The Italian coast which includes both the Mediterranean and Adriatic seas, is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. It doesn’t matter if you like secluded bays with calm waters quietly lapping onto the shore or fashionable holiday destinations full of celebrities and high class restaurants, the beaches in Italy are impressive in every way and there is something for everyone.
Explore Italian coastline highlights such as the amazing Amalfi coast and spend hours watching sunsets from the top of rugged cliffs, or go to Sardinia where you will find some of the most picturesque beaches in Europe.
Great Beaches of Italy charming seaside vacations on italian coast sea side ideas, coastal front beach residences for family, private free beach on the best italian beaches.
Italy is surrounded by the Mediterranean and has a long and varied coastline.
The sea (il mare, il Mediterraneo) takes different names around the coast: to the west of Italy is the Ligurian Sea (Mar Ligure), and south of that is the Tyrrhenian Sea (Tirreno).
Around the sole of Italy's boot lies the Ionian (Ionio) and to the east is the Adriatic (Adriatico).
A few sections are protected marine reserves, others (particularly in the south) have been spoiled by tacky half-constructed villas.
Traditionally Italian villages were constructed in defensive locations, often in the hills above the sea. And until the first half of the twentieth-century, many coastal lowlands were malarial.
Often nowadays you'll find a historic town centre inland or up a hill, with a modern beach suburb along the sea.
Historic fishing ports, although situated on the sea, favour rocky natural harbours and defences. Consequently these more attractive destinations usually lack long beaches, and often the rocky coastline hasn't permitted much space for development.
So many of these, like Portofino and Positano, have become picturesque and exclusive destinations, a million miles away from the long, over-developed mass-tourism beaches of resorts like Rimini.
If you want to avoid the crowds, avoid August and late July, and weekend afternoons. Italians don't believe in bathing out of season, so during early warm spells (May, early June) independent-minded tourists can find plenty of space.
Before the private beaches are up and running, it's often possible to wander through freely (see our Beaches page for more about the paying beach experience in Italy).
Surrounded by water on all sides, Italy has a unique coastline with nooks and crannies that create quiet swimming coves and picturesque seascapes.
Italy participates in the Blue Flag Programme, so travelers can easily identify beaches that are safe for swimming by the distinct blue flag.
The beaches are most crowded during July and August when Italians join the throngs of foreign tourists heading to the beach to escape the heat.
Whether you're searching for an upscale resort or a secluded seaside village, there's a lounge chair on the sea just waiting for you.
Featuring stunning cliffs and also known as the “Jewel of Calabria”, Tropea Beach is one of the best beaches in the area.
The good news is that Tropea is not as commercialized as other regions in Italy, such as Amalfi, so there is a good chance that you will find some peace and quiet here.
Marasusa Beach is located in the town of Tropea, widely regarded as the jewel of Calabria and christened La Costa degli Dei, or "The Coast of the Gods."
It’s easy to see why deities would approve: Marasusa is home to scenic cliffs, pristine white sand, and calm, clear waters.
Vieste the pride of Gargano, is one of the towns in Puglia recommended by paediatricians as a great place to holiday with children.
The city stands on a promontory that divides the Gargano coast in two and it is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful coastlines in Italy.
With its bays, caves, long, sandy beaches and crystal-clear waters, Vieste is a perfect holiday destination because as well as natural beauty it offers facilities for families with small children and its beaches with shallow waters make it particularly suitable.
Acquafredda Di Maratea Beach
Situated just a short drive from the hamlet of Maratea, Acquafredda di Maratea Beach features crystal clear blue waters and dark gray sand. Vacationers who appreciate rustic beauty should definitely spend a day or two in the area.
The rocky shoreline and rugged cliffs make Acquafredda di Maratea Beach such a picturesque destination, so much so that many people come here from all over Europe to take their wedding photographs.
Marina Grande Beach
Thanks to its amazing cliffs with pretty pastel houses on top, Marina Grande Beach in Positano is one of the most picturesque beaches in Italy.
This cosmopolitan beach on the Amalfi coast is three hundred meters long and attracts large crowds of tourists each and every summer.
The orange and blue lounge chairs and beach umbrellas are tidily arranged, but make sure to come early in the morning to ensure you do not miss out on a pitch.
The tiny, picturesque village of Atrani located along the Amalfi Coast is reminiscent of Italy's most famous coastal towns, only much less crowded.
Aside from its colorful cliffside perch, beautiful churches, and charming piazzas, the town has an idyllic beach flush against the Tyrrhenian Sea.
Trust us: The views of the water bookended by two cliffs is hard to beat.
Chiaia di Luna Ponza
Chiaia di Luna is quite easily one of the most scenic spots in all of Italy.
The beach is a narrow crescent of silky sand at the base of a towering, 328-foot volcanic rock wall curved in a half-moon shape—hence its "luna" name.
It’s located on Ponza, the largest island in the Pontine Archipelago, which is dense with spectacular beaches.
