Have you been to Capri and fallen in love with its shores? Well, we agree—but it’s only the beginning. Italy has 4,723 miles of coastline, dotted with some of the most beautiful beaches and seaside towns in the entire world. Think white sand, limestone cliffs, and the bluest, clearest waters imaginable. It’s hard to pick exactly which beaches are the most beautiful, but we’ve narrowed it down to this list. From Sicily to Sardinia, and everywhere in between, here are 17 of the best beaches in Italy.
This gallery was originally published in 2014. It has been updated with new information.
Scala dei Turchi, Sicily
The beach at the base of Scala dei Turchi, a rocky cliff on the coast near Realmonte, is striking in its uniqueness. Its fiery bronze sands are a stunning contrast to the azure ocean in front and the pale gray cliffs behind. The area is famous for being one of Sicily’s most beautiful natural wonders.
The tiny, picturesque village of Atrani—located along the Amlfi Coast—is reminiscent of Italy’s most famous coastal towns, only much less crowded. Aside from its colorful cliffside perch, beautiful churches, and charming piazzas, the town has an idyllic beach flush against the Tyrrhenian Sea. Trust us: The views of the water bookended by two cliffs is hard to beat.
Chiaia di Luna, Ponza
Chiaia di Luna is quite easily one of the most scenic spots in all of Italy. The beach is a narrow crescent of silky sand at the base of a towering, 328-foot volcanic rock wall curved in a half-moon shape—hence its “luna” name. It’s located on Ponza, the largest island in the Pontine Archipelago, which is dense with spectacular beaches.
La Pelosa, Sardinia
Sardinia is famous for its incredible beaches, with plenty of options for white powdery sand, bright blue sea, and secluded nooks protected by pine forests. La Pelosa is beloved by those in the know for its ramshackle offshore castle, and for the way you can wade out for seemingly forever just up to your knees—almost like a huge saltwater swimming pool.
San Fruttuoso, Liguria
Located about halfway between Portofino and the small town of Camogli, San Fruttuoso is as picture-perfect as Italian beaches get. The small cove’s appeal lies in its hidden location (you can only reach it by hiking from Portofino or catching a ferry), gorgeous blue water, and backdrop of a medieval abbey surrounded by mountains.
Spiaggia dei Conigli, Lampedusa
The “Beach of the Rabbits” on the island of Lampedusa’s south side doesn’t just have an adorable name—it’s also one of the most dazzling stretches of sand in all of Europe. The aquamarine water is perfect for snorkeling, while the blindingly white sand is just waiting for sun worshipers.
Marasusa Beach is located in the town of Tropea, widely regarded as the jewel of Calabria and christened La Costa degli Dei, or “The Coast of the Gods.” It’s easy to see why deities would approve: Marasusa is home to scenic cliffs, pristine white sand, and calm, clear waters.
Baia dei Turchi, Puglia
Not to be confused with the beach at Scala Dei Turchi in Sicily (which also appears on this list), this sprawling beach is tucked away in a protected nature reserve in Puglia, just north of Otranto. Backed by a dense pine forest, Baia dei Turchi has a mile of white sand and water that happens to be some of the cleanest in the country, hence its Blue Flag status—an honor awarded to beaches that meet stringent environmental criteria.
Cala Goloritzé, Sardinia
Cala Goloritzé is one of Italy’s most famous beaches, located at the base of a ravine on Sardini’s picturesque northeastern coast. It’s tiny, but no less beautiful with its limestone cliffs, soft ivory sand, and striking, blue-green ocean. In fact, it’s so special that it was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995.
Vendicari Nature Reserve, Sicily
Right near the beautiful and underrated city of Siracusa (the closest airport is Catania), the Vendicari Nature Reserve is a protected haven where flamingos, herons, and storks are more populous than humans and the pale aqua waters are calm and clean. The miles-long national park is home to little coves and beautiful beaches (we’re fans of San Lorenzo Beach and Calamosche, pictured) where you’ll have more than enough room to spread out for the day.
Cala Pulcino, Lampedusa
The scenic Cala Pulcino is located on Lampedusa, the largest of the Italian Pelagie islands. You’ll need to spend half an hour hiking over rocks and through thick vegetation to get there, but upon arrival you’ll be rewarded with powdery sand, spectacular views, and the endless blue Mediterranean stretching into the distance.
Cala di Volpe, Sardinia
Cala di Volpe is located on Sardinia’s Costa Smeralda, one of the most beautiful (and expensive) stretches of coastline in all of Italy. The beach is famous for its Bermuda-blue water and the glamorous Hotel Cala di Volpe resort behind it, though you don’t need to be a guest to swim there.
Isola di Spargi, Sardinia
Located in the Maddalena Archipelago between Corsica and Sardinia, Isola di Spargi’s coastline could almost be mistaken for tropical Tahiti. The beaches here are not flanked by dramatic cliffs like in most other areas in Italy; instead, they are backed by palm trees and lush island plants. The shallow turquoise waters are perfect for snorkeling and the silvery sand is made for all-day sunbathing.
Spiaggia delle Due Sorelle, Marche
This super-secluded beach on the spectacular Riviera del Conero is accessible only by shuttle or boat from Porto Numana. The shore is made up of fine, white pebbles, which lead into the striking, emerald green Adriatic. The best views are from the ocean, where you can admire the steep white cliffs of Monte Conero towering over the beach before you.
Baia delle Zagare, Puglia
Accessible by land through its namesake hotel or via boat from Mattinata, Baia delle Zagare is as secluded and exclusive as they come. Sheltered by steep limestone cliffs, the half-mile beach allows just 30 visitors a day outside of hotel guests, keeping its shoreline pristine and perpetually uncrowded. Added bonus: The beach looks out toward some seriously photo-worthy rock formations, which jut out dramatically from the Adriatic.
Cala Tonnarella, Sicily
It’s a trek to get to Cala Tonnarella, a hidden cove in the Zingaro Nature Reserve on the Gulf of Castellammare. The beach is inaccessible by road, so you’ll have to hike about an hour to get there from the reserve’s southern car park. It’s worth the effort: Upon arrival, you’ll be met with a secluded and uncrowded paradise.
Spiaggia di Sansone, Elba Island
Tuscany’s Elba Island is home to many contenders for this list, but Sansone edges out the competition. Its pristine shore—a mixture of sand and smooth white pebbles—leads you to calm, transparent water. It’s shallow, too, making it popular among families and snorkelers.