What to do, where to stay and the best beaches in Lampedusa and Linosa
I have thought about this archipelago for years, so close yet so far away. But I have never really dared to push myself in this sea in the center, closer to Africa than to Sicily itself in a hybrid archipelago. Three islands, of which only 2 are inhabited, that faces each other.
Lampedusa limestone and flat, Linosa volcanic and sinuous.
Water like the tropics one and black rock in crystal clear water the other.
Small shrubs and bushes that grow in patches in one. Prickly pears and black rock the other.
African body and Sicilian soul the blond. Irrepressible and explosive the brunette.
We are in Sicily far away from the mother island, the islands most distant of all where the typical dish is not the cannoli but lentils or couscous.
Especially here, in this last (Linosa), where mass tourism still seems not to have noticed, limiting their holidays in Lampedusa, I have concluded the European summer, at the bar in the center, in the company of pensioners of the tiny village that has 400 inhabitants, where the shops are closed from 13 to 17.30, where the petrol pump runs 2 times a week, on Mondays and Fridays, for a handful of hours.
But does the time really matter here, when you know when you arrive but you do not know when, and if, you will leave again?
On the hydrofoil, booked with “provisional possibility to travel”, you can dock at the quay as you can, instead, finish the journey in Porto Empedocle. In these islands it depends on the sea and the wind.
In Linosa you just wait, usually at the bar.
This is one of the few in the world that does not know the tourism of the mass, perhaps because even the Internet has not made it accessible or because the connections make this short crossing a lottery win, and, for this reason, still unknown to most who risk to lose a gem of tranquility and unique beauty of its kind.
Rather than antagonistic, the two islands complete one another. And, I promptly say, I do not prefer one to the other, because they are too different, but I think that both are worth visiting. Surely, though, what happens in Linosa is difficult to replicate in Lampedusa, besieged by thousands of tourists. In Linosa on days of major flux the number of tourists should not exceed 50 people.
One more reason to indulge in peaceful days of vacation in places difficult also to believe that can possibly exist.
What to do in Lampedusa
One goes to Lampedusa for the sea, the island is also amicably called the island with the sea of the European Caribbean and the reason is clear as soon as you look out on any bay of the island, the sea is beautiful everywhere even though very different.
The town center is neither characteristic nor fascinating as can be that of Linosa, but the sea, is unique, beautiful, and above all full of life!
After spending two weeks in this island and enjoying myself here in a September still quite full of tourists, these are the activities that I recommend.
Boat trip – Tour or Charter a boat
If you do not do this outing you’re missing a good part of Lampedusa viewed from a different perspective, which allows you to visit the length and breadth of the small island, exploring its depths, caves and coves.
The tours usually start at 10.30 am and return around 17:30, lunch is on board based on fish and, if weather conditions permit, you do the whole tour. The costs vary between €40 and €50 for group tours.
Alternatively, you can rent a private boat with 40 horsepower engine that does not require a boat license, at a cost of 50/60€ per day + fuel. If there are two of you then the cost is more or less equivalent only that the result is different. There is no better solution, everything depends on choosing what you prefer, the boat tours also offer the food while the boat rental includes boat and insurance.[su_icon_panel shadow=”0px 1px 2px #eeeeee” icon=”icon: thumb-tack”] I advise not to postpone this trip to the last because if it happens, as it happened to me, to find bad weather the tour does not take place and is put off until better weather conditions. Consider then to book it as soon as possible and keep some days to spare. In Lampedusa it scarsely rains but it happens, it would be a shame to miss the number 1 activity of the island.[/su_icon_panel]
Cost of a day of diving, from € 75 for two immersions. In general, you leave 9 in the morning and then back within 12.30pm.The diving sites are: La Madonnina (near island of rabbits), Panettone, Fortuna Scoglio, Punta Alaimo, Holy Cave, Grotta Solaio, North Grecale Cape, Linosa and many others. Immersions are also done in Lampione, about €100 for the day.
The island scuba diving centers are as follows:
Island tour by Scooter
How wonderful riding round the ever empty streets and without obstacles to the visual always with the feeling of being somewhere between sky and sea. Lampeusa is tiny and you can follow the main road and Panoramica to finish the tour in less than two hours, with a few stops to take pictures of the coves and bays. An investment is to enjoy the open spaces and without trees, but only cacti, succulent plants and some dammuso, a small stone habitation, here and there, and to have the sensation of being the lord of the magical island.