Most visitors experience the Amalfi Coast while navigating the twists and turns during a scenic drive on the coastal road. The view is breathtaking with jagged cliffs and blossoming flowers, but the best way to experience the coast is to visit one of its seaside villages.
The busiest stretch of the coast curves between the villages of Amalfi and Positano. Erosion has destroyed much of the beach areas in this region leaving small private beaches at hotels and beach clubs. The fanciest hotel in Amalfi is the expensive Hotel Santa Caterina where you can walk a winding garden path to the beach and take the elevator, carved into the rocky cliffs, back up to the hotel.
Positano has been a welcome beach retreat since the days of Roman nobility and even the ancient Greeks. There are 2 public beaches -- the secluded Fornillo beach and the main beach center at Spiaggia Grande.
The elegant Il San Pietro di Positano hotel is the utmost in luxury with a private beach cove for sunbathing and swimming.
Located off the Sorrento peninsula in southern Italy, Capri is a rocky, mountainous island that's a favorite with starlets and jet setters.
While many of the island's hotels boast great views of the clear blue sea, the J.K. Palace Capri is the only one with direct beach access.
You can easily explore the area's best beaches on your own.
The best beach on the north side is the wide expanse at the Bagni di Tiberio while the south side of the island has Marina di Mulo.
Most beaches are supported by beach clubs which provide beach access as well as facilities, towels and chairs for a nominal fee. Save time and avoid the steep walk back to town by taking a quick boat ride to the beach from the Marina Grande.
Visitors flock to the Italian Riviera for great hiking and sunny days at the beach. At the center of it all is Cinque Terre, 5 small villages set in the cliffs hugging the distinctive coastline.
Monterosso is the resort town with charming hotels, busy beaches and plenty of restaurants to feed hungry tourists.
The beach here is open to the public and free, though there are many spots where you can pay for a comfy lounge chair and umbrella for shade.
Escape the crowds by hiking to the smaller town of Riomaggiore where you can relax on the rocky beach before continuing your journey along the seaside trails.
Take a break from the beach to enjoy some of the town's famed pesto atop a heaping plate of pasta.
San Fruttuoso, Liguria
Located about halfway between Portofino and the small town of Camogli, San Fruttuoso is as picture-perfect as Italian beaches get.
The small cove's appeal lies in its hidden location (you can only reach it by hiking from Portofino or catching a ferry), gorgeous blue water, and backdrop of a medieval abbey surrounded by mountains.
Tuscany is known for its rolling hills, great wine and classic Italian culture.
But Tuscany also has a beach scene with sandy white shores and quaint seaside villages.
In western Tuscany, Maremma has a booming cowboy culture as well as almost 100 miles of coastline overlooking crystal clear water. Castiglione della Pescaia is an affordable beach town with plenty of water sports including sailing and windsurfing.
The best scuba diving can be found further south in Monte Argentario's coves and bays.
Tuscany's largest beach town is one of the farthest points south on the Italian Riviera.
Viareggio is a classic resort town with art nouveau buildings, bustling nightlife and endless food.
While the town has pleasant beaches and an active seafront promenade, it's best known for its wild Carnival festival, a tradition since 1873.
The famous resort of Versilia, Forte dei Marmi is the perfect place for a family holiday.
Its wide beaches with fine, golden sand, modern facilities equipped with every creature comfort and a wide range of services designed for children, have all contributed to its winning of the Green Flag.
While the adults relax under the parasol or enjoy the luxury of the elegant gazebos, the kids can take part in games and activities organised specially to entertain them.
As well as the numerous places to bathe there, there’s no lack of fully-equipped, completely free beaches which still keep the appearance of wild and rugged Versilia.
The beaches around Sicily range from sandy white shores to exotic black sands, making for unique beach getaways around the island.
If you're visiting the capital city of Palermo, the beaches at Mondello Lido are just a few miles away. This stretch of beach is lined with hotels as well as restaurants and bars making for a vibrant nightlife. On Sicily's east coast, visitors to Taormina can easily get to the best beaches at Lido Mazzaro.
The journey to the beach is part of the fun as beachgoers climb aboard a funicular, or cable car, for a quick ride down to the beach.
For a vastly different beach experience, adventurers can take a boat from the town of Milazzo in northeast Sicily to the exotic black sand beach in the Aeolian Islands. Located on the island of Vulcano, Spiaggia Sabbie Nere has calm waters and dark volcanic sand. It's also conveniently located near the island's hot mud baths.
Scala dei Turchi in Sicily
The beach at the base of Scala dei Turchi, a rocky cliff on the coast near Realmonte, is striking in its uniqueness.
Its fiery bronze sands are a stunning contrast to the azure ocean in front and the pale gray cliffs behind.
The area is famous for being one of Sicily’s most beautiful natural wonders.
Spiaggia dei Conigli, Lampedusa
The “Beach of the Rabbits” on the island of Lampedusa’s south side doesn't just have an adorable name it's also one of the most dazzling stretches of sand in all of Europe.
