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Nine of the best Italian beaches

Riserva dello Zingaro in Sicily

Back in 2015 I blogged about five of the best Italian beaches. Four years later I thought it’s probably time to update the list since I’ve visited loads more! Suffice to say some haven’t made this new list, although they’re still pretty amazing so check out the other post too.

You may think that some of these are not really ‘beaches’ – especially if your definition of a beach means ‘sand’. And that’s fair enough as some of these are pebble beaches or even just rocks! They’re all stunning though and well worth a visit.

So here are my nine best Italian beaches (in no particular order).

Riserva naturale dello Zingaro, Sicily

Zingaro is a natural reserve with seven beaches, located between San Vito lo Capo and Scopello in Sicily. There are two entrances – one on the San Vito lo Capo side and one on the Scopello side and if you were to walk the entire reserve, you’re looking at around 7km. It costs €5 per person and be prepared to walk! I highly recommend wearing trainers as it’s a nature reserve so the paths are all natural.

This is the first beach on the San Vito lo Capo side – isn’t it stunning? From the entrance, it takes around 15 minutes to walk here and – as it’s the first beach – it can get pretty crowded. Another top tip is to come prepared with food and drinks as there’s only one small shop at the entrance and nothing inside.

Riserva dello Zingaro in Sicily

We visited three of the beaches by foot when we visited but we saw all of the beaches when we rented a boat one afternoon. Even though it’s the most crowded, the first beach was definitely my favourite!

Scopello, Sicily

We took a drive to Scopello from San Vito lo Capo, which took around 45 minutes or so. Scopello also has an entrance to the Reserva Naturale dello Zingaro, however it also has a fabulous swimming spot right by the faraglioni which is before the reserve. Faraglioni refers to rock formations in the sea – you’ve probably heard of the famous Faraglioni in Capri.

Scopello in Sicily

This ‘beach’ costs €7 per person to visit and there is a little cafe where you can buy lunch and drinks. There’s also several vending machines (including ice-cream and coffee!). The building in the picture is both private apartments and also a museum as it’s where the Tonnaro was years ago. ‘Tonnaro’ refers to the methods they used to catch tuna, using tunnels made from nets, and not a building (as I thought). Although there’s always a building because they needed somewhere to keep all the nets and their equipment. Every hour or so they run free tours where they tell you all about the history of the Tonnaro – I highly recommend it.

Cala Rossa, Favignana

Cala Rossa in Favignana

Favignana is one of the Aegadian islands, situated off the coast of Sicily. When we visited, we flew into Palermo then drove to Trapani to get the ferry to the island. Cala Rossa is just one of the beaches on the island and the water is like swimming in the Caribbean.

Cala Rossa, like many Italian beaches, is not a sandy beach – it’s rocks, so accessing the water can sometimes be tricky – I highly recommend buying some diving shoes! There are many places to hire a boat though, which then makes for easy swimming. This is definitely one of the best places I’ve ever swum! Here’s why you should put Favignana on your Italy travel list!

Cala Porto, Puglia

Another stunning – although fairly crowded – beach, which you should put on your list is Cala Porto in Polignano a Mare in Puglia. Just look at it!

Cala Porto in Polignano a Mare

It’s right in the town and very easy to access. It’s a pebble beach though so wearing diving shoes is strongly advised as it can be painful to walk on. There’s also a private area with sun loungers and umbrellas if you prefer something a bit more comfortable.

Cala dell’Acqua, Ponza

Ponza is an island in Lazio. When we visited we flew in to Rome, got a train to Formia and then a ferry to Ponza (it sounds much longer than it actually was).

Cala dell’Acqua is a bit of a drive from the main town (around 15 minutes or so) but it was right near the holiday villa we were renting. It’s not very crowded as it’s mainly locals, so is a great place to swim and relax. There aren’t any restaurants but there is a little van selling fresh sandwiches. If you have your own transport then it’s only 5 to 10 minutes to the nearest restaurants.

Isola Bella, Taormina

We’ve been to Taormina, in Sicily, many times and we love it! It’s a fairly big town so there’s lots to do and see.

Taormina is a town on the east coast of Sicily and is about a 45 minute drive from Catania airport. Isola Bella is a stunning beach, which is fairly easily accessed via stairs (not much fun walking back up though).

Isola Bella beach in Taormina

There are a couple of restaurants at the top of the stairs with spectacular views over Isola Bella, our favourite being il Gabianno, although it’s best to go at lunch to enjoy the view.

Cala Brandinchi, Sardinia

Although I’m not a huge fan of Sardinia in general (it doesn’t feel very ‘Italian’), they certainly have the most stunning beaches! One of my absolute favourites is Cala Brandinchi in Olbia. It’s also referred to as ‘Little Tahiti’ and you can see why.

Cala Brandinchi in Sardinia

The sand is soft and white, the water is so clear you can see right through it and it’s calm. My ideal beach!

Faro, Anacapri

In Capri, most people head for the very expensive beach by the Faraglioni. Don’t get me wrong, it is beautiful and iconic but it’s also a very long walk, which is torture going back up as it’s very steep (and don’t forget the heat).

As an alternative, head for the free il Faro (lighthouse, in Italian) beach in Anacapri and swim with the locals.

Il Faro in Anacapri

The only way to get there is to drive, get a taxi or the bus as it’s not in walking distance. If you love jumping off rocks, this is your beach! If you prefer something a little more comfortable, you can pay to access Lido del Faro. They have a great restaurant too.

Tropea, Calabria

I will never forget Tropea because it’s where I was when I heard that the UK was leaving the EU….

Moving on from that depressing thought… Tropea has a stunning beach with beautiful, clear water and soft sand.

Tropea beach from above

The beautiful Santa Maria dell’Isola Church sits on a rock, which divides the beach into two. You can visit the church too as long as you’re wearing appropriate clothing – no swimwear allowed.

Santa Maria dell’Isola Church in Tropea

So there you have it. Nine absolutely stunning beaches and swimming spots in the south of Italy that you simply can’t miss. Just don’t forget those diving shoes!

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Nine of the best Italian beaches

Kirsty Marrins

Reader, writer, occasional runner, travel lover.



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