Five Beachy Destinations in Southern Italy3 min read

If you’re planning to visit Italy, a beach may not be the first thing that comes to mind. But there’s no reason it shouldn’t! 

Europeans flock to southern Italy every summer for a beach vacation. Now, it’s your turn. Our list of destinations all have great beaches in common, but they each have their own cultural attractions worth visiting as well. After all, if you’re going to Italy, unique landmarks, food and views need to be part of the plan. 

Ischia (Campania)

This beautiful island off the coast of Naples is a place for rejuvenation, known for its natural springs and thermal spas. It’s made up of six towns and their surrounding areas, so you’ll need a few days to see it all. Between beach visits, check in to one of their hot spring spas, some of which have restaurants on the grounds so you won’t have to leave for lunch!

Ischia also offers multiple beaches, the Bay of Citara, Cava dell’Isola and Le Fumarole among them. The Maronti beach has natural hot springs along its border, and even steam vents in some spots underneath the sand. 

Diamante (Calabria) 

This small coastal town draws tourists year after year for its beauty. Its location on a ledge of the coast surrounded by cedar trees allows visitors to see both mountains and the sea. The beaches are known for their glimmering white sand and coastline cliffs. 

Beaches aren’t all there is to see in Diamante. Visitors can walk along the cobbled lanes looking for large-scale art, both traditional and contemporary. There are so many murals that Diamante is now called “the city of murals.” Prospective travelers can also time their visit with the yearly Peperoncino Festival, which features music performances and cooking shows. 

Tropea (Calabria)

For the classic beach experience, this is where you want to go. Tropea is known for its two and a half miles of pristine, clean beaches. Lounge on the sand until sunset, or go snorkeling, scuba diving or sailing—all services offered in the village. 

When you’re not at the beach, make the worthwhile climb to the Sanctuary of Santa Maria dell’ Isola. Atop its own hill of rock, the Sanctuary offers incredible views of the stacked houses of old Tropea and of Sicily’s Aeolian Islands. 

Vendicari Nature Reserve (Sicily)

If you’re a fan of a natural beach, free from a coastline of hotels and restaurants, this nature reserve is the place to visit. Located on the Ionian sea, it boasts seven beaches, from the more popular San Lorenzo Beach to the isolated beach of Marianelli. Just make sure to pack snacks—you won’t find concessions in the reserve. 

Vendicari is a destination for birders, as it marks a meeting point for hundreds of migratory birds on their paths between Europe and Africa. Depending on the time of year, you can spot flamingos, storks, terns, pintails, curlews or mallards. 

Polignano a Mare (Puglia)

Limestone cliffs, terraces, boats and caves are all part of the lore of Polignano a Mare. It is one of the more well-known towns in Puglia because of Lama Monachile, a picturesque beach on a cove between the cliffs of the city. Covered in pebbles, the beach is more enjoyed for its view and swimming than sunbathing, but travelers can visit the nearby Porto Cavallo beach (or other beaches along Puglia’s coast) if they prefer to lie in the sun. 

The town of Polignano a Mare offers beautiful views where all can watch grand sunrises and sunsets over the sea. There are boats visitors can ride to caves within the cliffs, including one that hosts Grotta Palazzese, a restaurant within a cave. For an indoor adventure, visit the Pino Pascali Foundation, the only museum of contemporary art in Puglia. 


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