The Arno River cuts through the middle of Florence, snaking its way through the countryside en route to the sea. The river makes a lovely backdrop for, say, watching a sunset. But, when the mercury climbs in the summer, you’d do well to follow its lead and head for one of the beaches near Florence.
When most people think of Tuscany, they probably think of historic jewels like Florence, Pisa’s tilted tower, or perhaps rolling hills dotted with cypress trees. What they don’t usually think of is the beach. But Tuscany has a long coastline touching both the Tyrrhenian and Ligurian seas. This means that there are plenty of beachside resort towns just waiting to welcome locals and visitors alike when it’s time to escape the summer heat.
Beaches near Florence
Here are some of the beaches near Florence you might want to add to your next trip. They are all reachable by train, but make sure to check the train schedule for specific times.
Our top picks for beaches near Florence are listed in order from the shortest to the longest train trips, so you can pick one that suits your schedule when planning day trips from Florence. We’ve also noted whether the beaches are public (free) or private (paid).
Approximately 1 hour 20 minutes by train, direct
Located near the northern tip of the Tuscan coast on the Ligurian Sea, Livorno is the region’s primary port city. The town is worth visiting on your way to both public and private beaches near Florence. There are two historic forts to check out, and a beautifully tiled terrace winding
Approximately 1 hour 30 minutes by train, direct
The town of Viareggio sits on the Tyrrhenian Sea, about 30 miles north of Livorno. It’s home to one of Italy’s most colorful Carnevale celebrations (there’s a parade of huge papier-mâché figures) and a broad promenade near the beach lined with shops and little restaurants. Viareggio’s wide, sandy beach (mostly private) is popular with families, and it’s only one kilometer from the train station.
Approximately 1 hour 35 minutes by train, one transfer
Just north of Viareggio is the town of Pietrasanta. This town sits just under two miles (and a 10-minute bus ride or six-minute taxi ride) from its beach. The medieval town is worth some of your time before (or after) the beach. It’s sometimes called “little Athens” and there are art galleries aplenty to browse as well as a 13th-century cathedral. The beach (mostly private) is similar to Viareggio’s—sandy and wide—so it’s another favorite with families.
Forte dei Marmi
Approximately 1 hour 40 minutes by train, one transfer
If you’re looking for a “see and be seen” kind of beach crowd, Forte dei Marmi is as good as it gets in the area near Florence. It’s been a beach resort for the well-to-do since the 18th century and still caters to a wealthier crowd, with high-end shopping and dining as well as nightclubs. As you might expect, the beaches (mostly private) in Forte dei Marmi are particularly well-equipped and maintained, if on the expensive side.
Approximately 1 hour 50 minutes by train, one transfer
Further south on the Tuscan coast is Castiglioncello, a historic town with Etruscan archaeological sites and a medieval fort. The beaches (public and private) are more rocky than the sandy ones further north, but this part of the coast is considered especially beautiful—it’s called the Pearl of the Tyrrhenian. Snorkeling is popular here, as is biking or hiking through the large pine forest surrounding the town. The beach is less than one kilometer from the train station, but note that access to the sandy beach at Quercetano is down a long staircase.
Approximately 2 hours 10 minutes by train, one transfer
The town of San Vincenzo is also on what’s known as the “Etruscan Coast,” about 30 miles south of Castiglioncello. San Vicenzo has both public and private soft-sand beaches that are inviting. And the water near the beach tends to be a little bit shallower than most, making it another popular family beach. San Vincenzo is also known as a favorite with people who like beach and water sports. Finally, the nearby Rimigliano nature reserve offers a scenic combination of sandy dunes and green forests.
A Note about Italy’s Blue Flag Program
The Programma Bandiera Blu (Blue Flag Program) releases a list every year of beaches in the country that meet certain standards for environmental quality. They consider things like cleanliness of the water and the beach, among other things. Find the latest list of Blue Flag beaches by selecting the current year under the heading for “Toscana.”
Looking for other sporty ideas for your trip? Check out our guide to renting bikes in Florence!
Jessica fell in love with Italy on her first visit and has been channeling that affection into Italy travel guides for more than 15 years. She especially loves the stories food can tell us about a place. Living in often-rainy Portland, Oregon means Jessica is often in the mood for a steaming bowl of Tuscan ribollita. When not writing, she’s probably knitting.