The aquamarine water is perfect for snorkeling, while the blindingly white sand is just waiting for sun worshipers.
The sunbathers and fancy yachts compete with the natural beauty of the beaches along Sardinia's Costa Smeralda, or Emerald Coast.
Sardinia's northeast shore, with its stunning azure waters and still blue grottoes, is a getaway for royalty, with tony resorts and 35 miles of gorgeous coastline.
But the luxe life comes with a hefty pricetag at the area's most posh resorts including the dreamy Cala di Volpe with interesting archways and turrets adding to the royal Mediterranean flair. The Cala di Volpe private beach is a 5-minute boat ride from the resort. Nearby, The Prince's Beach, or Spiaggia del Principe is a secluded paradise, surrounded by thick dense shrubs providing even more privacy. The area comes alive in the warm months with most resorts opening just from April through October.
Nestled just south of Cala Biriola in Sardinia, Cala Goloritzé is a tiny beach with soft sand and limestone cliffs.
This beautiful beach is one of the most photogenic destinations in the region and is accessible by both car and boat. However, those who are planning to visit Cala Goloritzé should know that the hike to the beach from the nearest road takes approximately 90 minutes!
La Pelosa Sardinia
Sardinia is famous for its incredible beaches, with plenty of options for white powdery sand, bright blue sea, and secluded nooks protected by pine forests.
La Pelosa is beloved by those in the know for its ramshackle offshore castle, and for the way you can wade out for seemingly forever just up to your knees—almost like a huge saltwater swimming pool.
The Tremiti Islands, often called the pearls of the Adriatic Sea, are a string of islands including San Domino, San Nicola and Caprara. San Domino is the largest and most developed of the 3 and is known as the "green pearl" thanks to its wild vegetation including pines, orange blossoms, myrtles and fig trees. These green forests meet the sea with craggy limestone cliffs and both rock and sand beaches. Because it's the only island with hotels and restaurants for visitors, San Domino's beaches can get crowded. The island is reachable by hydrofoil boat from various coastal towns including Termoli and Pescara.
Venice may be surrounding entirely by water, but there are few beaches in the city.
The best beaches are found on Lido, an almost 7-mile long sandbar sitting in the Venice Lagoon and Adriatic Sea.
Just 10 minutes by waterbus from St. Mark's Square, this area has the well-earned nickname of the "Island of Gold" thanks to its unique beauty and sandy golden shores. The loveliest beaches are in front of Lido's historic grand hotels.
The Hotel des Bains, immortalized in Thomas Mann's "Death in Venice," is lined with thatched beach huts while the Hotel Excelsior beachfront sports elegant white cabanas.
The beaches are open from May through September and there's an admission fee to access the beach and amenities.
The Riviera Romagnola is known for its hospitality and for the excellent services it offers to tourists who choose it for their holidays every year.
Among the most famous resorts of this stretch of coast by the Adriatic Sea, we find Cervia, famous especially for catering to family tourism.
Cervia has wide beaches where children can play and have fun in freedom and safety.
There is also a wide choice of many other activities offered in the area for a truly special holiday, like a walk in the pine forests or a visit to the Case della Farfalle Butterfly Houses, where you can admire hundreds of tropical butterflies flying free in their recreated habitat.
For the more active, there’s an afternoon at CerviAvventura adventure activity park in the heart of the Natural Park of Cervia or a day out at Mirabilandia, an Italian amusement park.
Capo Coda Cavallo, Sardinia
Just a few kilometers from busy and glitzy Costa Smeralda, Capo Coda Cavallo is a quiet beach bordered on one side by crystal clear waters and on the other by lush vegetation of tamarisk trees, junipers, strawberry trees and cork oaks.
Scala dei Turchi, Sicily
A breathtaking landscape made of a shiny white marl cliff, smoothed and polished by the wind and sea. The name, Scala dei Turchi, tells of a past when this beach was a refuge for pirate boats.
Cavoli Elba island Tuscany
On the island of Elba off the coast of Tuscany is the beautiful beach of Cavoli, which owes its name to the granite blocks, the so-called “cavili”, which were quarried in this area in ancient times. Between a game of beach volley, a dip in the blue sea and a seafood dinner at one of the many restaurants in the area, you’ll be sure to have a fun time.
San Michele Conero Marche
In the beautiful Conero region, San Michele stands out for its fine sandy beach, behind which is a luxuriant vegetation and forest. A pristine stretch of coast ideal for nature lovers.
A place that has its origins in the mists of time (Scilla was a sea monster in Greek mythology), Scilla makes for a picture perfect landscape, nestled as it is within one of Italy’s most beautiful villages, perched on a rocky outcrop dominated by a fortress.
Forget the Cinque Terre for once and head the other direction, to the western coast of Liguria to reach Varigotti, a popular destination both for its seaside and natural attractions. The beach is framed by pastel-colored houses making it very quaint indeed.
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