Escape to Paradise: the islands of the Gulf of Naples

All you need to know for a smooth sailing

The Gulf of Naples is a beautiful bay located along the south-western coast of Italy, in the province of Naples. The entire archipelago consists of 5 islands, all with their unique charm and atmosphere.

If you're planning a relaxing, glamorous, nature-focused holiday, you’re in the right place. Keep reading to know more:

Boats in the Gulf of Naples at sunset

Suggestive sunset off the Gulf of Naples

What are the islands of the Gulf of Naples?

Ischia, Capri, Procida, Vivara, and Nisida are the 5 islands that make up the Gulf of Naples, but only 3 of them are inhabited:

  1. Ischia is the largest of the archipelago (at 46 km²) and is known for its nature, picturesque villages, hot springs and cuisine.
  2. We then have Capri, distinguished by its fancy atmosphere, the spectacular Faraglioni rocks and the world-famous Piazzetta.
  3. Situated between Ischia and the mainland, we find Procida, known for having been the set of several masterpieces of cinema in the past and, recently, for having been the Italian Capital of Culture in 2022.
  4. The small island of Vivara is a wonderful, uninhabited nature reserve, connected to Procida by a bridge.
  5. Nisida is a crescent-shaped, volcanic island. It’s the tiniest of the group and cannot be visited. It is connected to Posillipo Hill by a pier and houses a Juvenile Penitentiary Center.

How can I travel to the islands of the Gulf of Naples?

Capri, Ischia and Procida can only be reached by sea. If you start your trip from the mainland, all you need to do is take a ferry or hydrofoil from some ports in Campania:

Ferries to Ischia

You can travel to Ischia all year round from the ports of Naples and Pozzuoli, while in summer there are also ferry connections from the coastal towns of Amalfi, Positano, Monte di Procida, Salerno, and Sorrento.

Crossings can last between 20 minutes and 2 hours 40 minutes depending on the port of departure and the type of vessel. Take a look at the ferry routes to Ischia from the mainland:

Tip: Ischia has 3 ports: Ischia port, Casamicciola and Forio. Sometimes ferries stop at all of them, while others only travel to one. Make sure you check the itinerary of your trip.

Ferries to Capri

You can travel by ferry to Capri from the ports of Naples, Castellammare di Stabia, Sorrento, Salerno, Positano, Amalfi, Vietri sul Mare, Minori, and Maiori.

Depending on the port of departure and the type of vessel, the crossings can take between 20 minutes and 1 hour 40 minutes. Learn more about ferry routes to Capri:

Ferries to Procida

The island of Procida is connected to the mainland through the ports of Naples, Sorrento and Pozzuoli. There are both all year long and seasonal routes. The crossings take between 10 minutes and 3.5 hr.

Find more info about the ferry routes to Procida:

Tip: pick the island you want to reach first and set off to discover the other ones from there! You might consider a day trip from Ischia to Procida, or a longer trip between Ischia and Capri.

The colorful houses in the marina of Capri

The picturesque and colorful port of Capri

Can I visit Vivara and Nisida?

As mentioned before, the islets of Vivara and Nisida aren’t inhabited and cannot be visited at your leisure.

Vivara is connected to Procida through a 100 m bridge that can only be crossed on foot.

In order to visit the island, you will have to book a guided tour, available only a few days a week. The ticket costs €10, but children up to 6 years old can visit for free, while there are other discounts for young people and Procida residents.

Hiking in the nature reserve of Vivara is an amazing experience. Make sure to respect rules of conduct in order to protect this natural oasis.

Nisida, on the other hand, is located in the Coroglio area of Naples, close to Cape Posillipo and famous for its beautiful views.

Home to a juvenile prison, the small island is connected to the mainland by a dam bridge, but access is normally forbidden to the public. Occasionally, however, some cultural events and guided tours take place here, allowing visitors to come admire the islet.

Fun fact: It is believed that the mysterious Nisida may appear in the pages of the Odyssey as the place inhabited by the infamous sirens who tempted Ulysses during his journey.

View of the islet of Nisida

The small and mysterious island of Nisida

What’s the best time of the year to visit Capri, Ischia and Procida?

If you’re not fond of crowded places, we recommend to avoid visiting the Gulf of Naples during July and August.

Because of their charm, the islands are in fact among of the most popular summer destinations in Italy. Many visitors come from all over the world to visit the wonders of the Capri, Ischia and Procida.

A better time to visit the Gulf is spring, but the months of May, June and September are also ideal. The weather is perfect both for strolling around, hiking and swimming, and prices are usually lower.

For a more folkloristic and authentic experience, we suggest you visit during Easter. Palm Sunday in Capri is a special event that brings many visitors and worshippers to the island. The same goes for the Procession of the Mysteries in Procida which has been celebrated since the 17th century.

