Everything you ever wanted to know about the Tuscan coast, from the glitzy Versilia in the north, not too far from the Apuan Alps, to Livorno’s busy port and the nearby Costa degli Etruschi. Discover the beautiful Gulf of Follonica and the unspoilt beaches of the Maremma, including the Parco Uccellina nature reserve.
The Tuscan Coast at a glance
Tuscany has a long coast (230 kilometres) with a lot of variety. You can choose a very civilised ‘bagno‘ in Versilia in the north, the glitzy resorts of Viareggio, Forte dei Marmi, the tranquil Tirrenia or Marina di Pisa. The further south you go, the clearer the water becomes. Castiglioncello is a pretty resort in a rocky coastal area, while the Etruscan coast boasts long sandy beaches, both free or with bathing establishments.
For real sea lovers, there’s no better place than the Maremma, with its clear water, endless sunsets and the nature reserve of the Uccellina Park. Picturesque fishing ports dot the coast and Mount Argentario offers spectacular views. It’s best to visit in June, or from the end of August to September. It gets pretty crowded in August especially at weekends.
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The Tuscan coast – Northern Tuscany
The stretch of coast that runs from Marina di Carrara and Forte dei Marmi to Livorno is basically a long sandy beach. It has been taken over bathing establishments – the most elegant high-end resorts being Forte dei Marmi, Lido di Camaiore and Viareggio, that have promenades with shops, local nightlife and kids entertainment.
It’s a paradise for the young that descend here for the nightlife, you find plenty of good restaurants and everything you’d expect from a beach resort. It’s lively and colourful, but not cheap. Expect tightly packed deck chair areas with umbrellas.
For free beaches your best bet is the Riserva Naturale di Migliarino with unspoilt wild beaches like the Lecciona Beach or Marina di Vecchiano beach (in high season you pay for parking but beaches are completely free). Expect to walk a bit from the car park. There are sand dunes here and not many bars so bring your own water and food.
In the resorts of Marina di Pisa and Tirrenia you find both free beaches and establishments. Ideal for families, with lovely pine groves, bicycles and civilised beach life.
The most attractive towns in this area are liberty-style Viareggio and Forte dei Marmi, and in the interior nearby Pietrasanta is a real gem.
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The Etruscan Coast – from Livorno to Baratti Gulf
From Livorno there’s a beautiful (if narrow) drive along this scenic stretch of rocky coast, the blue on one side, verdant hills on the other. Popular and trendy Castiglioncello doesn’t have a beach but the pine grove is spectacular and there are many boutique shops and restaurants, plus there’s a lovely coastal walk that goes all the way to the industrial town of Rosignano Solvay.
To the south you find long golden beaches that are perfect for families – both free beaches and those with bathing establishments: Vada, Cecina, Marina di Bibbona, Marina di Castagneto Carducci, San Vincenzo. There is plenty of accommodation and camping sites in this area.
In the hilly and verdant interior there are lovely small towns such as: Bolgheri, Castagneto Carducci, Suvereto and Campiglia Marittima.
It’s called the Etruscan Coast because of its Etruscan past – Populonia was the only Etruscan city built on the coast and you can visit the necropolis. There’s a great view from the watchtower of Populonia over the beautiful Gulf of Baratti.Photo by LepoRello – Opera propria, CC BY-SA 3.0, Collegamento
Maremma, the best beaches in Tuscany?
Arguably the best beaches in Tuscany are to be found in southern Tuscany, in the Maremma, which includes the “Costa d’Argento” around Mount Argentario. This area, famous for its natural beauty, is less built up, and here you find natural reserves like the Diaccia Botrona near Castiglione della Pescaia and the Uccellina Nature Park. The sea is clearer (in the north the currents tend to whip up the sea), beaches are vast and often free, and the general feeling is of more ‘wildness’ compared to the north.
Along this stretch of coast you find modern resorts like Follonica (not particularly pretty but lively and family friendly), pretty fishing villages that still retain an old charm, like Porto Ercole and Talamone, lovely sandy beaches and safe waters. You can’t go wrong around here with Alberese, Castiglione della Pescaia, picturesque Capalbio, and lovely long beaches to explore and enjoy. There are several beach clubs in the area that offer food.
The small coves and bays of Mount Argentario are difficult to get to if not with a boat. Beaches Feniglia and Giannella link the mount to the mainland. Porto Santo Stefano is a lively and busy port, with a great choice of seafood restaurants.
The Islands – Tuscan Archipelago
Elba is the biggest island of the Tuscan Archipelago, and has a variety of accommodation facilities. It’s easy to reach by boat in one hour from the port of Piombino. It has some stunning beaches, clear blue water, and lovely small towns like Portoferraio or Rio Marina.
The beautiful Giglio Island and the small and peaceful Giannutri Island are other favourite destinations for sea lovers, that here can enjoy an unspoilt nature, hiking and swimming in the beautiful waters. Both are one hour away from Porto Santo Stefano.
SUSTAINABILITY – “BANDIERA BLU”
The Bandiera Blu (bleu flag) awards local bathing establishments that use sustainable practices. Not only are the waters clean here, but they also respect the environment and develop their services in a sustainable way.
This recognition is awarded according to two criteria; on one side there is Bandiera Blu for beaches, which keeps an eye on quality of the bathing waters; on the other is Bandiera Blu of touristic ports, which controls the cleanliness of waters adjacent to ports and other other services.
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