Guide to Porto Ercole and Porto Santo Stefano

For Luca’s 30th birthday, I surprised him and took him to Porto Ercole in Tuscany’s Monte Argentario. Just a 1 hour and 50-minute drive from Rome, Argentario is an amazing seaside retreat in Tuscany (especially frequented by Romans). Located in Southern Tuscany in the Maremma area bordering the Lazio region, Monte Argentario is a promontory connected to the inland by two strips of sand: the Giannella and the Feniglia, which form a lagoon in the middle known as the Laguna di Orbetello. From Porto Santo Stefano and Porto Ercole to Cala Piccola and Orbetello, there are various places where you can stay. But what are the best things to do in Argentario? From renting a boat for the day to explore the beautiful beach coves and nearby Giglio and Giannutri islands, to dining in yummy restaurants and relaxing in cool beach clubs, here’s my guide to Porto Ercole, Porto Santo Stefano and Monte Argentario in general. 

Where to stay

There are various places where you can stay in Monte Argentario. When I surprised Luca for his birthday we stayed in Porto Ercole, my friend Federica gave me the keys to her beautiful house. But here’s all the options:

Porto Ercole

where to stay in Monte Argentario, Italy

I think this is the cutest place to stay in Monte Argentario. The harbor is characteristic, there’s a Spanish fortress on one side, and the fact that you can walk pretty much everywhere and forget about your car is really a plus! The port area is filled with restaurants, bars and boat rentals, there are also some cute boutiques. If you want to explore the nearby beach coves you can rent a boat. If instead you want to head to some sandy beaches you need to hop on your car and head to Feniglia, Giannella or Ansedonia.

In general, I’d say that if you want a mix of everything, as well as nightlife, this is a great place to stay in. For the most luxurious experience, stay at Hotel Il Pellicano—this is the real dolce vita style but it’s not right in the center of Porto Ercole. Another fantastic one with its private beach is La Roqqa. If you want something right in town, check out the Porto Ercole Guest House or the Brezza Marina Guest House.

Porto Santo Stefano

Porto Santo Stefano travel guide

This is the other famous harbor in Monte Argentario. The vibe here is more of a town rather than a seaside port, in fact it’s much bigger than Porto Ercole and it has two harbors. From Porto Santo Stefano you can also catch the ferries to the Giglio and Giannutri islands. There are some beautiful beach coves close to Porto Santo Stefano. In terms of restaurants, there are some good one but in terms of nightlife it’s not as buzzing as Porto Ercole. If you’re searching for a beach hotel you’ll have to go to Baia D’Argento or Hotel Villa Domizia although they’re 2-3km from the town. Otherwise, you can opt for the Bike & Boat Argentario Hotel right in the center.

Cala Piccola

where to stay in Monte Argentario, Italy

Suppose you’re searching for a secluded sanctuary, with access to the stunning Cala Piccola (one of the most beautiful beach coves of the Argentario, which cannot be accessed by boat). In that case, you should definitely stay in the Cala Piccola resort. There’s a hotel called Hotel Torre di Cala Piccola with a stunning view of the Giglio island and beautiful sun-loungers on terraced rocks. There’s also a complex of houses that you can rent if you’re planning on staying with more people. Luca’s parents always stay here and it’s really a charm. Romantic and relaxing. It’s also just a short drive from Porto Santo Stefano. Just keep in mind that if you want to go somewhere you’ll need a car or have your hotel call a taxi, you’re not within walking distance from anywhere.

Orbetello

where to stay in argentario
Photo by Paolo Comai on Unsplash

This is the historic town that’s surrounded by the lagoon. If you’d like to immerse yourself in history and you’re more interested in heading to the sandy beaches of Feniglia, Giannella and Ansedonia this is a good place to stay. It’s also easy to explore the nearby Tuscan towns from here. Just make sure to get your accommodation in the historic center. One that my aunt recommended is the charming Noi 2 Vacanze Orbetello Centro, great quality-price ratio. If you need an apartment in Orbetello, there’s the Il Mulino Apartment for up to 4 people. There are also yummy restaurants in Orbetello!


Where to go to the beach

There are plenty of stabilimenti where you can go to the beach. If you like golden sand, Feniglia, Giannella and Ansedonia are the best beach locations in the Argentario. Head to la Capannuccia or Tuscany Bay Beach for trendy beach clubs.

If you prefer a rocky beach, the Riva del Marchese beach club in Le Viste area near Porto Ercole is great. This is where I took Luca to the beach on our third day in Argentario. Make sure to reserve in advance (especially for the weekend) or you’ll never find a spot. They offer beach beds and umbrellas either on the beach or on the grass, make sure to specify where you prefer. They also have a nice beach bar that serves delicious salads! You pay for everything at the end. The price is €40 for two beach beds and an umbrella.

Guide to Monte Argentario and Porto Ercole
Best beaches in Monte Argentario

Where to eat in Argentario

While it’s true that finding a good restaurant in Monte Argentario isn’t always easy,  there are exceptions.

Porto Ercole Restaurants

If you’re in Porto Ercole definitely go to Alicina Hostaria for a gourmet meal (beautiful outdoor area, top-quality wine selection and great food). There’s also La Pinta along the lungomare that serves more traditional Italian dishes. And if you want to splurge, reserve dinner at the stunning restaurant of Hotel Pellicano.

the best restaurants in Tuscany's Monte Argentario
Guide to Monte Argentario and Porto Ercole
the best restaurants in Tuscany's Monte Argentario

Porto Santo Stefano Restaurants

For restaurants in Porto Santo Stefano go to Molo 26, Trattoria il Moletto and I Due Pini (great setting). But these are just a few! There are plenty of restaurants in Ansedonia, Giannella, and Orbetello too! Close to Giannella there’s Ristorante Domizia which has a beautiful view and gourmet cuisine. For more restaurant recommendations, check out my list of best restaurants in Monte Argentario.

