Italy may be famous for its cultural masterpieces, most notably the cities of Venice, Rome and Florence, but had you ever considered Italy as a beach vacation destination? If the thought hadn’t crossed your mind, it’s time that it did! Italy has some of the most perfect coastline in Europe, and is one of the most idyllic countries for seaside vacations. Some of the most beautiful places in Italy are in fact located on the coast. Much of Italy’s famous foods, culture and lifestyle originates on its sandy shores. Italian coastal towns are mostly famous for their white sandy beaches, spectacular seafood and rugged coastal walks, from the Cinque Terre town of Manarola to the Amalfi Coastal town of Portofino, Italy’s coastal towns offer the ultimate package for sun-seekers everywhere. Here are the top five most beautiful coastal towns in Italy. Get ready to make your next European vacation one of these picturesque seaside towns:
With views of the Gulf of Paradise, the romantic coastal village of Camogli is decorated with brightly-colored houses that have been crammed onto the bay, a laid back Italian ambiance, and is relatively untouched by tourism. Intertwined with the sea, the traditional fishing village is an hour’s drive from Milan and the Cinque Terre, but is very much a local secret and one that Italians prefer not to share. More often than not you will meet Italians holidaying here, rather than the usual international tourism clientele of the Cinque Terre.The blissful calm town offers ‘off the beaten path’ walks, stunning views of the rolling Italian hills, and a great deal of real Italian cuisine. Be sure to take the steep path or a boat to San Fruttusoso Bay during your stay, to experience some of Camogli’s precious history and culture. A beach-goers paradise, get away from the usual crowds of tourists and spend some time chilling out on the Ligurian coast.
If you are looking for a charming Italian seaside resort, then look no further than Cefalu. The unassuming town has postcard-perfect beaches, plenty of culture in the form of a Norman cathedral and mouth-wateringly delicious Sicilian food. Unlike many of the other coastal towns, Cefalu was more than just a fishing village in its day and was actually the playground and central location for some of Sicily’s most powerful Norman rulers.Primarily renowned for its sandy beach, which runs alongside the town, Cefalu’s impressive architectural skyline is also a draw for the many tourists who frequent this sunny spot every summer. But don’t let that put you off, the town is so beautiful that it was one of the key locations in Giuseppe Tornatore’s epic Cinema Paradiso.
The Cinque Terre village of Manarola may be small, but the value of its medieval relics and impressive architecture makes it high on the list of cultural coastal hot spots. The great thing about this unique village is that it is in walking distance of Riomaggorie and can be traversed by one of the most romantic coastal walks of the Cinque Terre, known as Via Dell’Amore (Lover’s Lane). The village also has more grapevines than any of its counterparts, and uses them to create its famous export: sweet Sciacchetra wine.The vineyard-filled village still maintains a quintessentially Italian culture, particularly in its historic church square. While the village doesn’t offer beach side relaxing, it does have some of Italy’s best deep swimming holes. Enjoy vineyard walks, adventurous swimming and a first hand history lesson here, and if you are a budget traveler looking to visit Cinque Terre, then Manarola is the place for you–as it is home to Cinque Terre’s only youth hostel.
POLIGNANO A MARE
The white-washed buildings that line the rugged cliffs of Polignano a Mare are just one of the many reasons the coastal town attracts international tourists every year. With a population of just 20,000, the townspeople are famously friendly and the Adriatic coast spectacularly clear. Still relatively traditional, expect to meet locals and expect them to speak Italian, not English. Tourism is, of course, a thriving industry in the town, but its central piazza is still frequented by locals nightly.The town doesn’t have too many cultural draws–and its historic center is very small–it is, however, the perfect destination for a relaxing vacation to Italy if you want nothing more than to just lay back, soak up the sun, eat well and swim. The town is also one of the most affordable of all of Italy’s picturesque coastal towns, and if you are looking for simplicity, authenticity and relaxation, then Polignano a Mare is definitely the place for you.
Boasting an ancient marine culture, the small port town of Portofino can be found on Italy’s Mediterranean coast with the Italian Riviera on one side and the picture perfect landscape of the National Regional Park and Marine Reserve on the other. Loved by artists and beach-lovers alike, Portofino has not only a relaxed coastal town vibe, but also plenty of culture and inspiration.Its distinctive pastel-colored houses line the bay of warm seawater, while the town itself is home to a number of historical and cultural landmarks that are ‘must-sees’ on any culture vulture’s Italy list. From the 12th century San Giorgio church to Castello Brown –there’s enough culture here for at least three days of sightseeing. And it even has its own theater, the Teatro Perla del Tigullio.
ITALIAN SEASIDE VACATIONS
With such an abundance of Italian coastal towns to enjoy, see all the sights, and visit them all on a road trip through Italy. Whether you need hotel accommodations and international airfare, or chauffeur service and a luxury car rental, we can do it all.