REVEALED: The Italian beaches you might want to avoid this summer
Guide lists of the best beaches to visit in Italy and stunning social media shots of Italian coastlines have created hotspots of overcrowding.
Some of these coastal gems are in danger of being destroyed by the hordes of tourists that descend each summer season, while others can simply be a chore to find a patch of sand where you can lay your towel.
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Instead of following the top beaches list, which sometimes focus on just the top ten, you can try one of the hundreds of gorgeous and environmentally sound spots throughout Italy.
As the summer season gets underway, here are the beaches best avoided if you want to escape the masses, with alternative suggestions for a more relaxing Italian seaside getaway.
The southern Italian region of Puglia has a coastline that could give the Maldives a run for its money, with the waters consistently ranked the cleanest in Italy. As a result, it’s one of the most popular holiday destinations among Italians. It’s also soared in popularity among international tourists in recent years.
Unsurprisingly, this means it’s hard to find a beach in Puglia that could be described as peaceful at the height of summer. But, despite the enormous number of beautiful beaches along Puglia’s particularly long coastline, a handful of names tend to crop up again and again on lists of ‘must-see’ or ‘most beautiful’ beaches in the region – meaning a lot of visitors tend to pack into the same areas, and some beaches are more crowded than others.
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While all of the below beaches are stunningly beautiful, often featuring breathtaking rock formations surrounded by turquoise waters, most are located in tiny cale, or coves, and space is very limited. In summer you’ll need to get there at dawn in order to enjoy them before the hordes descend.
Baia dei Turchi – Lecce
Torre Lapilo (Porto Cesareo) – Lecce
Torre dell’Orso – Lecce
Punta della Suina – Lecce
Punto Prosciutto – Lecce
Torre Guaceto – Brindisi
Lama Monachile (Polignano a Mare) – Bari
Here are some alternatives that are lesser-known, at least among international tourists:
Porto Selvaggio – Lecce
Punto Pizzo – Lecce
Torre Vado – Lecce
Spiaggia degli Alimini – Lecce
Spiaggia delle Conchiglie – Lecce
Torre Canne – Brindisi
Baia delle Zagare – Gargano
Visiting Sardinia can sometimes be a double-edged sword. Yes, it has world-class, astoundingly beautiful white sand beaches and crystal turquoise waters, but because of that, it draws in huge crowds in peak season.
Some beaches and stretches of coastline face severe environmental pressure – and don’t make for an enjoyable day out when you have to get there for 6am to grab a parking spot and a space to pitch your umbrella.
Here are some beaches in Sardinia that are probably best avoided:
La Cinta – San Teodoro
Cala Brandinchi – San Teodoro
La Pelosa – Stintino
Where you can go instead:
Spiaggi Di Li Cossi
Spiaggia di Cala Cipolla
Sardinia’s Spiaggia della Pelosa beach in Stintino is extremely popular. (Photo by Andreas SOLARO / AFP)
The incredible island of Sicily is a favourite destination for both Italian and international holidaymakers for good reason. Plus it has a longer summer season than the rest of the country, so there’s more time to enjoy the beaches outside of August. Still, as in other popular parts of the country, visitors are often directed to the same few spots all summer long.
The island has no shortage of stunning natural beaches, and those who venture off the beaten path will be richly rewarded – even if this means packing a picnic and forgoing sun loungers.
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While the following famous beaches deserve their top-ten spots on all the ‘most beautiful beaches’ lists, they’re likely to be extremely crowded in July and August:
San Vito lo Capo – Trapani
Scala dei Turchi – Agrigento
Mondello – Palermo
Cefalù – Palermo
Spiaggia dei Conigli (Rabbit Beach) – Lampedusa
Here are a few to try instead – though most have fewer services around, they’re arguably just as beautiful.
