How to spend a weekend in Ponza in 2024

Let me take you on a quick escape to Ponza Island, a stunning gem just three hours from Rome. This little slice of paradise, the crown jewel of the captivating Pontine Islands, is every Roman’s obsession. It’s got everything — from colorful houses clinging to dramatic cliffs to crystal-clear waters perfect for a dip. From the moment your ferry glides into Ponza’s charming port, the adventure begins. Whether you’re here for a weekend getaway or a longer retreat, get ready to fall head over heels for this island’s rustic charm and vibrant atmosphere. In this guide, I’ll walk you through the must-visit beaches, top spots to eat, and the best places to stay, ensuring your Ponza trip is as incredible as mine. Let’s dive into the ultimate guide to Ponza – your next favorite island destination.

Where is Ponza Island?

Ponza, an island located in the heart of the Tyrrhenian Sea, is part of the enchanting Pontine Islands archipelago. Located conveniently off the coast of the Lazio region, Ponza is a stunning retreat that remains relatively undiscovered by many international tourists, especially when compared to its more famous neighbors like Capri and Ischia.  For travelers exploring Rome and looking for a nearby island escape, Ponza’s proximity to Rome makes it an excellent choice for a day trip or a weekend getaway from the city.


How to Get to Ponza, Italy?

Reaching Ponza is straightforward. From Rome, take a train to Anzio, then catch a ferry to the island. The ferry ride is about 1 hour and 10 to 40 minutes. This route is popular for its convenience and scenic views. If you’re coming from Naples, a high-speed hydrofoil gets you to Ponza in under 3 hours. These travel options make Ponza a great addition to any Italian coastal trip, combining ease of access with the allure of island discovery. For more detailed information, check out my guide on how to plan your trip to Ponza.

Guide to Ponza: The Magical Island Near Rome


Where to Stay in Ponza?

Ponza, attracting a diverse range of visitors, offers various accommodation options to match your vacation style. If you’re keen on being at the heart of the island’s vibrant nightlife and dining scene, the port of Ponza is your go-to spot. Here, you’ll find the island’s most charming hotels, restaurants, and bars, though it’s a pricier area. For a more tranquil experience, consider staying in Santa Maria, a quieter part of the island just a short walk from the port, offering more budget-friendly Airbnb accommodations. Nature enthusiasts might prefer the serene Le Forna and Cala Fonte areas, known for their beautiful beach coves and local atmosphere, though these areas are better explored by boat.

Some recommended accommodations include:


The Best Beach Coves in Ponza Island

Ponza Island is a paradise for boat lovers, boasting a diverse array of stunning beach coves. Each cove offers unique experiences, from crystal-clear waters to fascinating rock formations. Just FYI, Ponza is an island that should be discovered by boat. The following are some of my personal favorite beach coves and they can only be reached by boat:

  • Cala Lucia Rosa Located on Ponza’s western side, Cala Lucia Rosa is a favorite for its clear waters and stunning panoramas. It’s perfect for boating and offers a breathtaking view of the Faraglioni di Lucia Rosa.
  • Cala dell’Acqua Known for its transparent water and colorful seabed, Cala dell’Acqua is a must-visit on the western side. It’s close to Cala Feola and offers boat rentals for an unforgettable experience.
  • Le Formiche Just off Ponza’s southeast coast, Le Formiche features remarkable underwater rocks, making it ideal for diving and snorkeling enthusiasts. The surrounding waters are teeming with fish, offering a vibrant marine life display.
  • Cala Felce On the northern part of the island, Cala Felce is famed for its golden rocks and sulfur-rich yellow sand and seabed. A hotspot for snorkeling, it’s a picturesque mix of sandy and rocky shores.
  • Cala del Core Renowned for its heart-shaped rock incision, Cala del Core offers clear waters with a sandy seabed. Located on the eastern side, this cove is a unique spot for swimming and relaxation.
  • Cala Parata Adjacent to Bagno Vecchio on the eastern side, Cala Parata offers stunning beauty and a serene atmosphere, ideal for a peaceful beach day.
  • Bagno Vecchio Close to Ponza’s port, Bagno Vecchio is known for its clear waters, fascinating rock formations, and an intriguing cave. It’s a fantastic spot for snorkeling enthusiasts.
  • The Island of Palmarola A short boat ride from Ponza (8.8km away), Palmarola Island is a must-visit with its incredible beaches like Vricci and Faraglioni di San Silverio. The island’s caves add to its allure.

Each of these beach coves in Ponza offers a unique slice of paradise. Remember, the best way to explore these beaches is by boat, so consider renting one for your stay or booking a private boat tour or a group boat tour. And if you prefer less crowded spots, avoid areas like Cala Inferno, Arco Naturale, Chiaia di Luna and Frontone, where yachts tend to gather.

Guide to Ponza: The Magical Island Near Rome

Guide to Ponza: The Magical Island Near Rome

Guide to Ponza: The Magical Island Near Rome


Renting a boat in Ponza Island

To truly experience Ponza’s beauty, renting a boat is a must. While the island has some beaches, many require navigating steep stairs under the sun. But with a boat, you get the freedom to explore Ponza’s breathtaking coves at your own pace, each offering its own unique charm.

In Ponza, you’ll find numerous boat rentals. Prices vary, with the main port generally being the most expensive, ranging from €90 to €150 for a gozzo for the day (excluding consumptions costs). For a more budget-friendly choice, I recommend the Santa Maria port, a convenient 10-minute walk from the main port. Here, the prices are more reasonable.

