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Elba Island, Italy
Fast Facts
Scuba Diving
Historic Interest
Boating & Sailing
Points of Interest Nearby
Family Travel Tips

Isola d'Elba


Photo by Alfredo De Simone

Elba Island, Isola d'Elba to Italians, may lack the allure of Capri and the repute of the Cinque Terre yet there are 10 reasons to consider a family holiday on this fish-shaped isle. 1) Elba is Italy's third largest island, after Sicily and Sardinia, and the largest island in the Tuscan Archipelago. 2) It's located off the coast of Tuscany and is easily combined with a tour of Italian art cities. 3) The wild island of Elba and its surrounding limpid waters are part of the Tuscan Archipelago National Park, Europe's largest marine park. 4) Elba's indented coastline, all capes and coves, stretches 147 km and harbors nearly a hundred beaches - pebble and sand - of varying dimensions. 5) It's a natural habitat for a variety of birdlife - red partridge, raven, rock thrush and red swallow. 6) Trekking trails traverse the island's forested interior of Mediterranean scrub and chestnut woods. 7) Elba is speckled with picturesque villages - Marciana, Capoliveri, Porto Azzurro, Cavo and Rio Marino - and remote hamlets - San Piero in Campo and Capo d'Arco. 8) It's treasure chest of metals and strategic position have attracted a great many peoples - Etruscans, Romans, pirates, Germans, English, Spanish and French - and endowed the island with a rich cultural history. 9) The island's frugal food is as delectable as mainland cookery. 10) Elba has none of the trappings of Italy's famed beach resorts.
Getting There
Elba Island is part of the Tuscan Archipelago. It's located 10 km (6 miles) off the Tuscan coast and is situated southwest of the port town of Piombino. Elba is easily reached by a combination of ferry and train. The island is also accessible by plane. Toremar and Moby, two Italian ferry companies, offer daily service between Piombino and Portoferraio and Piombino and Cavo. Certain ferries also call in Rio Marina. The ferry trip to Portoferraio is 60 minutes; the trip to Cavo is 30 minutes. Piombino is reachable by train but most routes require at least one change and, in some cases, the final leg - Campiglia Marittima to Piombino - is by connecting bus. Tren Italia also offers a connecting bus service from Florence. The island's small airport is located 2 km from Marina di Campo. Charter airlines connect Elba with Florence and Milan as well as select cities in Germany and Switzerland. The nearest mainland airports are in Rome, Pisa and Florence. European low cost airlines service both Pisa Airport and Rome's Ciampino. Florence Airport is poorly served. Family Travel Tips: Ferry travel isn't stress free. Boarding is first come, first embark rather than the reserved time of departure. Toremar, part of government-owned Tirrenia, is difficult to book online and can't be booked by phone. Moby is easy is to book but the schedule is far from binding. Both ferry companies offer promotional fares; cheap tickets sell out quickly.
Getting Around
Elba is the third largest Italian island and largest island in the Tuscan Archipelago. It's 223 km² in size and boasts 147 km (91 miles) of coastline. Elba has a good network of roads. A local bus service connects the island's main cities. Much of Elba can be hiked; a good part of the island can be mountain biked. Numerous stables offer horseback rides. Touring the island by boat is both easy and fun. Family Travel Tips: Elba's winding roads are a favorite with cyclists but can be tough going with children. The steep, narrow roadways have no shoulder and are heavily trafficked in the high season. Trail maps are available at newsstands throughout the island. A hiking festival is held annually on the island.
When to Travel
The climate on Elba is Mediterranean and the weather is greatly influenced by the Tyrrhenian and Ligurian seas. The warmest months are July and August with an average high temperature of 27° C or 81° F. The coldest months are December and January with an average low of 8° C or 46° F. October and November receive more than 80 mm of rainfall, July receives less than 15. Beach vacations are best June through September. The island is a blaze of color in April and May.
Health & Safety
Heat, water and improper footwear are the main holiday health hazards on the Island of Elba. Apply high factor sunscreen to all exposed areas, including nose, ears, and toes, before setting out and repeat applications throughout the day. Wear sunglasses and a hat with a brim. Carry plenty of water and remind children to drink regularly. Select a trail that is commensurate with the age and ability of the kids as well as the heat of the day. Wear sturdy walking shoes on all treks. Not all beaches on Elba are swaths of sand. Wear water shoes not flip-flops at rocky coves and pebble beaches.
Things to Keep in Mind
A family vacation on Elba isn't a budget holiday. Accommodation, ferries, meals, and even incidentals add up quickly. Here are a few tips to reduce the sting. June and September are cheaper than July and August. Holiday apartments, farm stays and B&Bs are found throughout the island and are often less expensive than hotels and resorts. Toremar and Moby offer promotional fares. Check ferry rates weekly. Scan the calendar for the cheapest departures.
Travel Trivia
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