A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to travel to the Isle of Elba: the third largest Island in Italy, a trip I never imagined I would make. Mainly because… I had no idea the Isle of Elba existed.
Despite being a keener for geography, the islands of Italy have never been my “area of expertise” therefore, I was pretty excited when our Italian friends suggested we visit for a few days.
The Isle of Elba is famous for being the island that the French Emperor Napoleon was exiled to in 1814, but the island’s history dates back far beyond Napoleon’s footsteps. This beautiful place was originally inhabited by the Ilvati tribe from Liguria, approximately 200BCE, who gave the island its original name Ilva. Therefore, the local museums have memorizing archaeological findings and impressive fortresses found scattered throughout the island. Not to mention the ruins still remaining, in incredible condition, from the Etruscan and Roman period.
Beyond the historical and cultural richness of Elba, the physical beauty is another driving force drawing visitors worldwide. The beautiful beaches (130 in total), the stunning cliff sides and lush vegetation rival some of the more famous islands of the Caribbean. Regardless of the type of traveller you are, the Isle of Elba has something for everyone and is worth putting on your Must-See Tuscany Travel List.
How to get there
I took the ferry from the coastal town of Piombino to the island’s capital of Portoferraio, which took about an hour. There are four ferry companies that you can check out here. If flying is more your style, the island does have a small airport, Marina di Campo, and offers limited flights from major hubs in Europe. You can read more about flying to Elba here.
How to get around
I would highly suggest renting a car during your visit. Although the island does have public transportation in the form of buses, they are often unreliable, especially during high season. If you rent a car, you have the ability to explore the island at your leisure and see a lot in a short period of time. Also, since it is a relatively small place (224 km2), driving is not as intimidating as other parts of Italy, and you can’t really get lost – there’s just not enough roads! You can check out some rental car options here.
Where to stay
As always, I would suggest checking out Airbnb or Booking.com for a place to stay. There are also two local services that you can look into, Tuscany Accommodations and Elba Island Holidays. I was staying with friends so I was happy, for once on this trip, I did not have to research accommodations.
What to do/ see
There is so much to do in Elba! I chose to spend my days leisurely, eg. relaxing on the beaches, strolling through the seaside towns, and checking out the views from the hilltops. But if your looking for a more active vacation, look no further! Elba is a great place for cycling, snorkeling, diving, and hiking. Wherever your interests lays, Elba has something for you.
Where to eat
There are a variety of restaurants throughout the island that offer a wide-range of Italian specialities, with a focus on fish. I was happy with every meal I had, but special mention goes to Osterio Cacio E Vino. Situated in the small town of San Piero on the hillside, Cacio E Vino offers a great view, good service, and delicious food: what more could you ask for!? Marina Di Campo also had some tasty dishes, worth a shout-out…
For more photos of the Isle of Elba check out my past photo diary here.
Have you ever been to the Isle of Elba? What were your island Must-See’s?