Panarea is one of Italy's Aeolian Islands, off the coast of Sicily.
Panarea is reached by boats from Lipari, largest of the Aeolians. The SIREMAR line offers fast hydrofoils, which are preferable to slower ferries, particularly since you'll have no need for a car. Ferry lines to the Aeolian Islands depart from Milazzo (the closest to the islands, but most difficult to reach), Messina, and Palermo in Sicily, as well as Reggio di Calabria and Naples on the mainland. For international travelers, the most direct route is to fly to Catania, Sicily, transfer to an express bus to Milazzo, from where the most ferries run. As an alternative to the bus, Europcar offers a special deal to rent a car one-way between Catania and Milazzo, but this must be arranged for in advance.
The island is so small that there are no roads, but only paths. There are no cars on the islands, but only motorbikes, 3-wheeled trucks, and golf carts. There is a golf cart "taxi service" that runs between the port and all points in the only town, but for those who can walk up a hill, all points in the town are accessible by foot.
- Panarea has two small, rocky but scenic beaches, which offer views across the sea to the volcano-island of Stromboli; you can see ash and steam clouds from the volcano's frequent, small eruptions.
- Footpaths and hiking trails circle the island. The prehistoric ruins at the southern tip of the island at Punta Milazzese make a fine destination at sunrise.
- Hikers can check out the Bronze Age ruins a short-to-medium (5-km round trip) walk from the dock, at the entrance to a nature reserve. No amenities, and the ruins are largely unexcavated; you'll be reminded more of the austere sites of the American Southwest than of the glories of Rome.
- Rent a small boat in the port and make a tour around the island, but be aware that the currents at the northern and southern tips of Panarea are strong. Or, go across the sea to the islet of Basiluzzo, or the nearer islets of Lisca Bianca and Lisca Nera, all of which offer inlets to drop anchor and enjoy the fine clear water.
At high season, it is necessary to book far in advance. Most accommodations on Panarea are open only from May through September. In May through mid-July, and in September, you will be met at the dock by representatives of various hotels and inns, and you can negotiate a price for a room with a view of the sea. Hotel Lisca Bianca is a good-priced hotel in the main port with a lovely veranda where breakfast as served. The proprietress can also offer rooms in villas nearby.
- Quartara Hotel, Via S. Pietro 15, ☏ +39 090983027. 3 minutes from the harbour with spectacular views towards Stromboli. Ristorante Broccia serves dinner 7 days a week on the terrace. Doubles from €180.