Salina is one of the seven aeolian islands which all are of volcanic origin and close to the coast of Sicily. All of the islands are unique in a certain way and Salina is the greenest, most fertile – and arguably the most beautiful.
Getting around: Arrive with liberty lines, the vessels depart from Milazzo and take about 1 hour 30 minutes to Salina, after they stop in Vulcano and Lipari. They also operate between the islands. The ticket offices are at the port and you can also buy tickets online.
From Catania airport it’s a two hour car drive to Milazzo. While buses and trains are cheap but not always punctual, shuttle services like Alibrando are much more reliable and cost 25€.
Once you arrive in Salina you should rent a car or scooter, in order to get around even though it’s not a big island. There are a few local rental offices, Motonoleggio Merlino is very good, for example. The cars are pretty old and fairly expensive, but perfect for an island like Salina. There are also C.I.T.I.S. busses that take you from one town to the next, you can buy the tickets directly at the bus, but take a look at the schedule hanging at the bus stations as they don’t drive too often.
Santa Marina is the town with the biggest marina, so you’ll arrive here. You can’t miss the nice church and main street via Risorgimento with fashion, souvenir and grocery shops – and lots of cats everywhere. There is the restaurant and wine shop Casa Lo Schiavo, for example, or Amanei a nice bookshop and gallery, or Elsalina, which sells the most beautiful ceramic works and souvenirs.
Close to the town is Lingua, here you can visit the salt lake and white lighthouse, go to the beach or to cafe Da Alfredo and eat some delicious granita or the pizza-like bread pane cunzatu.
Malfa is a very lovely small village with a few nice shops and a big piazza where locals gather in the evening for chats with friends or dinner. There is one pebble beach called spiaggia dello Scario where you can conveniently rent airbeds, while another possibility to get into the water is directly at the small harbor. Via Roma is the main street in Malfa, with a Conad supermarket, a good bakery, trattoria A Quadara and Bar Malvasia directly at the piazza. Here you can sit all day, have brioche for breakfast, coffee, cassata and gelato or drinks in the evening. When you want to go shopping keep in mind that most shops have special opening times with long lunch breaks, so go in the morning or late afternoon. Specialties of Salina are carpers and the Malvasia wine.
Pollara is maybe the most beautiful village on the island with a dramatic location in what used to be a volcanic crater and today lies directly at steep cliffs facing the ocean. This amazing scenery also got famous through the great movie Il Postino. Pollara is so small, there is no shop but a good restaurant and hotel called La Locanda del Postino and the cozy open-air bar L’Oasi where in summer you can watch El Postino every night at six o’clock or simply enjoy the fantastic sunset with a drink in your hand. Another highlight is the small, rugged bay with its old stone houses, where you can dip in the clear water. Many boats anchor here for an afternoon, but you can also walk down the many steps to the water. If you climb around the cliffs to the right you can also see the impressive stone arc, one of Salinas landmarks.
On the other side of the island lie Leni and Rinella, maybe the most rustic villages on Salina. There is a black beach, a colorful church and small alleys. It feels really calm and far away here when you come at the end of the busy summer season.
Do: Salina is great for nature lovers and hikers. There are several well-marked hiking trails around the island, you find detailed descriptions on this website, for example. A highlight is the tour to the highest point, Monte Fossa delle Felci. Start from the lovely church Valdichiesa and walk up the steep way through Eukalyptus trees and lush forest. Once you arrive at the top, the trail leads down to Santa Marina. It’s an exhausting, partly difficult trail, but you’ll see evermore impressive views and landscapes.
Another great day can be spend with a tour to Panarea and Stromboli, for example with Salina Relax Boats. With a small group you take a boat tour first to Panarea, where you can spend some time wandering the flower lined streets or have lunch. Afterwards there will be some time to go for a swim directly from the boat before going to Stromboli where you will see the eruptions of the volcano at Sciara del Fuoco in the evening. Another highlight will be the star studded sky on your way back to Salina.
For more travel inspiration about the aeolian islands see Panarea, Vulcano and Stromboli. When visiting the Aeolian Islands you will also most likely want to go to Sicily. But there are so many more amazing destinations in Italy, find ideas for trips to the beautiful Amalfi Coast and Capri or for Pugila here and here.