Sunset at the peak while hiking Stromboli volcano

Hiking Stromboli Volcano: Fire At Sunset

Hiking the world’s most active volcano, Stromboli, which erupts about every 20-minutes, is one of the more exhilarating and unforgettable hiking adventures I’ve experienced. Not only for the excitement of being able to look down into a live volcano, but also become of the amazing views.

You must be accompanied by a guide to hike to the peak. Also, depending on volcanic activity, sometimes you can not hike all the way to the peak. Please check with local guides for current conditions.

Where Are The Aeolian Islands?

The Aeolian islands are a group of volcanic islands in the Tyrrhenian Sea, north of Sicily. These UNESCO listed islands include; Lipari, the largest, Stromboli, Salina, Paranea, Vulcano, Filicudi, Alicidi, and Basiluzzo.

Although all these islands were created by volcanic activity, only two have active volcanos today, Stromboli and Vulcano. There are, however, steaming fumaroles and thermal waters on most of the islands.

Visiting And Hiking Stromboli Volcano

Hiking Stromboli volcano. View from Lipari.
Stromboli from Paranea

About Mount Stromboli

Mount Stromboli is 3,038’ (926 m) above sea level with three active craters at its peak. It’s been in almost continuous eruption for the past 2,000-5,000 years, making it the one of the most active volcanos in the world. In fact, its nickname is the ‘Lighthouse of the Mediterranean’, as it lights up the sky regularly.

The population on the island changes as the volcano becomes more or less active, but very small. Today it’s about 300.

The last eruption in 2019, unfortunately, killed a hiker. They were struck by flying debris during and eruption at the summit. See the bbc.co.uk for details. Hikes to the peak were limited after this event, but this is always changing. Prior to that, 2009 was the most recent major eruption, yet there are significant eruptions all the time.

Hiking Mount Stromboli Volcano

The companies arranging the hikes here provide the gear you need for hiking, including high neck boots (to minimize ash getting into them), trekking poles, helmets, and a headlamp. You can bring your own equipment. I wore my own hiking shoes, which were not high ankle shoes, and ended up having to pour ash out of them on the way down. Honestly, I suspect this will still be a problem with the higher ankle shoes too…

The hikes usually start a couple of hours before sunset, so you are at the peak as the sun starts dropping to the horizon. This way you can also see any thermal activity inside the volcano. This means you hike down in the dark (which is why you need the headlamp).

The hike is about 5 hours total (up and down). It’s a fairly steep vertical, but if you’re in good shape, it’s not too difficult, except where the ash is thick. Bring plenty of water and snacks for the hike. Also, it can get chilly at the top, so bring long sleeves, or a jacket, and long pants.

Be forewarned, however, that your guide may not speak English. Mine didn’t. Luckily some others in the group were able to help translate when I needed it!

My Hike

When I did my hike, you were still able to hike all the way to the top of Stromboli at 3,000’. It took us about 3 hours to hike all the way up. Towards the top, we were walking in several inches of fine, black silt, which made it seem like we were walking up a giant black sand dune. Walking was tedious when the ash was thick.

View hiking the volcano of Stromboli
Half Way Up Stromboli

The view above was from about half way up. Our guide did not speak much English, but did say the tiny island in the distance was Strombolicchio. It’s so tiny in the image above, the lighthouse at the top looks like a tiny white spec. Supposedly, there are two hundred steps up the rock to get to that lighthouse. I looked it up on Wikipedia after the hike and it said that Strombolicchio was the remains of the original volcano that created Stromboli, but is now dormant.

Stromboli’s Peak

We made it to the peak right at sunset, and you could see the steam from the volcano against the sea. Beautiful!

Sunset at the peak while hiking Stromboli volcano
Sunset At The Peak

At the summit, we had to put on our helmets, to protect us from any hot embers shooting out of the volcano. We also had to put on long sleeves and long pants. This didn’t make much sense to me, as it seems like they would need to be flame retardant to be effective, but we all did it. Maybe they were. I’m not sure. As I said, my guide didn’t speak English.

We sat and waited, hoping for minor eruptions, but saw mostly steam on our hike. There were definitely some red embers deep below us, but nothing too wild. It was still really cool, regardless. Sometimes gusts of steam would burst out with a loud noise, making it really exciting. It’s a bit weird hoping for little eruptions, but not too big of one…

As it got darker, we could see the red glow from inside the volcano. Not easy to see in the pictures from my simple camera, but you can see a little of it below (lower center).

