How to get to Ponza Island and where to stay
Everything you need to know from arriving to Ponza Island, to where you should stay, where to rent boats, to when to go and much more!
Arriving to Ponza
Ponza is the largest of the three Pontine islands, just off the coast of the Lazio region. To reach the island of Ponza, you have to take the train to either Anzio or Formia and then a hydrofoil/ferry to Ponza.
During the summer season, hydrofoils also depart from the ports of Anzio and San Felice Circeo (just a 1 hour and 1 hour and 30-minute drive from Rome respectively).
While the ports of Formia and Terracina and Naples Mergellina operate year-round.
The hydrofoils companies that reach Ponza are:
- Pontina Navigazione – from the port of San Felice Circeo (1 hr)
- SNAV – from Naples (2.50hr)
- Lazio Mar – from Formia (1.20hr), Terracina (2.40hr) and Anzio (2 hr)
- Libera Navigazione del Golfo – from Terracina (50 minutes)
Some companies allow you to embark your car, while other do not.
To checkout the dates and prices of tickets click here.
For those of you who want to treat yourselves and save time, you may arrive to the island of Ponza with a helicopter. The helicopter departs from Rome and arrives in Ponza in only 40 minutes. It’s very convenient!
For more information on prices and reservations, click here.
Reaching the ports:
If you want to arrive to the ports by train, you need to get a train that will go to either Formia or Anzio. The best place to depart is Rome, as there is a direct train that only takes 1.20hr or 1.05hr, to reach Formia or Anzio, respectively.
But if you’re not departing from Rome, no worries, it will take longer but you will get there in no time. Consult the website of ItaliaRail to find tickets.
Unless you are in Naples, reaching the ports will require you to drive there. You have two options:
- Drive to the ports of San Felice Circeo/Anzio/Terracina/Formia and leave your car at a parking lot.
- Organize a private transfer from your hotel or accommodation to the port.
If you are driving from Rome with your car (or with a rented car), know that there is no need for you to take your car to Ponza. Instead of leaving the car in the parking area in the port, you can organise to have your car parked at CirceMed – a private parking area in Molella.
With CirceMed, you can either drive to their parking lot and have them take you to the port of San Felice Circeo with their private bus transfer. Or if you prefer, you may pay an extra fee for a car valet. If you choose the car valet option, once you have arrived to the port of San Felice , and call CirceMed to pick it up for you and return it to you when you return. It’s very convenient, especially if after Ponza you intend on visiting other parts of Italy with your car.
If you want to reach the ports by plane, the closest airports to Ponza are in Rome or Naples.
Where to stay in Ponza
Ponza is an island that attracts a wide range of people, from families and couples, to young groups of people. Where you should stay depends on the type of vacation you want to have.
Nightlife and restaurants
If you’re visiting Ponza because you want to be where the nightlife and most of the restaurants are, then the best place for you is in the port of Ponza. This is also where the hydrofoils dock, and it’s where you will find the biggest hotels, most of the island’s restaurants, bars, boutiques and pretty much everything you need. The downside is that it costs much more than the other parts of the island, from renting a boat, to sleeping arrangements and dining.
Relax but close to the port
For those that prefer to be in a quieter area yet just a 10 to 15-minute walking distance from the port of Ponza, Santa Maria is the perfect place for you. Santa Maria is not very touristic, it’s much quieter and has much more reasonable accommodation and boat rental prices. To reach the port it’s just a pleasant 10 to 15 minutes walk away. The downside is that there are no ATM machines here!
Relax and enjoy nature
If you’re coming to Ponza to relax and enjoy nature, the best part of the island is Le Forna. It’s just a 20-minute drive away from the bustling port of Ponza, and it’s also full of restaurants. Le Forna is the more local part of the island and you’re surrounded by some of the island’s most beautiful beach coves. It’s also very convenient in terms of boat rentals, as they are less expensive than the port.
When to go?
Of course, Ponza being an island, the best time to come here is in the summer! From June to mid September, Ponza is ideal. The temperatures range from 20°C – 30°C, the water is just perfect and during the evening there is a refreshing breeze.
During August the island attracts a lot of people, especially during Ferragosto (national holiday, August 15th), this is also when the island is the most expensive. June, July and September is when you will find less people.
For those that are coming to Italy during the summer for ten days, two weeks or more, I definitely recommend you visit Ponza. If you’re interested in visiting cities such as Venice, Florence and Rome, I suggest you start your trip in the north. Go to Venice, Florence, Siena, Rome (or any other itinerary you have planned), and save at least three days for the island of Ponza.
