When you’re talking about a country that doubles as a peninsula, you’re talking about a country with the potential for loads of great beaches. In Italy, some of the beaches are spectacular – and others are, well, not-so-fabulous.
Yes, this is one of the spectacular beaches.
There are sandy beaches, rocky beaches, and beaches that are essentially cliffs with a tiny bit of sand at the bottom. Many of the best beaches in Italy are privately owned by hotels or the town they’re in, so rather than just plopping down a beach blanket anywhere you like you’ll be renting a chair and umbrella – but if a beach holiday is what you want for your Italy trip, it’s a small price to pay for a spot in the Italian sun.
Many of the best-loved beaches in Italy are in the south or on the islands (such as Sicily and Sardinia) – these tend to be beach resort cities favored by Italians and vacationing Europeans, but less-visited by tourists from further afield. This doesn’t mean they’re not crowded in summer, however – they’re absolutely packed, especially in July–August. Italians love their beach holidays, so if the weather cooperates they’ll take every opportunity they can to head for the nearest coast. In other words, book your stay early if you want to stay on or near the beach and it’s anywhere close to the high season.
Blue Flag Beaches in Italy
There’s an organization that rates beaches around the world on their environmental and water quality (among other things), awarding beaches that make the cut with “blue flag” designation. Italy has (at last count) more than 230 Blue Flag Beaches, plus another 60+ Blue Flag Marinas. You can see this year’s list of Blue Flag Beaches in Italy on the official website, and break it down further on the right by clicking on various Italian regions to see where their Blue Flag Beaches are.
Italy’s Best Beaches
Declaring which Italian beaches are the “best” is a bit tricky – in some cases, especially to vacationers, the best beach is the one that’s closest on a sunny day. Still, if your travel dreams are to bask on the best-loved beaches the country has to offer, here are some options you may want to consider.
- Positano (Amalfi Coast) – The most popular town along the Amalfi Coast, Positano has two public beaches, including the main one from which you can watch tour boats come and go. Some hotels in Positano also have private beach areas, if you prefer that.
- Rimini (Emilia-Romagna) – If old-school beach resort city is what you’re looking for, look no further than Rimini, where you’ll see row after row of beach chairs and umbrellas on perfectly white sandy beaches. You may not be rich and famous, but Rimini might make you feel like you’re in an old Hollywood film.
- Mondello Lido (Sicily) – Sitting only five miles from Palermo, the Sicilian capital city, Mondello Lido is not only easily accessible it’s well-equipped for beach-going visitors. There are also plenty of hotels here if you’d rather stay right on the beach than in nearby Palermo.
- Taormina (Sicily) – The Sicilian beach resort city of Taormina has the benefit of being close to some of the island’s ancient Greek ruins in addition to overlooking some of its gorgeous beaches.
- Vieste (Puglia) – The Gargano Peninsula, that spur-like outcropping of land in Puglia, has fantastic beaches on all sides. Vieste is at the tip of the spur, and this marine resort is one of the Blue Flag Marinas in Italy.
- Otranto (Puglia) – The beach city of Otranto lies at the tip of Italy’s boot. In addition to the beaches in Otranto, the cliffs over the water make excellent spots for diving.
- Tropea (Calabria) – It’s hard to beat a beach overlooked by white cliffs from which buildings seem to grow. Tropea’s beach is much-photographed for this reason, and both the beaches and the town make the trip south worth it.
- San Benedetto del Tronto (Le Marche) – This beach city is one that has a Blue Flag designation one one of its beaches, and it’s a beach that has received the distinction ever since 1998.
- Stintino (Sardinia) – The small town of Stintino sits on the far northwestern tip of Sardinia, making it harder to reach, but visitors are rewarded with beautiful beaches.
- Chia (Sardinia) – Another Sardinian beach town, Chia is on the southern part of the island near Cagliari. The beaches are quite large, and there are even sand dunes behind them.
- Lignano (Friuli-Venezia Giulia) – Northern Italy has its beaches, too, and although Venice‘s Lido may be more famous, the Friuli’s Lignano has better beaches.
- Viareggio (Tuscany) – On Tuscany’s northern coast, Viareggio is a popular seaside resort town (with everything you’d expect to go with that designation, including high-end hotels, shops, and restaurants) and home to one of Italy’s best Carnevale celebrations (which isn’t during beach weather).
- Monterosso al Mare (Cinque Terre) – Of all the Cinque Terre towns, none of which are known for truly spectacular beaches, Monterosso’s beach was by far the best and biggest. Sadly, the town and beach were severely damaged during the 2011 floods and mudslides. It remains to be seen how the beaches – and the Cinque Terre as a whole – recover.