5 best beaches in Tuscany


5 best beaches in Tuscany

09 August 2016

Tuscany boasts just over 600 km of coastline and has beaches for everyone, whether you love luxury, islands, or nature.

When most people think of Tuscany, they think of charming hill towns with warmly-colored cobblestone streets and medieval houses, or vineyards with rolling green hills lined with cypress trees. You almost never think of the beach. Tuscany boasts just over six hundred kilometers of coastline. There are wild sandy beaches with dunes and wild grasses, chic resorts with high-end shopping, and everything in between. Here are my suggestions for five of the best beaches in Tuscany.

5 best beaches in Tuscany: there's something for everyone

For the luxury traveler: Viareggio

Viareggio. © Roberto Faccenda Viareggio. © Roberto Faccenda

This is the town with the classic Italian beach scene. Row after row of brightly-colored, striped umbrellas with matching lounge chairs set underneath on a flat, while sandy beaches divide the area into different stabilimenti. Stabilimenti are private beach clubs that have an entrance fee that include use of those stylish chairs and umbrellas, bathrooms, showers, and usually a bar or restaurant. The town of Viareggio is filled with ornate Art Nouveau style architecture, called “Liberty” in Italy, all swirls and flowers. Along a three-kilometer elegant promenade, you will find historic cafes and boutique shopping.

For the nature enthusiast: Maremma

Marina di Alberese in Maremma. © Roberto Ferrari Marina di Alberese in Maremma. © Roberto Ferrari

The Parco Naturale della Maremma is a protected area with kilometers of hiking trails filled with wildlife and several archeological sites. For a truly off-the-beaten-path experience, sign up for a guided walk or mountain bike ride to Cala di Forno. There is a stretch of river that you can canoe; or if horses are your thing, take a ride through the forest to the sea, stopping at the 8th century Torre Alta for a history fix. The park is open year-round, but in the summer months a guide is compulsory. Spend the night—perhaps at a nearby winery that offers hospitality (you’re in the Maremma wine region, after all!)—to really make the most of this secluded part of Tuscany.

For the island lover: Elba

The island of Elba is the largest of the islands of the Tuscan archipelago with almost two hundred kilometers of coastline and over seventy beaches. La Biodola beach. © Fabcom La Biodola beach. © Fabcom

Here you can find both small, rocky coves and lengths of golden sand. Capo Bianca is worth the steps it takes to reach it. Once there, swim in some of Tuscany’s clearest waters and work on your tan from the white pebbled beach. The small Scaglieri beach, located next to the more well-known La Biodola, boasts soft sand and stunning sunsets that go perfectly with a glass of wine from the nearby Bolgheri wine region. Capo Bianco. © Ledeange Capo Bianco. © Ledeange

For the history buff: Baratti

Centuries ago, the town of Populonia, which sits just above the lovey bay of Baratti, was an important Etruscan settlement dating back to the Iron Age (9th century BC.) Spend a morning exploring ancient necropoli, a small museum, and an 11th century monastery in the Parco Archeologico di Baratti e Populonia. Once you have had your fill of history, head down to the Bay of Baratti where you can find stretches of spiagga libera—free beaches! Put down your towel and enjoy a quick swim in the sea. If you prefer a chair and umbrella, there are also plenty of stabilimenti scattered amongst the pines along this curve of coastline.

For the boat aficionado: Porto Santo Stefano

If you are more about the sea than the sand, Porto Santo Stefano is the place for you. In summer, the town’s harbor is host to some of the world’s most luxurious yachts. Rent your own sailboat or a more humble “gommone,” a sturdy, inflatable small motor boat. Head out to sea and explore the turquoise waters, empty coves, and the nearby islands of Giglio and Giannutri. The cuisine of this region is excellently represented in this chic and bustling port town. Dine on fresh fish caught in the local waters like mackerel (sgombro) bonito (palamita) and sea bream (orata), and make sure to try the region’s local fish stew, Cacciucco. Cacciucco. © Susan Lucas Hoffman Cacciucco. © Susan Lucas Hoffman