Aperitif at sunset at Cala Croce
The sunset is a magical time, even after a rainy day for some reason the sunset time calms and the right place to enjoy it, perhaps taking a buffet cocktail, which is rather typical in the island’s bars, and in Cala Croce I recommend the Tunez bar if you love good lounge music.
The aperitif costs 10€, you are not forced to sit at the bar because the rocks with views are free, but the buffet is varied and tasty, and unless you want total silence, this corner is ideal to greet the day welcoming the night.
Trekking and walking trails
I’m not an enthusiast of trekking and of efforts in general, but Lampedusa invites one to dare, even lazybones like me.The hiking trails are numerous, not particularly tiring, but maybe one can feel the tiredness in the hot days. Capperi! guide!
Although small, it is a great little book that advises on all routes and curiosities about Lampedusa and Linosa, focused in particular on Lampedusa.
The most beautiful beaches and coves in Lampedusa
One comes to Lampedusa for the sea, the island is so small so that you can go round it in an afternoon and for those who want to enjoy its coves and beaches these are the most beautiful.
Isola dei Conigli (Rabbit Island and Rabbit beach)
It could not but be in the first position, considered one of the 10 best beaches in the world. The reason why doesn’t really need explaining, just the photo.
Our home Caribbean, that offers great snorkeling. The rabbit beach is on the right of the island, a bay which, generally, is full of people. To the left instead is the wonderful Tabaccara, landing place of the boats.
This is considered one of the most beautiful beaches in Sicily and in the world. Not too hard to understand why!
Cala Pulcino (Chick beach)
40-minutes walk to reach this very beautiful as much as small cove.
The difficulty of access makes it much less crowded than the nearby, 20 minutes walk on the trekking route, the Rabbits Beach, but just as with all the beaches, unlike the rocky side, this one will be crowded too with just 100 persons given the small dimensions.
Strip of white sand and the rest of stone, the water is blue and on the right side close to the mountain you can do an excellent snorkeling.
The only negative note, given the limited size of the bay, just a small turnout of people will make it too crowded, just the shoreline is sandy, the remainder is stone, rather uncomfortable.
It is not equipped with facilities.
Beautiful cove that is accessed from the restaurant Bar Cala Creta, run by nice people and is directly by the sea. Wonderful to be reached by boat, it is a sheltered and discreet corner, away from the crowd of rabbits Beach, where to swim in crystal clear water.
Mare Morto (dead sea)
A corner perhaps among my favourites. The more uncomfortable the beaches are much less people will be. This is the positive benefit of the coves on the northern side of the island. Dead Sea follows Cala Croce, is easily accessible with a moped and is mostly rocky. Great snorkeling and only one cove in respect to the others nearby thanks to the presence of two huge rocks at a short distance.
Cala Francese and Sciatu persu
It looks like a mix of beach and cliff, is located to the east of the island flanked by another small beach with the same characteristics called by the people of Lampedusa “Sciatu Persu” that are distant from each other for about 50 m.
Near and easy to reach, these coves are small and cozy.
*** Cala Francese is ideal for families with children
Cala Spugne (Sponges beach) and Cala Maluk
Small coves mostly rocky in the crystal clear and very blue water for great snorkeling. In Cala Spugne during the day, there is a pickup truck for drinks and sandwiches.
My favourite for a lot of reasons. Near the center but not too much, it has a dock from which you can dive, is full of fish to for a nice snorkeling, it is a huge bay with very blue water. It is located close to the town and you can also walk there.
Beach ideal for families and children, given the presence of sand, this cove is famous for sunsets. Definitely one of the best places to enjoy the end of the day.
*** Ideal for families with children
In truth this cove, attached to the town is very beautiful but alas just because it is accessible to all, is always full of people. The sea is wonderful, maybe in late September or June, the beach is emptier but too lived-out in the months of high season. A great alternative for those who want to go to the beach on foot and those who do not mind the crowd.
*** Ideal for families with children
Where to stay in Lampedusa – Book now and save money!
