A Guide to Hiking Stromboli Volcano in Italy

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Stromboli island in Italy is the tip of a vast underwater volcano off the coast of Sicily.

Stromboli is Europe’s only permanently active volcano and one of the most active in the world. Watching it erupt at night is a spectacular sight.

You can view the eruption at a distance on a boat, but the best way to experience its power is to get up close on a Stromboli hike.

In this post we share our experience hiking Stromboli, practical tips, how to get there, and where to stay.

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Stromboli view from Salina
The view of Stromboli volcano from Salina

Video: Explore West Sicily

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Stromboli Update 2021

We climbed Stromboli before the major eruption in 2019. Since then hikes to the craters at the summit, which we did, have been suspended.

The trail network has been reorganised and you can now hike Stromboli again, but the trail goes to a different viewpoint overlooking the Sciara del Fuoco (a blackened lava scar).

The highest observation point is at 400 metres and can only be reached with a guide. It still involves a steep climb, but it’s not as long as the summit hike.

This Stromboli sunset hiking tour costs €25, departs two hours before sunset, and lasts about five hours.

Even without reaching the summit, the new hike is still very much worth doing to watch the explosive show.

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Our Experience Hiking to the Stromboli Summit

We began our ascent at 4pm when the hot September Sicilian sun was beginning to subside.

We left the white washed town (population 400) and the long black sandy beaches behind as we walked slowly up.

First it was a gentle incline through caper plants and lush vegetation, then the path became steeper and bleaker, rocks strewn amongst the grey volcanic sand.

We’d been worried about the Stromboli hike, but it was easier than we expected, taking two hours to get to the summit with frequent breaks.

The view on the way up Stromboli
The view on the way up Stromboli, Italy
Stromboli volcano, Sicily
Almost at the top…

We were the first group to arrive at the three Stromboli craters, well before sunset and had plenty of time to observe their changing forms.

Clouds of smoke constantly emerged from the craters, a mass of hazy gases, at first tinted green, then orange. They made strange gushing, gurgling sounds, an ominous warning.

Part of our brains knew that waiting for a volcano to erupt so close to us was foolish, but that’s what we all craved, the chance to see the volcano showing its full power.

It tempted us with glimpses of its fiery red belly or a particularly menacing rumble, and one of the small craters expelled a cloud of black gases.

All were false starts and we continued to wait.

The sun sunk lower and the sky lit up in oranges, pinks and blues, reflected in the mirror-like sea.

Across the water we could see Calabria on Italy’s mainland, and Salina island where we’d eaten breakfast that morning, gazing over at this very peak.

Stromboli's three craters
Stromboli crater
Erin and Simon at the top of Stromboli
Us at the top of the Stromboli volcano hike
Stomboli volcano at sunset, Sicily
Stomboli volcano at sunset, Sicily
Stomboli volcano at sunset, Sicily
Stromboli
Black smoke erupting from the small crater, Stromboli
Black smoke erupting from the small Stromboli volcano crater
Hikers from another group waiting for an eruption, Stromboli
Hikers from another group waiting for an eruption at Stromboli volcano

As darkness fell we finally got what we’d been waiting for.

The largest Stromboli crater erupted in a sudden burst of orange and red, sparks flying like fireworks, the red of the flames echoing the colour of the sinking sun.

It was a brief but dramatic display of nature’s might.

Stromboli eruption

We were hooked and wanted more. We watched in silence in the darkness, in awe of its power, on tenterhooks waiting for the next eruption.

Behind us the full moon glowed large and golden, creating a strong beam of light across the sea.

Just as we prepared to depart, we were rewarded with another mini eruption—a fiery red spray from the gurgling beast.

Stromboli eruption

We could have stayed all night but it was time for our group to leave.

We descended the steep slope in darkness, our headlamps illuminating the path in front but all around was blackness.

We half walked, half slid through the deep black sand, our shoes filling up with volcanic ash that would take weeks to remove all traces of.

We fell into a rhythm, taking long strides, heels first, zoning out in the silent night. It felt strange to walk on solid ground again, our legs wobbled, confused by the resistant earth.

