Panarea might be small, but there’s no shortage of things to do – even if you don’t have an enormous luxury yacht floating offshore. We spent a whole week on the island and had one of the most relaxing, luxurious and memorable holidays we’ve had in a long while.
#1 – Spend most of your days on and around Zimmari beach
Whether it’s the sandy beach, or you’re on a boat, this should be your daily staple for getting horizontal, swimming and sun. It’s about a 30 minute walk from the port, (or 15 minutes from Hotel Girasole, where we stayed) and you can’t miss it – just keep walking south on the only road (well not quite a road, more of a golf cart path) on the island.
#2 – Walk over the isthmus to a beautiful secluded swimming spot
As the path resumes after Zimmari beach, it goes straight up the hill to the ancient Cala Junco reserve area for some incredible views of the bay and Lipari Island. Continue over the narrow isthmus to enjoy more of the view – if you haven’t found it already there is a grotto worth swimming to just off the beach far below – and explore the prehistoric ruins. Turn back and head down the steps to enjoy a stunning secluded rock beach with cool and deep water. If you look carefully you might see some stone beds that were built with much effort!
#3 – Do the cicchetti thing properly
Which means paying at least €15 for you drinks. But it’s worth it!!
Once you’ve got enough sun and you’re ready to emerge to take on the evening, treat yourself to a cocktail at either Hotel Raya or Bar Banacalii at the port area. If you’re there during the aperitivo hours get ready for some of the best complimentary cicchetti (Italian tapas) you’ll get anywhere.
At Bar Banacalii we were treated to freshly cooked arancini, deliciously seasoned and crunchy bruschetta and a refreshing mix of fresh vegetables and dips; almost enough to replace an entire meal. The drinks at both venues were also very well mixed.
#4 – Go to Francesco’s for dinner
This is the locals’ favourite restaurant in the port area – we asked a few different people for recommendations for Panarean restaurants and Francesco’s restaurant kept coming up. We ended up there three times! Try the signature pasta disgraziata or any of the seafood dishes on the menu washed down with a Sicilian Grillo white wine. Follow that up with the famous Malvasia – a sweet wine from Lipari and Salina.
#5 – Go back to the bar and let your hair down while watching the volcano
If you don’t already feel like you’ve got away from it all, breaking out some moves in an open air bar packed with relaxed and happy Italian holidayers while watching Stromboli spurt lava into the sky every few minutes might just do the trick. Make your way back to Bar Banacalii, grab another €15 cocktail and enjoy a quintessential Mediterranean summer experience – you only live once!