From Rome, reaching Ponza is quite easy. You can either get your rented car and head to the port of San Felice Circeo (1.30hr), leave your car at CirceMed for the amount of days you will be in Ponza, and take the hydrofoil to the island (1hr). Or you may organise a private transfer to take you to the port of San Felice Circeo.
You could also reach Ponza by train. From Rome you take the train to either Anzio or Formia, and then from their ports you take the hydrofoil to the island.
Good old-fashioned walking!
If you are in the port area or Santa Maria, walking is a great way of getting around. There is no need for taxis or car rental if you are in these two areas and want to move between them.
you need to move from the port or Santa Maria to Le Forna and other areas of the island, you will have to take a taxi or another form of transportation. There are taxi stands near the port of Ponza, but there is also a number you can call to reserve your taxi. Keep in mind that taxis are expensive, you will pay a minimum of 15 – 20 Euros, depending on where you need to go.
Ponza has a pretty good bus service, although the buses are old. The buses make a lot of stops, and if you’re unsure of where you need to get off, ask the bus driver, he will know exactly where you need to get off, and he will also tell you when you’ve reached your stop.
Just keep in mind that in August the buses are very crowded.
Buses leave every 15 – 30 minutes. They depart from the port of Ponza and Le Forna. The buses also work during night time. A bus ticket costs 1.50€.
If you want to enjoy Ponza to the fullest, the best way to do so is by hiring a boat. Ponza does have a few beaches, but to reach them you have to walk lots of stairs. Keep in mind that apart from the beach in Cala Feola, other beaches do not have many services.
Also, if you don’t rent a boat, you’ll miss out on amazing beach coves.
The island is full of boat rentals, from the port all the way to Le Forna, the only thing that changes is the price.
The most expensive place to rent a boat is in the port, they will cost you around 80€ per day without consumption costs. In Santa Maria, boats will cost you 50€ per day without consumption costs, while in Le Forna they will cost you from 45 – 60 € per day, without consumption costs.
These costs are meant for the traditional wooden boats – gozzo – which can hold a maximum of 4 or 5 people. For dinghies you will pay from 120 – 150€ per day, and for larger dinghies you will pay up to 200 – 300 € per day.
Just keep in mind that if you’re hiring a boat during the weekend, it will be hard to find one if you haven’t reserved your boat in advance (during August). My advise is that once you rent a boat, you reserve it for the duration of your trip.
To rent a boat in Ponza, you don’t need a boat license. Before they hand you the boat, they will give you a tutorial on how to use it. While if you don’t feel comfortable driving the boat, you can hire a skipper to take you around the island, the cost is about 50 – 70 € per day.
GMM (Gianmaria Maltese):
Phone: +39 349 864 3727
This boat rental is situated in Santa Maria, just a 10 to 15 minutes walking distance from the port. The wooden boats cost 50€ for the small boat and 60€ for the bigger boat. If you want a skipper, it’s an additional 50€. The price of a dinghy is 120€ for the day.
Phone: +39 360 475 330
This boat rental is also situated in Santa Maria, just a 10 to 15 minutes walking distance form the port. The wooden boats cost 50€ for the small boat and 60€ for the bigger boat.
Achille e Lucia:
Phone: +39 0771 809 025 / +39 368 362 1195
This boat rental is located in Cala dell’Acqua, on the side of the island facing Palmarola. The wooden boats cost 60€ for the small boat and 70€ for the bigger boat. The price of a motor dinghy is 150€ per day. The good thing about hiring the boat in this part of the island (apart from them being very kind), is that if you want to head to Palmarola, it will be much faster.
Overcoming the language barrier in Ponza Island
Sometimes, speaking English isn’t enough to get yourself understood. And this is something that may happen to you during your trip to Ponza Island. The last thing you want is to miss out on some amazing experiences because you’re not able to make yourself understood. You may think that getting yourself accustomed to Italian language basics will make your holiday perfect. But it’s best you get prepared, because that may not be the case! Don’t panic, there’s no need for you to enrol in an intensive Italian language course, instead, just download this easy to use Italian Translator & Dictionary + app by Vidalingua to never miss out on a great experience. It has some great features including:
- Pronunciation: text-to-speech pronunciation of all dictionary entries
- Phrasebook: 20 categories such as Conversation, Asking Directions, Eating Out, Flirting and Making Friends. Search on key word.
- Learning companion: only VidaLingua allows you to add notes, images, phrases and audio to your entries.