With over 4,500 miles of coastline, Italy is a beach lovers paradise. From Cinque Terre in Liguria to the Amalfi Coast in Campania, sea lovers flock to the world-famous beaches of Italy each summer to soak up the sun.
For many visitors, Lazio isn’t top of mind when it comes to Italian beach vacations. But for Laziali—Italians residing in the region of Lazio— the region’s western-facing coast is spotted with quaint beach towns that make for the perfect escape from the summer heat.
After more than four years residing in Rome, I’ve frequented most of the popular destinations on various day trips or weekend escapes from the sweltering streets of the city. While not a comprehensive list—there are over 360 kilometers of coast in the region—these towns are the most well-known and never fail to deliver l’estate italiana experience.
(In order from North to South)
Tarquinia – On the cusp of Tuscany lies Tarquinia. While the town itself isn’t located directly on the beach, many choose to purchase or rent a summer home in Tarquinia and head to the beach a short 15-minute drive away in Lido di Tarquinia. A gorgeous stretch of sand beaches lead you into the crystal clear waters. Whether you want to spend the day under an ombrellone or prefer to utilize the free beach, this Lazio beach town has it all. For a local culinary experience head to Namo Ristobottega.
Santa Marinella – One of my personal favorites and a great day-trip from Rome, Santa Marinella offers crystal clear blue waters within a 35-minute train from the city. From the train station you arrive to the center of the town and the main stretch of beaches in 5 minutes on foot. You’re greeted with rows of colorful umbrellas covering every spot of the beach—there is a small free beach 5 minutes further down the road. While I love Santa Marinella for it’s beautiful waters and convenience to arrive from Rome, the prices in recent years have increased quite a bit with an umbrella and two chairs costing €30 or more for the day (and be sure to book in advance!).
Santa Severa – Most well-known for it’s castello at the end of the beach, Santa Severa offers more spiaggia libera than the neighboring Santa Marinella. Well-worth the longer walk from the station to the beach, the reward? A seafood meal at L’Isola Del Pescatore.
Fregene – If you live in Rome there’s almost a hundred percent chance that you have been to Fregene. Esteemed more for its selection of delicious restaurants on the beach than the quality of the sea, Fregene is one of the most popular beach towns for Romans. About a 30 minute drive from the center of Rome it’s no wonder why city-dwellers head to this conveniently located coastal town each weekend. Perhaps an unpopular opinion, but I don’t love Fregene. When I head to the sea I love to spend my day swimming in the clear blue waters. So, sign me up for a fall or early spring leisurely Sunday lunch, with a dish of spaghetti alla mediterranea at La Baia and a sunset aperitivo at Il Kiosco.
Ostia – The subject of popular Italian music, Ostia Lido is another popular beach day-trip from Rome. While I’ve only visited for a beach-side lunch, this well-established beach side town offers visitors sun and seafood as well as tons of shops and the historical Ostia Antica closeby. For lunch head to an all time favorite since the 1930, La Vecchia Pineta.
Anzio – Heading further south along the Lazio coast is one of the region’s Blue Flag beaches, awarded for a high-quality water standard. Anzio is a colourful port town with a storied history, namely it having been the location of the Battle of Anzio during World War II. Today, you can take the ferry from the port to one of the Isole Ponziane: Ponza, Palmarola, Zannone, Gavi to Ventotene, and Santo Stefano. Before heading anywhere make sure stop by Romolo or Pierino for a meal to remember.
Sabaudia – When I think of Sabaudia I think of the ritzy Romans and famous Italians who own vacation properties along its pristine shores (Roman royalty Francesco Totti owns a house there!). As a part of Circeo National Park, Sabaudia has a stunning landscape with white sand beaches—also Blue Flag status— which are situated across the bridge over Lake Paola. The town is also home to several facist-era architectural style buildings with their instantly recognisable aesthetics. Eat at Buccia a delicious plate of rigatoni con ragout di bufalina, crema di pecorino e pistacchi.
San Felice Circeo – A short drive south of Sabaudia and you’ll arrive at San Felice Circeo, also part of the Circeo National Park and a Blue Flag beach. You can hike along the lush green mountain overlooking the sea, before heading into the small but charming historical center perched above the beach. Don’t miss il Faro, an 18-meter tower and Crocette, a town that hosts the Cyclopean Walls.
Sperlonga – Known for its white-washed buildings and glistening blue waters (if you guessed its Blue Flag awarded, you’re right), but like most Italian towns Sperlonga has a storied history that dates back centuries. The Torre Truglia was built in the early 1500s and cuts the stretch of white-sand beach in two. For Roman history buffs you can also visit the ruins of the Villa of Tiberius when you need a break from the sun.
Gaeta – Located on the spur of Monte Orlando, Gaeta offers a blend of historical charm and dreamy beaches. There is so much to see in Gaeta that it deserves more time than many of the other beach destinations in Lazio: Montagna Spaccata, Grotta del Turco, the Angioino-Aragonese Castle, and more. The city also offers visitors Blue Flag beaches, be sure to add the famous 300-step beach—otherwise known as Arenauta Beach—to your list.
While their proximity to Rome ensures that I will return to their sandy shores, Lazio beach towns would have pulled me back regardless. Their diverse landscapes, award-winning blue waters and delicious seafood will always beckon and each summer I will always oblige.