Aeolian or Egadi islands for your first holiday in Sicily?

Aeolian or Egadi islands for your first holiday in Sicily

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Is it better to visit the Aeolian or Egadi Islands for the first time in Sicily?

This is one of the most frequently asked questions when someone decide to spend an holiday in Sicily, and in particular when you want to discover the small islands that surround it.

Let’s say that there is not a destination to be preferred over the other, but a lot depends on your expectations and the type of holiday you have in mind, but not only.

Assuming that, regardless of which of the two archipelagos you choose, you want to visit all the islands that characterize it, the time at your disposal is a factor to consider.

If you want to visit the Aeolian Islands (which consist of Alicudi, Filicudi, Vulcano, Lipari, Salina, Panarea, and Stromboli), you will need at least a week.

If you decide instead to visit the Aegadian (Favignana, Levanzo and Marettimo) 3 or 4 days are enough.

The time factor is therefore of fundamental importance in choosing between the Aeolian or Egadi islands.

Besides this, we will see below that there are many things that unite the two archipelagos and others that instead differentiate and characterize them.

Taking every aspect into consideration will consent you to choose the right archipelago without fear of having made the wrong choice.

What do the Aeolian Islands and the Egadi Islands have in common?

Glimpse of Via Calvario, the main street of Levanzo, right in front of the port and Cala Dogana
Glimpse of Via Calvario, the main street of Levanzo, right in front of the port and Cala Dogana

We can certainly say that there are many things that you can find indifferently in the Aeolian Islands as well as in the Egadi Islands.

• Crystal clear sea
• Great restaurants
• Delicious local products
• Tour of the islets by boat
• Activities for those who love nature
• Snorkeling and exploration of the seabed
• Trekking and walks immersed in nature

So regardless of whether you choose the Aeolian or Egadi islands, your holidays in Sicily will be marked by many pleasant activities and opportunities for relaxation that you can hardly find elsewhere.

Among other things, if you are a lover of good food, consider that the restaurants on the smaller islands always offer the freshest fish.

In fact, the Sicilian sea abounds in tuna, swordfish, amberjack, snapper, sea bream, sea bass, cod, mackerel, squid, lobster, shrimp, anchovies and sardines.

Then there are the inevitable seafood: sea urchins, mussels, clams and cockles, above all.

Both in the Egadi and the Aeolian Islands there are also typical Sicilian granitas as well as aperitifs based on tuna products or fresh fish, a real delicacy. Finally, special mention goes to the famous pane cunzato, panelle and Sicilian street food in general: eat as much as you can because you can only find it here!

Where exactly are the Aeolian Islands and the Egadi Islands located?

Map of Sicily: as you can see the Egadi are located to the west of the island, the Aeolian to the north east.
Map of Sicily taken from Google Maps: as you can see the Egadi are located to the west of the island, the Aeolian to the north east.

The Aeolian Islands are located in the North East of Sicily, exactly opposite the area between Sant’Agata di Militello and Barcellona Pozzo di Gotto.

The Egadi Islands are located off the coast between Trapani and Marsala, Western Sicily. Favignana is the closest to the mainland and Marettimo the furthest away.

How to reach the Aeolian Islands?

As for the Aeolian Islands, from the mainland they can be seen well to the naked eye, you will almost feel like you can reach them swimming.

It actually takes a few minutes of navigation. Consider that there are many marinas where it is possible to board ferries, rafts or motor boats to reach the Aeolian Islands.

You can also rent a boat if you decide to sail the Aeolian Islands, always embarking in the ports of Sant’Agata di Militello, Capo d’Orlando, Portorosa or Milazzo.

If you decide to visit the Aeolian Islands, you could choose to land in Catania. The Vincenzo Bellini airport of Catania is in fact about 145 km from Milazzo and 195km from Capo d’Orlando.