Spiaggia dei Francesi – Palermo
Baia di Santa Margherita – Trapani
Lascari (next to Cefalù) – Palermo
Punta Bianca – Agrigento
Spiaggia dell’Asinello – Agrigento
Torre Salsa (nature reserve) – Agrigento
Sampieri – Ragusa
Italian families sunbathe on August 17th, 2017 in San Vito Lo Capo, northern Sicily. Photo by ludovic MARIN / AFP
Veneto is not exactly the best place to go if you’re looking for crystal-clear waters and picturesque beaches girdled by rocky cliffs. In fact, the region’s beaches are for the most part narrow strips of fine sand with generally shallow seabeds and fairly decent waters.
But Veneto is still an incredibly popular destination for beach-goers. Why? The città d’arte (art cities) located just a few miles away from the coastline, the large number of seaside resorts, and the relative proximity of both Austria and Germany all make Veneto a very appealing haven for holidaymakers.
MAP: Which regions of Italy have the most Blue Flag beaches?
So it isn’t rare for the region’s most famed beaches to be packed during the summer months. Here are a few of the busier places that you might want to avoid:
Lido di Jesolo – Jesolo
Lido di Venezia – Venice
Spiaggia di Sottomarina – Chioggia
Spiaggia di Ponente – Caorle
This is where you might want to go instead:
Spiaggia di Cà Roman – Pellestrina
Spiaggia del Bacan – Venice
Spiaggia di Scano del Gallo – Rovigo
Spiaggia della Brussa – Caorle
With over 500 kilometres of coastline, Tuscany is the Italian region that offers the greatest variety of beaches of all. From narrow strips of white sand encircled by maritime pine groves to remote cale (coves) hidden away between cliffs and headlands, the region has it all.
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The deep blue of Tuscany’s waters and the bonanza of nightlife venues skirting the coastline, especially in the famed Versilia area, prove irresistible to hundreds of thousands of both Italian and international tourists every summer. As a result, certain beaches in the region tend to get very crowded very quickly in July and August.
Here are some of the region’s hotspots:
Cala Violina – Maremma
Marina di Chiarone – Grosseto
Cala del Gesso – Monte Argentario
If you’re looking for somewhere quieter, consider heading to:
Cala Martina – Grosseto
Carbonifera – Piombino
Cala di Forno – Maremma
Buca delle Fate – Populonia
The Romagna riviera is incredibly built up, with beach services offering hundreds of sunbeds and umbrellas that cover swathes of the wide and flat sandy beaches there.
Although not known for its crystal clear waters like other parts of Italy, it’s a popular area with tourists due to the convenience of back-to-back bars, restaurants, children’s playgrounds and lifeguards.
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Some beaches get more packed out than others such as Rimini and Riccione, thanks to being popular with families for the former and being known as party central with youngsters for the latter.
Here are the most overcrowded beaches in Emilia Romagna:
Where you can go instead:
Some of the ‘lidi‘ further north can be quieter, still with beach services in places, but not as packed as the beaches above.
Lido di Volano
Lido delle Nazioni
The Amalfi Coast draws vast numbers of visitors to Campania every year – but while its rocky cliffs make for an impressive backdrop, its tiny, overcrowded beaches aren’t necessarily the best place to set up a sunbed.
Nor is the shore around greater Naples, where the sea is so often polluted that swimming is officially banned – though this doesn’t deter large crowds of bathers from taking a dip every summer.
Due to crowding, pollution, or both, some of the beaches you’ll likely want to steer clear of are:
Baia di Trentova
Spiaggia di Minori
Instead, consider heading to:
Spiaggia libera Lentiscelle
Spiaggia del Lago
Baia di Ieranto
Spiaggia le Saline
Though perhaps not quite as popular a beach destination among foreign tourists as the likes of Sicily, Sardinia or Puglia, the Calabrian coastline still holds its own when summer hits, attracting large crowds to its shores.
Some of the most popular beaches to avoid:
Le Spiagge di Pizzo Calabro
Spiaggia di Falerna
Le baie di Grotticelle
Beaches to go to instead:
Spiaggia di Copanello di Staletti
Spiaggia Paradiso del sub
Spiaggia Del Tono
Spiaggia Di Michelino
This list is of course not exhaustive. Do you have a top beach tip to share with other members of The Local? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.