The Italian peninsula is surrounded on three sides by the Ligurian, Tyrrhenian, Ionian, and Adriatic seas, azure waters that shape the best beaches in Italy, perfect for an array of different travel activities. These stunning beaches boast tranquil swimming coves, gorgeous seascapes, and popular stretches of sandy shores that attract visitors from around the world who are eager to embrace the Mediterranean charm and indulge in the sweet life for which Italy is known. Scroll down and learn more about the best Italian beaches to visit on your travels, depending on your daily activities.
The best beaches for Italian culture, cuisine, and drinks include Maremma in southern Tuscany, the shores of Cinque Terre in Liguria, and the southeasternmost point of Italy’s peninsula at the town of Otranto in Puglia. The seaside villages of Italy boast pristine beaches that accentuate the art, ruins, and culture of the regions, celebrating the heritage with delicious cuisine and drinks that highlight the diverse flavors of the coastline that brims with life each summer.
The following list captures the majesty of Italy’s beaches while focusing on the flavorful cuisine, magnificent wines, and charming cocktails that travelers enjoy while lounging or exploring on the shores of the peninsula.
1. Manarola, Liguria
Cinque Terre’s five legendary hillside towns overlook stunning pebbled beaches and their colorful tower homes share gorgeous views of the Mediterranean Sea. While a few of these villages are known for their long strands of coastline and natural marinas, Manarola’s claim to fame is its combination of exquisite culinary hotspots and lofty panoramas of the turquoise waters from the top of a plateau. The town’s gorgeous restaurants offer stylish terraces to take in the views and menus featuring regional dishes such as freshly baked focaccia bread with rosemary and mixed plates of seafood and shellfish. Marvelous wines are also stocked from the hillside vineyards nearby and paired with each mouthwatering plate.
2. Porto Ercole, Tuscany
Mentioning Tuscany conjures images of medieval castles, rolling hills, and rows of cypress trees that line country lanes, but the coastline of the legendary region has stunning beaches, with Porto Ercole, situated halfway between Florence and Rome in the Grosseto province, proving to be a dreamy culinary beach town. Many visitors venture to town for the history at the six-pointed Spanish Forte Stella and stroll to the swirling rock pools at Acqua Dolce, but the superb shellfish, fresh seafood, and delightful wines at restaurants along the shores that overlook the water can be equally alluring.
3. Venice Lido, Veneto
Venice is not commonly associated with beaches as the city itself stands over canals in the Venetian Lagoon. Alas, visitors can travel a short distance from the city center to the distinct beach of Venice Lido, Europe’s first bathing resort established in the 19th century. The seven-mile strip of beach along the lagoon was a luxurious destination with legendary callers, including Coco Chanel, Thomas Mann, and Lord Byron. This town is flush with beachside restaurants that are both on the stand and on the sand, serving traditional Venetian cuisines such as salt cod or cuttlefish. They also sell remarkable drinks that can be appreciated beneath the umbrellas of the Gran Viale Santa Maria Elisabetta, which is where tables face the swishing water.
4. Tirreno Beach, Ponza, Lazio
Italy’s secret island of Ponza possesses some of the country’s best beaches, with many locals who flee the heat of the capital for the luscious views and cooling seaside breeze. The island has a long history that dates back to the Etruscan colonies, but it is equally famous for being the filming location for The Life Aquatic by Wes Anderson. While each beach on the island has its own unique and seductive quality, Tirreno Beach combines the casual art of dolce far niente on the beach, which translates to the sweet act of doing nothing. Embrace local delicacies from a nearby restaurant and sip cocktails over ice while reclining on a lounge chair.
5. Acireale, Sicily
The alluring beach of Acireale shines with volcanic rocks that have been shaped by the activity of Mount Etna. The hard stone is not ideal for sunbathing but provides spectacular scenery with the dark colors as they glimmer against the bright, transparent, and turquoise palette of the water, making the sea feel like a swimming pool. Ornate, Baroque churches, nature reserves, and lush public parks decorate the town, while the celebrated Café de Mar offers a unique panorama of the bay, filling the air with the aromas of scintillating seafood, captivating wines, and seductive cocktails.
