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Italian beaches by rail

Italy is one of Europe’s best rail destinations, with incredible scenic routes in the mountains, and easy connections between the country’s most iconic cities. But when training through Italy, it’s easy to forget that the country has one of the continent’s most extensive - and beautiful - coastlines.

The Route

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If the summer heat in the cities becomes too much, and you’re desperate to cool off in the sparkling Mediterranean, you can easily craft an itinerary that hops from beach to beach. These are the beach Italian beach towns you can reach by rail.

There are also be transfers in other towns and cities along the way, such as Naples, which are worth checking out if you have an few hours to spare!

San Fruttuoso

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Kick off your beach extravaganza in San Fruttuoso, one of Italy’s most idyllic costal towns. It’s just a short train ride from the bustling city of Milan, and yet it feels like a world away from the sticky city streets.

 

San Fruttuoso’s Abbey Beach is where most of the seaside action goes down, but the town, and the lush surrounding peninsula, which has several popular hikes, are well worth drying off for.

 

How to get there?

The most convenient international airport nearby is Milan Malpensa Airport. Catch the train from the airpot to Milano Centrale, and then the Intercity or Regional train to S.Margherita Ligure Portofino. The total journey time, including transfers, should take approximately four and a half hours.

 

Cinque Terre

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Cinque Terre, with its iconic string of seaside villages, needs little introduction. The five towns that make up the region are packed full of character and charm, and are home to several beaches, hiking, and general sightseeing. It’s also an easy, and incredibly scenic, train and ferry ride away from San Fruttuoso.

 

There’s a popular railway line that skirts this famous coastline, and you’re free to hop off at any of the five towns that catches your attention. Trains runs in each direction a few times a day, so your best bet is to base yourself in one village, and then enjoy a brief railway journey when the moment takes you.

 

How to get there?

Start your day off with a 90 minute ferry ride from San Fruttuoso di Camogli to Sestri Levante. From Sestri Levante, catch the regional train to Corniglia, just 45 minutes away.

 

Viareggio

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If you can’t get enough of the coastline around Cinque Terre, then don’t skip over Viareggio. It’s just 90 minutes away by train, and serves up a classic Tuscan beach experience. Think neat rows of umbrellas and deck chairs, raked sand, and vast villas. Though it’s a destination with its fair share of exclusivity, the long stretch of sandy beach is an idyllic summer getaway.

 

How to get there?

There are direct trains between Cinque Terre and Viareggio that take just over 60 minutes, but most routes require you to connect in nearby La Spezia Centrale, which can increase the total journey time to two hours including transfers.

 

Florence

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It would be a shame to travel so close to one of the world’s most celebrated cities and not stop in for a visit. Florence is just a short train ride away from the coast, and though hot and crowded with tourists in the summer months it’s nothing that a classic gelato or a cooled museum can’t fix.

 

Florence serves as the perfect city base to break up your beach holiday, with enough history, food, art and architecture to give you a quintessential taste of Italy. It’s also a manageable train ride away from perhaps the most iconic of the countries seaside destinations - the Amalfi Coast.

 

How to get there?

There are regular direct Trenitalia trains between Viareggio and Florence that take just over 90 minutes.

 

Sorrento

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Consider Sorrento your starting point for exploring the famous Amalfi Coast. Though a seaside town itself, and easily reached by train, the beaches around Sorrento are not the primary reason to visit. Instead, it offers easy access to several key beach destinations, including the island of Capri and the selection of towns further south, including Positano and Amalfi.

 

There’s no train route further south of Sorrento, but ferries, busses and the occasional taxi will get you to some of the very best Italian beaches and cliffside towns you’d previously only dreamt of visiting.

 

How to get there?

The train ride from Florence to Sorrento requires a three hour train ride to Napoli Centrale. There, you’ll need to transfer to Napoli Garibaldi, and ride the EAV train for just over one hour to reach Sorrento.

 

Puglia

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Puglia is home to some of Italy’s best beaches, and is a manageable train ride away from Sorrento. There you’ll find historic towns like Manduria and Avetrana, seaside villages like Torre Colimena, and vast stretches of white sand reaching into the clear Mediterranean.

 

Many people base themselves in nearby Bari, and day trip to Puglia, but if you’re interested in overnighting you could easily focus on Porto Cesareo, which has a decent selection of accommodation.

 

How to get there?

Retrace your steps from your previous journey to Naples - a journey that shouldn’t take longer than one hour. From Napoli Centrale, ride the Regional train for 40 minutes to Caserta, and then transfer to any available train traveling to Bari Centrale, the final leg that will take under three hours.

 

Tropea

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The southwestern region of Italy - essentially the country’s ‘toe’ - may not feature as prominently as other iconic beach destinations. But you can easily spend a few days soaking up the sun on the region’s answer to the famous coastal towns further north.

 

Tropea in particular is one coastal town in the area worth visiting. It’s got all the old town charm you could wish for on a coastal holiday, along with a sandy beach, attractive rocky outcrop, and famous gelato store.

 

How to get there?

Don’t attempt to do the entire journey in one day - it requires lengthy train rides and stopovers. Instead, break up your journey with an overnight stop in Sibari. This way, the train ride from Bari to Sibari is less than four hours, and the next day’s journey to Tropea four and a half, much of which is along the coast.

 

Palermo

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Though some of the best beaches in the region are a short distance away, Palermo is a great final destination on a north to south Italian beach itinerary. It’s the capital of Sicily, packed full of spectacular architecture, and has historical gems hiding around every corner of the old town. But when the beach bug bites, you’re only a short day trip away from some of the country’s best - San Vito lo Capo, for example, a quaint coastal town that’s managed to escape much of the ravages of international tourism that has threatened others that came before it.

 

If you’re ready to head home there are airports nearby that can connect you to major hubs, or you could simply keep the ocean spirit alive by catching the weekly ferry to Naples via Ustica.

 

How to get there?

The train ride from Tropea to Palermo is another long but scenic one. There are several options, but the most efficient involves a few connections. Board a train bound for Rosarno, and once there take one of several that gets you to Villa S. Giovanni. There, you can board a ferry, that runs every 30 minutes, and delivers you Messina Centrale - an easy three-hour train ride away from Palermo.

 

Is this trip for you?

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Italy has dozens of notable attractions worth including in a rail journey, but if you’re set on exploring the very best coastal towns and nearby cities, in a north to south fashion, then this itinerary will tick all your boxes.

Which Pass?

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Our 8-day Italy Pass is the the best way to explore La Bella Italia and her beaches. If you plan to include Italy as part of a longer journey, a Global Pass is also a perfect option.