One of my better life choices this year (2019) was the decision to stay for 4 days on the beautiful Tuscan island of Elba. I can’t really remember how the idea to go there popped into my head – but it turned out to be a great one.
Located in the Tyrrhenian Sea’s Tuscan Archipelago National Park, Elba is a glorious world of greens and blues (and no, I didn’t know there was a Tyrrhenian sea either). A bloody excellent place for some clean and healthy living – amazing walks and hikes, gorgeous weather, wonderful beaches, clear water, great food – you get the idea.
If I have succeeded in tempting you, check out my 7 suggestions for living your best life on Elba Island:
1. Hike the headland trail
This little hike will take you about an hour and a half and takes in some beautiful scenery. A couple of uphill sections but pretty easy all in all. I learned about the walk from the lovely team at Elba Travels where I stayed (more on that later).
There’s not much shade, so depending on the time of year you’re visiting, be sure to slather on the sun cream and take lots of water.
2. Walk from Lacona to Laconella Beach
I fancied a walk, and the staff at Elba Travels recommended a scenic walk to Laconella Beach – the smaller sister to the closer (to where I was staying) Lacona.
The walk takes you inland first of all, then via roads and tracks, eventually cutting through Camping Laconella, which gives you access to both Laconella Beach, and also the far side of Lacona Beach.
A drink at Palombini Cafe right by the steps tops it all off nicely, and you can walk back along the beach with your flip flops in your hand 🙂
3. Have a coffee at Orti di Mare
I discovered this gem completely by accident and totally fell in love with it. Orti di Mare is a farm tourism complex which offers camping, apartments and the cutest little cafe I think I have ever seen.
It is inland (as opposed to near or on the beach) and this means fewer people and lots of peace and quiet. The cafe is shaded, secluded and so so pretty.
4. Watch the sunset at Santa Maria
Not do-able without a car /sweet-talking someone with a car, but watching the sun set at Santa Maria is an awesome experience.
To get there you have to drive from Lacona for about 15 minutes and then do a 10-15 minute (ish) hike (bear in mind you’ll be doing it in the dark on the way back down so take a torch!)
At the top of the hill is an abandoned building in a little clearing with a perfect view of the setting sun. I went with a group of other hostel-dwellers with the Elba Travels crew. We took hammocks and drinks and made a night of it, and it was a brilliant experience.
5. Take a boat trip from Porto Azzurro
One serendipitous day, having made friends with a fellow solo traveller, we set off for a town called Porto Azzurro. You can take a bus from Lacona Beach to this very sweet little harbour town with a pretty piazza and a disproportionately good number of cafes, bars, gelaterias and restaurants (avoid 2-4pm as it’s siesta time and Porto Azzurro definitely sleeps).
Grab a cold slice of pizza at the Pasticceria Fiorentina in the Piazza and hop on a boat trip for 20 Euros from the harbour. The boat is small, holding about 10 people so it won’t feel crowded and overly touristy.
The trip lasts 3 hours and includes 2 swimming stops – it takes you around the beautiful Elba coastline in the direction of Capoliveri via some cool abandoned mines with some (Italian) commentary. The sea is like a swimming pool – you won’t be able to resist jumping in.
6. Hike the Anello Saganana trail
If you fancy a gruelling, very uphill hike – this is the one for you! The hike starts from just beyond Camping Laconella and the first section lulls you into a false sense of security as you follow the road until it turns into a track.
After that, think cliff edge single-file trails, steep rocky inclines, more inclines, then a pretty steep descent. Fun, but definitely tough! Check out my detailed post about this trail, and bear in mind that it might make you hate hills.
7. Stay at Elba Travels campsite
Elba Travels is camping hostel which has bagsied the highest point of Camping Lacona – a big camping complex at Lacona Beach.
They run it like a hostel, but with tents – so you can have dorm tents or private tents, there’s a communal kitchen and hammocks and seating everywhere. The staff are amazing, they come every summer to work on Elba because they love the island – they all introduce themselves personally and they are full of great tips and suggestions on what to do. I made some really good friends here, there is always someone to hang out with if you want some company.
I love Italy, in an obsessive stalker kind of way, and Elba did not disappoint. I would go here again in a heartbeat, especially for a health and fitness getaway. I know it sounds silly, but most of the campsites are really high up, so I found myself preparing healthy meals and cooking because food was a small hike away. Add to that the scorching temperatures and that means that a. you have less appetite, and b. naughty food is always a hill away.