Northern Italy is an incredibly diverse region nestled between and around the Alps and the Apennines. The beauty of this stretch of Italian coast could easily rival Sardinia or Sicily in the far south while its rich history can hold its own even against Amalfi.
This part of Italy is largely famous for the regions of Liguria and Cinque Terre so if this is where you’re headed, make sure to visit the next 12 best beaches in Northern Italy to experience Italian Riviera at its finest.
1. Levanto Beach, Levanto
The beach at Levanto is long and sandy and it’s one of the best Italian beaches on the northern coast. Of all the villages and towns in Cinque Terre, the town of Levanto is the one to boast most spectacular beaches, Levanto Beach being one of them. The entry into the sea is gradual with a combination of sand and gravel, making this beach ideal for children and adults alike. It’s rather close to the center of Levanto where you can find an array of bars and restaurants, many of which are conveniently dotted next to the beach. Some parts of the beach are free while there are also some paid sections which include sun beds. In any case, Levanto Beach is the one to visit in order to enjoy the beauty of Cinque Terre.
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2. Playa del Sol, Riccione
Situated in the Province of Rimini on the Adriatic coast, the town of Riccione is famous for its bustling atmosphere, vibrant party scene, and beautiful beaches. One of them is certainly Playa del Sol – renowned for entertainment, sports activities, seaside mini club, and fine sand. The beach is suitable for adults and children alike, with lots of amenities and great service. In addition to this, there is an array of villas and hotels at just a stone’s throw from it, making it a great all-encompassing destination in Northern Italy.
3. Baia Blu, Lerici
This lovely secluded beach is one of many attractions to visit in the picturesque town of Lerici, famous for its rolling green hills, public gardens, and pastel-colored houses. Bais Blue (The Blue Bay) is an oasis of peace and quietude, tucked neatly among the lush pine and oak trees holding tightly to the steep rocky surroundings. Seeing as it might get a bit crowded during the weekend, it’s best to visit this charming beach on some other day and enjoy the lovely atmosphere without too many bathers around.
4. Calandre, Ventimiglia
Ventimiglia is a picturesque city in the province of Imperia, just 7 kilometers from the French-Italian border. Apart from being a real gem of the Italian Riviera which offers fantastic opportunities for exploration of the old and the new town, it is also home to one of the rare golden sand beaches in this region – Spiaggia delle Calandre. This off-the-beaten-path beach is rather diverse and has a lot of free sections while the soft sand and calm sea makes it an ideal family-friendly spot.
5. Balzi Rossi, Ventimiglia
Balzi Rossi literally translates to Red Cliffs, and apart from Calandre beach, it’s also one of the best Italian beaches really close to the French border in the town of Ventimiglia. In order to bathe on Balzi Rossi beach, you have to pay a fee because the beach is fairly small and would otherwise get very crowded. The beach is predominantly pebble and gravel, tucked in a small sea alcove surrounded by majestic cliffs. In addition to being surrounded by the most colorful and picturesque cliffs on this stretch of coastline, Balzi Rossi is also famous for its Caviglione Cave, a prehistorical burial place the remnants of which are still visible to this day. There is a museum nearby where you can also explore the rich history of the area, dating back to the Palaeolithic era.
Read more: 200 outstanding beaches in Italy, Europe
6. Punta Crena, Varigotti
This lovely beach is situated in the Finale Ligure region, a usually and unjustly overlooked part of the Italian Riviera characteristic for its unique geological and geographical features as well as for important historical localities. The town of Varigotti where Punta Crena is located owes its distinct charm to bright colored houses and perfectly blue sea. Due to the fact that its accessible only by boats, Punta Crena is still largely under the tourists’ radar which makes it perfect for a laid-back holiday if you prefer these hard-to-get-to locations. The effort is worth it because this beach is really clean and secluded, nestled between steep cliffs.
