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The beaches in Naples, Italy, like this vibrant southern city itself, are often highly characterful.

And as with the city, where history feels intertwined with the present day, the beaches in Naples, Italy, are frequently augmented by crumbling villas or sunken Roman curiosities. Here, your beach experience comes stacked with culture.

Within this whole area, from the Cape of Sorrento to the shining shores of Isle of Capri, there’s a cove or beach or swimming spot for all tastes.

Here are some of the best beaches near Naples, Italy.

Marina Grande, Capri

Waterfront view of Marina Grande, Capri

Marina Grande, Capri

Once a quiet fishing village, Marina Grande has since transformed into a lively port—the lone gateway for boats seeking entry to this near-mythic island off the coast of Naples.

Behind Marina Grande’s sun-bleached, bird-strutted breakwater, a line of houses the colors of sorbet look out over the anchored boats. Sleek sailing yachts and brightly painted fishing boats mix with the ferries and multi-story gin palaces all seeking a mooring at this jewel of the Tyrrhenian.

As such there’s plenty to watch from the island’s largest beach, found just the other side of the breakwater. While many immediately depart for the island’s hinterland, for those with less time, Marina Grande offers a superb base for settling into the vibe straight away.

Aerial view of Marina Grande, Capri

Marina Grande, Capri

The beach is protected from winds by the cliffs, while the pebbles make way for sand the further you walk from the marina. Locals jump off the rocks into the glassy sea. Across the water, you can see the Cape of Sorrento and Vesuvius looming in the distance.

Having waded into an appetite, leave the beach and find Midici on via Cristoforo Colombo for delicious takeaway pasta and portions of fried octopus. Find a place to sit along the boardwalk, or stroll up to the higher part of town for an even more scenic outlook.

Spiaggia di Citara, Ischia

Spiaggia di Citara, Ischia, one of the best beaches in Naples, Italy

Spiaggia di Citara, Ischia

The largest island of the Neapolitan Archipelago, Ischia is a favorite with Italians on vacation. A laidback locale with casual trattorias catering to regional tastes, it also offers superb beaches at every point of the compass.

Pool from the Poseidon Thermal Gardens

Poseidon Thermal Gardens

Another aspect of Ischia is its volcanic temperament. Happily, it eschews the smoke-spewing shenanigans of islands like Stromboli in favor of calm-inducing thermal waters. Its famous thermal spa, the Poseidon Thermal Gardens on Ischia’s west coast, has more than 20 naturally-warmed swimming pools to choose from.

Separating the Italian gardens from the sea is a golden ribbon of sand called Spiaggia di Citara, renowned as the best beach on the island for sunsets. This spacious beach, looking west towards Sardinia, is a hit with Italian families.

Dive into the clean, clear water for some snorkeling (the slope into the water is steep-ish so it’s not your ideal wading beach). Alternatively, just sit on the beach awaiting the caramelizing sky to announce aperitivo hour at one of the many bars fronting onto the sand.

Read: Best Beaches in Italy for Families

Maiori Beach, Amalfi Coast

Maiori Beach, one of the most beautiful beaches in Naples Italy

Maiori Beach, Amalfi Coast

Famous as the longest stretch of sand on the storied Amalfi Coast, you’d imagine that Maiori Beach would be something of a poseur’s paradise.

Happily, amid the chic 20-something tourists, you’ll also find ordinary day-tripping Italians seeking that shot of old-school glamor blended with the Amalfi’s jaw-dropping good looks.

Maiori’s beach is itself something of a non-sequitur amid the Amalfi’s precipitous geography. It’s actually the result of a landslide in the 1950s that led to a re-shaping of the seafront.

It’s a wonderful beach for people-watching, whether you’ve rented a lounger or are in one of the free areas bookending the beach. This setup, incidentally, is typical of Italian beaches, which are a mix of private concessions on which you can rent a lounger and enjoy other facilities, and areas that are free to access. Maiori’s characterful knot of streets, a muse for director Roberto Rossellini, is also a fantastic place to wander with a lemon pastry in hand.

Minori Beach, Amalfi Coast

Minori Beach, one of the best beaches in Naples Italy

Minori Beach, Amalfi Coast

The name suggests it: Minori is a smaller beach than its neighbor, Maiori, but not the lesser destination by any other measurement besides square footage. Its south-facing aspect promises a good day’s browning for the sun-worshippers on its loungers, while there’s just enough free beach to extend the town’s authentic vibe right up to the aquamarine shallows.

