A car is unnecessary. If you want your own wheels then scooters can be hired on the larger islands. Panarea is car-free.
The nearest airport is Palermo. You can reach the islands by five-seater helicopter with Air Panarea (www.airpanarea.com).
Country code for Italy: 39. Aeolian Islands: 090.
The Leopard by Giuseppe di Lampedusa.
Do go / Don't Go
Spring and autumn are warm and tranquil. July and August can be very busy and prices soar. Ferry and hydrofoil services are sometime cancelled, particularly in winter, due to heavy seas.
Dishes make extensive use of fragrant herbs and locally produced capers. There is a big focus on fresh fish and squid; the Aeolian speciality of scorpion fish is fantastic. Don't miss the sweet Malvasia wine.
Golf buggies on Panarea (hold on tight!); three-wheeled Vespa pickups on Vulcano. Taxis can be scarce and somewhat undependable. Get your hotel to order one for you.
A service charge is often added to restaurant bills, but an additional tip of ten per cent is usual for good service.
Only Lipari has good banking facilities so make sure you arrive with enough cash in your pocket. Salina is popular with mosquitoes; pack some repellent.
The Greeks and Romans, whose ruins dot the archipelago, believed the islands to be the home of Vulcan, the god of fire. Volcanic activity has influence life on the islands for millennia, and created dramatic and beautiful rock formations, from soft silvery pumice to black obsidian.
The crystal-clear waters make diving and snorkelling extremely popular. Rinella, on Salina, is popular for speargun fishing. Lisca Bianca off Panarea has excellent dive sites. Boats of all kinds can be hired in the ports.
Opportunities to shop on the islands are largely limited to beachwear and the occasional jewellery shop. Make sure you stock up on the islands' capers and deliciously sweet Malvasia wine, particularly in Salina.
The summit of Fossa delle Felci, on Salina, has super views over the neighbouring islands. Head to the prehistoric ruins of Punta Milazzese on Panarea for a view over the picture-perfect cove of Cala Junco.
The neighbouring islands will have a grandstand view when Stromboli stops rumbling and smoking and finally blows its top. If you're lucky you can see lava jet from Stromboli from the safety of a boat offshore. Organised night-time trips and boat rental are available from the village of Scari.
First weekend of June The bizarre Caper Festival in Pollara, Salina, is a fiesta of food, music and street games in the main square, all in honour of the humble caper. 15 August Pilgrims visit the Santuario della Madonna del Terzito south of Malfa on Salina for the Feast of the Assumption 21-24 August Lipari's Feast of St Bartholomew is celebrated with processions, parties and fireworks. First week of October Food and Wine Week in Salina showcases the island's excellent cuisine.