Ischia also has unique Easter traditions, with parades and choirs enlivening all the villages on the island. A "treat" not to be missed is the dinner on the Fumarole beach, where you’ll be able to taste chicken cooked in the boiling sand, prepared by skilled cooks.

How many days does it take to tour the islands of the Gulf of Naples?

Depending on the time at your disposal, you may decide to visit one or more islands.

Consider that to fully experience Capri, it would take you at least 3-4 days, including an incredible boat ride along the coast. If you don’t have all that time, you might consider a day trip from Naples to Capri, but that will only allow you to visit certain parts of the island.

Ischia is a very large island, so it is quite difficult to see it all in one day. Ideally, you should stay in Ischia for at least a week to have enough time to discover attractions, villages, beaches and relax at the spa.

The small Procida, on the other hand, is perfect for a day trip. Plan your day trip from Naples to Procida and decide whether to move by foot, bike or motorcycle.

Can I travel with a motor vehicle to the islands of the Gulf of Naples?

Depending on the season, there might be some restrictions regarding motor vehicles on the islands of the Gulf. Make sure you check the current rules in place before you book your trip to Capri, Ischia or Procida.

Usually, the restrictions take place during high season, although there are some exemptions for island residents. Find more information about vehicle regulations on ferries in Italy.

The main street of Anacapri with its tree-lined boulevard

A street in Anacapri and its tree-lined avenue by the sea

What are the best things to do and see in the islands of the Gulf of Naples?

Between picturesque beaches, cultural attractions and delicious food, the islands of the Gulf offer plenty of options for all tastes. The best activity for your trip will very much depend on the type of holiday you want to spend!

Here you’ll find some info to help you decide what islands and activities are best suited for you:

What to do in Capri

Suggestive, fashionable and extremely popular, Capri surprises its visitors with its panoramic views, luxurious atmosphere and blue sea.

Stroll through the narrow streets of Marina Grande and Anacapri and let yourself be captivated by postcard-like landscape, Art Nouveau architecture and local craft shops. Have a coffee in the Piazzetta and walk up to the Belvedere di Tragara for a wonderful view of the Gulf.

Discover Capri's hidden bays and coves for a rejuvenating dive, take a boat ride around the Faraglioni rocks and explore the incredible Grotta Azzurra (“Blue Grotto”).

And of course, don't forget to get a little treat at Pasticceria Buonocore and try the delicious local caprese cake.

What to do in Ischia

Ischia is the biggest island of the gulf, and as such it has several attractions and services for a pleasant and comfortable stay. You will be enchanted by its history, art and lush greenery that made it earn the nickname of “green island”.

Start your tour of Ischia from the beautiful Aragonese Castle, visit the churches, the archaeological museum and continue to the colorful village of Sant'Angelo; then enjoy the island's long beaches and admire the spectacle of the fumaroles.

Ischia is a great destination for hiking, and one of the most beautiful trails of the island goes all the way to Mount Epomeo. If you seek a more relaxing activity, you should definitely try the thermal baths and spas for a rejuvenating experience.

What to do in Procida

The small island of Procida, less known than its two big sisters Ischia and Capri, combines sea, nature and centuries-old traditions in just about 4 km². Its marina will welcome you warmly and guide you to nearby attractions.

Start your visit with the oldest village built on the highest point of the island, Terra Murata, and enjoy the amazing view from up there! Walk around the colorful houses of Corricella, Procida's most famous seaside village, and visit the famous Cala del Pozzo Vecchio, set of the movie The postman (1994).

Try the local cuisine and sit down at a restaurant by the port for a tasty dish of spaghetti with sea urchins. Depending on availability and the period, you should also try to visit the islet of Vivara, connected to the area of Chiaiolella by a bridge.

Fishing boats at the port of Corricella, Procida

The colorful houses in the marina of Corricella, Procida

5 useful tips for your trip in the Gulf of Naples

  1. If you want to know when it is possible to visit the islet of Vivara and book your guided tour, visit the website of the Municipality of Procida (the website is only in Italian).
  2. Some restaurants in Capri, Ischia and Procida may be closed off season. We suggest you inquire in advance about open places, or prepare a packed lunch.
  3. If you’re into camping, Ischia is the best destination for this type of experience. The island has several organized campsites located very close to the beaches.
  4. Capri could be quite expensive, especially in the high season. If you’re traveling on a low budget, you might want to consider visiting the island for a day trip.
  5. As mentioned, Ischia has 3 ports. When traveling to this island, we recommend you to pick your port of arrival that is closest to your hotel.

The port of Casamicciola seen from the ferry during arrival in Ischia

Ferry arriving at the port of Casamicciola, Ischia

Book cheap tickets to the islands of the Gulf of Naples

On Ferryhopper you can book your ferry to Ischia, Capri and Procida at the best price. Check out all the available connections on our Map of ferries, compare fares, companies and plan your next trip in Italy in just a few clicks!