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Best Beaches in Calabria and How to Visit Them

best beaches in calabria

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Calabria is a picturesque, idyllic sanctuary at the toe of Italy’s boot. Its untouched landscapes, ancient castles, rustic towns, beautiful seas, and sun-drenched beaches lend an old-worldly aura to Italy’s secret southern coast. The region is packed with historical and natural flair, beckoning to your every sense.

With 800 km of coastline and sunny shores, surrounded by both the Ionian and Tyrrhenian seas, it’s no wonder you’ll find some of Italy’s best beaches in Calabria. This includes a staggering 19 Blue Flag beaches, proving the coastline’s high standards for environmental, educational, safety, and accessibility. 

The following guide offers an in-depth view of the region’s appeal, showing off the best Calabria beaches and what they have to offer.

TIP: Read this guide on the best time to visit Italy to help you plan the perfect vacation.

Calabria’s Western Coast

calabria beaches

Characterized by dramatic landscapes hugging the Tyrrhenian Sea, the West Coast is home to the illustrious La Costa Degli Dei. Here are some of the best Calabria beaches on the West Coast.

Tropea

best beaches in calabria

A sparkling gem in Calabria’s crown, the town of Tropea is nestled along the La Costa Degli Dei, and it’s easy to see why this seaside town is famous. Home to one of Calabria’s Blue Flag beaches, Tropea has some of the best shores in the region.

With beaches like L’Occhiale, ‘A Linguata, Convento, and Passo del Cavaliere, you are spoiled for choice here. This town has a mixture of free beaches and resort areas, and many have the option to hire sunbeds, umbrellas, water sports gear, canoes, or pedalos (paddle boats).

The pearl of the Tyrrhenian Sea is characterized by its white sand beaches. Tropea Beach, the town’s Blue Flag Beach, is easily accessible from the street and spares you the need to hike to get to the beautiful beach.

The Grotta Del Palombaro is a hidden grotto behind the ridged cliff, which is reachable via boat from the shore of Tropea Beach – or a 15-minute swim from the main beach. The Grotto is not visible from the shore but does get busy, so venture out in the early morning to get a spot. Grab a waterproof bag to keep your gear dry, or rent a paddle boat to get to this beautiful secret escape.

Rotonda Beach is one of the more popular beaches. From the Rock of San Leonardo on the right side, you can look out over the narrow beach, where you’ll find a good spot to look out over the beach. Pop in at Il Convivio for lunch or dinner, where you’ll find fresh seafood and traditional Calabrian dishes.

From Rotonda Beach, go to Marina dell’Isola, where you can also see the Benedictine Sanctuary of Santa Maria Dell’Isola on the rocks. This is one of Tropea’s most photographed attractions with its fantastic architecture and artwork.

TIP: Just beware of possible erosion of the cape and cliff, especially near Spiaggia Mare Piccolo, which may cause falling debris near the cliff face.

Scilla Beach Town

calabria beaches scilla

Quaint Scilla is one of the most beautiful villages in Calabria, with multicolored houses topped by the Castello Ruffo and a remarkable lighthouse on its shore. The village is situated on Costa Viola, also known as the Purple Coast.

Scilla Beach, also known as Spiaggia di Scilla, stretches almost a kilometer long, dotted with many restaurants and cafes, like the Astamanera Beach Bar, offering desserts, cocktails, and fresh seafood right on the beach. There is also the Lido Chianalea Cala delle Feluche beach club, where you can hire equipment, book excursions, or find food and other convenient amenities.

The sand here is pebbly, and you may want to wear water shoes to prevent hurting your feet as you traverse this beach area. The water level also deepens quickly, and there aren’t many small or shallow areas for kids to play.

The good news – if you’re hesitant about cold water – is that there’s often no cold current from the Strait of Messina, so the water is generally pleasant enough to go swimming.

Spiaggia di Riaci Beach Resort Town

best beaches in calabria spiaggia di riaci

A 10-minute drive south of Tropea lies the serene Riaci Beach. If you’re looking to keep a low profile or to escape the crowds, Riaci is an excellent choice. The beach is distinguished by Scoglio Grande, large rock formations along the beach that stretch into the water.

Concealed coves and inlets among the rocks form pools that are full of sea life — it is due to these unique features that Riaci Beach is a serious contender for the best snorkeling in the region.

