The Italian coast is one of the most celebrated places in the world for summer and springtime swimming. But if you prefer the less-populated locations, you’ll want to look for these far-flung locations instead of the well-known beaches like Chiaia di Luna, which makes it onto most of the popular lists for travelers.
These eight secluded or underrated Italian beaches often involve a decent hike or require a boat ride, but just look at the photos and you’ll know they’re well worth the trek.
Bidderosa Beach, Sardinia
If you want a truly secluded beach, head to Bidderosa, part of the nature reserve in Sardinia. You’ll need to buy tickets from the forest station of Orosei. The beach is a sunny arc of silver sand lapped by sparkling water and lined with juniper trees along the path on the other side.
Daily admissions are restricted, so buy your tickets early and head out as soon as the sun comes up. You’ll have to hike about 2.5 miles each way to get there, but the walk is stunning and the beach is quiet and well worth the journey. The reserve is near the town of Orosei, a beautiful spot to vacation even without the nearby beaches in mind.
Cala Luna, Sardinia
Cala Luna, also on Sardinia, is the perfect beach for those who love to explore. The crescent-shaped beach is stunning and offers a refuge for sun worshippers (and the less adventurous) while you go off in search of the six small caves nearby. Rent scuba or snorkel gear for exploration in the warm, crystal-clear water or enjoy a meal at the restaurant if you visit during the summer months.
You can get to the beach either by a hike of approximately 3.75 miles each way, or take a boat from Cala Gonone near Dorgali. The ideal Cala Luna beach day would involve hiking one way for some early morning exercise, then returning by boat after a long day of beachcombing, cave exploration, and soaking up the sun on the white sand.
Riserva Dello Zingaro, Sicily
If you love rugged coastlines and hidden sites, Riserva Dello Zingaro will enchant you with its coves of white sand and astoundingly clear water. Trails of up to 11 miles lead in and out of the area’s beaches, leaving you with the option to pick one for a relaxing afternoon, or to go for a sunny, all-day hike.
The beaches here are surrounded by hotels, museums, and a few restaurants, but you’ll be best prepared if you pack food and water for the day and bring plenty of sunscreen. The stunning views fill the eyes with wonder, but the paths provide little shade.
The Riserva Dello Zingaro is located nearest Scopello in the Trapani province of Sicily.
Via Della Dogana, Punta Ala
If you find yourself visiting Punta Ala, you’ll discover there are two major beaches in the area. The first receives more tourists, but the second, Via Della Dogana, is more secluded. This beach runs between the historical Hidalgo Tower and Cala Barber near the port.
You’ll need to find a public parking lot and trek down to the waterfront on foot to the beach that runs 1.5 miles. Avoid the seaside resort sections that charge for their deckchairs and look for signs indicating public beaches — spiaggia pubblica — for free access. They’re slightly harder to find than the resort beaches, but they usually feel far more private.
Capo Vaticano, Calabria
While the locals certainly know about the Capo Vaticano cape in Calabria, near Tropea, most foreign tourists haven’t heard of the region, let alone the stunning Spiaggia di Torre Marino — or beach of the Sea Tower — near the intriguing historical landmark. The white sands lie between high cliffs, providing you with a secluded dip into the sea or an idyllic picnic spot during the off-season months, when you’ll hear more Italian than any other language, unlike so many popular Italian locales.
Spiaggia Di Sansone, Tuscany
When you hear Tuscany, you probably think of the stunning countryside and wine regions. However, Tuscany has some of the most gorgeous, underrated beaches in the country thanks to its inland fame. One of Tuscany’s most stunning, seemingly untouched beaches is Spiaggia di Sansone on Isola d’Elba. Take a short ferry ride away from the rolling hills and you’ll find limestone cliffs and smooth pebbled beach terrain.
The beaches here are uncrowded all year and the climate is warm and inviting from late spring to early autumn. Temperate weather between 50 and 87 degrees Fahrenheit year-round leads to idyllic coastal walks, even when it’s too chilly for a plunge in the crystalline water.
Cala Pulcino, Lampedusa, Sicily
If you’re up for a 30-minute hike over hot, sun-bleached rocks, you’ll earn the right to take a dive into the clear blue waters at Cala Pulcino in Sicily. You’ll find white sand coves with incredible views of the Mediterranean, and there are good odds you’ll find yourself there alone. Interestingly enough, this little spot near Sicily is actually closer to Tunisia than it is to mainland Italy.
To get there, you’ll take a ferry from Porto Empedocle to Lampedusa, then make that rigorous hike to the beach. After you’ve gotten all the sand and sun you deserve, be sure to try the local cuisine with its unique blend of Italian and African flavors. Fish couscous is a local favorite.
The only village with a claim to a sandy beach in Liguria is Cinque Terre. The beach? The stunning yet little known Monterosso. The beach is close to a coastal hiking spot that draws in many tourists and is perfect for cooling off at the end of a sunny day. The village itself is the largest in the chain of towns, but the beaches remain a little less known.
It’s best to visit Italy’s beaches during May, June, September, or October for the best weather. July is the hottest and driest month of the year. June and September are ideal for hiking, followed by that cooling plunge when you finally reach the beach.
Once you’ve worked up an appetite in the surf, try one of these 15 delicious types of pasta you can’t miss while in Italy.