If you know the Amalfi Coast, you will probably have heard of Capri, the jet set island for the rich and famous in the Bay of Naples. Capri is well known for its rocky coastline, turquoise waters, incredible views and above all exclusive hotels, restaurants and shops. In short, it’s a little paradise on earth, especially if you have money, LOTS of it.
Fewer people, however, know Capri’s bigger sister: Ischia. A stone-throw away from Naples, this Mediterranean island filled with gorgeous beaches and therapeutic hot springs is THE perfect city-escape destination. And while Capri may be beautiful, it’s somewhat overrated – Ischia is the REAL deal if you’d ask me. And here’s why:
- You’ll holiday with the Italians
While many visitors seem to head straight to Capri or the Amalfi Coast upon arrival in Naples, Ischia remains relatively little-known among international travellers. Which is a pity (because they’re missing out on so much!), but it also means you and me get to enjoy this wonderful place without the masses and masses of tourists that you’d see elsewhere in this part of Italy. Instead, you’ll find lots of local families from mainland Italy that spend their holidays here. As a result, although it can be crowded in summer, Ischia has a much more authentic vibe and local flair.
- It’s WAY cheaper
Capri may be the favourite hangout of international celebs, you’ll also pay jet set prices there. Don’t be surprised to pay €10 for a beer (if you’re lucky enough even to be given a seat) and accommodation can be ridiculously expensive – even the poshest of backpackers would not be able to afford a hotel room here. Compare this to Ischia, where prices are also slightly inflated at the height of the summer season, but where a birra would still cost you no more than €2-3 and you could get a twin room in a B&B from €80. And it gets even cheaper land inwards. Happy days!
- It has hot springs (dating back to the Roman times)
Because of its volcanic soil, Ischia has had thermal baths since the Roman times. And the coolest thing is that some of them are still in use today! The natural springs of Cavascura are a series of simple baths in caves, first developed by the Romans. There are also a couple of contemporary spas, including Negombo and Poseidon. Perfect for a pamper day.
- It has good public transportation
Although Ischia is the biggest of the three islands in the Bay of Naples, it is still relatively small and can easily be discovered using the island’s brilliant and affordable public busses. There are several bus routes, which run regularly and cover most of the island. Simply buy a ticket at a local kiosk and hop on the next bus. The biggest advantage of taking the bus on Ischia? You can have as many Aperol Spritz’s on the beach as you want without having to worry about how you’re going to get back home. Cheers!
- It has actual sandy beaches
While Capri’s enticing blue waters can sometimes be difficult to access because of its rocky coastline, Ischia actually has a number of beautiful sandy beaches. Some of them can be reached by foot from Ischia Town, but for the most beautiful ones you’ll have to take the bus (or a moped) to other parts of the island. My favourite beach is Spiaggia dei Maronti at the southern tip of the island. Part of this beach is public, but you could also rent a beach bed and umbrella for as little as €10 for the whole day. Bring on that tan!
So, next time you’re heading to the Amalfi Coast, make sure not to miss Ischia. But shhh… do keep the secret to yourself…