The best beaches in Italy

With nearly 5000 miles of coastline, it’s not surprising that Italy has a mesmerising variety of beaches. There’s the dramatic cliff-hugged bays of the Amalfi Coast and the glamourous Tuscan Riviera, where rows of perfectly lined parasols stand proud on the pale gold sands. Then there’s the islands; ranging from Sardinia’s glittering white coves to Ischia’s volcanic shores and bubbling hot springs. We asked Angelo Davino, our Italian travel expert, to tell us about the country's best beaches.

Meet Angelo

“ Born in Amalfi, I was surrounded by stunning coastlines from an early age. Childhood holidays were spent in all-Italian beach towns like Ostia and Fregene; I have cherished memories of family gatherings in seaside trattorias and slurping Lemon granitas under the shade of an ombrellone. One particular trip stands out in my memory – a summer in Sardinia, where we explored storybook towns and enjoyed days sailing on Costa Smeralda’s clear blue waters.

Even after more than three decades in the UK, my Italian roots remain strong and I’m passionate about designing holidays that capture the true essence of Italy. I use my local insights and connections to handpick the finest hotels and authentic experiences, working with exceptional guides and local partners. Drawing from my expertise, here’s my view on the country’s best beaches.”

What are the best beaches in Sardinia?

“ In my book, Sardinia takes the crown as Italy's top beach destination. With its white sands and turquoise lagoons, it's on par with the Caribbean and Maldives. The north is more dramatic; think granite cliffs and rocky coasts speckled with powder-soft bays. I recommend the Costa Smeralda; L’Ea Bianca Luxury Resort has several phenomenal beaches nearby such as Portu Li Coggi and Spiaggia Capriccioli.

Pelosa beach,Sardinia

I personally favour the south. Here, the landscapes are shaped by the sirocco wind from Africa, resulting in sweeping dunes and long white beaches. It’s all Mediterranean natural beauty; coastlines sprinkled with shrubs and pine trees and low-rise buildings that maintain the scenic charm. Standout beaches on the south include Spiaggia di Nora, framed by a centuries-old church and Spiaggia di Monte Cogoni – Baia di Chia Resort Sardinia, Curio Collection by Hilton at Chia Laguna has an area on this beach reserved exclusively for guests.

Monte Cogoni Beach, Baia di Chia Resort Sardinia, Curio Collection by Hilton at Chia Laguna

Sardinia’s super-yacht lifestyle may attract an elite crowd, but it’s not just for the high-fliers; families love it here too. Many beaches have shallow inlets resembling natural swimming pools, and in some areas, you can wade out for 10 minutes and the water remains waist deep. Il Borgo, Forte Village is the ultimate pick for families, offering sporting academies, a Childrens’ Wonderland and a sheltered private beach.”

What are the best beaches in Sicily?

“ Sicily has been enjoying its time in the spotlight after featuring as one of the filming locations for the hit TV show, The White Lotus. While there are many amazing beaches, there's also much more to explore: bustling towns, crumbling ruins and even an active volcano. And let's not forget about the incredible food. Sicilian cuisine is world-renowned, offering everything from street-food delights like arancini and panelle to delicious plates of pasta con sarde served by the waters' edge.

Isola bella, Taormina, Sicily

Over on the northeastern coast is the elegant town of Taormina, framed by the imposing presence of Mount Etna. Perched high on a hill, it’s a delight to wander through the atmospheric streets lined with flower-filled balconies, quaint cafes and shops. Don’t miss a night at the Greco-Roman amphitheatre where events take place throughout the summer. You can reach Taormina’s beaches via a panoramic cable car ride – Isola Bella is a small rocky isle sat in a horseshoe bay. It’s quite pebbly and you’ll need water shoes but the picturesque setting and great snorkelling more than makes up for it.

To the west lies the island's vibrant capital, Palermo. Here, you'll discover Mondello Beach, a golden crescent framed by clear waters. It's a local favourite for its lively atmosphere – but be prepared to share the sand in summer due to its proximity to the city.

Cefalu, Sicily

About an hour outside of Palermo is charming Cefalù, a popular destination for day trippers. The town itself is beautiful, nestled beneath a towering limestone cliff with a historic cathedral and al-fresco restaurants. Spend a morning exploring the narrow cobblestone streets, then enjoy a siesta and a few gelati on the beach.