Minori is the black sheep of the Amalfi towns. It doesn’t have that full wattage smile, instead offering a more easygoing vibe among its maze of pastel-colored houses. While they no longer hang the local scialatielli pasta to dry in the piazza, it’s still available on menus.

Also available is the must-have local specialty, torta ricotta e pere, a creamy, nutty sponge cake filled with pears, at top pastry chef Sal De Riso’s shop/bistro.

Spiaggia della Gaiola, Naples

Pretty blue waters of Spiaggia della Gaiola, Naples

Spiaggia della Gaiola, Naples

Located at the foot of the Posillipo district, Spiaggia della Gaiola is one of those beaches in Naples, Italy, that exemplifies what makes this fringe of the country so special.

Part city beach, part marine protected area, Spiaggia della Gaiola is a rocky piece of shore with small ribbons of sand for the fortunate early birds. With its topography unsuitable for rows upon rows of loungers, it’s entirely a free beach but be aware that it is correspondingly free of amenities.

But leave your towel and the shore behind. This is one of the city’s best swimming spots with water so clear that, on one of Naples’ 264 days of sunshine, you can easily see the reddish bristle of urchins on the seafloor below.

Famous arch near Spiaggia della Gaiola, Naples

Spiaggia della Gaiola, Naples

It’s more likely that your eyes will be above the surface inspecting the Island of Gaiola. These two islets of wind-sculpted rock, joined by a fingernail of a bridge, sit just offshore. Two buildings with tragic histories sit upon what is now government land, connected to the submerged historical site located below the azure waves.

If you want to see more, it’s possible to take a glass-bottomed boat tour to see the ancient remains of sunken seaside villas below, picked over by damselfish and lugubrious bream.

Read: Best Things to Do in Naples, Italy

Marina Piccola Beach, Capri

Rocky coast of Spiaggia della Chiaia, Ischia

Spiaggia della Chiaia, Ischia

Like a slice of lime wedged between weathered crags, Marina Piccola Beach is one of the best beaches near Naples, Italy. Besides its popularity, it’s also been immortalized in Homer’s Odyssey as the place where the sirens attempted to waylay Odysseus on his return to Ithaca.

More fool, Odysseus. Sheltered by cliffs with a natural limestone arch to swim beneath, Marina Piccola Beach is a magical spot, edged by a riddle of rocky nooks and low cliffs off  which to dive into the turquoise waters.

From the pebbly beach, you have views of the Faraglioni, a trio of jutting limestone spurs that soar out of the Bay of Naples. They also make for nice points of interest while sitting at—where else?—Ristorante Le Sirene for a negroni and red seabream prepared all’acqua pazza; poached in a light broth.

Spiaggia della Chiaia, Ischia

Dark blue waters of Spiaggia della Chiaia, Ischia

Spiaggia della Chiaia, Ischi

Of all of Ischia’s superlative beaches, Spiaggia della Chiaia, with its meltingly soft, white sand slipping into a gently shelving sea, is perhaps the most warmly welcoming.

Breakwaters ensure ideal swimming conditions, and amenities are plentiful. The beach’s width means that, even with the Neapolitan clans descending in August, it doesn’t feel mobbed.

Once you’ve floated in the salty sea and watched the local teens throwing themselves around during heated games of volleyball, explore the medieval treasures of surrounding Forio. The town, the island’s prettiest, has a saintly white 14th-century church (Chiesa del Soccorso), ancient watchtowers, and fruity Biancolella wine to sample.

Read: Italy With Teens: Best Things to See & Do

Spiaggia Libera Pozzano, Castellammare di Stabia

Dark blue waters of Spiaggia Libera Pozzano, Castellammare di Stabia

Spiaggia Libera Pozzano, Castellammare di Stabia

Of the many beaches in Naples, Italy, Spiaggi Libera Pozzano has one of the city’s most iconic outlooks.

Across the clear waters of the Gulf of Naples, the cone of Vesuvius dominates your view as the water sizzles through Pozzano’s shoreline shingles. It’s a remarkable sight to contemplate as you swim in this popular locals’ spot, especially as the original Castellammare di Stabia was decimated by the same eruption that sealed up Pompeii.

The stretch of coast has a series of beaches like Pozzano, with the better known ones—such as Stone Beach and the poetically named Famous Beach—dominated by private clubs where you can rent a lounger. As such, Pozzano’s unregulated, free-of-charge approach is a breath of fresh salty air.

