Positioned photogenically in the Tyrrhenian Sea, a stone’s throw off the tip of Italy’s boot, the Aeolian Islands are a slow-travel paradise. Shaped by their explosive geology, these seven alluring sisters woo visitors with sublime seascapes, volcanic slopes, black-sand beaches and some of Europe’s best coastal walks and dives. Neighboring Salina and Panarea court a refined crowd with their wineries and family-run boutique hotels, while rustic Alicudi is a hermit’s fantasy at the end of the ferry line, where steep mule paths climb from a fishing port past vine-draped adobe houses to the island’s lonely, dormant crater. The Aeolians have been largely off the beaten track but have begun luring wise travelers seeking a good-value Mediterranean break. It’s possible that 2018 could be your last chance to outpace the crowds.
» Don’t Miss Nothing compares to a sunset climb up Stromboli, the Aeolians’ most charismatic volcano. A two-hour ascent brings you face-to-face with the fire-spewing crater.