Summer in Italy is coming around again and with Europe increasingly starting to open up to travel, you may be in the process of researching a much-needed getaway. This post will hopefully provide a bit of inspiration as we look at ten of the best beaches in Italy, from the mainland to the popular islands of Sardinia and Sicily.
10 of the best beaches in Italy
La Pelosa, Sardinia
If you’re a fan of crystal blue seas, then you will struggle to find a much better destination in Europe than Sardinia. A relatively large island, you’re spoiled for choice in terms of options but one of the best is La Pelosa, ranked as one of the best hidden beaches in Italy. It has something of a ramshackle feel but the real jewel in its crown is its shallow turquoise sea, perfect for escaping the summer heat.
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Cefalù is an interesting case in that it is part international tourist resort, part sleepy fishing town. Its long, curving bay is big enough to offer a little bit of both and it’s also one of the most interesting places on this countdown of the best beaches in Italy. Highlights include the grand Norman cathedral, a 12th-century structure with twin towers which make it look more like a fortress than a place of worship.
Spiaggia di Sabaudia, Lazio
If you like a long beach that just seems to go on and on, then Spiaggia di Sabaudia is a nice option and it’s one of the best bets close to Rome. It’s just under 100 km from the heart of the Italian capital making it easy to get to and back from the two destinations in a day. It’s a little bit tough to reach without your own transport but away from the developed area near the town, it’s a pretty quiet place to spend the day, particularly during the week.
Spiaggia di Sansone, Tuscany
Small but very cute, Spiaggia di Sansone is one of the best beaches in Tuscany. It’s nestled beneath large cliffs with little space to move around but the waters are perfect for swimming. Located on the small island of Elba, it’s only 10 km or so from the mainland and a visit can be combined with trips to famous destinations in Tuscany such as Pisa and Florence while you can also take ferries to Bastia, on the French island of Corsica.
Cala Pulcino, Lampedusa
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The largest of the Pelagian Islands, Lampedusa is a good bet for anyone looking to get away from the busy tourist centres and up for an adventure. You can’t fly in from outside of Italy as the small airport only has domestic services but you can reach the island by ferry from Sicily.
Located just 100 km east of the Tunisian coastline, Cala Pulcino is one of the warmest beaches in Italy throughout the year thanks to its southerly location, although even once on the island, it’s not easy to reach. You’ll need to hike over rocks for around 30 minutes but will be rewarded by stunning views and beautiful, clear waters.
Located south of Naples and with views of the island of Capri, Gavitella has something of an exclusive feel and is tiny at only 30 metres long. As well as the sea and the gorgeous views, you can also enjoy the natural pool (Fontana dell’Altare). While you wouldn’t want to spend a whole week here, it’s a great day or afternoon trip option for anyone based in the Naples region.
One of the most spectacular on this countdown of the best places to spend summer in Italy, Tropea Beach is an iconic destination thanks to its colourful, cliff-edge buildings and beautiful sunsets. It’s located on the “boot” of Italy, on the east coast of Calabria. While the setting is great, Tropea does get very busy in the summer, mostly with Italian holidaymakers so it’s not the ideal place for anyone looking for peace and tranquility.
Torre Guaceto, Apulia
While it may not be one of Italy’s most aesthetically pleasing beaches above the surface, Torre Guaceto makes up for that with its small reefs of coral and sea grass – a mecca for scuba divers. The whole area is a marine nature reserve and it is located between Bari and Lecce, on Italy’s “heel”.
Spiaggia di Tuerredda, Sardinia
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Another of the best beaches in Sardinia, Spiaggia di Tuerredda is famed for its warm waters and white sands which make it somewhat reminiscent of the Caribbean. While it does get very busy in August, you can find it much quieter before or after the peak season and it’s a great destination for water sports. Kayaking and snorkelling are among the highlights.
An underrated option, Otranto is located slightly further south of Torre Guaceto, in one of the country’s easternmost towns. It’s one of the best sandy beaches in Italy (many beaches are pebble) and boasts a little bit of everything with some great restaurants serving excellent seafood and local wine. It’s a popular enough tourist destination to have plenty of options in terms of accommodation but retains much of its local flavour too.
How hot is summer in Italy?
Below you’ll find the average high temperatures in some cities across Italy from late Spring to early Autumn:
While these are cities rather than beach destinations, they give a pretty good illustration of how temperatures are fairly consistent in most regions of Italy during the summer months, with slightly lower numbers in the north.
All of the beaches featured in this post experience warm, sunny weather between June and September and even May or October can be very pleasant. Therefore if you’re planning to travel to Italy in summer 2021, you don’t need to spend much time fretting about the weather.
You may also be interested in our Italy travel costs guide which shows sample prices and budgets for backpacking trips in Italy.
This post on the best beaches in Italy was published in May 2021.