Alternatively, you could also consider landing in Palermo, based on your travel itinerary, considering that the Falcone Borsellino airport is 156 km from Sant’Agata di Militello and 173 km from Capo d’Orlando.

Regardless of where you’ll decide to land, the journey by car is approximately two hours.

How to reach the Ageadian Islands?

As for the Egadi islands, the pier is located in Trapani harbour: also here there are ferries, as well as the possibility of renting a sailing boat if you want to sail the Egadi islands, or a motor boat.

If you decide to visit the Egadi Islands, the closest airport is Vincenzo Florio in Trapani (Birgi).

The distance to the port of Trapani is only 17 km and the journey by car takes about 25 minutes. In any case, there are few flights to Trapani and it is not sure that there is a direct flight to your city.

In that case you can opt for the Palermo airport, which is 85 km from the Port of Trapani and therefore an hour’s drive.

Aeolian or Egadi: which is better to visit?

Here we are at the heart of the question: better the Aeolian Islands or the Egadi Islands?

Below we try to understand why one or the other may be preferable by providing every useful detail, the choice is yours!

The Aeolian Islands

A catamaran in the Aeolian Islands is about to return to port
A catamaran in the Aeolian Islands is about to return to port

The Aeolian Islands, also thanks to some successful film productions of several years ago, are the favorite destination for those who love nightlife.

In particular, Panarea is known as “the island of VIPs“, since in the summer you can meet many famous faces around you.

In Lipari there are also several discos, some of which overlook the sea and are very popular with younger people. Even in Stromboli there are plenty of places where you can dance until late at night.

Salina and Vulcano are quieter: the former offers a beautiful cinema under the stars every summer, the latter is an essential destination for lovers of sulphurous baths and curative thermal mud.

Alicudi and Filicudi represent the surprise you don’t expect: in fact, here the nightlife is more “alive” than ever and there are numerous discos, even outdoors, as well as pubs facing the sea where you can dance until late at night.

The Egadi islands

The beach of Cala Fredda, Levanzo
The beach of Cala Fredda, Levanzo

Levanzo and Marettimo are more certainly “silent”. Here you can enjoy long walks in front of the sea or breaks in which to sip something at the bar, caressed by the sea breeze.

Levanzo in particular is really a small island: consider that according to a local inhabitant (i.e. a Levanzaro) “in winter there are about 70 of us on the island and if one catches a fever we can’t even play cards“.

There are two or three restaurants on the island, a bakery, two bars and two bazaars. However some of its beaches alone are worth the price of the ticket (for example Cala Minnola or Cala Fredda), and the boat tour with the fishermen is a must.

Marettimo has a certainly larger center than the one of Levanzo, so you can find a greater number of restaurants and commercial activities in general.

The small port of Marettimo with the fisherman's boats and the typical white houses
The small port of Marettimo with the fisherman’s boats and the typical white houses

Even in this case, however, don’t expect much in terms of nightlife.

Instead, enjoy aperitifs at sunset and slushes after dinner, as well as moonlight walks facing the sea.

Favignana is certainly one of the most famous islands of Sicily, the most popular of the Egadi.

The first thing that comes to mind when talking about Favignana is the famous Cala Rossa, a paradisiacal beach set on a limestone wall.

In reality there is much more on the island of Favignana starting from Cala Azzurra, Cala del Bue Marino and Cala Rotonda.

Usually on August evenings there are always shows organized in Piazza Madrice, the main square of Favignana, which also include live music.

There are also many cafes in the area where you can have a drinkor an ice cream after dinner.

In short: is the Aeolian or the Egadi better?

As you have seen, a lot depends on the time on your disposal and what you expect from your holidays in Sicily.

Normally consider that in the Aeolian Islands there is a much “warmer” nightlife, while the Egadi are the right place if you are looking for peace and relax.

In any case, here you will find a truly clear sea, so don’t forget to bring mask and tube with you, and you will have the opportunity to taste many typical Sicilian dishes that will certainly make your experience on the island even more pleasant.


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