In this post, I will tell you where to swim near Pisa or Florence on a holiday in Italy. Find out what are the best beaches in the North of Tuscany / Cinque Terre below.
We just came back from a 6-day holiday in Italy and it was amazing. We managed to stay on a budget while enjoying a bit of luxury in Florence in a gorgeous villa Olmi. When planning a trip to Italy, we didn’t want to spend all the 6 days in Italy in one place, so we decided to spend some time in Florence, but also to make sure to include a bit of beach holiday in Italy.
This post's overview:
Looking for places to swim near Pisa and the best beaches near Pisa / Florence
We were looking for where to swim near Pisa or Florence in Italy and found quite a few places, which we ended up visiting. We visited them all, however, we only stayed overnight in Pietrasanta and Monterosso del Mare. We were looking for the best beaches in Tuscany and while Tuscany doesn’t usually strike people’s mind as a swimming destination, it does have some really nice beaches, especially near Pisa and in Cinque Terre.
The reason why we chose Pisa was determined by the flight prices. The flights to Pisa in summer were really affordable, so that’s why we decided to fly there.
Of course, we didn’t visit all of Tuscany. Tuscany is huge and it has so much to offer, that we hardly saw anything at all, having visited 5+ places. That’s why we keep returning to Italy twice a year (we have already visited Milan and Bergamo in January! By the way, Bergamo is stunning, so you should definitely visit it too). Read my post about the best photo spots in Milan and Bergamo here.
As our flight to Pisa arrived quite late, we stayed a night in a hotel Terminus near the train station. The hotel was okay, enough for a 1-night sleep. If you’re in the same situation, you might consider this hotel or some similar ones.
Best beaches near Pisa and Florence at the Versilia coast
Sorry for the extensive introduction, let’s get started with the best beaches in Pisa and Florence. Well, Florence is very far from the coast, so of course, there are no beaches. However, most of the beaches I will mention, are reachable from Florence by train and we actually got from the beaches to Florence in about 2-2.5 hours, which is not too bad and not too expensive at all. Some of the beaches, e.g. Forte Dei Marmi is even closer, so you will reach Florence in about 1.5 hours and Pisa in literally no time.
Pisa, on the other hand, is close to the sea, however, there are not really any nice beaches on the coast of Pisa / Marina di Pisa. If you specifically want to swim as close to Pisa as possible, there is one new resort, Sentido, so you can definitely check it out.
All the three places I will mention below are very similar in terms of beaches – the beaches are usually private, that means, you need to pay to use them and not a little amount of money (about 30 euros for two chairs or sunbeds and an umbrella). The beaches literally stretch endlessly along the coast. Each beach usually has a restaurant, parking and sometimes even a swimming pool or a tennis court. Beaches are also massive – there are so many sunbeds!
The first destination with some nice beaches and the closest to Pisa is Viareggio. Viareggio is a part of the Versilia coast. Viareggio is a relatively big town with a lot of cafes and restaurants and it also has a nice and long coast. Viareggio is very easy to reach by train from Pisa or Florence and there are quite a few hotels to look at. You could consider the Hotel Plaza E De Russie or a cheaper one – Hotel Residence Esplanade.
Pietrasanta is a town just next to Viareggio and it’s also part of the Versilia coast. Marina di Pietrasanta is a lovely cheerful seaside town, however, it’s a bit harder to get there. You need to get a bus from the train station and, to be honest with you, I haven’t seen any taxis at all. You can, of course, request a transfer from the airport if it’s easier for you. You can check this website.
Pretty much none of the hotels have their private beach and you need to pay close to 30 euros (in case you’re wondering how expensive are beaches in Pietrasanta, Viareggio and Forte Dei Marmi) for two chairs, an umbrella and a sunbed.
Forte Dei Marmi
Forte Dei Marmi is the most upscale place in Versilia and close to Pisa and Florence. Many celebrities come there, there are designer stores and expensive restaurants and many famous people also have houses and apartments in Forte Dei Marmi. If it sounds like you – go for it, Forte Dei Marmi is great. The town is also very pretty and the beaches, well they are exactly the same as in Viareggio or Pietrasanta, but there are more “posh” beaches with Cabanas, comfortable sunbeds, upscale restaurants and so on. They are way more expensive than 30 euros though.
Best beaches in Cinque Terre
Okay, after mentioning the best beaches in Versilia / the closest beaches to Florence and Pisa, let’s talk about the beaches and places to swim that are located a bit further away, near or in Cinque Terre, but it’s still pretty close to Pisa.
If you haven’t been to Cinque Terre before, you should definitely go, as it’s amazing. However, you should know that it’s definitely not an ideal beach destination. Sandy beaches are scarce or non-existent and the places are crowded. VERY crowded. However, if it doesn’t put you off and you’re fine with rocky beaches, beautiful villages and many people around, keep reading.
Monterosso al Mare
Monterosso is considered the best swimming destination in Cinque Terre and that’s because Monterosso al Mare has many beaches. Nowhere as many as in Pietrasanta, however, compared to other villages in Cinque Terre, Monterosso is almost the only one that has proper beaches, where you can rent sunbeds with umbrellas. Hotels don’t have their own beaches, however, some of them offer a discount – if we were to stay on the beach in Monterosso al Mare, we would pay 28 euros.
However, Monterosso al Mare has a VERY CROWDED public beach. As we spent the entire day sightseeing and travelling between villages in Cinque Terre, that’s where we ended up going. We left our belongings at our hotel Palme and went to the public beach. Swimming in Monterosso was actually nice, especially around 6-7pm, as it wasn’t that hot anymore.
If you’re wondering, where to stay in Monterosso al Mare, we stayed at Hotel Palme, however, I found it a bit overpriced, so if these hotels are available, you might want to consider them instead: Hotel Villa Adriana and Affitacamere Antonella.
Porte Venere is formally not a part of Cinque Terre, but it’s located on a peninsula between La Spezia and Riomaggiore. You can either take a bus there or go by boat (it’s 30 min sail from La Spezia port) and there are many boats willing to take you there. Porte Venere is a lovely town and you can either dip in the water there or in Parco di Porto Venere (you need another boat for that or just ask to bring you there in the first place).
Manarola is one of the prettiest villages in Cinque Terre and it has a very small beach in the town centre. However, if you take a trail on the right side and walk for 5 minutes, you will reach a small bay, where you can leave your belongings and swim in a gorgeous place!
It’s probably not the best place for a beach holiday, however, if you’re just looking for a place to swim in Cinque Terre, why not?
Levanto is not a part of Cinque Terre, however, it’s included in the Cinque Terre Train pass and it has a nice and long beach. So if you’re coming to Cinque Terre for a beach holiday for at least a couple of days, I recommend staying in either Levanto or Monterosso al Mare.
Okay, that was it with the places to swim near Pisa and Florence and the best beaches in Cinque Terre. I hope that this post was useful to you! Should you have any questions or comments, please don’t hesitate to ask.