When seeking out a summer getaway in Europe, an Italy beach vacation certainly should be on the top of your list. This boot-shaped nation offers everything a traveler can ask for: rich culture, great food, friendly people, moreover amazing historical sights, and wonderful beaches to visit! There is something for everyone in the country of Italy!
Italy Quick Info Guide
Capital city: Rome
Visa: Italy is part of the European Union, visa is not required for stays up to 90 days.
Safety: Italy is indeed a safe tourist destination with a relatively high global safety ranking. Tourists are less likely to become a crime victim when visiting Italian islands and coastal regions, but there are places that are less safe including Rome, Venice, Flores, Naples, and Milan.
In packed city centers or at crowded attractions take the precaution to avoid pickpockets and scammers. Keep your valuables under wrap, never leave your belongings unattended, and use officially licensed taxis.
Why is Italy perfect for a beach vacation?
Italy is not only the land of art and fashion, but with charming seaside towns and breathtaking ocean views, it is a place that will make you return year after year once you have experienced its special vibes.
An Italy beach vacation never can get boring: the culture and landscape are different in each part of the country and so are the beaches! The fact that it is bordered by 3 seas (Adriatic Sea on the east, Ionian Sea on the south, Tyrrhenian Sea on the west) gives this Mediterranean country its uniqueness.
Besides the spectacular mainland coastline, Italy has more than 300 islands that all offer a different type of experience for vacationers. The most popular ones are Sardinia, Sicily, Elba, Capri, and Ischia that are certainly worth a visit, but don’t be afraid to walk the extra mile and visit the lesser-knowns too!
No matter you seek out city beaches with top restaurants and superb bars in the Italian Riviera, or hidden spots on a southern island to enjoy the slow side of the life, Italy is definitely a place you should consider when choosing your next beach vacation destination.
Italy’s best 5 beaches
With more than 4700 miles of diverse coastline, Italy has perfect beaches for all types of beachgoers. It is pretty difficult to decide which are the bests, but here are some of the most beautiful ones to start with:
Marina Grande Beach – Positano
Marina Grande, also called Spiaggia Grande or Large Beach is Positano’s main beach and certainly one of the most popular spots on the Amalfi Coast. This dark sandy, 300 meters long beach is located just southeast of the town with restaurants, bars and cafes around. Should you wish to spend your Italy beach vacation in a lively and cosmopolitan environment, this is the right place to stay.
Cava dell’ Isola Beach – Ischia
The Cava dell’ Isola is Ischia’s best beach for families! With various sports opportunities such as beach volleyball, swimming, and snorkeling, it is impossible for kids to get bored here. On the other hand, adults can enjoy sitting at the beachside restaurant while having a good Italian meal and listening to the musicians playing on the beachfront.
Anginarra Beach – Maratea
Spiagga Anginarra is one of the largest beaches in Acquafredda Maratea. It has dark gray sand and crystal-clear blue waters. The beach is not easy to get to, but those who walk the extra mile will be rewarded with amazing views. This picturesque destination with 200 meters of sandy shore surrounded by a dramatic rocky shoreline and rugged cliffs is certainly one of the most beautiful places in South Italy.
Rena Majore Beach – Sardinia
Spiagga Rena Majore on the northernmost tip of Sardinia is Gallura’s top beach with fine golden sand and clear waters. This is a superb spot for those who wish to enjoy their time surrounded by nature. During the summer months, the calm and clear water full of fish offers perfect conditions for snorkeling and diving. The vast pine forest behind the beach provides shelter from the sun and wind. Should you look for an Italy beach vacation far from the crowd, Sardinia beaches won’t disappoint you!
Campo all’Aia Beach – Elba
This sheltered beach is the longest beach on Elba. It offers a wide stretch of fine sand that is perfect for kids to play in. Thanks to its shallow waters, Campo all’Aia is perfect for those who are not strong swimmers. Experienced water adventurers shouldn’t miss out snorkeling at the Roman cargo shipwreck that lies on the sea bed just a few hundred meters from the shore.
Beach activities in Italy
Given the extra-long coastline and pleasant climate, the country offers endless opportunities for water sports enthusiasts to spend their time actively and having fun. Let us give you some ideas about what the best beach activities are!