Most of the available wooden boats accommodate up to 4 or 5 people. If you’re planning an extended stay, it’s wise to book your boat in advance, especially over weekends when demand is high. Once you rent a boat, you’ll receive a brief tutorial on its operation – no boating license required.

how to get to ponza island and where to stay


Beaches in Ponza

Let me point this out: no Italian comes to Ponza Island with the idea they will be staying on a beach. Especially in July and August when all of Rome is in Ponza. However, if you do wish to combine boat exploration with some beach time, here are a few options:

Cala Feola: a sandy beach nestled in the western side of the island known for its charming little restaurant, La Marina. While the beach is accessible by foot, be prepared for 265-step hike under the sun. For ease, many opt for a taxi, costing around €20 each way. Here, you can rent loungers (€30 for two sun beds in high season).

Spiaggia del Frontone: Ponza’s largest beach, known for its youthful vibe. Easily reachable via a €5 return ferry from the port, this beach offers lounger rentals and has a more dynamic atmosphere. There’s also one of the island’s best restaurants, Da Enzo Al Frontone, a popular dining spot offering a unique beachside culinary experience.

Piscine Naturali: a rocky cove located on the western part of the island next to Cala Feola. You can rent sun loungers and have lunch at the quaint restaurant. Two sun loungers plus an ombrellone will set you back around €40-50.


Sunset Drinks in Ponza

As the day winds down on Ponza Island, one experience you shouldn’t miss is enjoying the breathtaking sunset. The island’s picturesque sunsets are a daily spectacle, painting the sky in hues of orange and pink. For the most spectacular view, make your way up Via Panoramica Tre Venti, just a 5 to 10-minute uphill walk from the port, until you reach a curve with a scenic terrace overlooking Chiaia di Luna.

This panoramic street terrace is where you can witness the sunset in its full glory. But, if you’re looking to elevate your sunset experience, visit Le Terrazze at the Grand Hotel Chiaia di Luna. This trendy bar is the island’s go-to spot for sunset aperitivo. Here, you can unwind to the sound of great music, savor  cocktails, and indulge in a selection of dishes. The bar’s inviting atmosphere, combined with the stunning backdrop of Ponza’s sunset, makes for an evening you’ll remember long after your holiday ends.

Guide to Ponza: The Magical Island Near Rome


Where to eat in Ponza

Ponza’s culinary scene is as vibrant and diverse as the island itself. From gourmet dining to quaint trattorias, there’s a flavor for every palate. Always remember to call in advance for reservations, whether it’s for a leisurely lunch or a sumptuous dinner.

  • Il Tramonto: For a dining experience with a breathtaking view, Il Tramonto is unmatched. Reachable by taxi or bus, ensure you reserve a table on the terrace, preferably in the front row, for the best view. Arrive about 30 minutes before sunset to capture stunning photographs from the upper terrace, and then dine as the sun sets behind Palmarola Island. The cuisine is exquisite, making it one of the island’s pricier options, but well worth it for the ambiance and taste.
  • Oresteria: This charming little restaurant along the port is a personal favorite. Oresteria offers simplicity at its finest with stools for seating and a small, yet delicious menu. Enjoy a glass of wine outside while you wait for your table – it’s the perfect way to immerse yourself in Ponza’s laid-back vibe.
  • EEA: For those seeking a chic atmosphere combined with gourmet cuisine, EEA is the place to be. Its beautiful terrace overlooks the port, offering an elegant setting with an outstanding menu and wine selection.
  • Il Pizzicotto: For a more casual dining experience, Il Pizzicotto along the port is a great choice. They serve delectable shrimp pasta among other dishes, all at more affordable prices compared to other establishments.
  • La Marina Nestled in Cala Feola, La Marina is ideal for a lunch stop during your boating adventures. This family-run restaurant serves a diverse menu, with their parmigiana di pale di fichi d’india being a must-try dish.
  • Acqua Pazza Ponza As the island’s only Michelin-starred restaurant, Acqua Pazza Ponza offers a chic setting with breathtaking terrace views at various levels, an aperitif area, and a romantic ambiance enhanced by candlelight and sea breezes. Chef Patrizia Ronca’s cuisine celebrates Ponza’s local produce and seafood with creativity and flavor.
  • Da Enzo al Frontone Located on Frontone beach, Da Enzo al Frontone provides a unique dining experience. A dinghy from the restaurant will pick you up from the port, bringing you to their atmospheric beachside location. They offer a fixed menu at €45 per person (beverages not included), served amid beautiful lanterns on the sand.

For more on Ponza’s culinary scene, check out my guide on the best in Ponza restaurants.

Guide to Ponza: The Magical Island Near Rome


Best Bars in Ponza Island

Ponza Island doesn’t have a crazy nightlife — it’s fairly simple and these are the best places to grab drinks or show your moves on the dance floor:

Le Terrazze: Famous for its breathtaking sunsets with views of Palmarola Island, Le Terrazze offers a sunset happy hour experience that transforms into live piano bar melodies and a DJ till around 1am – 2am on weekends.

Winspeare: Located right at the heart of the port, Winspeare is a simple bar that transitions smoothly from a relaxed vibe to a lively dance floor with Italian oldies and contemporary hits. It’s tiny.

Bar Tripoli: A true institution in Ponza, Bar Tripoli buzzes with energy, making it a top choice for both pre and post-dinner drinks. Its prime location in the port area adds to its charm.

Mamafè: Nestled in Campo Inglese, Mamafè is a tropical oasis offering a serene setting for a relaxing happy hour or a laid-back after-dinner drink.

For a more info, check out my comprehensive guide to Ponza’s nightlife.

Author

I'm the daughter of an Italian family of diplomats, the second of three children, and a global citizen. I've lived in 7 cities around the world, I have a gigantic crush on Italy and my name has been mispronounced more times than I can remember.

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