How to get to Ponza Island and where to stay

Discover the allure of Ponza Island, a hidden gem nestled in Italy’s Tyrrhenian Sea. This comprehensive guide will take you through everything you need to know to plan your trip to Ponza: from arriving to Ponza Island, to where you should stay, where to rent boats, to when to go and much more. Let’s uncover all the tips for visiting Ponza.

ESSENTIALS

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. 

By hydrofoil:

While the ports of Formia, Terracina and Naples Mergellina operate year-round, 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). 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 others do not. I suggest you don’t take your car as it’s going to be completely useless. To checkout the dates and prices of tickets click here.

By helicopter:

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:

By train:

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 are direct trains that only take 1.20hr and 1.05hr, to reach Formia or Anzio, respectively. But if you’re not departing from Rome, Naples is also a good choice, especially if you’re departing from Formia since there’s a direct train. Click here to find train tickets o Formia or Anzio. 

By car:

When planning your trip to Ponza, deciding how to reach the ports is an important consideration. You have the option to travel by train, but if you prefer to drive or seek an alternative to the train, here are your choices:

Driving to the Ports:

  • If you have a car, you can drive directly to one of the ports serving Ponza, such as San Felice Circeo, Anzio, Terracina, or Formia.
  • Keep in mind that if you choose to drive, you’ll need to organize parking in advance. There are several parking services near the ports where you can securely leave your car.
  • Parking Service Option – CirceMed: For those driving from areas like Rome, consider using a parking service like CirceMed in Molella. They offer a convenient way to manage your car during your Ponza trip. You can park at their facility and use their private bus transfer to get to the port of San Felice Circeo. Alternatively, opt for their valet service, where they pick up your car at the port and return it to you upon your arrival back from Ponza.

Opting for a Private Transfer:

  • If you don’t have a car or prefer to avoid driving, a private transfer is an excellent alternative.
  • You can book a private transfer from your accommodation directly to the nearest port. This service provides a stress-free way to start your journey to Ponza, especially if you’re not keen on navigating public transport or driving.

Each of these options offers its own conveniences and is worth considering based on your travel preferences and itinerary. By planning ahead, whether it’s securing a parking spot or arranging a private transfer, you can ensure a smooth and enjoyable start to your adventure in Ponza.

By airplane:

The ports cannot be reached directly by plane. You’d have to land in either Rome or Naples and then do one of the above options to reach the ports.


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

how to get to ponza island and where to stay

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 nicest hotels, most of the island’s restaurants, bars, boutiques and pretty much everything you need. The downside is that it costs more than the other parts of the island, from renting a boat, to sleeping arrangements and dining. Just a head’s up: book accommodations in advance, especially for July and August as they get sold-out fast. The best accommodations in Ponza’s port area are the following:

Hotel Chiaia di Luna: this is my favorite hotel in Ponza as it offers the most stunning sunset. They also host the island’s most vibrant aperitivo and dancing so it’s great if you’re looking for some fun too!

Hotel Torre di Borboni: another great option next to the port of Ponza, cute rooms, lovely pool overlooking the sea and great location.

Villa La Quagliara Sea View: if you’re coming with family or a group of friends, this villa is a fabulous option. Beautiful, great views and can host up to 10 guests.

Relax but close to the port

how to get to ponza island and where to stay

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! Also, no hotels here so you’re going to have to find airbnbs (and have lower expectations on the amenities).

Relax and enjoy nature

how to get to ponza island and where to stay

If you’re coming to Ponza to relax and enjoy nature, the best part of the islands are the Le Forna and Cala Fonte areas. They’re a 20-minute drive away from the bustling port of Ponza. Le Forna and Cala Fonte are the more local parts of the island and you’re surrounded by some of the island’s most beautiful beach coves (but careful, while there are a few areas where you can rent beach loungers, Ponza is much better by boat. I would not recommend this island if you do not intend to visit it by boat). They’re also more convenient in terms of boat rentals, as they are a bit less expensive than the port. Here are a few accommodations I recommend in these areas:

Casavictoria: in Le Forna, less than 2km from Cala Feola, these apartments can host 2 to 5 people.

La Casa Rosa: this is a house that can host up to 6 people, closer to Cala Fonte.


