Pantelleria is a Sicilian island that can be reached by ferry or by plane. It is known as the ‘black pearl’ because of the blackness of its rocks, due to its volcanic origin. In fact, Specchio di Venere (Venus’s mirror), is a thermal lake that is a former volcanic crater!
It’s a fabulous holiday destination, loved by Italians and foreigners alike.
How to get to Pantelleria
Getting to Pantelleria depends on where you’re travelling from. There are certain cities in Italy, such as Milan, that fly direct to Pantelleria on certain days. We flew from Palermo , as there are two flights a day, with a flight time of just under an hour. Note that the flights are seasonal and operated by DAT.
You can also get to Pantelleria by Ferry from Trapani. The fastest ferry (Liberty Lines) takes two and a half hours and the slowest (Siremar) takes 6 hours.
Where to stay in Pantelleria
Pantelleria is a fairly big island at around 84 square km (32 square miles) and there are different areas or suburbs that you can stay in.
We stayed in Trancino at Pantelleria Dream Resort, which has rooms that are traditional dammusi. It’s a fabulous resort, with a stunning infinity pool and a great restaurant. It’s also family owned and run and the staff are really friendly and helpful.
Disclosure: This post contains an affiliate link, which earns me a little bit of commission at no extra cost to you.
We loved this area because it’s very close to some wonderful swimming spots, such as Cala Levante, Gadir and also the iconic Arco dell’Elefante.
Another popular area is Scauri, which has some great restaurants and is also close to the sea.
Wherever you decide to stay, you’ll always be fairly close to the sea, restaurants and shops as it only takes around 45 minutes to an hour to travel around the entire island.
Best things to do in Pantelleria
I was delighted that there was quite a bit to do in Pantelleria, which is great news if you’re not there for a ‘beach holiday. Although technically there aren’t any beaches as there are no sandy beaches, just swimming spots with decks or rocks.
Here are some of the best things to do when you visit Pantelleria.
Wine tasting at Donna Fugata
There are quite a few vineyards on the island and Pantelleria is most famous for a sweet dessert wine called Passito (which is Italian for ‘raisin’).
Donna Fugata is popular for wine tastings so I recommend booking in advance if you want to visit. They actually have vineyards around Sicily and you get a little passport, where if you visit them all you get a free wine tasting.
The setting is not as pretty as Coste Ghirlanda – and it’s a different experience as it’s an organised wine tasting – but we really enjoyed it. Firstly you are shown around where they produce the wine, then you go outside to taste four wines whilst your expert explains the wine and you’re invited to try certain foods with it to see how the taste changes.
After the wine tasting, you end the tour in the vineyards where you get to try what Pantelleria is famous for – a sweet dessert wine called Passito. It’s absolutely delicious! The tour cost €35 per person and takes around an hour and a half.
Swim in Specchio di Venere
When you’re coming in to land in Pantelleria, you fly over Specchio di Venere and it’s so impressive!
This heart-shaped lake is called Venus’s mirror and it’s been formed naturally from a volcanic crater. The water is incredibly blue!
The water and mud is also therapeutic and people cover themselves in the mud and let it dry. We didn’t do this as it was rather smelly!
Unfortunately on a couple of days when we visited, there were lots of jellyfish so we couldn’t swim in the sea. The lake offers a good alternative on those days. It’s also huge so was never crowded.
There are also two places to eat so no need to bring food and drink with you. One is more a restaurant and the other is more casual, where you can also buy food to take away.
Dinner in a vineyard
We were actually recommended Coste Ghirlanda by the son of the owner of the resort we were staying at as he’s passionate about wine. It’s also quite close to the resort – about a ten minute drive away.
We went one night for Aperitivo and loved the setting so much that we booked dinner for another night. There’s something so wonderful about being surrounded by nature.
The vineyard produces only a small selection of wine and no sparkling wine. Aperitivo is fairly expensive if you don’t take advantage of the wine as it’s a set price of €30 per person. You get also get some nibbles such as olives, taralli and small dishes from the chef.
When we returned for dinner, it was absolutely magical! The setting is just unbelievably beautiful and the food was delicious. In fact we had the best pasta of our trip at Coste Ghirlanda.
Hire a boat
The best way to see an island is by boat! We hired a boat one day and went all around the island, stopping to swim along the way. The great thing about having a boat is that you get to swim in places that are only accessible by boat.
You can either hire your own boat or join a boat excursion tour.
Being on a boat also gives you a great view of the landscape of the island. I’ve been to lots of Italian islands and some of them are quite arid, with not much vegetation. I was really surprised by how green and vibrant Pantelleria is. The scenery is beautiful.
There are levels of stone walls, which are built to protect plants and crops from the wind and you can see this all around the island.
Enjoy a hot spring
There are a number of natural hot springs around the island, thanks to its volcanic past. We found one in Gadir, however the temperature was around 45 degrees Celsius and we weren’t brave enough to get in! We did overhear a woman who lives on the island who said she takes a bath in one every evening at around 6pm.
Gadir is also a lovely swimming spot with a large deck where you can sunbath. There is also a bar and restaurant here. And depending what time you’re there, a lady arrives selling delicious homemade granita from a little van. In fact, she goes to all the nearby swimming spots so no doubt you’d see her at some point.
Aperitivo at sunset
One of my favourite things to do in Italy is have aperitivo. I’d say Lampedusa had the edge when it came to stunning aperitivo spots to watch the sunset but Pantelleria has some great places too – you just won’t always be able to actually see the sun set.
The best area to see the sun set is in Mursia as it’s the west of the island. A very popular place to go is Sesiventi, where you can watch it from the roof. However… you need to book it in advance and it’s also quite pricey. We managed to go without a booking, however the only seating they had on the roof didn’t face the sea! So we just had a couple of drinks downstairs, facing the sea, and it was great. They have a DJ too so it’s got a great vibe.
Another lovely place to have aperitivio is La Nicchia in Scauri. It’s also a restaurant and has a little shop. We ended up buying a bottle of the wine we had enjoyed, to take home with us.
Buy local products
Pantelleria is famous for two products in particular – Passito wine and capers. But of course they also produce lots of other things, such as olive oil, sundried tomatoes and various pastes that you can spread over bread. There are a number of agricultural shops that you can buy local products from, dotted around the island. We bought some capers from the little restaurant in Specchio di Venere, sundried tomatoes from a fruit and vegetable shop by the castle and olive oil and more capers from Azienda Agricola Biologica Emanuela Bonomo.
Visit the castle
Il Castello Barbacane di Pantelleria can be traced back to the Arab or Byzantine period and is one of the most historical landmarks on the island. It was built to protect the sea trade and faces the harbour. You can visit inside the castle and it’s also where the Archaeological Museum of Pantelleria is located.
Admire the Arco dell’Elefante
The Arco dell’Elefante (Elephant’s Arch) is a natural rock formation that, you guessed it, looks like an elephant! Can you see the head and trunk? And maybe even an ear? It’s also a great swimming spot too. Look very closely at the photo below and you’ll see people on the rocks.
And if you do hire a boat to go around the island then you’ll see if from a different angle.
We absolutely adored our time in Pantelleria! Well, apart from the jellyfish. It’s a stunning island with sophisticated restaurants, great swimming spots, beautiful vineyards and delicious food and gorgeous wine – this is why you should visit Pantelleria! I can’t wait to go back.