Italy has a developed boating culture and boating holidays are very popular. No matter you are after sailing, a yacht or motorboat experience, there are several clubs all over the country to take courses or hire a boat. Should you arrive with your own one, marinas can be found everywhere even in the small coastal towns.
Scuba diving is a popular water sport in the country and Italy is often referred to as one of the best diving destinations in the Mediterranean with interesting marine life and extensive marine reserve areas. However, the most known dive site of the country is a submerged bronze statue, the Christ of the Abyss at San Fruttuoso. The statue was placed underwater in 1954 as a memorial of those who lost their lives at the sea.
Italy is a mecca for freedivers! This extreme sport is very popular in the country and there are several Italian world record holders such as Umberto Pelizzari or Alessia Zecchini. Diving on one breath is not an easy thing; this sport requires complex training, but if you are interested in it, during a 1-2 weeks long Italy beach vacation you can easily learn the basics by signing up for a beginner freediving course at one of the licensed freediving centers.
Although Italy’s most famous windsurfing paradise is the Lake Garda in the Southern Alps, but some coastal spots, especially Sardinia’s north coast and Sicily’s south-west coast are also excellent for windsurfing! These pretty Italian islands enjoy ideal wind condition for almost 10 months per year! If you are a fan of windsurfing, make sure to book your stay at one of these places!
Although neither the Adriatic, Ionian or the Mediterranean Sea features tropical marine life, but one can observe a wide variety of marine species while snorkeling especially at rocky beaches. If you are interested in exploring what creatures live in the sea, put your mask and fins on, and let the adventure begin.
Best time for Italy beach vacation
Italy enjoys a Mediterranean climate with dry, hot summers and mild, wet winters. Keep in mind than the southern you go, the warmer the climate gets since the country stretches for over 700 miles from the north to the south.
Although each season has its own charm, but if you are looking for abundant sunshine and warm sea temperatures, then of course the main summers months are the best. However, this period can be busy and the prices are also higher.
Also note that from mid-August the 2-week national holiday begins. Many Italian take the entire month off and spend their vacation somewhere in the country which also adds to the summer crowds.
For those who seek out lower prices and less busy beaches, we recommend arriving in the shoulder seasons, before or after the peak season. May-June and September-October are perfect for an Italy beach holiday!
To check the current water temperatures, visit seatemperature.org.
Italy beach vacation costs
Italy is viewed as an expensive country for many, but in fact it is a great place for everyone to visit with a little flexibility and creativity.
The most popular cities and lovely beach towns offer luxury with all the amenities that go along with it such as high-quality hotels and superb restaurants. If this is your once-in-a-lifetime vacation or the money doesn’t matter, it is easy to find luxury in Italy, but for the budget-conscious, there are plenty of ways to save money.
Focusing on the countryside and remote areas instead of the main tourist centres allow visitors to experience the relaxing side of the country that comes with affordable guesthouses and budget-friendly meals. Also, you can follow some money saving tips such as traveling in the shoulder seasons, using public transport, drinking tap water, shopping at discount grocers such as Lidl or Penny, and cooking your own meals.
Naturally, the amount of money you will need during your vacation depends on personal priorities, but here are some approximates on the daily costs to start with:
Places to stay in Italy
There are a variety of places to stay while you visit Italy, it just depends on your budget and preference. The least expensive is best for young people and that is a hostel. They often offer small private rooms as well not only dorm-style accommodation, but usually have age-restrictions. Note that some hostels in Italy often advertise themselves as guesthouses or budget hotels, so make sure to double check the photos/reviews before making a reservation at any place.
Families or couples can choose from hotels, apartments, vacation rentals, and B&Bs too. The main tourist destinations feature a wide variety of hotels at all service and price levels, while in the lesser-visited, quieter regions B&Bs and vacation rentals are the most common.
Agri turismo is also popular in the country. At these farmhouse accommodations guests can have a rural experience staying with the family, learn how farmers live, and participate in activities such as cooking classes or outdoor excursions.