Dammusi Blue and Green
Apartments from €55
This property is a 12-minute walk from the beach. Surrounded by a Mediterranean garden, just 200 meters from Cala Creta Bay, the Blue & Green shows off the typical architecture of the island and offers a free shuttle service from/to the port and airport of Lampedusa. Book Now
Residence del Sole
Apartments from €75
Located on the island of Lampedusa, 100 meters from the beach of Cala Creta, Residence Del Sole offers a terrace with sun beds and self-catering accommodation. Featuring garden views, all apartments feature modern furnishings and a fully equipped kitchen. Book now
I Dammusi Dell’Imbriacola
Apartments from €70
Located on the island of Lampedusa, just 2 km from the sea, the complex I Dammusi dell’Imbriacola offers free WiFi and holiday homes situated in typical dammusi. All apartments feature an outdoor dining area and one indoor, a private terrace with barbecue facilities and a well-equipped kitchen with oven and stoves. Book now
Getting around Lampedusa
Lampedusa is a tiny island, for the impassioned, in truth you can also walk, except in the summer heat that will make the enterprise even more arduous. The ideal is to rent a scooter. Prices start from €20 per day for a fifty, but the costs go down for weekly rents. In September, the rental of the scooter costs about 100€ for 7 days, or about 14€ a day. Prices vary depending on the duration of rental. Alternatively, there is a shuttle service to the main coves, €1 each way.
Or else it is possible to rent cars or minicars with open sunshine roofs ideal for families.
My advice remains the moped or quad bike for the dirt road which is still feasible even with a simple two wheeler, Lampedusa is so small that the car seems to be more of a hindrance than a convenience.
Rentals have the following prices (updated September 2016)
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Scooter 50 cc: €20 per day, €100 per week
Scooter 150 cc – €25 per day, €140 per week
Auto chiusa – €25 per day, €165 per week
Jeep – €30 per day, €180 per week
Mehari – €30 per day, €170 per week
Quad 50 cc- €25 per day, €150 per week
Jeep Bertoni – €35 per day, €200 per week
How to get to Lampedusa
Arriving in Lampedusa is relatively simple and also quite expensive. This has probably been one of the reasons why I have postponed the journey over the years. The flights start from €70 each way if you depart from Sicily and from €100 per way from other cities.
I found the best deal by scrutinising Momondo. Outward journey from Catania and return to Rome, paid a total of: €180 . I bought the flights via Momondo, my favorite right now for comparing prices and buying airline flights.
Alternatively, for those who are already in Sicily and want to leave with your own car you can take the ferry from Port Empedocle that will take you to Linosa and Lampedusa.
The cost is not as convenient as flying so this transport is only recommended if you want to leave with your own means of transport and do not want to rent one on site.
Both the hydrofoil and the ferries stop at Linosa. From this site you can also book for the hydrofoils and the ferries to Linosa. I remember that the reservation is not valid as a ticket, which must still be stamped at the agency, where one has to be at least 45 minutes before departure. All tickets, purchased online or at the agency if purchased the day before, have a booking charge (3€ per person).
Book the ferry now
Linosa, worth more than a day trip
Linosa is an island of volcanic formation located in the Channel of Sicily, at the center of the Mediterranean. The island has an almost circular shape and an area of 5.4 sq km. In many visit Linosa in a day, taking the morning hydrofoil to return in the afternoon, I highly recommend you to dedicate at least one night to this black pearl that has nothing to do with the nearby Lampedusa.
Linosa projects one into a different dimension, light years away from Lampedusa that, just by going round the few streets of the town, will seem by comparison a big and chaotic metropolis. The welcome to the island is given by the elegant and colorful inactive volcano, which faces directly on the black sand bay where ferries and hydrofoils dock.
A yellow rock on a black setting and green water, greets newcomers that from limestone and flat island find themselves in front of a completely different scenario of expanses of prickly pears, sharp rocks, stacks of lava rocks that stand out on the blue of the sea, creating pools and sand black as pitch.
We are no longer in the tropics of Lampedusa but we are in the warm and passionate back of a volcano pegged at a depth of 1,500 meters, on an island where time does not count, where everything has stayed still and life passes slowly and solitarily.
And if before landing in Linosa, the island of Lampedusa seemed small and sparsely populated, on the way back the crowd will overwhelm you giving you the sensation that you will perceive only on your return, to have really been in a special place living an experience of other times hard to find elsewhere.[wc_row][wc_column size=”one-half” position=”first”] [/wc_column][wc_column size=”one-half” position=”last”] [/wc_column][/wc_row]
What to do in Linosa
After having spent a few days on this tiny island I think I can say that half a day there is not enough especially if you want to do more activities.
