Sardinia, Cilento and Tuscany top Italian seaside awards

If you're looking for some summer holiday inspiration, look no further as a new ranking has identified the best beach resorts and coastal areas in Italy.

Sardinia, Cilento and Tuscany top Italian seaside awards
Cala Mariolu, Sardinia, is in one of the best coastal areas in Italy. Photo: Paolo Terraneo/Flickr

Italy famously has 7,600 kilometres of coastline and ten percent of all the Blue Flag beaches in the world. And now a new survey has picked out the the very best seaside resort areas for 2019.

The ranking named the beaches in Cilento, in Salerno, as the best in Italy while overall the island of Sardinia came out top as the part of Italy with the highest number of highly-ranked beaches.

They were closely followed by resorts in the Tuscan Maremma region as well as in Sicily and Puglia.

READ ALSO: The ultimate 2019 travel list: Where to go in Italy this year

Of Italy's four seas, the Tyrrhenian had the highest number of top-rated beaches according to the ranking, entitled Il mare più bello 2019 (The most beautiful seaside 2019).

The list, compiled by Italian environmental group Legambiente along with travel experts from Italy's Touring Club, looked at everything from water quality to tourist facilities.

And this year a new requirement was added: the list only includes beaches that have gone plastic-free, in response to concerns about high levels of plastic pollution on the Italian coast.

READ ALSO: What is Italy doing about the shocking level of plastic pollution on its coastline?

If you want to know where to find the best beaches in the country this summer, here are the places that topped the chart.

Cilento, Salerno

We've written before about the delights of Cilento, a picturesque southern region popular with Italians  but far from the tourist crowds. So we were pleased to see the beaches in this underrated area topping the list with the highest possible score.

Empty white beaches on the Cilento Coast. Photo: Jessica Phelan/The Local

Cilento is the spur that sticks out the western front of Italy's ‘foot', just before Campania becomes Calabria. It is part of the province of Salerno, some 100 kilometres south of the well-trodden Amalfi Coast.

The ranking picked out the coastline and sandy beaches near Pollica as being among the best in Italy – though the Cilento region has no shortage of other unspoilt (and often rather wild) beaches to explore.

Grosseto, Tuscany

The southern Tuscan region of Maremma is home to a long stretch of scenic and unspoilt coastline, dotted with small summer resort towns like Castiglione della Pescaia, in the province of Grosseto, which was highlighted in the ranking.

Castiglione della Pescaia, Grosetto, in Tuscany's Maremma region. Photo: Depositphotos

Castiglione della Pescaia is a peaceful spot where tiny fishing boats still bring in the day’s catch, mooring alongside gleaming white yachts in the picturesque harbour and wide beaches stretching along the surrounding coast. 

The area gets few foreign visitors, though locals know that the fine, sandy beaches here are among the best in the country, stretching out to the edge of the pine groves, with many small, secluded bays perfect for swimming, sailing and sunbathing undisturbed.


The island of Sardinia is famous for having the kind of brilliant white sandy beaches and warm turquoise waters you might expect to find in the Caribbean, so it's no surprise that many parts of the island scored highly in the ranking.

READ ALSO: Ban smoking on Italian beaches: consumer watchdog

Seven of the island's coastal resort areas were recognised, with the highest rankings going to the region of Posada, which is just below Olbia, and the coastline around Baunei in the eastern region of Nuoro. The entire coastline north and south of here is dotted with tiny cale, or coves, which frequently appear at the top of “best beaches” lists

To the north there's also the Gallura area, and possibly the most famous beach mentioned on the list was Chia, in the southern area of Domus De Maria.


Puglia, the heel of Italy's “boot”, has long been a popular summer spot for Italians, and in the past few years it's become much more popular among overseas visitors too. 

The Adriatic coastlne around Monopoli has everything from wild, rocky coves to luxurious private beach clubs. Photo: Clare Speak/The Local

The Adriatic coastline between Bari and Brindisi, which includes holiday hotspots like Monopoli and Polignano a Mare, was recognised for its clear waters and the many picturesque rocky coves or cale dotting the coastline. 

Further south near Lecce, the slightly more peaceful coastlines of the Alto Salento Adriatico and Alto Salento Jonico areas also scored highly.

READ ALSO: This map reveals the cleanest and greenest beaches in Italy 

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members


How to avoid huge ‘roaming’ phone bills while visiting Italy

If you're visiting Italy from outside the EU you risk running up a huge phone bill in roaming charges - but there are ways to keep your internet access while avoiding being hit by extra charges.

How to avoid huge ‘roaming’ phone bills while visiting Italy

Travelling without access to the internet is almost impossible these days. We use our phones for mapping applications, contacting the Airbnb, even scanning the QR code for the restaurant menu.

If you’re lucky enough to have a phone registered in an EU country then you don’t need to worry, thanks to the EU’s cap on charges for people travelling, but people visiting from non-EU countries – which of course now includes the UK – need to be careful with their phone use abroad.

First things first, if you are looking to avoid roaming charges, be sure to go into your settings and turn off “data roaming.” Do it right before your plane lands or your train arrives – you don’t want to risk the phone company in your home country starting the clock on ‘one day of roaming fees’ without knowing it.

