Lampedusa is in the Mediterranean, lying between Malta and Tunisia. This Pelagian isle lures travellers with its glassy bays and kaleidoscopic marine life. Reachable by flight or ferry from Sicily, it has Africa-like wildernesses and mini islets where loggerhead turtles nest. After exploring, visit one of these charming drinking establishments – including beachside hangouts and sunset spots serving Aperol spritzes – for a truly local experience.
With a gorgeous view over the impossibly luminous shallows of Cala Guitgia, just west of the main port, this chic bar with a ’60s vibe has tables and bean bags right on the sand. Some come for pasta or grilled fish, but there are better restaurants elsewhere. Instead, a creamy piña colada or zingy mojito will do the trick, perhaps with some moreish croquettes. It’s as much a beach kiosk as a stylish cocktail bar, with locals strolling up in trunks and bikinis for iced coffee or bottled water.
Local entrepreneur Calogero di Pietro opened his simple whitewashed bar above Cala Pisana more than 15 years ago. This deep shard of sparkling sea cut into the east coast has some of the most beautiful, crystalline waters on the island; dive in for a swim, then towel off for an aperitivo at Kalo’s. Metal steps right out of the water lead to its sun-baked terrace and bamboo-thatched pavilion. Try sea-salty Messina beers and punchy negronis served with crisps and nibbles.
Painted sunshine yellow, with potted cacti and succulents for an exotic feel, Lounge Bar Sbarcatoio is worth a stop for the design alone. Hand-painted wooden signs to the beach dangle above yellow-striped cushions arranged on wooden benches and vintage tiles set into its tables. Inside, a white-and-teal interior is jazzed up with coral lampshades and trailing vines from hanging baskets. Stop in for beers or chilli-laced margaritas, perfect with sharing boards of bruschetta.
A chiosco is a simple beach kiosk serving drinks, and Cala Madonna’s is a ramshackle white-painted shack surrounded by elegant navy parasols on the rocks above a deep scoop of the wilderness-wrapped bay. Enough of a destination to have a decent Instagram following, it’s run by Carmela, who rents out sunbeds and parasols and serves granitas, coffee and aperitivi. Salsa and bachata nights add Latin rhythms to the island’s balmy evenings.
On a view-blessed plateau above the rugged southern sunset spot known as Cala Greca, this thatched kiosk with a vast terrace is surrounded by rocky, forested slopes. It’s such a popular aperitivo spot that there are three levels of snack trays on offer, with drinks included. Nibbles here are upmarket, with Lampedusa mackerels, dressed shrimp and anchovy bruschetta served alongside crisps and olives. Get here at least an hour before sunset to bag one of the small metallic tables by the terrace edge; linger late for DJ sets in a gorgeous natural setting.
A cocktail on the rocky scrub at Albero Sole in the northwest is unforgettable, as an electric sunset sends rays up into the inky dusk. This bar has a stash of great Italian liqueurs, soda and piles of fresh fruit to work with, bringing out trays of Aperols, Campari sodas and wine spritzers in plastic cups, along with slender slates of bruschetta. Sit on white-painted crates topped with bean bags to enjoy the homespun feel, or take your tipple out to the cliff’s edge to see dramatic Mediterranean waves crashing below.
On the island’s wild northeast, the O’Scià Club is another destination for sunset aperitivi. It’s a simple whitewashed building decorated with a brightly coloured wooden boat and draped with fishing nets; it also has a vast terrace. Perpetually Instagrammed for its nearly 2m (6ft) Hollywood-style sign and clifftop sea views, it’s an upmarket-type bar with genuinely delicious cocktails. Try the blue-curaçao creation Tabaccara, the exact powder-blue colour of the waters off Lampedusa.
Near the pretty Lampedusa port, this hangout has a terrace trimmed with old wine barrels and banana plants bursting from terracotta pots. It’s a favourite among locals for afternoon-long coffees and after-dark aperitivi served with dainty ramekins of olives and crackers under broad cream parasols. Live music jazzes up the evening experience. Also, try one of its excellent pastries, ice creams or granitas.
Looking for more? With an enormous choice of things to do in Lampedusa – including a visit to its most beautiful beaches – make sure you stop off at one of the best restaurants for a greater taste of the island. And with plenty of choices for a place to stay, book into one of the best hotels in Lampedusa with Culture Trip. If you’re still looking for more inspiration, we’ve compiled the top reasons why you should visit this Italian isle.
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