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This trip has it all! Enjoy the sweet Italian life, be awed by nature’s wonders, immerse yourself in thousands of years of history and discover the surprisingly diverse world of the Aeolian islands by bike, on foot and by sailing ship. This volcanic archipelago off the coast of Sicily is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is not considered one of the best-kept secrets of the Mediterranean for nothing. We’ll take you on an exciting journey of discovery to this amazingly beautiful island paradise. Laurens Winkel, owner of Boat Bike Tours, has already tried out this unforgettable trip for us and tells us about his impressions and experiences.

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Visit enchanting Sicily and the Aeolian Islands

Be enchanted by this spectacular cruise among the extraordinary Aeolian islands. On board a charming caique – a traditional fishing boat – you’ll discover these volcanic islands, today part of the UNESCO World Heritage list. Starting from Milazzo on the north-east coast of Sicily, your first stop will be the island of Vulcano. The journey continues to Panarea, with its large rocky ridges. In the background you’ll admire the continuous explosive activity of the Stromboli volcano.

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1. Experience a multi-faceted island world

“What really amazed me was that the islands are all so different. Each one has a different character, different vegetation and even different colors,” says Laurens. “So the trip becomes an exciting journey of discovery where you see something new every day. On Lipari the beaches are white as snow, so you feel like you’re in the Caribbean. The contrast to the black-sand beaches of Vulcano could hardly be greater.” The liveliest and largest island is Lipari: “Here is the only real town on the islands.” Dominated by two extinct twin volcanoes, Salina Island is the greenest in the archipelago.

2. Experience thousands of years of history

There’s something mystical about the Aeolian islands, and legends have surrounded the archipelago off the coast of Sicily for thousands of years. In Greek mythology, it’s the home of the wind god, Aeolus, which is why they’re called the “Aeolian Islands”. But the history of these fascinating volcanic islands begins long before Greek times. The islands have been inhabited for over 5,000 years. In the archaeological museum of Lipari, the exhibits from Roman times are among the most recent. Before that, there were five older civilizations here, dating back to the Stone Age. “That’s really impressive,” says Laurens. “On the bike tours you come across traces of the long history everywhere: historic villages, centuries-old churches and chapels and the remains of ancient thermal baths.

3. Be in awe of nature’s wonders

The evening sail around the island of Stromboli is truly an indescribable natural spectacle. You just have to feel and see it for yourself. “It can’t be described in words and it can’t be captured well on film or photos,” says Laurens, describing the circumnavigation of the world’s most active volcano, which spews lava and rock from its 900-meter-high crater on average every 20 minutes. “From the water you can see the lava rolling down the steep slope into the sea. This is an incredible sight, especially in the dark.”

In contrast to Stromboli, the volcano on the island of Vulcano is much safer and easier to reach. Here the tour group dares to climb the not-too-steep slope to the edge of the crater. It’s 375 meters high, and the crater is over 100 meters deep. But here on Vulcano, surrounded by clouds of smoke and steam, you can find traces of volcanic activity everywhere. In some places the sea turns into a real bubble bath. “There are volcanic vents underwater from which warm steam emerges: they’re called fumaroles,” says Laurens. So it’s no wonder that the Aeolian islands are a world heritage site due to their volcanic origins.

4. Enjoy equal measures of activity and relaxation

Laurens particularly liked the Mediterranean rhythm of this trip. “The bike tours almost always take place in the morning, when they pass through hilly terrain. But it never gets too hot because there’s always a fresh sea breeze. And the islands are relatively small, so the streets are relatively quiet. “It’s a really relaxed way to ride,” says Laurens. “The group is back on board around 3 p.m. and then the quieter part of the day begins. The ship then goes a little way out to sea. If you feel like it, you can swim a lap in the azure sea and then relax on the sun deck. A perfect balance between enjoyment and an active holiday.” And it’s also very easy to be on the ship. “The Sundial is really impressively beautiful,” says Laurens. “The historic fishing boat is made entirely of wood and has been converted into a modern passenger yacht with lots of comfort. The tour group consists of only 12 guests and their own tour guide. It makes you feel like you’re on a private yacht, with lots of personal attention.”

5. Enjoy Italian life

“Our local tour leader knew the most beautiful places and was able to tell us a lot about the surroundings and the lives of the islanders. That was very interesting and we saw a lot of special things,” says Laurens. Of course, the real Italian dolce vita also includes good food, and there was more than enough of that for the guests on board the Sundial: “The Italian chef on board really pulled out all the stops and surprised us every day with great dishes,” enthuses Laurens. “In the morning there was a breakfast buffet and in the evening a multi-course menu with local specialties. We all ate together at a large table on deck. This creates a particularly pleasant atmosphere. The view of the landscape and the starry sky, Italian wine and good conversations … Dinner together was always one of the highlights of the day for all of us.”

Afterwards there is usually enough time to go ashore, to stroll through the streets of the port town and immerse yourself in Mediterranean life. “As in many southern countries, social life often takes place in the evening and the shops stay open late. So you can end the day with a drink in one of the street cafés and enjoy the hustle and bustle.”

Are you dreaming of your own journey of discovery on the Aeolian Islands?

Would you like to discover the Aeolian Islands yourself by bike and boat? Do you have questions about this or another trip from our program? Our travel experts are here for you. You can reach us at 1-203-814-1249 in the US or +31-20-72-35-400 in the Netherlands. Or send an email to [email protected]. We are happily looking forward to hearing from you!

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