Heathrow and Gatwick: The beautiful hidden Italian island 4 hours from London that is as magical as Capri but cheaper and with sandy beaches

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With winter in England in full swing, many Londoners are understandably dreaming of warmer weather and a more tropical climate.

The beautiful Italian island of Capri is high on many travel lists thanks to its dramatic cliff-top views, pretty hilltop settlements and incredible food scene.

What puts people off the island, however, are the often sky-high prices for hotels, restaurants, and transportation.

READ MORE: The beautiful island often dubbed the best in Europe that’s not in France, Italy, Spain or Greece

What you may not know is that Capri actually has a nearby sister island that is just as beautiful and not only less strenuous to get to, but also less crowded and more affordable.

Similar to Capri, Ischia is a small but magical volcanic island off the coast of Naples that can be reached by ferry.

Finding things to do, see, eat and drink is very easy thanks to the abundance of fantastic restaurants, historical sites and pretty streets to stroll along.



Ischia is a hidden gem island off the coast of Naples where Italians vacation

Refreshingly, a boat trip to Ischia from the mainland takes just 50 minutes as opposed to the two hours to Capri, making it even more accessible for Londoners who want to get away with it with minimal fuss.

Ischia is home to a handful of picturesque, typically Mediterranean towns, including Forio, Barano d’Ischia and Ischia Porto, the island’s capital.

Each of these cities has its own personality, from busy to peaceful.

But even in the main town, you won’t find Capri overrun with tourists – the hidden gem island is particularly popular with Italians precisely because it’s still authentic and not overrun with international visitors.



The Castello Aragonese is located on another tiny island connected to Ischia by a bridge
The Castello Aragonese is located on another tiny island connected to Ischia by a bridge

Here you will find many historic buildings such as the medieval Aragonese Castle, connected to Ischia by a stone bridge, or the 18th-century houses of the Palazzo dell’Orologio.

For those who want to learn more about Ischia’s fishing traditions, there is also the Maritime Museum.

The island’s abundance of fresh fish and seafood also ensures you won’t be short of delicious food.

Ristorante De Bellezza and Gardenia Mare are both highly recommended by Tripadvisor users and are ideal if you want to enjoy your lunch or dinner with a side dish of stunning sea views.



Expect delicious pasta with fresh seafood and other Italian staples on Ischia
Expect delicious pasta with fresh seafood and other Italian staples on Ischia

If you want to try authentic local cuisine, Coniglio all’Ischitana is a rustic pasta dish made with wild rabbit, an Ischia specialty – find it served at the mountain restaurant Bracconiere.

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There are also some extra things you can do on Ischia that wouldn’t be possible on Capri, such as soaking in the natural hot springs of Cavascura or visiting the oldest spa in the world Nitrodi thermal water park.

In contrast to its smaller brother, which only has rocky beaches, on Ischia you can also spend the day on beautiful sandy beaches.



Unlike Capri, Ischia has sandy beaches with easy access to the sea
Unlike Capri, Ischia has sandy beaches with easy access to the sea

Maronti Beach near Barano is one of the most popular, while San Montao is a quieter option tucked between Forio and Lacco Ameno.

how to get there

Ischia is closer to mainland Italy and is actually easier to get to than Capri.

Being an island, most of it is accessible by sea, so you’ll need to fly to Naples and then take a boat.

The good news for Londoners is that there are easy direct flights from both Heathrow and Gatwick airports.

British Airways operates a flight from London Heathrow it only takes 2 hours 40 minutes.

You can fly too from Gatwick to Naples by EasyJet (2 hrs 40 mins).

From Naples you can hop on the ferry to Ischia and be there in just 50 minutes, depending on which company you travel with.

More information about the ferry options here .

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