Regions in brief
Portoferraio was founded in 1548 by Cosimo I. It is the island’s largest settlement, the port and its capital. Two large fortresses guard the entrance to the island. Built by the Medici rulers, Forte Falcone is to the west and Forte Stella is in the east. You can visit these ruins for free. Both are open pen from 9 am until 8pm everyday with Forte Falcon remaining open until midnight in summer.
Earlier you entered the island from Porta al Mare and Napoléon in the town upper area. His Villa dei Mulini isn’t impressive but you can visit it for historical reasons. Its open seven days a week – Mon to Sat from 9am to 7pm; Sun 9am to 1pm. An admission 3€ is charged. There is a summer villa, Villa San Martino, used by Napoléon on the outskirts if Portiferraio. You can buy a 5€ to enter both villas. This ticket is valid for three days. There is also a rocky beach called Le Viste behind Nepoléon’s villa.
Le Ghiaie is Portoferraio’s only real beach. There are other smaller beaches a little further away – Acquaviva, Sanzone, Viticcio and Magazzini. You can also hike to the top of Capo d’Enfola.
You can visit the Terme San Giovanni spa for rejuvenating mud baths, relaxing massages and refreshing seaweed body wraps. Thess can cost anywhere in the range of 8€ to 50€. Le Grotte is a Roman villa that overlooks Portoferraio’s bay. You can visit these ruins to look at the old but beautiful mosaics. It also offers fabulous views of the bay. Admission is free and the ruins are open everyday from 9am to 6:30 pm.
Visit the old Spanish capital Porto Azzurro. There was a fortress built here in 1603. This ancient settlement is a tourist hotspot today. Despite this, it has managed to retain it old charm. Across the bay is Capo Focardo. There is a beach called Narengo there that is very popular with tourists as well.
Capoliveri is to the south of Porto Azzurro and this is the region’s most charming town, with narrow winding streets and dozens of bars. This town is famous for its nightlife with most places staying open until as late as 3am! If you’re coming here, try not to miss the Thursday market as well.
Marciana is the oldest settlement on the island of Elba and is also the island’s most beautiful part. With little narrow tree lined streets it also has an archaeological museum, Museo Archeologico, that has ancient Roman exhibits. The entrance ticket to this museum costs 2€ and is open everyday from April to September between 9:30am and 7:30 pm, closing for lunch between 12:30pm and 3:30 pm.