Italy has every terrain imaginable, from UNESCO-rated alps to the rolling hills of Tuscany. One of our favorite parts, though? The bodies of water – and here are some of the best beaches and lakes in Italy!
With so many stunning beaches and bodies of water in beautiful Italy, it’s impossible to list every single one we think is worth visiting – in an ideal world, we would visit every last one! However, these 5 beaches and lakes are our very favorite – and it doesn’t take much more than a photo to understand why. We find each of these spots to be incredibly unique in their own way, and that’s why we consider them to be some of the best beaches and lakes in Italy.
100 miles off of mainland Italy is the island of Sardinia. It’s the second largest island in the Mediterranean sea, beaten only by Sicily. As you could imagine, the beaches in Sardinia are simply amazing – and you really can’t go wrong visiting any of them, including Chia Bay, Bidderosa Beach and more. However, Cala Mariolu is different – the color of the water is so clear, blue and pristine that it rivals the turquoise waters of the Carribbean. Instead of sand, the beach is comprised of tiny, smooth and pale-pink pebbles. Better yet, there’s even a small bar with snacks and drinks located on the beach. It’s a seriously precious gem of a beach.
We have never attempted to reach it by foot – it’s possible, but it’s an arduous hike that will take you 3 hours! We recommend arriving by boat the village of Cala Gonone up north, or Santa Maria Navarrese down south.
This unique lake is set amongst a backdrop of the Dolomites alps and lush green trees – and locals and tourists alike don’t just consider it one of the most beautiful lakes in Italy, but one of the most beautiful lakes in Europe. It’s so stunning, it was actually used as a backdrop for an Italian TV show – “Un Passo dal Cielo”. The emerald green lake offers incredible crystal-clear reflections of the iconic backdrop behind it. You can even rent a boat which, while can be expensive, is a once in a lifetime experience.
To get there, it’s a 3 1/2 hour drive from Venice, and it requires a 2 hour hike to get to the lake – while it’s doable for a day trip, we recommend staying a night in Brunico or Trento. This spot has gained lots of popularity over the years, so it’s wise to head there earlier in the day for your perfect snapshots before more crowds arrive.
We can’t make a post about Italian beaches without including Sicily in the mix! Sicily is home to loads of stunning beaches, and we find this one to be one of the most unique by far. The name translates to “Turkish Steps,” which refers to the white cliffs made of soft limestone. The cliffs offer huge sprawling terraces and naturally sculpted steps you can climb on, or take a seat on to gaze at the deep azure sea from. The cliffs feel like you’re sitting atop a cloud, and some people have said it feels like sitting on a “huge white meringue”. What could be more pleasant?
The Scala de Turchi is flanked by beautiful sandy white beaches and a deep blue ocean, and all together, the scenic and slightly surreal region is an irresistable must-visit.
We believe Puglia (and the south of Italy in general) to be quite underrated, and if anything will convince you, this scenic beach might. The beaches in Zagare bay are unknown to many tourists, and even to some locals – so if you prefer seclusion in your idyllic beach fantasy, this is the place for you – as a matter of fact, they only allow 30 guests in per day (plus visitors from the nearby hotel) so if you want to secure a spot, head there early.
Not only is the turquoise water beautiful, but the limestone rocks and caves surrounding the beach offer an incredible view and landscape.
We can’t talk about lakes in Italy without mentioning Lake Como! Though it’s a popular destination, you need to visit it once in your lifetime – simple as that. Just ask George Clooney (it’s famously known as his Italian hideaway!)
You can visit Lake Como any time of the year and be met with beautiful surroundings. Summer is always the high season, especially if you plan to swim in the water, but we actually think visiting in the fall is the most stunning time – and you’ll face fewer crowds. It’s just an hour and thirty minute drive from Milan, so if you’re already in the north of Italy, at least make a day trip out of it! Lake Como isn’t just beautiful, but rich with history. You can explore midieval ruins in Bellagio and Varenna. Almost just as interesting is simply looking at the extravagant and lavish estates on the lakeside. Whether you visit for the exceptional views, the history, or even the amazing food, Lake Como is a must-see destination.