Boat Rentals

Unfortunately, Ponza Island used to be much more accessible in terms of prices. After Covid, prices sky-rocketed and if you want to find a boat on the island you need to reserve way in advance for July/August. Here are a few people you can contact via whatsapp, if you speak Italian, it’s better:

GMM (Gianmaria Maltese):

planning a trip to ponza getting around in ponzaPhone: +39 345 841 1359

This boat rental is situated in Santa Maria, just a 10 to 15 minutes walking distance from the port. The wooden boats cost around €90/150 per boat, depending on how big they are and on the motor. If you want a skipper to take you around (recommended if you don’t know how to drive a boat), it’s an additional €50. The price of a dinghy is from €130/150 for the day depending on how big it is.

Albatros:

planning a trip to ponza getting around in ponzaPhone: +39 360 475 330

This boat rental is also situated in Santa Maria, just a 10 to 15 minutes walking distance form the port. It’s right next to GMM Santa Maria and has the same prices.

Achille e Lucia:

planning a trip to ponza getting around in ponzaPhone: +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 around 70€ for the small boat and 90€ 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 faster. But getting here requires you to take the bus or a taxi.

Private Boat Tour:

how to get to ponza island and where to stay

If you want to avoid the hassle of finding the right boat, heading to the right port etc, you can reserve your private boat tour with Claudio on top of this luxurious boat and have the dream experience. Yes, it’s pricier, but it’s also another experience. The boat can fill up to 12 people so if you’re a family or a group of friends, this is a great experience.

Group Boat Tour:

how to get to ponza island and where to stay

If you don’t feel like splurging too much and you don’t mind going with a numerous group of people you don’t know, then this boat excursion of Ponza is a good choice. Personally, I’m for the upscale experience but if you don’t care about the upscale part but only about swimming in nice spots in Ponza, this is a great alternative.


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 (except for the weekend of the 29th of June since it’s a holiday in Rome and everyone goes to Ponza), July and September is when you will find less people.

Itinerary Tip

If you’re planning a summer getaway to Italy, spanning ten days or more, adding Ponza to your itinerary is a must-do. This picturesque island offers a refreshing contrast to Italy’s bustling cities and is an ideal destination to unwind and soak in the Mediterranean charm. For a well-rounded experience, consider starting your journey in the north. Explore the historic and romantic cities of Venice, Florence, and Siena, then make your way down to Rome, immersing yourself in Italy’s rich culture and history. As a grand finale to your Italian escapade, dedicate at least three days to bask in the tranquil beauty of Ponza.

Day trip to Ponza from Rome

If you don’t have enough time to spend a few days in Ponza you could always go on a day trip from Rome. Even though the wake up call is pretty early, it’ll totally be worth it once you see the crystalline waters of the Island of Ponza.

➜BOOK YOUR DAY TIRP TO PONZA ISLAND


GETTING AROUND

Walking

Ponza’s captivating beauty is best experienced on foot, especially if you’re staying in the port area or the tranquil Santa Maria. These locations are ideal for leisurely strolls, allowing you to soak in the island’s vibrant atmosphere and scenic views without the need for taxis or car rentals

Taxis

For longer distances, such as traveling from the port or Santa Maria to Le Forna or other remote parts of the island, small taxis are available. You can find taxi stands near the port of Ponza, or book one by phone for added convenience. Keep in mind that taxi fares on the island can be steep, starting from €20, varying by destination.

Buses

While buses in Ponza provide a real local experience, it’s important to set the right expectations. These charming, yet old buses are not known for their punctuality and can often run behind schedule. During peak season, especially in August, expect them to be crowded and without the luxury of air conditioning. Communication is key when using the bus service; make sure to inform the driver of your stop in advance, as they are very helpful and will ensure you disembark at the right location. Buses operate from early morning till late at night, departing from the port of Ponza and Le Forna every 15 to 30 minutes, but remember – island time might mean a little longer wait. A bus ticket costs €1.50.

By boat

how to get to ponza island and where to stay

To truly experience the essence of Ponza, consider renting a boat. The island is dotted with numerous rental options, offering a range of boats from traditional wooden ‘gozzo’ to modern dinghies. Prices vary, with the port being the most expensive location for rentals, ranging from €90-€120 per day for a gozzo, and up to €300 for larger dinghies. Areas like Santa Maria and Le Forna offer slightly lower rates. Remember, booking in advance is crucial, especially during weekends and in August. For these types of boats, you don’t need a boat license and before they hand you your boat, they’ll give you a tutorial on how to use it and a map of the island. For those not confident in navigating the waters, hiring a skipper is a great option, costing about €50-70 per day. This way, you won’t miss out on Ponza’s stunning beach coves and pristine waters – the highlights of any trip to the island.


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.

I was very surprised by its functionalities! You can download it for free on your iPhone or Android

 

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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