Elba Island, Italy: your guide for a perfect vacation

This post will give you useful information about Elba and some tips to choose which part of the isle will be the best place to stay as a base to discover it.

Where is Elba?

Elba island (in Italian ‘Isola d’Elba’) is the largest isle of the Tuscan Archipelago, which also includes Capraia, Pianosa, Montecristo, Giglio and Giannutri islets. It’s located in the Tyrrhenian Sea, one hour far by ferry leaving from the city of Piombino.

felciaio beach elbaCrystal clear waters and mediterranean vegetation are its distinguishing features.

It is called ‘little Sardinia’ and it’s one of the most favourite destinations for Italian summer holidays. It has more than 150 beaches, very different from each other: there are fine sand ones, shingle and rocky beaches, some of them are surrounded by stunning granite cliffs. You can easily travel from one part of Elba to the other: consider that it takes only about one hour driving to cover it all. So, if you stay for a week for example, you’ll have the chance to appreciate it very well.

Elba, nice to meet you!

My first experience with this wonderful island was many years ago in April, out of the peak season. I had the opportunity to spend there a weekend, visiting very interesting attractions from a historical point of view, like Napoleon’s Villa and Capoliveri Mines.

After that short experience, I put it at top of my summer vacation whishlist because I noticed its beautiful sea had nothing to envy to the most popular beach destinations. And when I had the chance to come back there during the summer, I was so enchanted! If you love the sea, adore to dive and swim in a crystal clear sea, do snorkeling, scuba diving, but also taking part in hiking, trekking, mountain biking, Elba will for sure know how to please you.

But how to choose your perfect place to stay at Elba Island?

Below you can find a map highlighting the different municipalities, so you can better follow me well when I will point out the different towns.

elba island municipalities

If you love like me to stay in a place where you can easily go out for a walk during the evenings enjoying cafes, market stalls, shops, so if you prefer a more lively stay, I would recommend the entire southern and southeastern area with:

- Marina di Campo. This pretty village has an ancient part and a most recent one with a nice sea promenade. It has a fully equipped beach which is two kilometres long and has a sea bottom that slopes gently (there are only few like this at Elba). For this reason, it’s perfect if you have kids with you.

marina di campo beachMarina di Campo large sandy beach.

- Capoliveri. A small village among the most ancient of the island, it’s located on a hilltop and offers some great viewpoints, a good evening life, with a large range of restaurants and cafes. If you want to reach the beach from here, you have to move by car or other means of transport.

capoliveri elbaThe warm atmosphere of summer evenings in Capoliveri. Credits A. Pucci.

- Porto Azzurro. Popular among young people, it has a small charming tourist harbour, offering nice walks and lovely happy hours! There are many beautiful small beaches nearby.

porto azzurro elbaPorto Azzurro square. Credits I. Evans

 However, we’re not talking about real nightlife. I’ve mentioned the most lively and charming towns that are perfect to take an evening stroll. Consider that most of the villages in which you can spend your holidays aren’t real towns (i.e. Cavoli, Lacona and so on), but they’re small fractions consisting of groups of buildings, residences, hotels that are animated only during the summer. If you look for a very quiet stay, feel free to choose any place and you won’t be disappointed!

Beaches:

The beauty of Elba island stands in the diversity of its beaches: there’s the chance to enjoy very different scenarios by short distance. Long fine golden sandy beaches (such as Marina di Campo), the wilder ones of the eastern area with dark sand, pebbles and shingle beaches, stunning bays surrounded by white granite cliffs. Plenty of choice!

Sandy beaches. Where to find them?
If you don’t like pebble beaches and you’re looking for sandy ones, you have to choose your destination among Marina di Campo, Lacona, Cavoli, Fetovaia, La Biodola, Procchio. In this area you’ll find the main sandy beaches of the island.
In the southern area in particular, we have the beautiful beaches of Fetovaia, Seccheto (surrounded by smooth granite rocks), Cavoli, Marina di Campo, Lacona and Laconella, Lido di Capoliveri and Zuccale, Innamorata beach, Pareti, Felciaio and Barabarca (these last six ones are near Capoliveri). Close to Porto Azzurro there are Barbarossa, Terranera (with dark sand, mixed with hematite), Naregno and Straccoligno.
In the northern zone, you can choose among the gorgeous Biodola, Procchio and the smaller Scaglieri and Forno.

cavoli beach elbaCavoli Beach

felciaio elba capoliveriFelciaio beach, near Capoliveri

Pebble and rocky beaches.
Near Portoferraio (Padulella area), there are beautiful white rocky and pebble beaches, such as Capobianco and Le Ghiaie. There are also other beaches like Sansone (with white pebbles and crystal clear water) and la Sorgente, both near Portoferraio. The dense Mediterranean vegetation guarantees a perfect blend between the green of the nature and the blue of the clear waters.

capobianco elba islandCapobianco Beach

Mountainscape at Elba Island

In the northern east part of the island, there is Mount Capanne, which is 1019 meters high and offers an unusual mountain scenery. It’s made of granite rocks and its slopes are covered with chestnuts and pines. If you go there out of the summer season, you can also see it covered with snow!

How to get there?

The ferry companies that connect Elba to the Tuscan mainland are: Toremar, Moby Lines, BluNavy and Elba Ferries. To discover and pick the best offers of each company, my advice is to look up comparison sites like www.traghetti-elbareservation.it/en.

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14 thoughts on “Elba Island, Italy: your guide for a perfect vacation

    • Hi Tim! Hope you are well? It’s been really a pleasure to read your welcome back comment :) Elba is perfect for summer holidays but also out of the peak season! Where are you now?

  1. hello i enjoyed listening to you describe all the attractions of elba’s beaches. my dad used to love to drive down to surf side near galveston. not a pretty sandy beach but charming with surf such as it is breaking over rocks. he taught me to appreciate the therapeutic effects of listening to surf break and smelling the air. thanks for sharing, max

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