Overview: Elba is an island about eight miles from the west coast of Italy, just south of Pisa. Typically, to get to Elba you fly to Italy then take the train, or drive, to the town of Piombino where you catch one of the frequent ferries for the one-hour trip to the port town of Portoferraio.
This website from Elba.org gives a great overview of how to get to Elba once you're in Italy. If you like you can buy tickets before you arrive in Italy, but it's not necessary.
Flying to Italy: If you haven't yet purchased your plane tickets and would like some advice about flights, please call me. Pisa International Airport is the closest airport, then Florence, and Rome airports. You can also fly into Milan. If you're using award miles check with your airline for information on partner airlines. For example, United does not fly to Pisa, but their partner, Lufthansa does. If you'd like to use a travel agent, I recommend Ellen Thatcher. ELLEN@TRIPSOUT.AGENCYMAIL.COM. Call (510) 549-0950.
There is a small airport on Elba. However, it has a very limited flight schedule.
I prefer Pisa Airport because it's a small airport close to the center of Pisa. There are great bus and train connections into the city center. Taxi fare is reasonable. Taking a taxi is a good choice if you're tired from a long day of international travel.
Bus: There is a bus from Pisa Airport to Portoferraio. Here's the link,
http://www.elbafly.com/en/tariffe. It's seasonal and has a limited schedule.
Train and Ferry: This is my favorite train link
If you like, you can buy your train and ferry tickets from a travel agent in the Italian town you're staying in before you head to Portoferraio, Elba. Ferries do go to other Elba towns. However, we'll be meeting you in Portoferraio. Ask your hotel staff to recommended a travel agent that sells train and ferry tickets. Or walk into any travel agent's office and ask. Most travel agents speak English. If they don't sell the tickets you need they can tell you of an agent that will. You may want to buy one-way rather than round-trip tickets because we may be able to do a bit of carpooling to get back to the peninsula. There is a travel agent near the kayak center who can sell you the tickets you'll need.
Travel agents are closed on Sunday. If you can't get to a travel agent then fear not, you can buy tickets at the train station and the ferry terminal. Buying tickets in advance is for your convenience and may get you a more efficient connection. Details for train and ferry are below.
Train: Get a train ticket to "Piombino, Porto." Tell the agent you're going to Elba. I find it's best to buy it at least a day or two ahead of departure, if you can, from the train station in town, or from a travel agent. The ticket agent can sell you a ticket on the most direct train. If you buy it right before departure you may end up on a slower train, and you may spend more time in the stations waiting for trains.
Piombino is on the Rome/Pisa/Genoa line. It's north of Grosetto and south of Pisa.
Validate your train ticket before you get on the train. Use one of the red/orange validation boxes that's on the train platform, or in the station.
Get off at Campiglia Maritima. (Most likely you'll have to get off here. Very few trains go on to Piombino.)
Depending on the schedule you'll either take a spur line train to Piombino, or you'll catch a bus. To catch the bus walk a few steps to the east side of the tracks at the small train station. Get on the bus to Piombino. Your train ticket is good on the bus. You do not need to buy another ticket.
(If I recall correctly, your ticket will have printed on it something like Pullman, or Autobus, if you will be changing to a bus. The selling agent should mention it, or you can ask. Most speak English.) Stay on the train or bus until it arrives at the ferry terminal. It's the end of the line. It usually has other tourists on it. Follow the people who look like they're going on a beach vacation. They may be accompanied by small dogs.
As you leave the train station the terminal is on the right. It has a waiting room a cafe and bathrooms you can use if you need to wait. The ferry dock is on the left. Ferries leave for Portoferraio about once every 40 min. The trip to Elba takes about an hour. Ferries have a snack bar, bathrooms, phones, and comfortable seating inside, and less comfortable, more scenic seating outside.
When you board the ferry carry your bags up two flights of stairs. If you have lots of bags, or they're too heavy to drag up the stairs, walk into the ferry, street level, after the cars have parked and leave your bags on the auto deck. You'll find ropes tied to rails so you can secure your bag.If you know you'll be doing this, bring an extra rope or bungie. Then go up the stairs, or up via stairs in the auto deck. Inside the ferry you can leave your bags in the racks, or take them to your seat.
Click HERE for a map of the Piombino port and ferry terminal.
Car: If you're bringing a car to Elba be sure to get a ferry reservation from a travel agent because during peak travel times ferries do fill their car allotments. You can drop your rental car at the ferry terminal in Piombino. Avis is the most convenient to the port.
If you need further directions, please let me know.
Schedule: Please try to arrive in Portoferraio, Elba between noon and 4 pm. Don't worry, we'll get you no matter what time you arrive.
Once you are in Italy and you know your schedule, please check in with Gaudenzio by calling him at 348-229-0711.
How to use a public phone: Buy a phone card from a tobacconist (5 Euro and up). Tear off the corner before you dial.
Train stations have phones. For more on using cell phones see this page.
Gaudenzio will meet you as you get off the ferry. If he's not there go to Bar Massimo (gelato bar) at Calata Italia 23.
The street along the waterfront dock is Calata Italia. You probably will walk to the left to find Bar Massimo, in the Hotel Massimo, but it depends on which dock your ferry uses.
Click HERE for a map showing the Bar Massimo location. Have a gelato and relax. You're on Elba.
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