Pontine Islands

Lazio, Italy

The Pontine Islands are a beautiful archipelago in the Tyrrhenian Sea, located off the central-southern coast of Italy. Consisting of 6 volcanic islands (only 2 are inhabited), the Pontine archipelago is easily accessible and an ideal destination for short trips.

Find out all about must-see places, beaches, local delicacies, and ferries to the Pontine Islands. Take a look at our travel tips and available routes, and book ferry tickets with no hidden fees!

The colorful houses of the port of Ponza

The colorful houses of Ponza overlooking the sea

Holidays in the Pontine Islands

Breathtaking landscapes, crystal-clear waters, paradisiacal beaches, and a relaxing atmosphere: that’s the essence of the Pontine Islands.

The island of Ponza is certainly the most popular and lively, but the peaceful Ventotene will surprise you with its cultural attractions and splendid seabed.

The third largest island is the wild Palmarola (famous for its stacks), while the islets of Zannone and Gavi appear in the middle of the sea with their jagged coasts. Finally, there is also the island of Santo Stefano, once a penal colony and nowadays a destination for interesting guided tours.

The Pontine Islands are suitable for everyone, but above all for those who love the sea! You can visit the whole archipelago or get a glimpse of the smaller islets from various panoramic points when you visit Ponza or Ventotene.

To discover all hidden corners of Ponza, we recommend staying there for at least 4 days, while Ventotene can be explored even in 1 day. But for a complete tour of the Pontine archipelago, including boat trips, you will need at least 1 week!

Read on to find out how to get to the Pontine Islands and discover the most beautiful attractions.

How to get to the Pontine Islands

The only way to reach the Pontine Islands is by sea.

The main ports connected to the mainland are Ponza and Ventotene. You can catch a ferry to the Pontine Islands from some ports in Lazio (Formia, Terracina, Anzio and San Felice Circeo), but also from Naples and the island of Ischia.

Read more about available a ferry routes to the Pontine Islands below.

To visit the uninhabited islands of Palmarola, Zannone and Gavi, you can rent a dinghy or join organized boat trips to admire their coast and do some snorkeling.

The islet of Santo Stefano (known for its old Bourbon prison) can instead be reached from Ventotene with group trips of up to 25 people.

The white lighthouse of Ventotene, facing the island of Santo Stefano in the Pontine Islands

The lighthouse of Ventotene and the islet of Santo Stefano

What to do in the Pontine Islands

The Pontine Islands are the perfect mix of sea, nature and culture.

Each island has unique beaches and coves, such as the spectacular Chiaia di Luna in Ponza or Cala Nave in Ventotene; but one of the best experiences in the Pontine is to move around the archipelago by boat. This will allow you to better explore the coast, admire the sea caves and dive into the waters of Palmarola, Zannone and Gavi.

If you love hiking and views from above, you can't miss the hiking trails of Ponza and Palmarola, such as Punta del Capo or the path that runs along Monte di Tramontana.

The historical and cultural treasures of the Pontine Islands are equally as interesting, including museums, ancient churches, historic Roman residences, archaeological complexes and much more.

Beaches in the Pontine Islands

Surrounded by crystal-clear waters and spectacular coastlines, the Pontine Islands offer a true tropical paradise. Pack your mask and fins, and get ready to discover the iconic beaches of Ponza, the quieter coves of Ventotene and the splendid inlets of the smaller islands.

Here is a list of the 10 best beaches in the Pontine Islands:

