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When you hear Tuscany, do you immediately picture vineyards, wine, rolling hills, and medieval towns? Many travelers do! But they often don’t realize that there are incredible Tuscany Italy beaches too. This region is home to hundreds of kilometers of absolutely stunning coastline. From top to bottom, it has sandy beaches, rocky bays, islands, beach resorts, rustic camping, and more.
Where Are The Beaches In Tuscany?
If you’ve never been to Tuscany before, you may be surprised to learn that all the beaches in Tuscany are on the west side of Italy, facing the Mediterranean and Tyrrhenian Seas. The beaches here vary widely, but you’ll generally discover a different-looking coastline than the rocky cliffs of Liguria and the hilltop towns of Cinque Terre and Portofino.
However, that doesn’t mean it’s not worth exploring. Tuscany has an ideal beach for any beach lover. Want to know more? Here we will walk you through the most famous beaches worth visiting on your next holiday. Plus, as a bonus, some beach etiquette (because beaches in Italy aren’t at all like beaches in the US!). So, take a journey with us from the north to the south of Tuscany and discover our top beach destinations on this unrivaled strip of coastline.
Beaches In Versilia
To begin our adventure, let’s start at the northern tip of the coast of Tuscany, where you will find the Versilia area. This area borders the region of Liguria, which is known for its stunning beaches and towns. A lot of what makes Liguria interesting also makes this area of Tuscany worth visiting.
Keep in mind, the water up here is a little bit colder than in Southern Tuscany, but there are miles of sandy beaches with darling beach towns dotted all along this section of the coast.
Marina di Massa
Our first recommendation on the Tuscan coast is Marina di Massa for its quaint medieval town center, with the backdrop of the Apuan Alps rising majestically in the distance. The beaches are long and sandy, equipt with a pier, historic buildings, and hotels all along the boardwalk. While you’re there, it’s a short trip south to Marina di Carrara, similar to Marina di Massa but a bit more touristy.
This is a port city, and cruise ships often dock here, so you might find yourself amid a sea of tourists. However, it’s still worth a visit for its historic medieval center. As a bonus, the mountains around the town of Carrara are famous marble quarries that have existed since Roman times. In fact, Michelangelo’s famous David statue is sculpted from marble from this very spot. On a cloudy day or a break from the beach, you can add an excursion to these wonderful marble quarries to your itinerary.
Bonus: Check out the Marina di Pietrasanta and the town of Pietrasanta. Both are along your journey down the coast and are worth spending a few hours exploring.
Forte dei Marmi
Heading south down the coast from Massa Carrara, you will arrive at the luxurious beach town of Forte dei Marmi. It’s the “it” location for wealthy Italians and foreigners and boasts designer shopping and luxury accommodations. This is the place to be if you want to see and be seen. It also offers world-class dining, many discos for nights full of dancing, and wide sandy beaches. You’ll never tire of things to do in Forte dei Marmi, so it’s considered the playground of the wealthy Milanese. If you crave beach town luxury, this is your best bet in all of Tuscany.
Heading down the coast a bit further, you will arrive at Viareggio. Viareggio is a famous beach town known for its extravagant Carnival celebrations they hold every February. However, in the summer season, Viareggio is a wildly popular location for Italians to spend long days by the sea. As a bonus, it’s one of the closest beaches to Florence, as the city is only an hour or so from Florence by car.
While it’s not as ritzy as Forte dei Marmi, Viareggio has a few luxury accommodations and plenty of mid-level shopping. It also has a historic center worth visiting and a very interesting architectural history. In particular, it’s known for its Liberty style, a branch of the Art Deco movement. You’ll find a lively nightlife scene South of the city in the area called Darsena, and farther south still, you’ll come across the protected coastline, which has miles of an unspoiled natural reserve, perfect for camping. Viareggio isn’t known for its clean water, but Italians keep coming back for everything else it offers for vacationers.
Beaches In The Pearl Of The Tyrrhenian Sea
Continuing your trip down the coast of Tuscany heading south, you’ll soon find yourself on winding roads with steep drop-offs with a sparkling blue sea below. You’re now in the area of Tuscany, often called “the pearl of the Tyrrhenian.” It’s an area that does not have many sandy beaches, but the rocky outcrops make ideal places for sunbathing, relaxing, and swimming in crystal clear water.
Here you will find some of the most idyllic views in Tuscany and some of the cleanest water, frequently awarded the blue flag, Italy’s highest honor for water quality. One great place to stay here is Castiglioncello, which has an adorable town center and an amazing pine forest full of activities for kids on a hot day. Remember, reaching the beach here often involves climbing steep steps cut into the cliffside, but the reward is worth it for the outstanding pebble beaches below.
If you’re a wine lover, consider staying a bit farther down the coast from Castiglioncello in the town of San Vincenzo. San Vincenzo has a cute marina and a nice boardwalk area with lots of food and shopping. The town is known for its gorgeous blue waters and some of the most beautiful beaches in Italy. There are miles of sandy seaside to explore here. Just outside the city, you will also find one of Tuscany’s most famous wine regions, Bolgheri. On a rainy day, or just because, consider a trip to some of Italy’s greatest vineyards coupled with your beach vacation.
