of Monte Guardia, the old outpost at the southern tip of the island. The hiking trail takes you by luxurious holiday villas built in classical Aeolian style, and to the Cappero-Osservatorio (Volcano Observatory). After the summit you close the loop with a grand view of Lipari and its 16th-century citadel. Be sure to explore the town’s maritime atmosphere and rich heritage. Overnight in Lipari.

Distance: 8 miles. Elevation gain: 1500 ft.

Today you hop on a ferry and travel to the island of Santa Marina, known for wine production and as the most fertile and green of all the Aeolian Islands. Santa Marina has entirely escaped the waves of movie stars and VIP tourism that have plagued some of the other islands, leaving the land rural and perfectly pastoral – great for you! After bagging the peak of the resident volcano, you retire for the evening at an excellent hotel with a classic Aeolian exterior and colorful and modern interior, and taste locally grown wines.

Distance: 5 miles. Elevation gain: 2000 ft.

Today, you are off to the fashionable Panarea, the smallest Island in the volcanic archipelago. Hike Punta del Corvo, one of the grandest treks in all the islands. This 421 m (1380 ft) peak is the tallest on the island, and its western flank slants sharply out of the sea, while the eastern side slopes more gently as it rises from the pebble beaches below. Tonight, you visit the stunningly beautiful prehistoric village at Capo Milazzaese and stay in an elegant four-star hotel.

Distance: 6 miles. Elevation gain: 1500 ft.

Explore this magical island during the day and hike the active volcano of Stromboli at sunset to observe the magnificent eruption. The volcano erupts with precision every night at this time (it is not dangerous). Enjoy your final night on this secluded and dramatic island in an excellent four-star hotel.

Distance: 7 miles. Elevation gain: 2700 ft.

Sicily: The Aeolian Islands | Italy

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Travel and the Coronavirus for Ryder-Walker Guests

Ryder-Walker is monitoring the coronavirus outbreak and acknowledges that there is growing uncertainty about the safety of traveling right now. Currently, our guided and self-guided treks are on schedule to run. Should travel restrictions be implemented by local or global authorities we will post updates on this link.

For more information please visit the websites of the World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.