  1. Chiaia di Luna beach (Ponza): located in the south, it is the most iconic beach on the island. It has a sickle-like shape and is surrounded by white rocks that plunge into crystal-clear waters. Some time ago the beach was accessible by land (through a Roman tunnel), but today it is only possible to get there by sea.
  2. Cala Feola (Ponza): located to the west, in the locality of Le Forna, it is a quiet inlet surrounded by a beautiful hilly landscape. Its waters are clear and the area is also equipped with refreshment services. From the car park you will have to go down about 200 steps to reach the cove.
  3. Frontone beach (Ponza): located 4 km from the port, Spiaggia di Frontone is among the most popular beaches. It is in fact one of the few sandy and organized beaches on the island, and is famous for its evenings with DJ sets after sunset. You can reach it both by boat and with a shuttle service. Near the beach, there is also an ancient Bourbon fortress.
  4. Cala Fonte (Ponza): easy to reach, it is located about 10 km from the port and is characterized by pools and tubs dug out of a rock. In Cala Fonte it is possible to rent umbrellas and sun loungers. We recommend that you visit the beach at sunset to enjoy a spectacular view of the island of Palmarola.
  5. Cala Nave (Ventotene): this is the largest and most famous beach on the island, with a free part and an organized part. The cove has dark sand and is surrounded by large tuff rocks. You can easily reach it from the panoramic staircase behind Piazza Castello.
  6. Cala Rossano (Ventotene): small and secluded, it is located at the foot of the staircase that leads to the remains of Villa Giulia. Only one side of the beach is available for swimming, as boats dock on the other. Here it is also possible to rent umbrellas and sun loungers.
  7. Parata Grande beach (Ventotene): located about 4 km from the town, this tiny cove is surrounded by cliffs and is famous for its turquoise waters. You can only reach it by sea and it is necessary to keep your distance from the beach due to the danger of collapsing rocks.
  8. Maga Circe beach (Palmarola): located in Cala Porto, it is a large beach and the only one on the island. This beautiful bay is sheltered from the winds and was once a pirate hideout. It is not organized and there is only one restaurant open in the summer.
  9. The Faraglioni (Stacks) of Palmarola: more than just a beach, this is a group of islets hosting some wonderful sea caves. The largest one is the Faraglione di Mezzogiorno, and it is possible to access its cave with small boats. We recommend visiting the Faraglioni early in the morning and not on windy days.
  10. Cala Spermaturo (Palmarola): an unmissable stop on the Pontine Islands, this large bay is located in the eastern part of the island and can only be reached by sea. Its waters are so beautiful that you feel like you are swimming in a pool. You may also spot goats (the only inhabitants of the island) peeking out from the cove’s rocky walls.

The waters and nature of the Maga Circe beach in Palmarola, Pontine Islands, Italy

The splendid beach of Maga Circe in Palmarola

Sightseeing and activities in the Pontine Islands

The main attractions of the Pontine Islands are certainly the sea and the natural landscapes, but the archipelago also has great historical sites that should not be underestimated.

Here are some amazing sights in the Pontine area not to be missed:

  • The Case Grotta, typical Pontine houses carved into the rock
  • The Ponza Botanical Garden, with over 70 plant species typical of the archipelago
  • The monumental cemetery of Ponza, located on the remains of a Roman villa
  • The Le Forna area, the wildest and least touristy part of Ponza
  • The archaeological complex of the Grotte di Pilato, in Ponza
  • The Natural Arch of Ponza, also known as “Spaccapurpo”
  • The bay of Lucia Rosa, perfect at sunset
  • The Roman port of Ventotene, the nerve center of the island
  • The former Bourbon prison of Santo Stefano, that remained open until 1965
  • Villa Giulia, an ancient imperial residence in Ventotene
  • The Museum of Migration and Ornithological Observatory of Ventotene, one of the few existing in Europe
  • The wreck of the Santa Lucia, a favorite destination for diving enthusiasts
  • The evocative Grottone di Gavi
  • The remains of the monastery of Santo Spirito, in Zannone

Tour among the islands of the Pontine archipelago

Is an island not enough for you? Problem solved: Ponza and Ventotene are connected by seasonal ferries which allow you to easily visit both! For example, if you decide to stay in Ponza, you can organize a day trip to Ventotene.

The Ponza - Ventotene ferries operate from June to September with 2 trips a day on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. The ferry route to Ventotene from Ponza is operated by the SNAV company with 50-minute crossings.

Keep in mind that there are no ferries traveling to the smaller Pontine Islands (Palmarola, Zannone, Santo Stefano and Gavi).

Ferry leaving the port of Ponza and heading to Ventotene

Ferry departing from Ponza and headed to Ventotene

Nightlife in the Pontine Islands

The Pontine Islands are not known for their nightlife, but they are an ideal destination for those looking for a relaxed atmosphere.

In the area around the port of Ponza, however, you will find several restaurants and bars for an aperitif by the sea or an after-dinner cocktail. On the island, there are also some famous clubs, such as Le Terrazze di Chiaia di Luna, Mamafè, and O'Sarracino.

