Going to the beach in Italy is a true cultural venture. Candy-colored umbrellas and matching chairs of the stabilimento balneare (beach clubs) stand in tight, neat lines beside the azure sea. Colorful houses and terraced gardens cling to an almost vertical hillside. Vespas and tiny Fiats zip along the boulevard in front of cafes that serve heaping platters of fritto misto. Some of Italy's best beaches are nestled into coves along the Amalfi Coast. Here are ten beautiful swaths of shore to seek out.
Cosmopolitan Positano's main beach, Marina Grande sets the stage for seaside la dolce vita at its finest. Chromatic pops fill the vibrant scene — a cherry-red Campari and soda, cascades of magenta bougainvillea, an army of tangerine beach umbrellas — and equally colorful characters bring the tableau to life. This beach isn't the place for the most pristine water, but people watching beneath the warm Mediterranean sun provides plenty of entertainment.
Gavitella Beach, Praiano
Beaches that receive all-day sun are a rarity along the Amalfi Coast, but Gavitella's southwestern exposure invites basking well into cocktail hour, complete with glorious sunsets. Rent a sun bed from Cala della Gavitella beach club or make like the locals and spread your towel on the concrete piattaforma above the sea. The small cove, with its clear emerald-blue waters, ancient stone tower, and gorgeous view of neighboring Positano, is considered one of the most beautiful in the area.
Cavallo Morto, Maiori
Also called Cala Bellavaia, this stunning azure bay is one of Campania's loveliest. Sandy and secluded with clear aquamarine sea, the horseshoe-shaped inlet is accessible only by boat. Hiring one from the nearby town of Maori makes for an authentic Italian experience.
A hand-lettered, cobalt-blue sign perched on the edge of SS 163 marks the path to tranquil Spiaggia Arienzo. Sometimes called 300-steps beach, a stone staircase descends through fragrant landscape with views of the famed coast. Sherbet-striped parasols and matching lounge chairs belonging to the Bagni d'Arienzo Beach Club, which serves a memorable spaghetti vongole, dot the shoreline. If the hike down (and back up) sounds harrowing, take a small, wooden-boat ferry from Marina Grande to Arienzo, which run throughout the day.
Santa Croce, Amalfi
Tucked into a rocky inlet, secluded Santa Croce, with its pebbly shore and turquoise waters, can be reached only by boat from nearby Amalfi. Two restaurant-beach clubs, Santa Croce and Da Teresa, make their homes in the little cove and both offer ferry service from the town pier. Climb aboard and escape the masses at the coastal capital's Spiaggia Grande — sipping limoncello beneath a candy-colored umbrella equates to seaside bliss, Italian style.
Far below the bridge spanning one of Italy's only fjords, Furore Beach, nestled at the foot of an old fishing hamlet, is a unique and beautiful site. The emerald-blue cove, clearly visible from the road above, is ideal for early risers looking to while away a few hours by the sea — the fjord's steep, rock walls shade the beach in the afternoons. MarMeeting, an international high diving spectacle, takes place here each year in early July.
Bordered by Cetara's palm-studded promenade and picturesque port, mellow Marina di Cetara offers a quintessential, tourist-free Italian seashore experience. Local families hang out at the charming town's main beach with its harbor, majolica-tiled cathedral, and views of the surrounding coastline. Cobbled streets wind into town, where shops sell Cetara's famous anchovies and olive-oil-packed tuna.
Il Duoglio, Amalfi
400 stairs lead to this hidden coastal enclave near the district of Lone, just north of Amalfi. Crystal-clear water — some of the region's cleanest — and plenty of action make this a favorite spot for adventure seekers. Duoglio's beach club and restaurant, Lido degli Artisti, offers kayaks, paddleboards and windsurfers for rent, along with chairs and umbrellas.
Spiaggia di Cauco, Erchie
Legend has it that Hercules found the tiny fishing village of Erchie, located between Maiori and Cetara, which overlooks one of the prettiest beaches on the Amalfi Coast. Two medieval Saracen towers, Torre Cerniola and Torre di Tummolo, built in the sixteenth century to protect the borgo from pirates, preside over the beach. A smattering of restaurants, bars, and gelaterie line the lively seaside promenade, perfect for a post-beach stroll.
Marina di Praia, tucked into the base of a cliff and referred to simply as "La Praia," has long been a local favorite. A steep access road from the Strada Statale leads down to a seaside village that circles a small cove with brightly painted fishing boats, several restaurants and loungers for rent. Walk along the Via Terramare, a pathway carved into the rocky promontory graced by the ceramic designs of artist Paolo Sandulli, that winds along the edge of the sea to the ninth-century Torre al Mare.