Back in town we were too tired for a celebratory beer and pizza—a hot shower and comfortable bed beckoned.

Sunset on top of an island, a full moon hike, a volcanic eruption—any one of these would have been incredible, but all together they created a magical experience that was definitely worth the climb.

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Climbing Stromboli Volcano: The Details

The town and black sand beach on Stromboli
The town and black sand beach on Stromboli island
  • You have to climb Stromboli volcano with a guide and most people join a group trek. We went with Magmatrek who charge €28 per person including helmets and an English speaking guide. There were 20 people in our group, so it’s not an intimate experience but all the groups were large. We were happy with the service and would go with them again.
  • Booking in advance is essential. 
  • Stromboli tour departure times vary from 3 to 5.30pm depending on the season. In mid September we left at 4pm and were back at 9.20pm.
  • Tours run from mid March until the end of October. I would avoid trekking in July and August, if possible, because of the heat. 
  • Hiking shoes or boots and a torch (flashlight) are obligatory for hiking Stromboli. You can hire trekking gear from a few shops in town.
  • It’s also a good idea to take snacks, water (at least 1.5 litres per person), warm clothes (it gets cold at the top), and a change of tshirt (you’ll sweat on the hot climb up). 
  • It’s a steep climb so you need to be reasonably fit, but it wasn’t as difficult as we thought it would be. There are breaks every 30 minutes on the way up and at least 45 minutes rest at the crater.
  • The Stromboli trek is not suitable for people with asthma, a heart condition, or vertigo. 
  • Children must be aged over 10 years. 

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Where to Stay on Stromboli Island

We stayed in Residence Aquilone which has simple bungalow rooms set in gardens.

Our small double room had a comfortable bed, private bathroom, fridge, and terrace and was just what we needed for our one night stay.

It’s one of the most affordable options on this expensive island. 

Search for more places to stay on Stromboli here

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How to Get to Stromboli Island

You can get to Stromboli by ferry or hydrofoil with Liberty Lines or Siremar from Milazzo on Sicily or from the other Aeolian islands. There’s also a ferry from Naples.

We arrived from Salina island on the Liberty Lines hydrofoil which took an hour.

If you are staying on Lipari island and want to see the Stromboli eruption at night (without hiking), you could take this Vulcano, Panarea, and Stromboli boat tour.

From Milazzo, there’s also a Panarea and Stromboli boat tour where you can watch the eruption.

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Stromboli Hike Summary

Hiking Stromboli volcano at night was one of our favourite ever travel experiences.

Even if you aren’t a super experienced hiker, we highly recommend you add it to your Sicily itinerary. It’s a magical evening. 

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Sicily Tips

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21 Comments

  1. Today the islands are ruined by hordes of people. I was on Stromboli along with my Austrian friends in the 1960’s through to 1979. We and the others were in general all amateur volcanoligists. The usual few people came and went each year, all treasuring the primitive and undeveloped nature of the island.

    There was harbour, no electricity, rough roads and tracks, only one track to the summit, one post office with one phone plus a shop with limited items, two pensions and no hotels, skinny dipping was common, one policeman and no guides and no health and safety, ruins of buildings was common. No medical centre along with no doctor.

    I last visited the island in 2002, I arrived on the first ferry from Sicily, took one hour to look around, and decided to depart on the next ferry never to return. Paradise Lost!

    Like me most of us are now too old to return, also most are now dead having first visited the island in the 1950’s. The best day are long over, waite now for news of a cholera outbreak, as there is no sewerage system.

    Reply ↓

    • Please reconsider when writing comments such as this on the internet.

      It is apparent you have no ability to adapt or find value in things as they change, which all things do, and will end your life a sad and depressed man. Too often, senior citizens are finding that the internet is an excellent place to spew their negativity and display their often false sense that the world was “better” at some time in the past. All while making no effort to improve society. Just complaining.

      I would point to the many literary works that have made a troupe of your behavior, usually cautionary tales entreating the reader to not become a spiteful, pathetic old man. You, who writes things like “the islands are ruined” despite the fact that he last visited them nearly two decades ago. Its sad what you are, but I do not pity you or hate you. I dismiss you.

      Reply ↓

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