Which are the top coastal towns in Tuscany? Here we take a stroll through the region’s most scenic, atmospheric and dazzling seaside destinations. From all-time favourite Viareggio on the Versilia coast, to family-friendly Follonica, and romantic Castiglione della Pescaia and Porto Ercole – we’ve collected a list of our favourites.
Seaside towns are synonymous with long strolls, gelato, lazy days and sunset aperitivi. It’s about trying to find the perfect fish restaurant. It’s about sipping an iced coffee at an open air table caressed by the sea breeze. It’s about relaxing in the fragrant shade of a pine grove. And losing track of time while you watch the yachts rocking softly in the port.
Coastal towns in Tuscany – Northern Tuscany
Viareggio is one of the most renowned seaside towns in Tuscany, loved by families, the young and the old alike. The art nouveau buildings, built over a century ago in its heyday, give it a chic and dreamy quality. Here life still revolves around the Passeggiata, the 3 kilometre long promenade with luxury hotels and family pensioni on one side, shops and locales of all sorts on the other. Viareggio is not about sea views. All you see from the lungomare are the entrances to the bathing resorts . This is a place to savour Italian beach life at its most civilised, with a touch of old-world charm. Beach huts, bars, gelaterie, games for kids and elegant shops are in plentiful supply. After a lazy day spent in one of the nicely organised bagni or bathing establishments, the evening sees people get dressed up in their summer finest to do a bit of window shopping, or go for an after dinner drink along the waterfront promenade.
FORTE DEI MARMI
A stone’s throw from Viareggio, you find Forte dei Marmi, “the fort of the marbles“. This is a glitzy retreat where Italian and International celebrities hang around to enjoy the trendy shops and luxurious bathing establishments. It’s the smartest of all Tuscan resorts, with the Apuan Alps in the background and a long history of illustrious guests, like Thomas Mann, Henry Moore, and Aldous Huxley. The 5 kilometre long promenade along the sea is equipped with bars, restaurants, and luxury shops. Look out for the famous ‘fortino‘ which gives its name to the city – a fortress that dates back to the 18th century – and try out one of the historic locales, like glamorous nightclub La Capannina di Franceschi, Caffè Morin or Caffè Principe.
This pretty coastal town in Tuscany is blessed with a beautiful pineta (pine grove) overlooking the sea, and a castle where events are organised throughout the summer. During the day you can enjoy a cappuccino at the excellent Bar Ginori in the main square, or enjoy the pine grove, a little piece of heaven where the breeze from the sea mixes with the scent of the trees. In the evening it gets lively with stalls of all sorts. Castiglioncello was very popular in the sixties, but is still a firm favourite amongst the coastal towns in Tuscany. There aren’t beaches here, mainly rocks, with steep stairs that lead you to the small bathing establishments that get very busy in the Summer. One great feature is the beautifully kept coastal walk that goes all the way to Rosignano Solvay.
Southern Tuscany – the gems of the Maremma
A lively resort loved by families, located on the beautiful Gulf of Follonica, 50 kilometres from Grosseto. It gets very busy and lively in the summer, with the bathing establishments and accommodation being booked well in advance. It has long beaches of fine sand, shallow clear water. Here it’s not about the views or the sights, it’s a place to experience beach life Italian style. Freedom for the kids, grandparents chatting with their deckchair neighbours, beach games, music and ice cream at all hours. The further away you go from the town centre, the more hope you’ll have of finding a bit of tranquility. If you’re spending your beach holiday here don’t miss the beautiful hilltop town of Massa Marittima, 20 kilometres inland.
CASTIGLIONE DELLA PESCAIA
Castiglione della Pescaia is a popular summer destination in southern Tuscany, blessed with a beautiful location. Romantic, relaxed, perfect for couples and families alike. Castiglione della Pescaia has a lovely old centre overlooked by a Medieval castle, plenty of entertainments, restaurants and shops, a working port, free and well-equipped beaches, and clear, safe water. Nearby there is no shortage of opportunities for biking or walking. A vast pine grove and the wetland wonderland of Diaccia Botrona, a Nature Reserve also perfect for birdwatching.
The most attractive resort on Mount Argentario, Porto Ercole is a small fishing port that overlooks a small bay with crystal blue water. If you climb the steep and narrow streets that lead to the Old Town you’ll discover stunning views of the sea and picturesque hidden corners. Pastel coloured houses, old wooden doors, and lush bougainvilleas. Nearby are some of the best beaches and clear water of the Maremma.
A fishing village with an ancient past, Talamone is dominated by what remains of its grey stone fortress that overlooks the sea. Once a menacing defensive structure for the town, it now adds to the charm and the scenery. The harbour is a lovely place for a stroll. It’s situated on the southern border of the Uccellina Nature Reserve in the Maremma, and its bay is well known for water sports such as windsurfing or kite surfing. Sandy beaches, clear water and pine groves make this a little Mediterranean heaven.