6. Numana, Marche
The beautiful town of Numana, in the region of Marche, possesses hidden charms and is peppered with rolling hills, olive groves, and vineyards that are often associated with the more popular regions of Tuscany or Umbria. This town also brags with stunning views of the Adriatic Sea, unique caves, and the rocky beach of Grotte del Passetto, one of the most accessible but private castaway beaches in the region. Its long stretch is nestled between the main streets around the province of Ancona, and small huts once used by fishermen remain elevated above the water. Today, a small restaurant sits here serving local dishes and preparing drinks to enjoy while indulging in views often overlooked by visitors of Italy.
The best beaches for swimming in Italy can be found in regions like Calabria and Capri which host calm, shallow waters that are great for complete maritime immersions. Italy’s seaside destinations range from historical towns to lavish resorts and unique grottoes to small, secluded islands, but when discovering the varied coastline of the Italian peninsula, not all beaches provide the same safe and comfortable access to the water.
The following list offers several beach suggestions that are perfect for swimming, ranging from the depths of Calabria to the northern shores of Liguria, a region famous for its luxe atmosphere.
1. Tropea Beach, Calabria
The beach town of Tropea is a popular vacation destination for Italians taking time off in the summer months, but it is virtually unknown to outsiders. Those in the know are treated to a gorgeous setting of cobbled lanes that are perched above the Tyrrhenian Sea and may bask in the two and a half miles of white, pristine beaches. The clean sand spreads beneath epic rock formations, dramatic cliffs, and a secluded cove that shimmers against the translucent, calm, and turquoise water. When dipping into the refreshingly temperate sea, fish swim beneath your feet, and stoic water offers an easy-going tide absent of boats and crowds that remains relatively shallow and close to shore.
2. Spiaggia de Maria Pia, Sardinia
The delightful shores and shallow waters of Spiaggia de Maria Pia on the island of Sardinia make it one of the best beach destinations for swimming across Italy. The relaxed ambiance adds a unique charm that accompanies the majestic, black sand while beach bars and softer, white sands provide much-needed refreshment after taking a dip in the cool waters of the Sea of Sardinia. You can arrive early to reserve a sunbed for a place to relax and take a reprieve from the sun in between bouts of swimming.
3. Marina Piccola, Capri
The small and quiet beach that is connected to Capri’s Marina Piccola boasts an unending charm that derives from the colorful restaurants and classic fishermen’s homes that line the sandy cove. Lounge chairs, colorful umbrellas, and crystalline, turquoise waters compose the view that visitors will wallow in from the pebbled beach that stretches to the edge of a cliff and leads into the comfortable, shallow water that is perfect for swimming. The boats remain at a distance from shore, keeping swimmers and visitors who are sunbathing on innertubes safe.
4. Torre Guaceto, Puglia
The protected marina of Riserva di Torre Guaceto shares long stretches of sandy, undeveloped beaches with crystal-clear, azure waters of the Adriatic Sea that lap against the shoreline. Dunes protect the sands from the inland weather, and the neighboring cliffs defend the coves’ fine sand from the wind. The seclusion of the beach and the protected nature of the reserve makes Torre Guaceto an incredible spot for swimming. The calm and clear water and the absence of crowds and boats are a bonus to the appeal of this shoreline.
5. Baia del Silenzio, Liguria
The Bay of Silence is located halfway between La Spezia and Genoa, on the legendary Ligurian coastline. There is a surprisingly tranquil ambiance to the fishing village along the Italian Rivier with calm, shallow waters in view of the hotels, restaurants, and cafes for a safe yet beautiful swimming environment. The serene panoramas from the sandy, white beaches look out over the peaceful, turquoise water where beachgoers can swim laps, easily wade in the saltwater, or relax on the lounge chairs.
The best Italian beaches for sunbathing include Otranto Beach and Campo all’Aia, both with beautiful sandy shores flooded with uninterrupted, golden sunlight. The coastal shorelines possess stunning, secluded bays and captivating, calm waters with impressive, rugged cliffs as well as expansive sands that shape the picturesque beaches.
Sunbathing and beach-going go hand-in-hand, and the following list covers several beaches, from the corner of Puglia to the often-overlooked island of Elba, that are great for lazing about and enjoying the warm, inviting Mediterranean light.