Average accommodation prices in Italy:
Hostel or basic Hotel: 30-40 USD
3 or 4 star Hotel, Apartment: 70-110 USD
5-star Hotel: 300-400 USD
Check, compare prices, and book your apartment or hotel in Italy using Booking.com:Booking.com
Beach etiquette in Italy
When it comes to beach rules in Italy, the first thing that is important to highlight that there are 2 types of beaches: public (spiagga libera) and private (stabilimento) ones.
The public beaches are of course free, but often don’t have facilities so you should prepare accordingly. The private ones are more organized with sunbeds and umbrellas in rows, cleaner and offer services such as cafes and eateries, moreover they are equipped with showers.
No matter what type of beach you choose to visit, it is recommended to arrive early to secure your spot as all popular beaches tend to get crowded after 9 am, especially in the main summer months.
Regarding beachwear, all types are accepted in Italy. Women at all ages including grandmas are free to wear bikinis, while speedos for men are also common. Since Italians love fashion, you can easily feel yourself like being in a fashion show at the beach:
Fashionistas often take have at least 4 bikinis and several sundresses in their beach bag and change them throughout the day.
Nudism is not a taboo in Italy; topless tanning is normal at almost all spots, but if you want to go completely au natural, you should go to one of the designated nudist beaches.
Dogs are usually not allowed, except some private beaches and certain periods that vary at each municipality.
Italian specialties to eat and drink
The Italians are truly obsessed with food so it would be a shame not trying out one (or more) delicious dishes while on an Italy beach vacation. No matter you are after veg or meat, salads, pasta or desserts, there are so many varieties to choose from!
Carbonara: The original Carbonara is made with only four ingredients. They are guanciale (cured pork jowl), eggs, percornia romano cheese, and black pepper. The creaminess comes from eggs and cheese, not any cream.
Risotto alla Milanese: This dish is made with meat stock, bone marrow, cheese, and a hefty dose of saffron to give it the signature yellow color. This a common and delicious Italian dish is the best with Parmesan cheese and some good red wine.
Pizza: You cannot go to Italy without dedicating at least one meal for a traditional pizza. The authentic Italian pizza is cooked at very high-temperature in a woodfired oven. The base is different from region to region, but always light and crispy topped with fresh tomato sauce, and buffalo cheese.
Cannoli: True Italian cannoli is delicate “tubes” of crispy pastry dough piped through with sweetened ricotta cheese and usually with chocolate chips. They are decorated with candied fruit, chocolate or pistachios.
Gelato: No Italy beach vacation is complete without tasting a real Gelato! This creamy custard made of eggs and whole milk that enriched with milk powder for stability, and with vanilla for flavoring. Since it is low in sugar, it is healthier than a usual ice-cream.
Spritz: Spritz is made with sparkling Prosecco wine and a dash of liqueur-like bitter Campari or dash of orange-flavored Aperol. This refreshing summer drink is served over ice with an orange slice.
Rossini: Made from Neltare di fragole (strawberry juice or puree) and Spumante Brut, Rossini is an elegant alcoholic mixed drink than will certainly fit any summer lunch or dinner.
Useful Italian phrases
It is often said that the Italian is one of the most wonderful languages in the world. Learning some basic Italian sentences before traveling is pretty easy and makes a difference to any vacation. While most people understand and speak English in the most popular tourist areas, you can certainly benefit from knowing some basic phrases when visiting smaller towns. To have an authentic experience, learn some common Italian travel phrases! Here are a few examples:
Buongiorno – Good morning
Buonasera – Good evening
Arrivederci – Goodbye
Per favour – Please
Grazie – Thank you
Come sta? – How are you?
Parla Inglese? – Do you speak English?
Non parlo Italiano – I don’t speak Italian
Quanto costa? – How much does it cost?
Come si chiama? – What is your name?
Nuotare in questa spiaggia è sicuro? – Is it safe to swim at this beach?
Che tipo di pasta consiglieresti stasera? – What type of pasta would you recommend tonight?
Vino bianco/vini rossi per favore – White wine/red wine please
Caffe con latte per favore – One coffee with milk please
Tavolo per [due] per favore – Table for two please
Posso pagare con la carta di credito? – May I pay with credit card?
Buone Vacanze! – Have a nice holiday!
Buone Feste! – Happy holidays!
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