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5 Non-Touristy Things to Do in Elba Island

5 Non Touristy Things to do in Elba Island - The Adventure Found Me

The first time I went to Elba Island I experienced it as a tourist would, dividing myself between the beach and the main attractions, while the second time I got to enjoy a different side of the island, often put aside in favour of a seaside holiday. What I’ve noticed is how annoying it is, exploring when you are surrounded by people. We all wish some quiet, especially on holiday. So let me introduce you to 5 awesome non-touristy things to do in Elba Island! 

Before getting to the list, let me tell you something about the Island first. Elba is the largest island of the Tuscan archipelago, in the Mediterranean sea. After Sicily and Sardinia is the third largest island of Italy!

How can you get to the island?

There’s only one way to get there: by ferry. There’s a small airport on the island, but it’s only used for emergencies. If you are travelling with a car, you’ll need to book the ferry beforehand, so you’ll be sure to find room for the crossing. All the ferries to Elba leave from Piombino in Tuscany and a ton of companies offer this service. The cheapest ones are usually Toremar, Blu Navy and Moby Lines. The ports of the Island are: Portoferraio (which is about 1 hour crossing), Rio Marina (around 45 minutes) and Cavo (35 minutes).

If you don’t have a car and you just want to cross, there’s a quicker way: by hydrofoil and it takes only 20 minutes to get to the first stop, Cavo. In 35 minutes you’ll be in Portoferraio.

1. Mount Capanne

Monte Capanne Elba island

It’s the highest peak on the island (1018 m) and it’s also an important part of the landscape and the geography of the area. You can get up there either by an open cable car, by trekking (2/3 hours walk) or if climbing is your thing by the Via Ferrata, a very challenging route. From the top of the Mountain, on a clear day, you have a breathtaking view of the entire Tuscan Archipelago. 

In the 18th century, a legend arosed, according to which, the spring waters of this mountain came from natural underwater conducts from Corsica.

On the southern slope of this mountain, three plane crushes occurred. One on the 4th of April 1944 when two recognition planes of the United States crushed. Another on the 14th of October 1960 another planed crushed, killing all the 11 passengers.

On the 14th of August, french secret services detonated 4 charges of explosive, destroying the repeaters of Radio Corsica Libera because it was a symbol of the independence of Corsica.

2. Calamita Mines

miniere calamita mines

Located near Capoliveri, this mine offers an exciting descent into the tunnels of the Ginevro mine, where magnetite was extracted between deep wells and chasms. 

You can get here by following a dirt road from Capoliveri for 6 km. From the base point, where you can find the Museum of the mine, you’ll be conducted with a shuttle to the entrance of the mine. A very prepared guide will lead you inside, while explaining how iron is extracted, the working conditions of the miners and the “fights” between men and nature, considering the cavities created. A very impactful experience that will teach you a lot on history, science, geology, chemistry and economy.

On the surface you can pick up a piece of “magnesite” lodestone as a souvenir of the excursion.

3. Explore the beaches

beach elba

If you can’t resist going to the beach, explore the island to find desert ones, believe me, they exist (Le Tombe, Remaiolo etc.). You just need patience and to walk a lot, as a reward you’ll be able to relax alone.

Some very cool beaches unfortunately are only accessible by water, but fear not… you can rent a boat and look for them. On the main villages you’ll find plenty of companies that rent boats for a similar price. One of those awesome deserted beaches is Maciarello, also called La Fontina because it’s near a spring. Punta Nera and Zuppignano are other awesome beaches where you can go.

4. Grotta Azzurra

Elba isola d'elba grotta azzurra

A cave, located near Cavoli only reachable by the sea entrance. It’s famous for the colour of its water, a very intense blue. Not only the surface needs to be discovered but also the sea bottom, so you can equip yourself with a mask and a snorkel and dive! The entrance is very small so it’s only accessible by small boats. You can either rent one or book an excursion.

5. Trek or climb

Monte Capanne Elba island

The trekking itineraries are walkable by everyone, even novice hikers. The best season to do the hikes suggested below is either spring or summer.

So if you feel like trekking, some of the best hikes are:

From north to south Elba

Time it takes to hike: 6 hours
Difficulty: medium

It starts in Marciana, a small village located on a hill. To begin this trek, follow the directions for Santuario della Madonna del Monte, along the way you’ll find the aedicules of the Via Crucis. Keep going down this road then taking path n.3 to Chiessi. Now the path is large ans well-signaled until “Troppolo“. From Troppolo stay on path n. 3 until you cross n. 4 to Pomonte. Now begins the descent towards Chiessi. Once you reach your destination, in less than an hour you’ll be on sea leven, and probably just in time to enjoy the sunset.

San Piero

Time it takes to hike: 5 hours
Difficulty: medium

From the small village on San Piero (which deserves a visit) head to the path that leads from Torre di San Giovanni to Piane del Canale. Reach path n. 35 which leads to the granite quarries of San Piero.

Monte Capanne

Time it takes to hike: 2/3 hours
Difficulty: medium

As mentioned before, Monte Capanne is the highest mountain of the island. On clear days, there’s a breathtaking view of Elba, the Islands of the Tuscan archipelago, Corsica and a good part of Tuscany.

Free climbing is also an option if you are interested! One of the best cliffs is in Baia dei Pirati, in Capoliveri.

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17 Comments on "5 Non-Touristy Things to Do in Elba Island"

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Love you blog! Keep up the good work 🙂


Grotta Azzura looks amazing!! Have you been there? Thankssss!

sandy n vyjay

Calamita mines look fascinating. The curiosity is burning bright in me and the mines have tempted me to make my way to Elba. Moreover the cave and the colour of the water is spectacular. The island is a wonder


I’ve never been in ELba, but these pics make me want to travel there. It seems also perfect for hiking isn’t it? Did you try the food?


Ahhhh thank you for taking me to Elba Island! This is paradise! Definitely adding this to our travel bucket list – and not doing the touristy stuff, thanks for the tip!!!!

Danijela WorldGlimpses
Danijela WorldGlimpses

I can just imagine myself trekking to the top, and than snapping numerous photos from up there! The view looks great. 🙂 And love the beach, totally unspoiled. Thanks for sharing, didn’t think about visiting before I read your post! 🙂


I’ve never been to Elba so it was really interesting to read. One day I plan to explore it all and love the idea about renting a boat, nothing like avoiding tourists by taking to the water! Happy travels

Only By Land

The Grotta looks like the most interesting for me from this list. I love how you have to enter it from the ocean. It must photograph so beautifully from the inside!

Stella the Travelerette
Stella the Travelerette

These all sound like interesting things to do. I had only heard of Elba because of Napoleon but I didn’t realize that there was hiking there. And the beaches are very beautiful!


I’ve never heard of Elba Island and I feel I’ve missed out because of that. It looks positively gorgeous and I hope to go there someday.

xo, Helene

Hello Backpack

Great tips and very nice pictures. Thanks for sharing 😊


Love how you went off just exploring! What are ‘recognition planes’?

Gemma Goes Global

Wow, I didn’t even know Elba island was this beautiful. Your photography is great, look how clear the water is!


This is a wonderful list for exploring the non touristy part of Elba island. I would love to spend some time on those intriguing beaches as well as around Grotta Azzurra. And if time permits than will go hiking too.


How cool! I always stumble over this island when Im googleing but never checked it out. Now youve awakened my interest… It looks really pretty!