1. Otranto Beach, Puglia
The turquoise waters and soft, white sands allow Otranto Beach to capture the imagination along the edge of Italy’s easternmost town, a popular retreat for history enthusiasts and sunbathers. Restaurants, cafes, and high-end resorts offer comfortable loungers with or without umbrellas where you can relax in the spreading sunlight and enjoy the spectacular views of the clear, azure water. The seascape is highlighted by the bright reflection of the sun off the sand, and the aromas of fresh seafood and delicious Italian cocktails envelop the air while you lounge around in the warmth.
2. Gavitella Beach, Campania
The treasured Gavitella beach in the town of Praiano, on the Amalfi Coast, looks out to the legendary cliffs of Capri. Two concrete piers lead deeper into the water, while the nearly 100-foot long stretch of sand offers ample space for sunbathing. The secluded shoreline is located down a set of steps that lead from the town’s main square, and whether you find yourself luxuriating at one of the cafes overlooking the sea or relaxing on the lounge chairs dotting the beach, you can bask in the sunlight of the celebrated Amalfi Coast.
3. Campo all’Aia, Elba
The sands along Campo all’Aia create the longest beach on the island with a bordering shelter from the sun. The fine grains of sand offer a fantastic setting for umbrellas and sunbeds, as well as a beach bar with views that overlook the water. Its sheer size lends itself to privacy, avoiding the crowds of the neighboring Procchio Beach while capturing the fantastic sunlight. Its brilliant glow reaches across the grains of sand that twinkle with the sunset, illuminating views to the nearby French island of Corsica.
The best scenic beaches in Italy include Marina di Vasto and Scala dei Turchi, which cover the range of magnificent images an Italian coast possesses. Italy’s coastline stretches from the northwest, along the borders of France, to the southeast, touching the edges of the Adriatic Sea and highlighting a range of diverse settings such as secluded coves, secret caves, and golden shores.
The best beaches in Italy offer a combination of fine water, beautiful sands, and charming villages or towns, with the following list focusing on several of Italy’s treasured shores that are celebrated for their enchanting scenery.
1. Cala Granara, Sardinia
Cala Granara in Sardinia embodies the quintessential setting of a dream beach, possessing powdery-white sand and warm, shallow, turquoise water. Palm trees accentuate its tropical setting with sub-tropical plants adding to the illustrious ambiance. Looking out from the island’s treasured Emerald Coast will reveal views of sailboats that glide across the water in the distance and, behind you, images of Roman ruins enhance the beach’s unique and classic beauty.
2. Scala dei Turchi, Sicily
The stunning shoreline known as Scala dei Turchi, on the island of Sicily, does not conform to the standards of classic beach beauty and instead carves its own niche of alluring visual drama with sand the color of bronze contrasting glistening white, limestone cliffs. The unique scenery also features a nearby Roman villa that blends the splendors of nature with the grandeur of Roman history.
3. Marina di Vasto, Abruzzo
On the unexplored coastline of Abruzzo, the unspoiled town of Vasto boasts a beautiful marina with boutique resorts and a large, sandy beach. The scent of gelato often merges with the gentle sea breeze and drifts along the marina’s promenade, which connects northbound to pebbled and stone beaches concealing coves and protecting wooden fishing machines known as trabocchi that are typical of the region. Lounge chairs provide the perfect place from which you can immerse yourself in the charisma of the coastline’s azure waters or enjoy the ambiance of the beach cafes set beneath the background of a medieval castle and cathedral.
4. Zagare, Puglia
The half-mile stretch of golden sand that accounts for Zagare Beach in Puglia offers unrestrained panoramas of the shimmering Adriatic Sea. It is all located on a bay surrounded by dramatic cliffs and overlooks the sensational rock formations carved by time. The water is layered with three shades of clear blue and hosts the ancient wooden fishing trabucos, which are similar to the structures that are used in Abruzzo, but with a different dialectical emphasis. The scent of orange blossoms mixes with vivid scenery of sea stacks and a hidden staircase that you may wander up and down. The semi-private beach only allows a certain number of visitors per day, protecting the majesty of the bay and providing a unique beach-going experience.