While there are a lot of resort areas on the beach, there is a large free access area as well as kiosks where you rent a kayak or paddle boat. The Oldwell Hotel has a bar on the beach that offers light snacks and saves you from having to pack your own food.

Diving enthusiasts will delight in the opportunity to explore U Vapuri, a sunken ship wreckage dating back to World War Two. The wreck can be found a little off the shore, about 25 m below the surface, and is a prime spot to observe marine life.

Riaci Beach is rocky, and the seabed is covered in pebbles, so water shoes are essential here. It’s also best to check the wind forecast for the day, as windy conditions may make it challenging to be up on the rocks. Choppy waters are problematic for snorkeling, too, because getting to the channel’s natural pools can be dangerous.

Pizzo

pizzo calabria beaches

Pizzo, also called Pizzo Calabro, is set on a cliff descending the incline, making for a gorgeous backdrop to the town’s other unique landmarks. The town is ribboned with narrow alleys and steps all leading down to the water.

Pizzo’s main beach is Pizzo beach and is free to access. It is a smaller beach, so it does get crowded at times. If you prefer a quieter beach, head to Spiaggia Libera Chiesa di Piedigrotta. The beach is a secluded spot just below the Piedigrotta church. It’s also free access (look for the term Libero in the name).

Pizzo is the nearest to Lamezia Terme airport, a typical Italian airport and Calabria’s busiest.

Indulge in Pizzo’s world-famous gelato, Tartufo di Pizzo, found in Piazza della Repubblica. From the shore, you can catch one of the best sunsets to be found on the Coast of The Gods.

Capo Vaticano (Grotticelle Beach)

best beaches in calabria grotticelle

Known as a high-profile area, Capo Vaticano has one of the most beautiful beaches in Southern Italy. Capo Vaticano is home to several beaches, some of which are only reachable by boat.

Grotticelle Beach is one of the most popular beaches in Capo Vaticano. The term Grotticele means ‘little grottos,’ and this makes sense when you see the caves that surround this beach. These are not too well known, but boast gorges, narrow slots, and canyons. You’ll find some of the best snorkeling spots here if you swim about two minutes out from the shore, leaving from the far left end of the beach.

You can grab a drink at Beach Bar Grotticelle or an early dinner at Grotticelle Mare Bar Restorant. The Hotel Village Eden Beach Resort will give you access to a private beach, kids club and entertainment. It’s reserved for residents, though, so try out the public free-access beach for a more secluded sunbathing spot, and if you walk further left, you’ll find a shady spot to read a book.

Pop in at Santa Maria Beach, which is longer and less crowded than Grotticele. If you have the time, hire a paddle boat to get to Praia I Focu, an entirely secluded beach perfect for some reflection and quiet time.

READ: Why you should go, in Reasons to visit Calabria.

San Nicola Arcella

san nicola arcella calabria beaches

San Nicola Arcella in the North of Calabria is one of the best places to visit in Calabria. The beach is connected by a high bridge with a view of the mountains. On one side of the beach, you can see Dino Island, and on the other, the bay.

This area is full of amazing things to see and yet isn’t overly crowded. While the list of beaches in San Nicola Arcella is extensive, the central San Nicola Arcella beach is a Blue Flag beach.

At Lido Golden Beach, you’ll find great food, a well-kept area, and lovely locals. Here, some of the best beach resorts in Calabria can be found. The Lido Golden Beach Taormina beach club has umbrellas for hire, showers, changing rooms, and a snack bar.

The town’s main attraction is Grotta della Arcomagno, also known as Grotta del Saraceno. Hire a boat to see the picturesque grotto.

Spiaggia dell’Arcomagno

best beaches in calabria spiaggia dell'arcomagn

One of the most striking views in Calabria can be found on the unique Arcomagno Beach, a small bay on Riviera Dei Cedri between Scalea and Praia a Mare. Accentuated by the 20m-high imposing natural rock arch, the crescent-shaped beach is surrounded by dense vegetation.

This wild and untouched area is nothing short of legendary. The beach used to be known as the beach of Aeneas because legend has it that Aeneas passed through dell’Arcomagno after the fall of Troy.

The mini amphitheater adds to the private feel of the beach. You won’t want to miss out on the sunset here when you visit. When the rays pass through the arch at sunset, the bay is flooded with an almost celestial light.

Mountain streams flow into the sea nearby and can make the water colder than surrounding beaches. The pebble and dark sand combination can be a little coarse but not uncomfortable. Being free, the beach has no facilities, eateries, or bins, so it is best to be prepared when you visit.