It’s definitely not an island like Lampedusa, plenty of tourist and chaotic, also, given its size, all the activities can be done in a maximum of two days, but this island is the ideal destination for those who want to shy away from the crowds, want to be pampered by the sun, to swim, and eat great food in the two main restaurants of the island.
Here the time has stopped now, who knows from when.
You do not hear of fishermen stories, nor are there nets to be patched or anchored fishing vessels because, as they say, fish is found mostly in Lampedusa. An arid, volcanic island where the people have always lived on cultivation of capers and lentils, a land of lava enlivened by prickly pear pads, with which the locals produce liquor and obviously the granita.
You get to the end of winter with “water in the throat” (at the end of the rope, in dire straits), says Fiorello laughing. They make do. And hope for a more prosperous tourism that recognizes this island for its beauty and makes less arid, too, the life of the few and nice inhabitants.
Tour of beaches and coves by boat
This boat ride takes between two hours and three hours at the most, it stops in the most beautiful coves accessible only by boat where to have memorable swims.
Cost of the tour in a group, we were in 4, €15 per person. Departure at 10.30 (but they are very flexible) until 13:00 or so.
To book a boat or request information I strongly recommend a person VERY VERY special, Mr. Fiorello, a friendly and active jack of all trades, great habitué of the Centro bar. (Please greet him for me, just tell him Giulia from Taormina who was blocked in Linosa for 2 days).
*** He only speaks Italian, you might need help to talk to him by phone.
Volcano – Mount Black Crater
It’s easy to reach and I think is the attraction not to be missed, it’s not often you can walk on the edge of a crater of such a particular volcano. It is possible to reach the summit by one’s own means, scooter, and then walk up to the crater in about 15 minutes.
Trekking and walking trails
Linosa also permits trekking and walks between the lava stones to reach some of the most beautiful corners of the island. The paths are well marked following the main road.
Sunset with the shearwaters and aperitif at sea
This is one of the unique activities of the island, it is possible to do only when sea conditions permit. The boat tours depart at 19, for the sunset, and presents a moment unique in the world, the arrival of thousands of shearwaters that salutes the end of the day.
In general, these tours also offer the variant of an aperitif at sea.
Linosa is particular also in its seabed, rich in reefs and ravines.
Among the clearest waters of the Mediterranean, you can admire schools of pelagic fish swimming in a colourful marine vegetation. The diving centers of Linosa are the following:
Costs start from €35 per person for basic diving, some diving centers also offer packages of 10 immersions.
[wc_box color=”primary” text_align=”left”] ADVICE
For those with limited time and reaches Linosa for a day I recommend the bus tour with Mr. Fiorello or Mr. Ciccio, who usually wait for tourists at the harbor and with minibuses or cars will make them discover the most suggestive corners of the island. Cost €10 per person.
In alternative you can go on a boat to circumnavigate the island and swim in the most beautiful and accessible only by sea bay, whether you go with Mr Giovanni (a whimsical and loveable character) or Ciccio or ask Mr Fiorello (+ 3496866849) you are always in good hands. Cost €15 per person.
To eat I highly recommend the restaurant of Mrs. Anna and the Errera restaurant for fish delights, especially the pasta, cooked in a fanciful and delicate way (I had a good pasta with swordfish, eggplant and mint!). I admit that I appreciated the restaurants of Linosa more than those of Lampedusa.[/wc_box]
How to get to Linosa
The only way to get to Linosa is via Lampedusa, if you want to fly, and then take the hydrofoil. The cost with hydrofoil from Lampedusa is €20.50 per person one way, €42 round trip + 3€ pre-sale if you buy until the day before, tax that is not to be paid if booking is on the same day of departure.
The hydrofoil takes 1 hour, I advise you to check the timetables and departures because subject to variations and seasons but most of all the services are always confirmed the same morning, it is not rare the cases when the services are cancelled, on windy days and rough seas, so approach this flight to the black paradise with a lot of flexibility, or consider reaching the island and stay at least one night at the beginning of the holiday so as not to risk getting stuck. Alternatively, you can reach it by ferry, €13.50 per way, but the journey takes at least 2 hours.