The best beaches for scuba diving include Punta Di Fetovaia and Ustica, with many more offering access to the underwater splendors of Italy’s immaculate waters. While not technically connected to a beach, scuba diving shines a light on a different side of Italy’s charming coastlines around the Mediterranean peninsula and islands. With thousands of miles of untouched shoreline to explore and a myriad of marine life to view, as well as a maritime history that eclipses many other countries, Italy is a remarkable destination for scuba diving.
The following list provides insight into some of the best seaside settings used as jumping-off points for a mesmerizing diving expedition.
1. Punta Di Fetovaia, Elba
The enchanting dive site of Punta Di Fetovaia is famous for the red, white, and yellow coral, known as gorgonian, that resembles a tree skeleton and spans approximately 65 feet of the seafloor. Posidonia grassland rustles in the current while lobster, scorpionfish, and barracuda find refuge amongst the beauty of the untouched ecosystem. When venturing into the depths, you can swim with large schools of Grouper or Chromis, a thrilling experience for both new and advanced divers that is elevated by fantastic underwater visibility year-round.
2. Ustica, Sicily
Ustica, an island off the coast of Palermo in Sicily, is consistently rated as one of the best scuba diving destinations in the Mediterranean. Featuring abundant coral reefs and fish that feast on the untouched elements of their maritime paradise, Ustica serves as an underwater playground for divers. Submerged grottos, decorated tunnel walls, and colorful coral shape the luster of the little-known destination that hosts a substantial population of Barracuda, Goliath, Amberjacks, and Grouper. Shipwrecks also carry slabs of marble that are protected by the area’s Marine Reserve designation.
3. Saint Lucia, Rome
The unique site of Saint Lucia, off the coast of Rome, celebrates the history of the Mediterranean with magnificent wreck dives that lead groups down to a boat that was sunk during World War II, revealing an anchor, propeller, and stern handrail that remain intact. You can witness the stunning perseverance and persistence of nature by viewing how marine life has taken over the sunken vessel as displayed by the colorful coral, waving seagrass, and snapping moray eels.
4. Aci Trezza, Sicily
The marvelous dive site of Aci Trezza, off the coast of Sicily, brings to life the maritime culture of the island and Mediterranean seafaring heritage with numerous shipwrecks that have occurred between the Roman Age and World War II. You can explore the astonishing Cyclopean rock formations above and below the water that lead to volcanic boulders, gigantic sea fans, and bright, igneous stones. The waters around Aci Trezza have been designated as a protected area where giant gorgonians thrive, and seahorses are often unnoticed because they blend in with their surroundings a few feet deep.
The best, secluded beaches in Italy have some of the world’s most magnificent coastlines that span thousands of miles across the mainland peninsula and numerous islands. Many of the most famous seaside towns host beaches that are full of tourists or locals during the summer season, overtaking the sunbeds and mixture of pebbled or soft sands. However, a collection of Italy’s beaches retain a relaxing ambiance that is set in unspoiled nature, providing refuge from the crowds for privacy-seekers.
The following list shares some of Italy’s best-kept beach secrets, from San Fruttuoso’s soft sands standing beneath tall coastal cliffs that are only accessible by boat or long hike to the idyllic snorkeling seas and hideaway caves carved into the rock faces of Macarro.
1. San Fruttuoso, Liguria
The fabulous, secluded beach of San Fruttuoso in Liguria is only accessible by boat or a long hike, and its velvety sands line the foothills of coastal cliffs between the cities of Portofino and Camogli. Lush vegetation accentuates the sense of privacy around the beach while the medieval Fruttuoso Abbey rises above the clear, cerulean water. Divers visit the surrounding seascape to explore the sunken statue of the Christ of the Abyss as beach-goers lounge on the pebbled beach and enjoy the absence of large crowds.
2. Laurito, Campania
The Amalfi Coast is celebrated for its coastal views and stunning, historic towns that are connected to lavish resorts in the summer. The true charms of the region’s best beaches are protected by locals like pirate treasure, leaving Laurito as the perfect, secluded beach. You can indulge in the famous Mediterranean sunlight while relaxing on a deck chair that overlooks the indigo hues of the sea, juxtaposing the dark sand and pebbles of the shoreline. The beach remains popular with locals but is mostly out of sight amongst visitors of the Amalfi Coast.
