There’s hot and then there’s too hot. Once August rolls around, Florence is typically in the latter category; a persistent humidity and relentless sun beat down on you provoking beads of sweat to beat down your forehead. There are plenty of places to take shelter from the heat and stay cool in Florence, but there is one thing the city ultimately lacks: a beach.
Abundant in history, culture, and mouthwatering cuisine, the Renaissance City is inland, landlocked, ocean-less. However, we’ve taken the liberty to round up five of the best beaches near Florence, which can provide a day of reprieve from the summer heat. All of these locations are reachable in under three hours from Florence, and depending on what you value most - proximity or aesthetic - there’s surely a beach in Tuscany that will satisfy your standards.
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The beach of Viareggio
The closest beach to Florence is undoubtedly Viareggio. If you’re looking for a simple, sandy beach where you can plop down with a book and dive into the water occasionally, this is the most convenient option by far. Just an hour and twenty minutes or so on the train, the beach is a straight shot by foot from the Viareggio train station and reachable in a quick ten minute walk. There’s a public beach as well as several beach clubs where you can rent a beach chair for around 8 euros. You can also stroll along the oceanside boulevard for some shopping, gelato, or a sit-down lunch.
Forte dei Marmi has a reputation for being the posh, VIP resort town. With plenty of upscale beach clubs, fancy restaurants and designer boutiques, you can certainly get a taste of the luxe life in this location. An hour and forty minutes from Florence on the train, it’s easy to reach for a day trip. There are plenty of sprawling, sandy beaches although the water, similar to Viareggio, is opaque. If you’re looking to rent a beach chair, booking in advance is a must.
At just an hour and forty minutes from Florence by train, Castiglioncello is like a breath of fresh, salty air. If you’re looking for a beach with pristine waters and a more rugged coastline, Castiglioncello is the place for you. Between the rocky landscape, pine woods and blue waters, you’ll feel like you’ve got nature’s best at your fingertips. There are a mixture of
beaches with sand or pebbles, depending on where you spread your towel, and there’s also the potential for surfing or other sea sports. There are also many beach clubs if you want the comfort of a lounge chair and food service, but again, booking in advance is essential.
The rocky coast of Castiglioncello
Similar to Castiglioncello, San Vincenzo is a seaside haven for those seeking a more natural landscape and the potential for water sports. Two hours away from Florence by train, the beaches feature clear blue waters and beaches that combine sand and pebbles. Visitors looking for an intermission between sunbathing can do some windsurfing, scuba diving, or explore the nearby Rimigliano Natural Park. There’s also a dog-friendly beach along the coastline.
One of Tuscany’s better kept secrets, Follonica is another beautiful seaside retreat boasting long sandy stretches, translucent waters, dunes, and pine trees. At two and half hours distance by train, it’s a bit further away from Florence. There are plenty of beaches to choose from in the area. Two great options are Giardino Beach and Torre Mozza, which both offer free beaches as well as dreamy views of the islands Corsica and Elba in the distance. The 15th century watch tower, Torre Mozza, serves as a historical backdrop.
An Italian summer is best experienced with some time spent at the seaside. Whether you’re a resident in Florence or are temporarily living in the city, we hope one of these beaches supplies the perfect dose of Vitamin-sea to help you survive the humidity. Drop us a line if you have a favorite beach spot near Tuscany and we’ll add it to our roundup!
Photos by Diederik Smit,
American content writer in Italy. Her hobbies include getting dressed up to go to art museums, hopping on trains to cities she's never been, and talking to herself in a mixture of English and Italian.