Stunning, sandy landscapes surrounded by the turquoise Mediterranean Sea make Italy a must-visit for beach lovers. And there are plenty to choose from, with an estimated 3,300kms of the country dedicated to beaches and 15 out of 20 Italian regions having beaches.
So, which to visit? From Liguria and Veneto, to Campania and Sardinia, which has a whopping 425kms of beach, we round up the best beaches in the country, many of them bordered by beautiful, ancient towns and villages. Let’s dive in, shall we?
Scala dei Turchi, Sicily
Located on the island of Sicily, Scala dei Turchi is unique in that it’s flanked by a bright white cliff that’s carved into the coast, thanks to years of natural erosion by the wind and sea. To get to the beach, you have to walk down the natural ‘staircase’, carved into the limestone cliff. According to legend, the stairs were once a shelter for predatory Turkish ships along the Sicilian coast, giving them the moniker ‘Stair of the Turks’.
Cala Luna, Sardinia
In the Gulf of Orosei, on the eastern coast of Sardinia, Cala Luna is one of the most spectacular beaches on the island. Framed by rocky landscapes dotted with natural caves, the location is known for its crystal-clear sea, as well as top-quality fishing and diving. The beach’s shallow waters also make it a great spot for swimming with kids. You get to this beach by boat. Or if you’re a skilled hiker, it’s a two-hour hike from Cala Gonone.
Regina Giovanna Baths, Campania
Just a 20-minute walk from the glittering Sorrento, the Regina Giovanna Baths are natural pools, set at the foot of a cliff formation, and with a narrow entry to the sea under a land arch. A steep staircase leads to the lagoon, offering views of the Gulf of Naples along the way. Ruins of a sprawling Roman villa still stand on the rock and can be visited. The complex is said to be where Queen Giovanna D’Angiò bathed, seduced by the beautiful sea and location.
Tonnara di Scopello, Sicily
Tonnara Beach is part of the Vendicari Reserve, a natural oasis in eastern Sicily. Set among coastal dunes, saltpans, and freshwater ponds, this long sandy coast has calm, shallow, and turquoise waters. While you’re relaxing, it’s not uncommon to spot resident flamingos and cormorants. Walk or bike along several paths that run along the coast.
Zagare Bay, Puglia
Set between white cliff stacks rising from emerald green waters, Baia delle Zagare owes its name to the fragrant orange blossoms that flower nearby. The stacks of limestone shaped by the wind are dotted throughout the bay. The bay’s two beaches, Baia delle Zagare and Baia dei Faraglioni, are divided by a cliff and can be reached by sea or through paths that branch off the nearby road.
San Fruttuoso Bay, Liguria
San Fruttuoso Bay is a small bay, nestled between Camogli and Portofino, in the Regional Natural Park of Portofino. It’s a marine-protected area, dominated by a 12th-century abbey that bears its name. In its waters, about 17 meters deep, it houses the submerged statue of Christ of the Abyss. The beach is made of pebbles, with a beach resort and rest stops, and can be reached by boat from nearby towns, the city of Genoa, or on foot in about two hours, following the paths in the park.
Punta Aderci, Abruzzo
Punta Aderci consists of long, sandy beaches, bordered by cliffs, with pine forests that you can hike through. It’s a nature reserve in the Abruzzo coastal strip with great naturalist interest due to its unique formation. The reserve features Punta Penna Beach, a marine amphitheatre much appreciated for the clearness of its waters, the Libertini Beach, from which a dirt road leads to the promontory, and the Mottagrossa Beach, where one of the wildest and solitary stretches of coast in the Adriatic Sea begins.
Scialara Beach, Puglia
Scialara Beach is located next to the Pizzomunno, the impressive limestone monolith that’s south of the town of Vieste and a symbol of the city. The beach is also known as ‘Spiaggia del Castello’ because it’s dominated by a Suevian Castle. It’s 3kms long, with golden sand, clear seabed, shallow waters, and plenty of beach resorts.
Tonnara di Palmi, Calabria
Tonnara di Palmi beach gets its name from the antique tonnara, tuna fishing lines used here in the 20th century. The beach is protected by Monte Sant’Elia being behind it. It’s a coastal offshoot of the Aspromonte massif, known as ‘the balcony on the Tyrrhenian,. It is also shaped like a crouching lion. Spend an afternoon here, admiring the views of the Aeolian and Sicily, or hire a boat to see some of the islets scattered beyond.