Ventotene is quieter than Ponza, with limited options for a night out. However, you can spend a pleasant evening dining near the lighthouse or visiting the Art café for some live music.

Food in the Pontine Islands

The cuisine of the Pontine Island is based on fish recipes, but also stands out for its meat dishes and traditional desserts. Lentils and the famous Fieno di Ponza wine, produced by Antiche Cantine Migliaccio, are also among the best local delicacies.

Take notes and don't forget to also try:

  • Spaghetti col fellone (pasta with crab)
  • Cianfotta (mixed greens and vegetables)
  • Coniglio alla ponzese (ponzese-style rabbit)
  • Murena in scapece (moray eel dish)
  • Octopus with escarole and lentils
  • Calamari ripieni (stuffed calamari)
  • Spaghettoni terra e mare (pasta with clams and asparagus)
  • Zeppole fritte (fried donuts)
  • Torta di mandorle (almond cake)

Tips for your holidays in the Pontine Islands

Here are 4 tips to better organize your trip to the Pontine archipelago:

  1. Ponza and Ventotene can be quite expensive in the high season months. If you don’t want to spend much, you can take a day trip there or visit in June or September.
  2. The restaurant O' Francese in Palmarola, which is open seasonally, offers the possibility to stay in the typical cave houses (Case Grotta) of the island. The stay is quite frugal (there is no electricity or telephone line), but certainly one of a kind!
  3. If you are passionate about underwater life, you should know that the waters of the Pontine Island have many diving spots suitable for all levels.
  4. The organized excursion to the former Santo Stefano prison is only available on certain days of the week, and you need to book in advance at the Ventotene InfoPoint located at the port .

The remains of the former prison of Santo Stefano, in the Pontine area

The old prison on the island of Santo Stefano, in the Pontine area

Important information for the Pontine Islands

The Pontine Islands are a very popular summer destination, and their position in central Italy favors tourist flows.

The 2 main islands of the archipelago are Ponza and Ventotene, the only ones inhabited and therefore better served. Most of the accommodation facilities are located near the port, but it is also possible to spend the night in more distant areas and enjoy a more relaxing ambience.

The smallest of the Pontine islands is Gavi, a private islet only 120 m away from Ponza. Since there are no tours to Gavi, the only way to visit its coast is by renting a boat.

Palmarola is located about 8 km northwest of Ponza. It is known for its charming bays, and has earned the status of a protected nature reserve. The island does not have a settlement but only a small restaurant (O' Francese) that is open in the summer.

On the other hand, Zannone is the westernmost islet of the archipelago and is part of the Circeo National Park waters. In summer, you can reach it with tours that depart from Ponza.

Finally there is the mysterious Santo Stefano, located 2 km from Ventotene. The island has no beaches, but is a destination for cultural visits to the former Bourbon prison.

Useful phone numbers for your stay in the Pontine Islands

Here are some numbers that could prove useful during your stay in the Pontine Islands:

  • Ponza Port Authority: +39077180571
  • Local maritime office of Ventotene: +39077185291
  • Municipality of Ponza: +39077180108
  • Municipality of Ventotene: +39077185193
  • Pro Loco Ponza: +39077180031
  • Ponza health center: +39077180687
  • Ventotene health center: +390771/779381-85329
  • Ponza Police: +39077180130
  • Municipal Police of Ventotene: +39077185014
  • Emergency number: 112

Transportation in the Pontine Islands

Since Ponza and Ventotene are quite small, it is very easy to visit them on foot. Walking around the settlements or following the hiking trails will give you the opportunity to fully enjoy the local atmosphere and enjoy breathtaking views.

There are some beaches in Ponza and Ventotene that are easily reachable on foot, but most of the coves in the archipelago are accessible only by boat.

In Ponza, it is also possible to use Schiaffini Travel buses, which connect the port with various locations, including Le Forna and Punta Incenso.

At the ports, you can possibly rent a moped or a bicycle, while the car is not the best means of getting around in Ponza or Ventotene. Although in fact it is possible to embark motor vehicles on some ferries, in the summer months there is a circulation ban in some ZTL zones for non-residents.