If you want a holiday with nothing more than sun, sand and luxury, head to Verdura Resort, A Rocco Forte hotel in south-west Sciacca. The remote setting between the glittering Mediterranean Sea and sun-blushed countryside means the beaches never get crowded – the mile-long stretch is private and perfect for leisurely sandy strolls.”

What are the best beaches in mainland Italy?

“ When it comes to the best beaches on the mainland, Italy has no shortage of stunning coastlines. Let's start with Tuscany. While many head here for the world-class food and wine of Chianti hill towns and cinematic drives under cypress trees, don't overlook the chance to mix countryside explorations with coastal bliss on the Tuscan Riviera. Stylish seaside resorts like Viareggio and Forte dei Marmi offer a true Italian seaside escape with umbrella-lined private beaches and exclusive beach clubs.

Spiaggia Grande Beach, Postiano

Heading down the coast to the Neapolitan Riviera, you'll stumble upon some of Italy's most picturesque beaches, framed by pastel-hued towns clinging to dramatic cliffs. Sorrento's Marina Grande and Positano's Spiaggia Grande are renowned for their breathtaking beauty and vibrant atmosphere.

Just off the coast lie the enchanting islands of Capri and Ischia. Capri has a chic fashion scene and lively nightlife, while Ischia is known for its rejuvenating wellness experiences – its volcanic springs and thermal parks have earned it the title of 'the capital of the European Spa'. Hotel Parco Smeraldo Terme offers both therapeutic outdoor thermal pools and a stunning setting on Maronti Beach.

Maronti Beach, Ischia

Heading northwest to Liguria, you'll find a coastline that's famous for its rugged beauty and charming seaside towns, especially Rapallo and super-glam Portofino. The Grand Hotel Bristol Resort & Spa is just a 10-minute walk from Rapallo. From here, you can plan days out exploring the local beaches, trekking spectacular coastal pathways and a visit to Cinque Terre, one of Italy's most Instagram-worthy spots.

Vernazza, Cinque Terre, Italy

Finally, Puglia, also known as the ‘heel of Italy’, is something of a hidden gem with charming, whitewashed towns, rustic cuisine and pristine beaches that rival any postcard. Canne Bianche Lifestyle Hotel, a chic beachfront retreat, serves as the ultimate launching pad for exploring the region's beauty. From here, you can easily hop around, discovering the iconic trulli houses in Alberobello and soaking in the stunning Baroque architecture of Lecce.”

Italy beaches: good to know

Public vs. Private

While Italy has many public beaches that are free for anyone to access, there are also numerous private beaches operated by beach clubs or hotels, known as bagni. You may need to pay a fee to access these private beaches, but they often offer amenities and services such as showers, changing rooms and lifeguards. You can easily spot which beach is ‘private’ by the orderly rows of candy-coloured parasols lining the shore.

Viareggio, Tuscany, Italy

Blue Flag Beaches

Italy is home to over 400 Blue Flag beaches, awarded for their cleanliness, and water quality. Some of the best examples include Varigotti Beach in Liguria and Mondello Beach in Sicily.

Lido Culture

In many Italian coastal towns, you'll find beach clubs known as "lidos" offering amenities such as lounge chairs, umbrellas, restaurants and bars. These lidos provide a convenient and comfortable way to enjoy a day at the beach, but note there is a fee which varies from location to location.

Praiano, Amalfi Coast, Italy

Peak Season

Italy's beach destinations, especially along the Amalfi Coast, Sicily, and Sardinia, can get crowded during the peak summer months of July and August. For a quieter experience, consider visiting in the shoulder seasons of late spring or early autumn.

Scuba Diving and Snorkelling

Italy offers excellent opportunities for scuba diving and snorkelling, with abundant marine life, underwater caves and shipwrecks to explore, particularly in regions like Sicily, Sardinia, and Liguria.

Octopus Head, La Maddalena Island


Ready to experience the sun-drenched shores of Italy? Whether you're dreaming of a blissful beach retreat or a multi-centre adventure that includes a coastal stay, we've got you covered with our range of tailormade Italy holidays. To find out more, view our Italy brochure or chat with a Personal Travel Expert to start crafting your perfect getaway.

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This feature was created on 22nd March 2024. The information within this feature is correct to the best of our knowledge at the time of print.

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