Getting there can be tricky, though. You can start at Contrada Marinella, where you’ll find a path carved into the rock, or hike from San Nicola Arcella for an hour, with panoramic views of Praia a Mare, Dino Island, and Scoglio dello Scorzone. Or, take the quicker way by paddle boat from Marinella beach.

Calabria’s Eastern Coast

eastern calabria beaches

The Ionian Sea meets the Orange Coast in Calabria’s East. This strand has more frequented areas because the beaches are easier to access and more of them have amenities. The terrain is less dramatic but is still something to see and experience.

Soverato

best beaches in calabria soverato

Soverato is lively and popular with young adults and teens. The eclectic nightclub scene has its own rhythm. While the area is synonymous with happy hour, the beach is great for families during the day.

There are plenty of recreational activities for adults and kids on offer at the Soverato free beach, which is a Blue Flag beach. It is the perfect spot to tan on the fine white sand or cool off in the sparkling shallow waters.

The Glauco Beach Club offers a terrace, garden, and a restaurant. If you’re a pet owner, you’ll delight in the pet-friendly beach created just for you and your furry companion. In addition, the club offers bookings for various coverings like umbrellas, shade coverings, seating and other furniture to make your time at the club as comfortable as possible.

Some areas of the Soverato coast are pebbled and require water shoes. There are both free access and beach clubs to suit any preference on what is likely the most developed of the area’s beaches.

Le Castella

calabria beaches le castella

Le Castella will appeal to history buffs and romantics. As you look out at the surf, you will find a magical castle floating in the sea. The ancient Aragonese fortress is perched on an islet that is connected to the mainland. With history going back to around 400 BC, it has been used as a citadel and provided refuge against sea attacks. The feet of many conquerors have walked in the shade of its walls. The fortress is free for sight-seers to visit.

The sea off the coast of Capo Rizzuto is a marine-protected area. The ocean is home to flora, fauna, and interesting archaeological sites. Divers can book an underwater tour to see the sunken Roman columns and shipwrecks visited by marine life. If you prefer to stay above the waterline, glass-bottom boat tours are available to see beautiful creatures deep in their habitat.

The Blue Flag beach is stony, small, and narrow and can get crowded, especially during the peak season in August. The beach is public, and free and offers some opportunities for diving and snorkeling. You can find some loungers and parasols available for your convenience, but facilities like bathrooms and changing rooms aren’t available.

Montepaone

best beaches in calabria montepaone

Montepaone Lido is one of the easiest beaches to visit. It is much less crowded than some of its neighbors and has something to offer everyone. Lush hills come right to the water’s edge on the North end of the beach, offering you the opportunity to go mountain trekking and see the view from higher ground.

The warm golden sand provides a comfortable space for water sports like volleyball or beach soccer. Little kiosks offer lessons in water sports and provide gear rental for your convenience.

You’ll be spoilt for choice with the range of food available from restaurants like Luna Convento or Tropp on the promenade that borders the beach. There is also ample free parking along the beach, eliminating the headache of having to lug things to and fro.

Squillace

squillace calabria beaches

Squillace is a small beach town in Southern Italy, brimming with diversity. The Lido di Squillace beach is fringed by the mountains and a nature area rich in beautiful coastal flora. Copanella village is also nearby. This quaint area is a must-see in Calabria when you travel to Italy.

If you love adventure, there are jet skis and catamarans to get your blood racing in the Gulf of Squillace.

There are so many places to rent the sunbeds you’ll see dotted along the sand, and there are easygoing free zones. The beach almost never gets crowded, and you’re likely to find a comfortable space on the sand and pebbles no matter when you visit.

Visit Calabria for An Unforgettable Beach Vacation

the best beaches in calabria

Calabria is a jewel in Italy that is less well known than places like the Amalfi coast but has its own flair and appeal. Calabria is a country paradise with beaches that will make you feel like you landed on a tropical island, largely untouched by modern buildings or developments. This means that its beauty is uninterrupted and pristine.

On Calabria’s beaches, you can swim, snorkel, play sport, marvel at the stunning views of the neighboring offshore islands or simply grab a sunbed and bask in the glorious Italian sun. The region offers an uncrowded, budget-friendly go-to for the best beach vacation in Italy.

TIP: Check out this list on how to pack for Italy before you go so you’re well prepared for your visit.

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