Marina di Puolo, Sorrento

View of Marina di Puolo, Sorrento from the water

Marina di Puolo, Sorrento

One of those places that feel like somewhere you’ll return again and again, Marina di Puolo is a seaside hamlet just west of the tourist hotspot of Sorrento.

Despite neighboring one of the region’s most storied towns, Marina di Puolo remains relatively uncrowded, even during summer. This is all the more extraordinary considering its good-sized beach of volcanic sand—a rare treasure on the pebbly Massa Cape.

Boats along Marina di Puolo, Sorrento with view of the mountain

Marina di Puolo, Sorrento

The beach is also enclosed within limestone cliffs softened by tumbling bougainvillea flowers and the deep shade of umbrella pines. There are sweeping views across the Bay of Naples and orange-bottomed pedalos parked at the north end of the beach. Fishing boats pull up on the sand, unloading the catch of the day to the restaurants on the beach.

The locals love their little slice of paradise, and you’ll sometimes see litter-picking groups maintaining its cleanliness. If you’re based in colorful Sorrento and like the idea of some exercise, it’s an hour’s walk (mostly easy, with some steeper sections) from Sorrento’s Marina Grande via lemon-scented groves to Marina di Puolo.

Read: Italy in the Summer: 10 Unforgettable Experiences 

Bagni della Regina Giovanna, Sorrento

Turquoise waters of

Bagni della Regina Giovanna, Sorrento

On the Cape of Sorrento, the Bagni della Regina Giovanna is a secluded swimming hole offering minimal sand and maximum romance.

Named for a medieval queen of Naples who was rumored to have used the spot for romantic trysts, today the Bagni della Regina Giovanna is not just reserved for cheating royalty.

Arch near the Bagni della Regina Giovanna, Sorrento

Bagni della Regina Giovanna, Sorrento

Reached after a 20-minute walk through the aromatic coastal scrub, Bagni della Regina Giovanna’s limpid waters await you at the bottom of a flight of stairs. As you wade out into the shallow water, you’ll spot the natural stone arch at one corner of the cliffs. Swim through it to reach a sea-facing cove.

Overlooking this timeless spot are the ruins of Villa Pollio, dating from the first century BCE, to explore. You should also summon your courage to tackle the rickety-looking walkway that takes you to Lido La Solara. This is a bare-bones bar resort that sticks to the basics and does it well.

Read: Most Beautiful Cities in Italy

Marina di Praia, Amalfi Coast

Small beach of Marina di Praia, Amalfi Coast amidst the cliffs

Marina di Praia, Amalfi Coast

Sequestered between two walls of rock, the beach at Marina di Praia is all about timing. With its dramatically blinkered setting, the sun only warms the pebbles here for a few hours every day.

Once the direct sun has moved on to focus on another exquisite stretch of the Amalfi Coast, It’s time to get exploring. Head up the cactus and palm-lined path on the right side of the beach to explore the medieval Torre a Mare defensive tower. Just east of Positano, Praiano makes for a perfect, less overwhelmed base during high season on the Amalfi.

With its buildings set into the cliffs, this fishing village’s history is (quite literally) embedded into its surroundings. Crumbling seaside churches, the cheesy Il Pirata bar serving Captain Hook cocktails, and the fact that this is still, at heart, a fishing village make Praiano a nice blend of quirk and class.

Positano Beach, Amalfi Coast

Positano Beach, one of the most beautiful beaches in Naples Italy

Positano Beach, Amalfi Coast

When you’re looking for beaches near Naples, Italy, it’s hard not to think about visiting Positano Beach, one of the best things to do along the Amalfi Coast.

As you can imagine, Positano Beach—like the famous pastel-print coastal town adorning the surrounding wisteria-fringed cliffs—is a busy spot in the warmer months. Needle-nosed speedboats anchor offshore, while the striped umbrellas of the beach clubs with their color-matched loungers are full of sun-tanned physiques.

There’s space in the beach’s mid-section for those not looking for the facilities of the beach clubs, and usually a table for drinks at Rada at the beach’s eastern edge (be sure to book well in advance for the restaurant with its wonderful balcony-over-Positano perspective).

Read: Best Things to Do in Positano

Couple walking to a beach in Naples

Visit the warm sand and glimmering sea of the beaches in Naples, Italy, on a cruise to the Bel Paese. Discover its wind-sculpted cliffs, sunken historical sites, and beachside aperitivo bars.

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