7. Baia Dei Saraceni, Varigotti
Along with its neighboring beaches of Punta Crena and Capo Noli, this lovely sandy beach is yet another jewel of the Italian Riviera. It’s set against a charming backdrop of the village houses and steep rocky cliffs. The water is crystal clear and there is a nice restaurant and a bar nearby. There is one thing to keep in mind when visiting Baia Dei Saraceni and that is finding an available parking spot. Seeing as it might too crowded, especially in the peak season, it’s best to make an effort to be there as early as possible.
Read more: Best European Cities to Escape the Summer Crowds
8. Spiaggia del Gigante, Monterosso
Spiaggia del Gigante (the Giant’s Beach) is one of the most recognizable beaches in Italy and it’s also one of the landmarks of the famous Cinque Terre region – a string of rugged coastline brimming with romantic towns, villages, and breathtakingly dramatic scenery. Spiaggia del Gigante is located in the town of Monterosso, one of five towns that comprise Cinque Terre. The beach is the combination of white sand and pebbles, nestled between impressively formed rocks and cliffs. Still, the main feature of the beach is the 14-meters high statue of Neptune, the god of the sea, whose formidable figure rests on the jagged rocks above the beach, overlooking the sea.
9. Lido di Jesolo, Venice
Just 20 kilometers from Venice, Jesolo is one of the most popular beach towns in Italy. It’s one of the atypical towns where everything is devoted to tourism while cultural and historical attractions can be found in neighboring Venice. Lido di Jesolo is a long sandy 15-kilometers beach, well-organized and maintained, with sun beds, restaurants, bars, and shops right behind it. Via Bafile, the longest pedestrian street in Europe stretches along Lido di Jesolo and it’s the epicenter of shopping, fine dining, and partying in the area. On top of that, Lido di Jesolo has been awarded the prestigious Blue Flag award which means it’s one of the beaches that can boast unprecedented cleanliness and superb service.
10. The Island of Elba
While the south of Italy can boast captivatingly beautiful Sicily, it has met its match in the north – the island of Elba. Located in Tuscan Archipelago National Park in the Tyrrhenian Sea just 10 kilometers from the coastal town of Piombino, Elba actually has over 70 beaches and some of them are real show-stoppers. There is a whole palette of beaches, unique in their surroundings and atmosphere. From the Carribeanesque beach of Sansone and golden sand Capo Bianco to the black-pebbled Tombe – Elba is a genuine slice of paradise with such a rich selection of beaches to cater to everyone’s taste.
11. Lignano Sabbiadoro, Udine
Lignano Sabbiadoro, a town in the province of Udine, is one of the main summer resorts in Northern Italy. The beach is more than 8 kilometers long and it has all the amenities you could possibly think of – sunbeds, bars, amusement center, water massage tubs, and there is also a part of the beach that is pet-friendly. This beach is so vast that it actually has over 16 000 beach umbrellas available for bathers although there are some parts of the beach you can use to install your own. Lignano Sabbiadoro is one of those beaches you go to in order to pamper yourself to the maximum and just enjoy all the commodities it offers.
12. Lido delle Sirene, Bergeggi
The beach of the sirens or Lido delle Sirene is just as enchanting as its name suggests. Located in the small village of Bergeggi, nestled between the Ligurian Sea and the mountains, interspersed with a network of narrow alleys winding up and down the coast. Lido delle Sirene is one of Bergeggi’s highlights, a piece of turquoise heaven tucked in the cliffs full of lush vegetation and rugged rocks. There is a long sequence of stairs leading to the beach making a bit hard to access but the beach is captivating and well worth the sweat. It is also an ideal location for snorkeling and sea-bottom exploration while the real nature enthusiasts and fans of snorkeling can visit the nearby island of Bergeggi which belongs to the Protected Marine Park.
It’s clear to see why the coast of Northern Italy should rightfully be placed on a pedestal when it comes to the best summer destinations on the Italian Riviera. It offers a perfect mixture of pristine-clean sea, soothing sand, and fantastic rocky backdrops, all topped off with some of the most quaint villages and bustling tourist centers in Italy.