You may not have been to the best beach towns in Italy, but you’ll know them. Snapshots of the Amalfi Coast’s tumbling towns will have graced your Instagram feed, Portofino’s glitzy yachts and haute hotels will have served as cover models for your favourite magazines while Taormina will be most recognised for its supporting actor role in the second series of The White Lotus. So it should come as no surprise that we’ve dedicated an entire blog to them. After all, Italy is a country known and loved for its handsome history, coastal chic couture and impossibly blue seas. From the equally dramatic and quaint villages of the Cinque Terre to the carefully manicured glamour of Capri, you’re bound to find yourself a piece of coastal paradise while travelling around Italy’s shapely boot leg. Ready to embrace the la dolce vita? Read on to learn more about the best beach towns in Italy.
- The Romance of Positano, Amalfi Coast
- All the Colours of Cinque Terre, Liguria
- Be Enchanted by Capri, Campania
- The Ancient Charm of Taormina, Sicily
- The Allure of Portofino, Liguria
Perched on the dramatic cliffs of the Amalfi Coast is Positano, an iconic Mediterranean destination that perfectly encapsulates the essence of Italian coastal living. With its cascading pastel-coloured houses and beautiful beaches, this town is nothing short of a postcard-worthy paradise. One of the most popular beaches on the Amalfi Coast is Spiaggia Grande, a vibrant haven boasting epic city views. Sunbeds, colourful umbrellas, and toes-in-the-sand beach bars line the sandy shore here, so you won’t ever be too far away from a cold cocktail. Positano's charm extends beyond its beaches, though. Explore the town's narrow streets and winding alleys adorned with colourful flowers, quaint cafes and cute boutiques. And don't forget to visit the Church of Santa Maria Assunta, a fine example of Medieval architecture famous for its 12th-century Byzantine icon: the Madonna di Positano.
Next on our list of the best beach towns in Italy is the Cinque Terre, a collection of bustling fishing villages nestled along the rugged coastline of the Italian Riviera. Translating to ‘Five Lands’, this popular destination comprises five towns: Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. Each has its own distinct charm, characterised by picturesque harbours, colourful buildings, quaint streets and gorgeous sea views. The famous hiking route Sentiero Azzurro, meaning ‘Blue Path’, winds its way along the cliffs connecting the villages and offering sweeping views of the entire Cinque Terre coastline. Prefer to relax on the beach with a good book? The town of Monterosso al Mare is home to Fegina Beach, the largest and most popular stretch of sand in the area with a promenade selling gelatos. We suggest heading to Manarola, as its rocky shoreline is dotted with several scenic swimming spots including Spiaggia del Fossola, a gorgeous pebble beach that’s only accessible via a scenic trail that winds its way through delightful vineyards and olive groves.
See our selection of the most beautiful villages in Liguria.
This Mediterranean paradise is famous for its cosmopolitan vibes and natural wonders including some of the most exquisite beaches in Italy and the Grotta Azzurra (aka 'Blue Grotto'), a sea cave renowned for its clear turquoise waters. No visit to Capri would be complete without marvelling at the iconic faraglioni – oceanic rock formations created by millions of years of erosion. These towering limestone stacks rise dramatically from the sea to create an unforgettable backdrop for the nearby beaches, such as Bagni di Tiberio Beach, named after the ancient Roman Emperor Tiberius. When you’re sufficiently sunned, step into the heart of Capri Town and wander through its charming streets lined with luxury boutiques, stylish cafés and high-end restaurants. Continue to the famous Piazzetta di Capri, where you can sip on an espresso or glass of local wine and watch the world go by.
Got room on your bucket list for more of the best beach towns in Italy? Make sure to reserve a special spot for the captivating town of Taormina, perched high on the cliffs of the Ionian Sea in Sicily. This must-visit destination is certainly one of the most beautiful villages of Sicily. It has a lively cultural scene and is home to ancient ruins, picturesque streets and breathtaking beaches. Begin by exploring Isola Bella, a small island connected to the mainland by a narrow strip of shingle. Often referred to as the ‘Pearl of the Ionian Sea’, it was donated to the town by Ferdinand I of Bourbon, King of the Two Sicilies, in the early 19th century. Located just below Taormina is Mazzarò Beach, a beautiful stretch of coastline accessible via a scenic cable car ride or a leisurely walk along a winding path. Dive into the azure waters, rent a boat to explore the hidden coves, or find a table at one of the beachfront restaurants to savour a delicious meal with sea views.
Last but not least on our selection of the best beach towns in Italy is Portofino, a popular and idyllic destination known for its bustling harbor and luxurious yachts. While it may be small in size, Portofino boasts some of the most enchanting beaches in Italy including San Fruttuoso, a secluded bay that can only be reached by boat. It’s home to San Fruttuoso Abbey, a unique landmark that still houses the ashes of St Fructuosus after they were brought here by Greek monks in the eighth century. This glorious beach town is also a haven for food lovers who can indulge in freshly-caught seafood, mouth-watering pasta dishes and traditional Ligurian specialties. Enjoy lunch or dinner at one of the waterfront trattorias and treat your taste buds to trofie al pesto — a creamy pesto pasta dish you’ll still be dreaming about on your return journey home.
Header image by Faustine Poidevin