3. Riserva dello Zingaro, Sicily
The surrounding, rugged landscape of the Riserva dello Zingaro in Sicily protects the soft, white sand and astonishing, clear water of its hidden beach. Steep paths and the province’s label as a protected area keep crowds away from the more than four miles of coastline decorated with transparent, blue waters, a backdrop of rugged cliffs, and subtropical vegetation.
4. Macarro Beach, Basilicata
The small, hidden beach, a favorite among local residents, remains mostly overlooked by tourists. It lies along the shores of Basilicata, spreading across the edge of the Tyrrhenian Sea, and provides an idyllic setting that makes Macarro Beach perfect for swimming, snorkeling, and sinking into the comforts of a lounge chair underneath the hot, summer sun. The black-sand beach is a short hike down a steep path that only adds to its secluded ambiance and, in addition, possesses a majestic pine forest that connects to the shoreline and thrilling caves.
Italy’s best beaches are known for their clear weather and warm water. Many of the beaches in Southern Italy and the island of Sicily, as well as more famous beaches such as Anzio in Lazio and Cala Goloritzè on the island of Sardinia, have much to offer. The dynamic, temperate waters extend from the Adriatic to the Ligurian Sea. However, the Ionian and Tyrrhenian Seas can drastically change with the weather.
Whether preferring seclusion or the comforts of a resort, the drama of bordering cliffs or accessibility to nearby caves, the following list includes some of the best well-rounded beaches in Italy that are famous for good weather and warm water.
1. Arco Magno, Calabria
The unforgettable beach has streaks of gray pebbles and impossibly clear, azure waters hidden inside a secluded cove in a lagoon-shaped like a fan. A natural stone arch rises out of the water, turning the scenery into a storybook with perfectly warm waters between April and November and the typical hot climate of Southern Italy. In summer, the weather remains warm into the evening, which is when you can watch the sunset cast a bronze hue over the water and fade through the fabled archway.
2. Cala Goloritzé, Sardinia
The majesty of Cala Goloritzè on Sardinia is only reachable by boat or a long hike from the car park, rewarding visitors with crystalline, turquoise water and a secluded cove that is seemingly crafted as a gift for those who are eager enough to make the journey. Pebbles and sand with glistening ivory hues line the beach as it reflects the sunlight and adds to the day’s heat. The sun disappears behind the rocks in the mid-afternoon for a perfect excursion during the warmer hours of the day.
3. Sansone, Elba
The picturesque island off the coast of Tuscany was once home to an imprisoned Napoleon and gained fame for the sensational strip of sand and pebbles that shape Sansone Beach. Craggy, white cliffs look out to the translucent, azure waters where locals and visitors spend their days from May to October, lounging in the soothing Mediterranean sun and cooling off in the refreshing waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea.
4. Isola Bella, Sicily
The stunning stretch of narrow sand that connects the shores beneath Taormina with the small rocky landscape of Isola Bella embodies the brilliance of the Sicilian coastline and the celebrated beauty of the resort town of Taormina. The exotic plants and mild Mediterranean climate have made the destination popular with tourists for over a century. It is easy to marvel at the smooth-pebbled coastline and clear-blue hues of the Ionian Sea. The calm water that is protected by the bay always feels warm and inviting, with easy access from the upper lanes of Taormina by cable car.
5. Anzio, Lazio
The charming beach of Anzio connects to a medium-sized fishing port and is significant for its ancient and contemporary history as the site where Nero had a villa that overtook half a mile of the cliffs. This is also where the Allies landed during the Second World War, sparking the Battle of Anzio. The collection of historic manicured beaches offer ruins of a Roman port, restaurants serving local specialties, and distinct cliffs that form rocky caves. The weather becomes perfect along Lazio’s coastline between late May and early October with warm water and easy access from Rome for a day trip.
Italy is a country that has it all, from enticing beaches to mouthwatering cuisine, ancient history to timeless fashion. You can find more ideas and inspiration on how to experience your perfect trip by visiting our Italy Tours and Vacations. You can also learn more about how to plan with Zicasso’s Italy Travel Guide. Are you planning an Italy trip? Speak with an Italy travel specialist by filling out a Trip Request or by calling 1-888-265-9707.