Peppering the Tyrrhenian Sea just off Sicily's northeast coast, the Aeolians are a group of seven UNESCO protected islands with volcanic origins and varied landscapes.
The main island, Lipari, has a vibrant town and is a great place from which to explore. Visit Vulcano, famed for its vast and sweeping black sand beaches and mud baths. Remote Stromboli, dominated by the active volcano Gran Cratere, offers incredible views for adventurous hikers and regular magma firework displays at night.
Those who prefer a gentle walk can drop anchor off Salina, a lush, hilly island, crammed with history. Don’t miss Pollara – a beautiful bay with an underwater crater. Panarea is the smallest and most refined island. With an upmarket shopping street and a number of quaint hotels dotted between huge, private villas in lush gardens, this is a culinary haven with a surprisingly busy nightlife. For ultimate escapism, head west to the smallest islands, Filicudi and Alicudi; catch your own fish, BBQ on deck and wash them down with some Sicilian wine. On the uninhabited west coast of Alicudi, the seclusion of sheer rock walls make for a great swimming spot in total privacy.