The embers of the volcano at the rim while Hiking Stromboli
Volcanic Embers Burning

Hiking Down Stromboli Volcano

After 9:00, we started the two hour hike back down. The way down had much deeper ash that got kicked up as we walked, so we also wore face masks. Needless to say, we were all pretty grimy by the time we got back to the ferry. On the ferry, we rode back to Lipari.

There was a really large orange moon out that night, so it was great to sit in the open air of the ferry and watch the moon and the multitude of stars. All around a great experience!

It was after midnight by the time we got down and back to the port in Lipari. As it was a Saturday night, the dock on Lipari was full of very well-dressed, young Italians waiting for ferries to other islands for some nightlife. It would have been fun to stay here a little longer and explore some of them.

Pre-Hike (Prequel)

There are many tour companies lining the streets of these islands, offering various tours to other islands. As I came here interested in hiking the Stromboli volcano, I booked it on Lupari the next day. Although I was able to do this in July, you really should book in advance during peak season.

Swim break on way to go hiking on Stromboli volcano
Swim Break On Way To Stromboli

The tour I chose stopped at two other islands before Stromboli. The ferry also went around some of the spectacular rock formations in the sea and stopped a few times to let us plunge into the cool aquamarine sea for a swim. An awesome day!

How To Get To Stromboli

The only way to reach the islands is by ferry or helicopter. Departure ports include Napoli, on the mainland, and Milazzo and Palermo from Sicily. There are also daily ferries between the islands during peak season.

I arrived from Pompeii, which required two trains to the port in Mergellina, Napoli. From there, I caught a ferry to the islands. The ferry ride to Lipari, where I had a room booked, was 6 hours, making it a very long day after visiting the ruins of Pompeii in the morning.

Port of Lipari on way to go hiking on Stromboli volcano
Lipari Port

Other Top Spots in Italy

Nearby Sicily, off the tip of Italy’s boot, is full of fascinating cities and sites. Beaches with stunning views, ancient temples, and amazing Sicilian food, theres a ton to explore here. And it’s only a short ferry ride away.

Pompeii And Herculaneum

There’s also amazing Pompeii and Herculaneum, some of the world’s top archeological sites. It’s fascinating to wander the streets and homes frozen in time almost 2,000 years ago.

Amalfi Coast

North of Pompeii is the idyllic beauty of the famed Amalfi coast, one of the most beautiful coastlines in Italy, with breathtaking views along its many curves. And, from there, the jaw-dropping beauty of Capri and its Blue Grotto, is just a ferry ride away.

Rome And Florence

Of course Rome is always a must-visit. The Colosseum and ancient archeological sites, rich history, impressive architecture, and food are top notch, making this one of the world’s top travel destinations. From there, Florence, with its iconic Duomo, and outstanding Renaissance Art, is less than a 3 hour drive from Rome, another must-visit in Italy.

Cinque Terre And Portovenere

Heading even farther north, you can visit, and hike, between the 5 charming towns of Cinque Terre. The vistas from each city are spectacular. If you find these 5 cities too crowded, try Portovenere, just a short drive south.

Genoa

Not far from Cinque Terre is the port town of Genoa. This melting pot city was the birthplace of both Christopher Columbus and Pesto Pasta, which I thought I didn’t like until I tried its authentic version.

Bologna

If you love Italian food, you must visit Bologna, one of the world’s top food cities. It’s located east of Genoa and southwest of Venice.

Venice

On Italy’s east coast, Venice is a top highlight. I loved wandering its lovely canals and side streets. And became fascinated watching the gondoliers gliding along the canals. And yet there’s so much more…

To see all the highlights of Italy, as well as understand how to get around, safety, scams, logistics, and more, to help you plan your trip, see my Italy Travel Guide.

Safe Travels!

Julie

Hello! I resigned from a corporate career in product development to explore the world. Although my goal was to travel for a year, 8 years later, I’ve been honored to have explored more than 60 gorgeous countries and met some unbelievably amazing people. Our world truly is a beautiful place! Follow me into the gorgeous unknown by subscribing below. You’ll receive details on fabulous destinations, comprehensive travel guides, travel tips and tidbits, and information on travel trends, like experiential, sustainable, and transformational travel. Where is your next gorgeous unknown? Julie

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