Porto Santo Stefano travel guide
where to eat near Argentario
Porto Santo Stefano travel guide

Countryside restaurants near Argentario

If you have a car and you’re staying longer than a weekend, I absolutely recommend visiting the Tuscan countryside and dining at one of the cute restaurants. Two restaurants to keep in mind are Casa Ricci, a super cute Agriturismo in Magliano in Toscana with string lights, delicious food and lovely service. Get the cured meats and cheese to start and the octopus salad. For a gourmet meal, head to Da Maria at Capalbio. They have an amazing terrace overlooking the countryside, or a lovely indoor dining room.

monte argentario travel guide porto ercole travel guide porto santo stefano travel guide
monte argentario travel guide porto ercole travel guide porto santo stefano travel guide
monte argentario travel guide porto ercole travel guide porto santo stefano travel guide
where to eat in capalbio

Renting a boat in Porto Ercole

Hiring a boat is a must during your stay in Argentario. If you’re in Porto Ercole you can hire a boat at Trillocco. They have boats that require a boat license as well as others that don’t require it. While I was there I rented a 5.6m dinghy with a 40 e-tec engine for €160 (this was the price in July, in August it will surely be more expensive) gas costs not included. Please keep in mind that this is one of the cheapest prices you’ll find, hiring a boat like this can easily cost €250 for the day.

Boat rental Porto Ercole
Boat rental Porto Ercole

On our boat day we went from Porto Ercole to L’Isola Rossa and back and spent €11 on gas. Make sure to call in advance, especially if you’re coming in high season and on weekends to rent your boat! While it’s more expensive, it’s a completely different experience to explore Monte Argentario by boat. The peninsula is characterized by stunning beach coves, from l’Isola Rossa and Punta Ciana, to Cala Grande and Cala del Gesso. If you hire a nice boat you could even head to the famous Giannutri (it’s a natural reserve) or Giglio islands! Make sure to ask the boat rental which area of the promontory is best to explore according to the winds! If you don’t feel up to driving a boat, you can always opt for a mini cruise that takes you from Porto Ercole to the Giglio and Giannutri islands. Check this mini cruise experience out.

Best beach coves in Argentario
Guide to Monte Argentario and Porto Ercole

If you want to grab lunch to take on your boat day, absolutely stop by Sandwich Club in Porto Ercole. From the line outside you’ll know it’s good. They have a menu with panini, salads, and tramezzini that are perfect for taking on your boat. If you’re a large group you can also order the day before and pick them up before heading to the boat rental.

guide to porto ercole argentario
Boat rental Porto Ercole

If you enjoyed my tips, check out my guide to the best beach hotels in Italy for more Italian summer inspiration.


How to get around Monte Argentario

You can find taxis and local buses but I do not recommend using these to get around during the day as buses can be unpredictable and taxis may be hard to find. The best way to move around in Argentario is to rent a car or a scooter. This way, you have the freedom to move around and also explore the beautiful Tuscan inland, which I definitely recommend if you’re here for a longer period and not just for a few days.

Car rental

If you plan on renting a car, I’d recommend booking it from the city you’re coming from instead of renting it at Argentario or Orbetello. The road to get to Argentario from Rome and other cities is safe and straightforward, and you can save up on train costs. Here are a few car rental comparison sites where you can easily book your car from major Italian cities:

  • Autoeurope: This car rental company has deals with the biggest car rentals out there. You won’t find the option of renting your car from Argentario or Orbetello, you’ll have to pick up your car from one of the bigger Italian cities like Florence or Rome, for example.
  • DiscoverCars: The same goes for Discover Cars, they’re a car rental comparison site. Again, you won’t find the possibility to rent your car directly from Argentario or Orbetello, you’ll have to pick up your car from an Italian city.

If instead, you want to rent a car for the day, the Argentario website lists Agenzia Hertz in Porto Santo Stefano as a reliable option. They also have a car delivery option so you won’t have to go to the pick-up point, they’ll deliver the car for you.

Scooter Rental

If you don’t want to drive to Argentario but you still want to explore it on your own, you could opt for a scooter rental for the day. I haven’t found any in Porto Santo Stefano but if you’re staying in Porto Ercole, you could opt for Dolores Scooter Rental. Their prices start from €40 for the day.

Taxis

If you need to reserve a taxi, you can ask the hotel to call one for you. I have never personally done this as we always go with a car, but the Argentario website listed this taxi driver that you can call.

Buses

Every time I come to Argentario I come with my car so this doesn’t come from personal experience but from researching online. What I’ve seen is that the Tiemme company runs the buses but I’ve also found this website that tells you all the stops and the schedule for each stop for Orbetello – Argentario bus line. Again, I think this is the worst option, especially in the summertime, when there are lots of people and it’s very hot and the buses aren’t known for always being on time.

Author

I'm the daughter of an Italian family of diplomats, the second of three children, and a global citizen. I've lived in 7 cities around the world, I have a gigantic crush on Italy and my name has been mispronounced more times than I can remember.

4 Comments

  1. Grazie Federica! My wife and I will be travelling to a few places in Italy, and our time in Tuscany will be more enjoyable having read your blog in Porto Ercole and the surrounding area.

  2. How do you get around from the hotel to beaches, restaurants, shops? Do they have taxis, busses, etc?

    • Hi Renee! Thanks for the question, I updated my guide with the information. Personally, I always go around with my car as I go directly from Rome and I think renting a car is the best option, or a scooter for the day (if you’re comfortable with one obviously). But I inserted the link to the bus stops and a taxi company you can call. Let me know if you have any more questions 🙂

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