READ ALSO: Ten ways to save money on your trip to Italy this summer

But these days travelling without internet access can be difficult and annoying, especially as a growing number of tourist attractions require booking in advance online, while restaurants often display their menus on a QR code.

So here are some techniques to keep the bills low.

Check your phone company’s roaming plan

Before leaving home, check to see what your phone plan offers for pre-paid roaming deals.

For Brits, if you have a phone plan with Three for example, you can ask about their “Go Roam” plan for add-on allowance. You can choose to pay monthly or as you go. Vodafone offers eight day and 15 day passes that are available for £1 a day.

For Americans, T-Mobile offers you to add an “international pass” which will charge you $5 per day. Verizon and AT&T’s roaming plans will charge you $10 per day. For AT&T, you are automatically opted into this as soon as your phone tries to access data abroad.

READ ALSO: Seven things to do in Italy in summer 2022

These all allow you to retain your normal phone number and plan.

Beware that these prices are only available if you sign up in advance, otherwise you will likely be facing a much bigger bill for using mobile data in Italy. 

Buy a pre-paid SIM card

However, if you are travelling for a longer period of time it might work out cheaper to turn off your phone data and buy a pre-paid SIM card in Italy.

In order to get a pre-paid SIM card, you will need your passport or proof of identity (drivers’ licences do not count).

READ ALSO: TRAVEL: Why now’s the best time to discover Italy’s secret lakes and mountains

Keep in mind that you will not be able to use your normal phone number with the new SIM card in, but will be able to access your internet enabled messaging services, like WhatsApp, Facebook and iMessage. Your phone will need to be ‘unlocked’ (ask your carrier about whether yours is) in order to put a new SIM card in.

Here are some of the plans you can choose from:


WindTre, the result of a 2020 merger between the Italian company Wind and the UK network provider Three, currently offers a “Tourist Pass” SIM card for foreign nationals. For €24.99 (it’s sneakily marketed as €14.99, but read the small print and you’ll see you need to fork out an additional €10), you’ll have access to 20GB of data for up to 30 days.

The offer includes 100 minutes of calls within Italy plus an additional 100 minutes to 55 foreign countries listed on the WindTre website. Up to 13.7GB can be used for roaming within the EU. The card is automatically deactivated after 30 days, so there’s no need to worry about surprise charges after you return from your holiday. To get this SIM card, you can go into any WindTre store and request it.

A tourist protects herself from the sun with a paper umbrella as she walks at Piazza di Spagna near the Spanish Steps in Rome.
A tourist protects herself from the sun with a paper umbrella as she walks at Piazza di Spagna near the Spanish Steps in Rome.


Vodafone has had better deals in the past, but lately appears to have downgraded its plan for tourists, now called “Vodafone Holiday” (formerly “Dolce Vita”), to a paltry 2GB for €30. You get a total of 300 minutes of calls and 300 texts to Italian numbers or to your home country; EU roaming costs €3 per day.

Existing Vodafone customers can access the offer by paying €19 – the charge will be made to your Vodafone SIM within 72 hours of activating the deal. 

READ ALSO: MAP: The best Italian villages to visit this year

The Vodafone Holiday offer automatically renews every four weeks for €29 – in order to cancel you’ll need to call a toll-free number. The Vodafone website says that the €30 includes the first renewal, suggesting the payment will cover the first four weeks plus an additional four after that, but you’ll want to double check before buying. You’ll need to go to a store in person to get the card.


TIM is one of Italy’s longest-standing and most well-established network providers, having been founded in 1994 following a merger between several state-owned companies.

The “Tim Tourist” SIM card costs €20 for 15GB of data and 200 minutes of calls within Italy and to 58 foreign countries, and promises “no surprises” when it comes to charges.

You can use the full 15GB when roaming within the EU at no extra charge, and in the EU can use your minutes to call Italian numbers. The deal is non-renewable, so at the end of the 30 days you won’t be charged any additional fees.

READ ALSO: MAP: Which regions of Italy have the most Blue Flag beaches?

To access the offer, you can either buy it directly from a TIM store in Italy, or pre-order using an online form and pay with your bank card. Once you’ve done this, you’ll receive a PIN which you should be able to present at any TIM store on arrival in Italy (along with your ID) to collect your pre-paid card. The card won’t be activated until you pick it up.


Iliad is the newest and one of the most competitive of the four major phone companies operating in Italy, and currently has an offer of 120GBP of €9.99 a month. For this reason, some travel blogs recommend Iliad as the best choice for foreigners – but unfortunately all of their plans appear to require an Italian tax ID, which rules it out as an option for tourists.


Though buying a pre-paid SIM card is a very useful option for visitors spending a decent amount of time in Italy, as mentioned above, there’s a significant different difference between buying a one-time pre-paid SIM versus a monthly plan that auto-renews.

Make sure you know which one you’re signing up for, and that if you choose a plan that will continue charging you after your vacation has ended, you remember to cancel it.

UK contracts

If you have a UK-registered mobile phone, check your plan carefully before travelling. Before Brexit, Brits benefited from the EU cap on roaming charges, but this no longer applies.

Some phone companies have announced the return of roaming charges, while others have not, or only apply roaming charges only on certain contracts.

In short, check before you set off and don’t assume that because you have never been charged extra before, you won’t be this time.