Do you like the clear and blue sea, golden beaches, nature and art? Then Elba island – a unique destination in Tuscany – is perfect for you. Elba is the third largest island in Italy (after Sardinia and Sicily) and, together with eight other islands, it is part of the National Park of the Tuscan Archipelago, the largest marine park in Europe.
Elba is famous around the world for its stunning sea, but also because it was where French Emperor Napoleon spent ten months during his exile. Far before Napoleon, Elba was also home to the Etruscans and the Romans, attracted by its rich deposits of iron. The island therefore perfectly mixes history, nature and beautiful sea, making it an ideal family escape.
If you move from one side to the other island, sceneries completely change and they are all absolutely fascinating. I recommend – therefore – to travel around and explore as many beaches as possible: this is really how you should visit Elba. The sea is beautiful everywhere here, but there are a few beaches particularly indicated for families with children:
- Lido di Capoliveri: a sandy beach well equipped with beach-umbrellas, playgrounds and lots of bars and restaurants along the seafront.
- Naregno, located at the edge of the stunning Costa dei Gabbiani (Seagulls Coast). Here, too, you will find well-equipped beaches with beach umbrellas and playgrounds. The beach, facing east, is protected by two small promontories – Cape Focardo with its lighthouse on the right and Punta della Principessa on the left. This makes a perfect spot for children, with little wind even when the weather is not that good. Both Capoliveri and Naregno can represent an ideal basis for exploring the island. Within a short drive, you can easily reach the beautiful spots of Porto Azzurro, Capoliveri and Portoferraio.
- Lacona is one of the longest beaches on the island, with fine sand and shallow water. It is particularly appreciated by families, as it is protected by a small pine forest, which is perfect to find a shelter when the sun gets too hot. Along the seafront you will find a well-equipped Fun Park, the “Duna Park”.
- Cavoli, another long beach with sand and shallow water, not far from Marina di Campo. It is probably the most beautiful beach in the Southern part of Elba.
- LeGhiaie, close to Portoferraio, the island’s main harbour. It is partially equipped with beach umbrellas and is very close to many bars and restaurants. Opposite to the beach, you will find a small park with a playground.
- Close to Portoferraio, there are also the wonderful beaches of Biodola and Scaglieri, with white sand and beautiful sea. They are very well equipped with parking space, bars, restaurants, beach umbrellas, etc.
- Very handy the shuttle service offered by Marciana: the bus will take you directly to some of the most beautiful beaches of Western Elba, such as La Paolina, Procchio e Campo all’Aia.
Elba is the perfect place for outdoor sports and activities. Diving and snorkelling are a must if you are fond of the sea life. Alternatively, you can go sailing, fishing, hiking, biking or enjoying a round of golf. For those lazy days, just relax at the thermal baths of San Giovanni. The kids will greatly appreciate a boat trip around the island. Most of the hotels on the island normally organise some for their guests, during summer time. Alternatively, have a look here.
One thing not to be missed is Art Into The Park: a walking trail in nature, called “Sentiero dei Profumi” (the Scented Path). Various artists have created beautiful masterpieces only using natural materials, such as stones, rocks and wood. The result is an open-air museum and their work will stay there until natural deterioration.
The Path is located in La Conca, near Marciana.
How to get to Elba
- By ferry from Piombino, on the mainland. There are four main ferry companies covering the short distance between Piombino and Portoferrario, with several daily crossings: Toremar, Moby Lines, Blu Navy and Corsica-Sardinia Ferries. I always suggest booking well in advance through their website, especially during summer. Most of the ferries are big enough to transport cars and campervans, but of course, there is an extra cost for the vehicle. The crossing Piombino-Portoferraio takes a little over an hour. Piombino is about 2 hours driving from Florence and 3 hours driving from Rome.
- By plane, landing at Elba Marina di Campo Airport.
Where to sleep
There is plenty of accommodation on the island: hotels, holiday apartments, camping and residences. In the next few days, I will suggest a couple of hotels which our family has personally tested!