The country can claim The Mona Lisa, the Leaning Tower of Pisa and slurp-worthy spaghetti as its own, but Italy’s not only home to incredible art, architecture, and food — you can also find some of the world’s best beaches on Italy’s coasts. From the turquoise blue waters of the island of Capri to the excellent people watching along the beaches of the Italian Riviera, here are the top spots to soak up some sun on your next Italian getaway:
7. Cala Granara
So it takes a bit of commitment to get to Cala Granara, a picture-perfect beach on the shores of the tiny island of Spargi, part of the Maddalena Islands in the deep blue Sardinian Sea, but in this case, embarking on the journey is just as fun as relaxing at the destination. To get to the island, you’ll need to hire a small boat at La Maddelena to take you over to Spargi. The only thing better than relaxing on the sand of Cala Granara is relaxing on the boat that gets you there; the gentle rocking of the ocean’s waves beneath your boat just might lull you to sleep! Once on the island, you’ll want to wake up to take in the gorgeous scenery, including rocky outcroppings rising from the island, glass clear inlets of cool water, and unmatched vistas of wild, isolated Italian beauty.
6. Cala Goloritze
Goats, pigs, and donkeys, oh my! The little shepherd’s town of Baunei on Sardinia offers lots of delights for the animal lover, and an amazing beach nearby to boot. To take in all the sights, lace up your hiking boots and explore the six mile trail that juts off from Baneui to the Altopiano del Golgo, a forlorn plateau filled with animals grazing among the scrub and trees. Ready to head to the beach? The Cala Goloritze awaits down by the shore, with shocking blue water and otherworldly limestone rock formations popular with climbers. Oh, and one more tip — don’t forget your snorkel! The water off of Cala Goloritze is the perfect place to spot some fish and other sea creatures.
5. Chiaia di Luna
At Chiaia di Luna, there isn’t much room to lay out a huge beach blanket and lounge around. That’s because a huge cliff rises up straight from the beach, leaving a pretty narrow strip of sand that leads into the cool blue bay. What Chiaia di Luna lacks in roominess, though, it makes up for in sheer beauty — the sight of the pale, dramatic cliff looming above the unbelievably blue waters below is a sight you won’t soon forget. You’ll find this charming, unique beach on the island of Ponza, located in the Tyrrhenian Sea, off Italy’s central coast in between Rome and Naples. If you’re looking to escape the sun’s rays for a bit, try embarking on a diving expedition while on Ponza; the area is a diver’s delight.
4. Spiaggia delle due Sorelle
Is a beach without sand really a beach? After visiting Spiaggia delle due Sorelle, you’ll answer that question with a resounding “yes”! This unique beach off the coast of Sirolo, Italy, is actually made up of small smooth white pebbles, instead of sand. Walk along this beach to give yourself a foot message. When you take a dip in the incredibly clear water, make sure you turn around to look back at the beach — visitors claim that the best view of Spiaggia delle due Sorelle is the one from the ocean, since you get to see the dramatic whitewashed cliffs soaring above the pebble beach below. You can reach this one-of-a-kind Italian beach either by shuttle or by boat from Porto Numana.
3. Paraggi Beach, Portofino
Get in touch with your inner sun god or goddess at this ritzy beach, located just a short drive from the port town of Portofino in the Italian Riviera. If you like your sun and surf served up with a side of celebrity, then this is your spot — it’s not uncommon to see the rich and famous (and often extremely good looking) strolling along Paraggi’s shoreline. No celebrity sightings? No worries, you still have the breathtakingly beautiful blue Ligurian Sea to gawk at. Plus, there are plenty of restaurants and quality shops nearby to keep you busy when you start to get a little too tan from lying out in Italy’s sun. If you’re not staying in a hotel right near the beach, it’s still an easy spot to get to; buses run from Portofino to the beach about every fifteen minutes.
2. La Guardia, Elba
The Tuscan region of Italy is more known for its famous vineyards and olive groves than its beaches, but the Tuscan island of Elba can hold its own when it comes to lazy living down by the shore. Elba is Italy’s third largest island, and it offers up nearly endless delights along the shores of its 150 beaches. The best beach on Elba, though, is arguably la Guardia, where dramatic dark cliffs plunge into the deep blue sea below. Elba’s beaches can get suffocatingly crowded, especially during the summer months, but la Guardia stays relatively quiet all year round. So if you prefer listening to the sound of crashing waves over the chatter of other beach goers, then this is the Italian beach for you.
The island of Capri off the coast of Southern Italy has long been famed as an escape for the rich and famous. Once you arrive on the island, after taking a ferry from either Naples or Sorrento, try to snag a spot on a boat tour down at the marina — boating around the island is absolutely the best way to soak up the sun at Capri. If you’re lucky, your boat captain will be well versed in celebrity sightings, and hopefully he can point out the opulent villas that once housed the likes of Mariah Carey, Jackie Onassis, Leonardo DiCaprio, and others, tucked high above the blue water on dramatic cliffs. A must-stop on your Capri boat tour? The Blue Grotto, a sea cave that glitters with a brilliant blue glow, thanks to two small holes that allow sunlight to flood the cave. You’ll need to transfer into a tiny rowboat to make it into the opening of the cave, but the transfer is most definitely worth it.