8 beautiful seaside towns and islands in Italy

From the world-famous shores of Sardinia to the picturesque cliffs of the Amalfi Coast and the colorful villages of Cinque Terre, we can all agree that Italy’s coastal towns are celebrated worldwide. But beyond these popular Italian summer retreats, there are hidden gems along Italy’s coastline that remain largely unknown to outsiders. Join me as we explore these exclusive Italian coastal towns, including some secluded beaches near Rome, cherished mainly by locals!

1. Monte Circeo & Sabaudia, Lazio

Just a 1.30hr drive from Rome, Monte Circeo is one of those seaside locations where —apart from a few exceptions — you will only find Italians — especially Romans! It isn’t very well known amongst foreigners, and in comparison to Puglia it doesn’t have the same white sandy beaches. But the water is crystal clear and beautiful, and the plus side? These towns and beaches are so close to Rome that it makes it perfect for a day trip or a weekend getaway from the Italian capital! You can either go to the beaches along the seafront of Monte Circeo, or in the beautiful seafront of Sabaudia (the town built by Mussolini, my personal favorite). Or, like I always prefer, stay at the stunning Hotel Punta Rossa or rent a boat for the day at the port and head to the small bays. The water is fantastic, and if you like snorkeling, it’s great! Also, Sabaudia and Monte Circeo are full of cute local seafood restaurants, and happy hour is definitely the best time of the day. A glass of wine, the sunset and the beach…what more could you want? Oh, and there’s also some great shopping in the local boutiques!

👉 CHECK OUT MY GUIDE TO SABAUDIA

Seaside towns near Rome: a weekend in Sabaudia
The best restaurants in Sabaudia and San Felice Circeo

2. Island of Ponza, Lazio

Ponza Island is a lesser-known island near Rome located less than a two-hour ferry ride from the Port of Anzio or a three-hour ferry ride from Naples. It’s not very well known among foreigners, I think it’s because they’re trying to keep it a secret. The island is stunning, with a lively port filled with houses splashed in different colors. The food is exceptional, the sunsets are to die for and the sea is jaw-dropping. Unless you have your private boat, head to the port (or in other parts of the island for cheaper deals) and hire a boat for the day. If, instead, you don’t know how to drive a boat, you can always reserve a private boat tour of the island. Just keep in mind that Ponza is an island that should be explored by boat, this isn’t a place to visit if you like beaches! It’s filled with heavenly beach coves that can only be reached by boat. If you know your way around the sea, don’t miss out on the stunning nearby island of Palmarola.

👉 CHECK OUT MY GUIDE TO PONZA ISLAND

Guide to Ponza: The Magical Island Near Rome
how to get to ponza island and where to stay

3. Monte Argentario, Tuscany

Everyone knows about Tuscany. Yet somehow, it’s mostly famous for its rolling Tuscan hills, medieval towns and exceptional wines. But that’s not it! Tuscany also has some wonderful coastal towns, and the plus side? Some coastal towns and beaches are near Rome. Porto Santo Stefano and Porto Ercole are just the most famous ones. If you like sandy beaches, head to la Feniglia, la Giannella or even Ansedonia. But if you’re into snorkeling and diving, the best places to be are where the rocky coastline slopes down into the sea. Get yourself a reservation at the luxury Hotel Pellicano near Porto Ercole, or the beautiful Hotel Torre di Cala Piccola, located in the most beautiful bay of Argentario. Cala Piccola, Cala Grande and Cala del Gesso have amazing waters. For those that don’t have a private boat but want to head to Giglio island, get the ferry from Porto Santo Stefano to Giglio and head to the pebbly beaches of le Cannelle, Arenella, and Caldane.

👉 CHECK OUT MY GUIDE TO MONTE ARGENTARIO

Best Italian coastal towns
Best Italian coastal towns

4. Ischia Island, Campania

Nestled off the Naples coast, Ischia is a lesser-known yet captivating island, brimming with thermal baths, charming towns, and vineyards. It stands as a serene alternative to the bustling streets of Naples and the more frequented Capri. Easily accessible from Naples or Rome, Ischia invites travelers to its diverse landscapes, from relaxing thermal spas to vibrant local cuisine. Each town on the island, like the chic Sant’Angelo or lively Forio, offers unique experiences, with accommodations ranging from luxury resorts like the Miramare Sea Resort to quaint boutique hotels like the Casa al Sole Boutique Hotel. The island’s culinary delights, particularly fresh seafood and traditional dishes, are a treat for food lovers. Ischia, with its blend of natural beauty, historical richness, and laid-back charm, is an unmissable destination for those seeking an authentic Italian island experience.

👉  CHECK OUT MY GUIDE TO ISCHIA

The best things to see and do in Ischia

5. Island of Elba, Tuscany

You will probably remember the name of this island from your history books. The island of Elba, off the Tuscany coast, is known for having been Napoleon Bonaparte’s harbor during his exile. And even though he got tired of it after 100 days, trust me, you won’t! The island boasts sensational beaches with crystal-clear waters. From rocky beaches to sandy and pebbly beaches, all the way to a stunning red sand beach – Cala Seregola. Stay at La Guardia Hotel.

Best Italian coastal towns
Photo by Nico Cavallini su Unsplash

6. Trabocchi Coast, Abruzzo

The Trabocchi Coast, located in Abruzzo, is a stunning 70-kilometer stretch from Ortona to San Salvo. Known for its characteristic trabocchi, which are ancient wooden fishing structures, this coastline combines historical charm with natural beauty. These trabocchi, which date back to as early as the 15th century, now serve dual purposes: some are still used for fishing while others have been transformed into unique dining experiences offering local seafood. The coast is adorned with pebble beaches and clear waters, making it an ideal spot for those seeking tranquility away from the more crowded tourist destinations​​​​​​.

Best Italian coastal towns

7. Sirolo, Marche

Sirolo, located in the Marche region on the Adriatic coast, is a hidden gem often overshadowed by more famous Italian coastal towns. This quaint town offers breathtaking views from its cliff-top setting and features pristine beaches such as the Urbani Beach and San Michele Beach. Sirolo, along with its neighbor Numana, provides a low-key yet beautiful coastal experience. The area is also more budget-friendly compared to other Italian seaside destinations, making it a popular choice among Italians who appreciate its beauty and affordability​​.

Best Italian coastal towns
Photo by Azat Satlykov on Unsplash

8. Gargano, Puglia

Gargano in Puglia is another spectacular region, known for its dramatic coastlines, lush forests, and the iconic white cliffs overlooking azure seas. While Puglia’s Salento area often garners more attention, Gargano offers equally stunning landscapes and less crowded beaches. One of the highlights is the Baia delle Zagare, with its famous sea stacks and pebble beaches accessible from select hotels such as the Hotel Baia delle Zagare. This area provides an excellent base for exploring the surroundings, including the charming fishing structures known as trabocchi, similar to those found along the Abruzzo coast​​​​.

Hotel Baia delle Zagare: A Beach Hotel in Puglia for your Vacation to Italy

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.

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