Ferries and hydrofoils alike service all the Aeolian Islands, principally from the port of Milazzo, 40km (25 miles) west of Messina. Hydrofoils are faster than ferries, getting you to Vulcano in an hour (ferries take twice as long), yet ferries are roomier, and allow you to stay out on the deck on your way there. Ustica Lines, Via Rizzo (tel. 090-9287821; www.usticalines.it), operates numerous daily ferry and hydrofoil routes to all islands, as well as seasonal routes from the mainland at Reggio Calabria. Trips can cost from 15€ per adult to 22€ (prices vary according to which island). N.G.I., Via dei Mille 26 (tel. 800-250000 toll free from Italy or 090-9284091; www.ngi-spa.it), offers ferry services to certain islands. From Naples, SNAV (tel. 081-4285555; www.snav.it) offers a seasonal service (late May to early Sept) to all the islands except Filicudi and Alicudi. Note that all ferry services charge a 1€ fee per person for entry to the islands. In the event of a storm or inclement weather, service can be halted for days.

Of course, you'll need to get to Milazzo first before embarking by sea. By train (tel. 892021; www.trenitalia.it) from Messina, the cost is 3.25€ and takes 30 minutes; from Palermo, the cost is from 10€ and takes 2 1/2 hours; the stop is at Milazzo. From there, take the shuttle bus that drops you off at the port (1€), or take a taxi, which will cost you around 10€. Giuntabus (tel. 090-673782; www.giuntabus.com) runs buses approximately every hour from Messina on weekdays with some going all the way to the port. If you're driving from Messina or Palermo, take the A20 autostrada until you come to the turnoff for the port at Milazzo, and follow the directions for "garage/imbarchi," where you can also park your car safely.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.