Wave arrivederci to crowds of tourists, gridlocked traffic and over-priced gelato. We’ve tracked down 12 of Italy’s most beautiful sea-side hideaways for you to discover this summer.
Famous for being the stiletto heel on the boot of Italy, Puglia’s sunny coastline is popular with in-the-know Italians looking for a quiet patch of sand to call their own in June, July and August. The following gems are well worth the road trip from either Bari or Brindisi…
Porto Selvaggio: Porto Selvaggio’s sheltered bay comes ready-made for sunbathers. Sprawl out on the smooth rock ledges or take a picnic under the shade of the pine trees. If you feel like exploring, follow the paths that wind along the coast and lose yourself in the scent of the local wild rosemary and myrtle.
GPS coordinates: 40°09’38.6″N 17°57’58.8″E
Porto Cesareo: Dubbed the ‘Maldives of Italy’, Porto Cesareo certainly lives up to its promise of dreamy, desert-island beaches. Set right next to a lagoon, you can take your pick from several secluded coves in Torre Lapillo Bay and Punto Prosciutto.
GPS coordinates: 40°17’24.9″N 17°48’40.8″E
Fact: With the exception of Sardinia, Sicily has more beaches, bays and coves than any other region of Italy. More beaches equals fewer crowds. And fewer crowds means there’s a strong likelihood of finding a deserted piece of paradise all to yourself. Here are just a few suggestions for lesser known beaches within an easy drive from Trapani or Catania – grab a lemon granita and go test the waters…
Marettimo: Located off the west coast of Sicily, sleepy Marettimo is a seaside town best savoured over a week or two. Long walks, adrenalin-fuelled dives or lazy days filled with sunshine and naps are all perfectly acceptable game plans here.
GPS coordinates: 37°58’14.9″N 12°04’14.3″E
Riserva Dello Zingaro: Set in a tiny bay by the Tyrrhenian Sea, Macarro Beach isn’t the easiest place to reach, in fact, it’s a little bit of a trek – but as soon as your feet sink into the sand and meet the warm waters you’ll realise it was all well worth the journey.
GPS coordinates: 38°04’55.0″N 12°48’30.5″E
Scopello Beach: With its tropical-looking sea stacks rising out of the sea, you’d be forgiven for mistaking Scopello Beach for a far-flung beach in South-East Asia. If you fancy taking the plunge, there’s a dive centre located in the neighbouring village offering excursions into the rocky sea-shore and its colourful marine life.
GPS coordinates: 38°04’17.9″N 12°49’18.0″E
Isola Bella: The pebbly Isola Bella is not just a beach, but also an island and nature reserve that’s home to rare and beautiful birds and lizards. Known as the “Pearl of the Ionian Sea”, Isola Bella is surrounded by clear, inviting water, rocky mountains and pine forests. Pack your snorkel and a sense of adventure.
GPS coordinates: 37°51’04.8″N 15°17’57.5″E
As if there aren’t already enough reasons to love this part of Italy, Tuscany goes and pulls an ace out of its sleeve in the form of its very lovely (and for the most part, secret) beaches. If you’re looking to combine a foodie break with a little bit of R and R, schedule a pit-stop from Perugia at one of these hidden beauties…
Parco Naturale della Maremma: Right between the port town of Talamone and the Ombrone estuary, one of the most spectacular stretches of beach in all of Italy awaits. Thank us later.
GPS coordinates: 42°39’22.0″N 11°05’08.2″E
Marina Di Grosetto: Just south of Marina di Grosetto is the completely unspoiled Marina di Albarese beach, a four-mile bay fringed by thick forest. Wild and rugged, bellissimo doesn’t even cover it.
GPS coordinates: 42°38’56.9″N 11°02’05.0″E
Happily sandwiched between the Apennines and the Adriatic Sea, the Le Marche region does village charm and seaside bliss in equal measure. Map out your beach adventure from Ancona and paradise is yours.
Spiaggia delle Due Sorelle, Sirolo, Marche: A short boat ride from Sirolo’s Porto Humano will take you to The Beach of the Two Sisters and its powder soft sand, dramatic cliffs and gentle Adriatic waves. With beaches like this, who needs the Caribbean?
GPS coordinates: 43°31’11.1″N 13°37’05.6″E
Portonovo: Located on the pristine shores of the Conero Riviera, in the heart of the Parco del Conero national park, Portonovo has got all the ingredients you need for a low key beach holiday. Some say it’s the most beautiful beach on the entire Adriatic coast. They might be right.
GPS coordinates: 43°33’50.7″N 13°35’21.0″E
You don’t have to venture very far in Calabria to discover secret beaches. After all, it’s where Italy dips its toe into the Tyrrhenian Sea. Take off from Lamezia Terme or Crotone – the Ionian coast is calling…
Caminia: The small but perfectly formed beach town of Caminia is located in Catazaro Lido on the Ionian coast. A favourite with Calabrians, the beach is mostly tourist-free, surrounded by dramatic cliffs and shimmering water. Pack a picnic of local snacks and you’ll have no need to leave this beauty spot.
GPS coordinates: 38°44’42.0″N 16°33’23.4″E
Scilla: Picture-perfect Scilla is the stuff of fairytales. Really, it is. According to Homer’s Odyssey it was home to the fearsome monster Scylla who, along with Charybdis (another nasty piece of work) guarded the narrow Strait of Messina. Ancient legends aside, these days Scilla is a quiet little seaside town, characterised by gelato-coloured houses and a castle that comes complete with spectacular panoramic views. By far, the icing on the cake though is the beautiful, wide sandy beach. And not a sea monster in sight.
GPS coordinates: 38°15’04.2″N 15°43’07.1″E
Have you discovered an off-the-beaten-track beach in Italy? Share your tips and advice in the comments section below!
Flights to Italy
- Fiona Hilliard