In both cases, hydrofoil or ferry, the journey takes time, which says a lot about the virginity of this island as a small, less famous sister of Lampedusa, and the difficulty to reach it makes it a pearl for a few.
Both hydrofoil and ferries are always sold with “reserve”, or rather because of the wind or the sea might happen that the captain does not guarantee the docking at the port with the risk of ending up in Porto Empodocle. The navigations will always be confirmed the morning of departure at the Siremar office and Libertylines.
Besides remember that the ticket sold online has no value as effective ticket but you still have to go to the agency to collect the boarding pass to be handed over on embarkation.[/su_icon_panel]
Where to stay in Linosa
This was a venture, Linosa is tiny and virtually none offers online accommodations. Here everything works in the old way, or rather by calling on the phone or asking once you arrive.
After hours of research, empty calls and having interested acquaintances in Lampedusa the chance had me finding accommodation with Ms. Anna.
Studio apartments at €30 per night (for more information www.linosavacanze.it)
The same prices are offered by Mr Fiorello, who also organises tours of the island by car or boat and does taxi service, who can be contacted by phone at the following numbers (calls rather than send messages): +39 3387324866 and +39 3496866849.
I need to remind you that he only speaks Iitalian, so you might need help to talk to him.
Lampedusa or Linosa?
I would be unfair to prefer one to the other because they are so very different that there is not one more beautiful, which is why I highly recommend you to spend at least two days and one night in Linosa, and not dismiss it in half a day.
Lampedusa has a beautiful sea full of fish with which to snorkel, but Linosa has something unique that no other island offers. Linosa has character, despite its small size, has a passionate soul, true. It has a neat and colorful center.[wc_row][wc_column size=”one-half” position=”first”]
Lampedusa has coves with water comparable to the tropics but the activities revolve all around the sea, Linosa instead offers trekking trails, volcanoes and an impressive crater overlooking the sea, a unique sea (black stone and blue water), the tranquility of an island difficult to reach and often forgotten.
It would be a shame to get down here and not treat yourself to at least two days in Linosa, the black pearl of the Pelagie where, even in high season, there is no mass tourism. It would be a great loss opting only for one forgetting the other.
[wc_box color=”info” text_align=”left”] TRAVEL ADVICE
Sure enough that I think you should visit both, my only advice is to visit Linosa first and then end your holiday in Lampedusa.
This is because of the means of transport that depend on sea conditions, as it is never really sure when you depart and when you return. In Linosa it depends on the wind and the sea. Then if it should prove necessary to postpone the return to Lampedusa for a day at least you will wait without the anxiety of a flight in departure and go to relax on the black beach, or at the reefs or the pool.[/wc_box]
Pro and cons of Lampedusa and Linosa[wc_row][wc_column size=”one-half” position=”first”] [su_icon_panel shadow=”0px 1px 2px #eeeeee” icon=”icon: thumbs-o-up”]
- Fantastic Sea
- Great snorkeling
- More hotels and apartment options
- Just fantastic and unique landscapes
- Mass tourism doesn’t exist
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- Too busy
- Ugly city center
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- Hard to come here, it all depends on the weather
- Hard to book in advance a place where to stay
In the Deep South, where the Internet is still an option, where bookings are done by phone and mass tourism, let alone that international, has not arrived yet, I had the pleasure of spending a few weeks discovering a corner of Sicily of which, even we Sicilians , often forget or put off to when we have more time.
A pity, because for places like these waiting is never the right move.[wc_row][wc_column size=”one-half” position=”first”]
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The Pelagie gave me two weeks not only in beautiful seas but also a period surrounded by wonderful people. The people I want to thank, and that made my stay memorable are:
Caterina & Giacomo, from whom I rented the house for two weeks (that they rent out sporadically), but respectively the owners of the negozio Stiletto and Isola delle Rose bar
Sesto, scooter rental
Maurizio, at the time waiter at the restaurant Il Saraceno
The owners of Gastronomy Mancino
Mr Fiorello and all the inhabitants of Linosa, which are few, who in the days when I was stuck there were the best company I could wish for.
To all these people that have studded my weeks, I send my heartfelt thanks and, if you’re giving yourself a few days or weeks in this amazing archipelago, pop in to see my friends and give them a kiss for me, Giulia the one from Taormina.[/su_icon_panel] [su_divider size=”1″]