Bonus: Check out the Gulf of Baratti as you go down the coast. This little bay has Etruscan ruins, golden sand, and incredible swimming and diving.
Tuscany Italy Beaches In Maremma
History lovers will also delight in Castiglione della Pescaia and the entire Maremma area, as it is rich with Etruscan ruins. Etruscans were the first inhabitants of Tuscany, and they ruled until about the 6th century BCE. Much of what the Romans are known for actually started with the Etruscan people, and many of their buildings, art, pottery, and more are on display throughout the Maremma area.
Castiglione della Pescaia
As you leave San Vincenzo heading into the southernmost part of Tuscany, you’ll quickly notice a difference between the rocky cliffs of Castiglioncello and the populous San Vincenzo as you find yourself in the “wild” area of Tuscany known as the Maremma.
This area surrounding the town of Grosseto is the most rustic of all the coastline, but it’s also home to some of the best beaches. First up for the best places to visit in Castiglione della Pescaia. This beach town offers miles of sandy coast where you can pop up your own tent and hang out for the day.
While there are beach establishments where you can pay for an umbrella, many visitors come here to stay on the “free” beaches as they are some of the biggest in the region. Castiglione della Pescaia also has a long promenade where you can buy food and drinks, a historic area with wonderful views, and a watersport lover’s paradise. Windsurfing, kite surfing, stand-up paddleboarding, and more are popular activities here. You can rent equipment for any of these rights along the boardwalk, so here, you can try them all and spend a day getting out on the water for some sport and adventure.
You’ll find the small peninsula of Monte Argentario at your last stop down the coast. It attaches to mainland Italy by just a few strips of land that jut out dramatically with endless blue water on either side. It’s an island full of small towns like Porto Santo Stefano and Porto Ercole, which are worth checking out, and secluded, pristine beaches. It’s not known for sandy beaches like on the mainland, but this rocky paradise has some of the clearest blue water in all of Italy, plus spectacular views from high-up mountainside towns.
While you’re in Monte Argentario, consider visiting some of the golden sand beaches on the island, Gianella Beach and Feniglia Beach. Gianella is nearly 8 kilometers long and has endless beach chair rental establishments to choose from.
La Feniglia, instead, is a more wild beach, a place to bring your own umbrella and enjoy the picturesque sand dunes and unspoiled pine forest that grows behind it. The town center of Orbetello is also worth a visit. Here you can find outstanding fish restaurants, plus a lively historic center.
Beaches In The Tuscan Archipelago
Did you know that Tuscany also has a chain of islands between the Ligurian Sea (off the coast of Liguria) and the Tyrrhenian Sea? These islands are definitely worth exploring if time allows. The easiest way to reach them is from the towns of Livorno or Piombino, where you can catch a ferry. These ferries are big enough to bring your rental car, and we highly recommend exploring these islands by car for the best experience.
Elba is the most famous of the islands in the archipelago, so if you’re in the mood for seemingly tropical waters, don’t miss visiting here. Cavoli and Sansone are two of the most beautiful beaches in Elba, and you’ll feel like you’ve escaped to the Caribbean in the middle of your Italian holiday.
Bonus: Italian Beach Etiquette
Can you feel the salt and wind already? Now that you’re excited and have figured out where to go, it’s time to discuss what to expect when you get there. Italian beaches are not like American beaches. To avoid any confusion or faux pas, we’ve compiled five things worth knowing before you go.
Paid Beach Clubs
Beaches that have umbrellas, chairs, and sunbeds are paid beaches. You must pay to sit at one of the establishments, and using their stretch of sand just before the waterline is not allowed for sunbathing (unless you’re part of their establishment). These are called “bagno” (Bahn-yo) or “lido” (lee-doh) in Italian. Once you have your assigned spot, it’s yours for the entire day. You can come and go as you please, and no one will take your chairs.
Make A Beach Club Reservation
You can pay for your “bagno” in advance by calling ahead and making a reservation, or you can show up the day of. Know, though, that during busy months like July and August, the beach establishments often sell out. If you plan on staying a few days, let them know, and they may give you a long-term stay discount.
Find A Free Beach
If you don’t want to pay, you’ll need to head to the free beach, which is usually a clearly marked area to the side of the beach establishments. These beaches are first come, first serve, so you need to get there early to get a good spot.
Leaving the beach, people cover up. It’s not normal to see people walking around in their swimsuits or without shoes after they leave the beach. Most people will have a coverup or, at minimum, shorts or a shirt to throw on, but always shoes.
Known Where You Can Camp
Some beaches allow camping but not all of them. If you plan to camp out, be sure to check ahead which beaches allow for overnight visitors and which don’t.
Location, check! Etiquette, check! You’re now ready for your Italian beach holiday! But, before you go, we’ll leave you with this last tidbit. To wish someone a wonderful day at the sea, you say, “buon mare” (buo-hn MAH-ray), so from us to you, BUON MARE!
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