Tip: we recommend visiting the official website of the respective Municipalities to find out more about the regulations in force

The Roman port of Ventotene and its pink houses

A scenic glimpse of the Roman port of Ventotene

Ports in the Pontine Islands

The only ports in the Pontine Islands are those of Ponza and Ventotene. Palmarola, Zannone, Santo Stefano, and Gavi have no ports.

The port of Ponza, on the northern coast, is the main port of call and plays a fundamental role in connecting with the mainland and the other islands of the archipelago.

It is also a point of great interest for visitors arriving in Ponza, mostly thanks to its architecture and colors. There you will find several bars, restaurants, shops, and a lively and welcoming atmosphere.

As far as Ventotene is concerned, the port area is divided into 2 zones: Cala Rossano (the new port) and the ancient Roman port. While the new port is used by ferries and hydrofoils, the Roman port is used by the smaller boats.

In general, the port of Ventotene has various amenities, such as bars, restaurants, shops, diving centers, boat and bike rentals.

Pontine Islands ferry, schedules and tickets

Ferries to the Pontine Islands depart from several ports in Italy.

Depending on the time of year, you can travel to Ponza from 6 ports: Naples, Ischia, Formia, Terracina, Anzio, and San Felice Circeo. Ferry crossings to Ventotene, on the other hand, depart from 4 ports: Terracina, Formia, Naples, and Ischia.

The ferry companies operating year-round or seasonal crossings with hydrofoils and ferries are NLG (Navigazione Libera del Golfo), SNAV, Laziomar, Vetor, and Pontina Navigazione.

The duration of the ferry trip to Ventotene ranges from 50 minutes to 3 hours 15 minutes, depending on the port of departure, the operator and the type of vessel.

Here is some more info on the ferry routes to Ponza and Ventotene:

Ferries to Ponza from Italy

  • Ferry from Naples to Ponza: Naples - Ponza ferries operate from June to September and usually run 3 times a week, with a duration of around 3 hours.
  • Ferry from Ischia to Ponza: Ischia - Ponza ferries operate in the summer with 2-3 crossings a week with a duration of 2 hours (stop in Ventotene included).
  • Ferry from Formia to Ponza: the Formia - Ponza ferry route is active all year round with the crossings lasting 1 hour 10 minutes or 2.5 hours.
  • Ferry from Terracina to Ponza: the Terracina - Ponza ferry connection is seasonal (from April to September) and there are about 15 crossings per week, lasting from 50 minutes to 2.5 hours.
  • Ferry from Anzio to Ponza: the ferry connection to Ponza from Anzio is active during the summer with 12 weekly trips lasting from 1 hour 10 minutes to 1 hour 40 mins.
  • Ferry from San Felice Circeo to Ponza: San Felice Circeo - Ponza ferries ru  every day during the summer months with 1-hour crossings.

Ferries to Ventotene from Italy

  • Ferry from Terracina to Ventotene: Terracina - Ventotene ferries run in July and August with 1 crossing per week (Thursday) taking 2 hours 40 minutes.
  • Ferry from Formia to Ventotene: the ferry route to Ventotene from Formia is active all year round with almost 14 crossings a week lasting 1 or 2 hours.
  • Ferry from Naples to Ventotene: the Naples - Ventotene ferry connection is seasonal (active from June to the end of August) and there are usually 5 crossings a week lasting 1 hour 50 minutes.
  • Ferry from Ischia to Ventotene: Ischia - Ventotene ferries operate from June to September with 2-3 crossings a week with a duration of 50 minutes.

Important: on some conventional ferries traveling to the Pontine Islands it is possible to embark your car. However, keep in mind that in summer there are restrictions regarding the circulation of vehicles belonging to non-residents.

The Bourbon port of Ponza and its colorful buildings

The Bourbon port of Ponza and its many colors

Book ferry tickets online to the Pontine Islands

On Ferryhopper, you can book your ferry to Ponza and Ventotene from the ports of Italy easily and quickly. Find all available routes to the Pontine Islands on our Map of ferries and organize your next holidays!

Pontine Islands ferry timetable

View the complete ferry schedule from and to Pontine Islands for the upcoming week. Find up-to-date trip information, including departure and arrival dates and times, ferry operators and ticket prices.

Frequent ferry connections

Nearby destinations

Pontine Islands has direct ferry connections to 6 ports :