Top places for the best beach holidays in Italy

Opportunities for beach holidays in Italy are almost endless. Encircled by a coastline stretching roughly 5,000 miles, the Bel Paese – or beautiful country – is home to innumerable beaches, from sandy bucket-and-spade destinations suitable for the whole family to secluded coves that are perfect for romantic getaways. Villa rentals at beach resorts in Italy will place you just steps away from adrenaline-pumping water sports and expanses of warm sand where you can practice the Italian concept "Il dolce far niente" – the sweetness of doing nothing.

Beach getaways in Northern Italy

Italy's northern region, called Il Nord or Settentrione, is awash in nature and culture. It's home to major cities like Venice, Milan and Genoa, filled with centuries-old magnificent structures. There's also no shortage of photogenic natural sights, from the mountainous landscapes of the Apennines and the Alps to the ever popular coastal areas on the Adriatic and Ligurian seas. Scores of clean and beautiful Blue Flag beaches abound here, just steps away from holiday rentals to suit holidaymakers of all ages.

Family-friendly fun in Rimini

Situated in the Emilia-Romagna region, the province of Rimini boasts a coastline with wide, sandy beaches and shallow waters. Beach holidays in Rimini in September and October are ideal for those looking for a quiet getaway. The capital city of Rimini is home to beaches like Bagno Libra and Onde, where water sports are plentiful. Extensive beaches, water parks and a buzzing party scene are some of the hallmarks of the town of Riccione, while restaurants offering local specialties like miacetto cake and rustide (grilled fish) are abundant in Cattolica.

Sandbars and sunbathing in the Metropolitan City of Venice

Formerly known as the Province of Venice, the Metropolitan City of Venice in the Veneto region is best known for its capital city. But if you're looking for beach holidays in Italy near Venice, head to Lido di Venezia, a sandbar that's just a 20-minute water bus ride from the heart of the city. The Lido di Jesolo beach, with its 10-mile stretch of soft sand, is a hit with families. Meanwhile, you can let it all hang out – literally – at Alberoni, a popular naturist beach.

Live la dolce vita in the Italian Riviera

The Italian Riviera has long been the Italian playground of the world's creme de la creme. Stretching across the Ligurian Sea, its coastline is dotted with charming towns and breathtaking beaches. You'll find long, sandy stretches with invitingly clear waters by the brightly coloured seaside villages collectively called the Cinque Terre, as well as grand palazzi and old Genoese churches in the elegant beach community of Sestri Levante. Tranquil bays and quiet beaches can be found in the Golfo dei Poeti, an area associated with poets like Byron and Shelley.

Beach holidays in Central Italy

If going off the beaten path sounds appealing, then a beach holiday in central Italy just might be your thing. Book a holiday home in one of the region's myriad medieval towns and explore unspoilt beaches where the locals vastly outnumber the tourists. History and culture are packed into Central Italy's cities, too: from world-renowned Renaissance art and architecture in Florence to Rome's Colosseum and other ancient buildings to Perugia's entertaining chocolate and music festivals.

When in Rome, hit the beaches in Lazio

For beach holidays in Italy near Rome, you can book a villa rental in the region of Lazio. The Italian capital is a mere 1- or 2-hour ride from a number of spectacular Blue Flag beaches, many of them reachable by public transit. You can explore the sand dunes on the 9-mile Sabaudia beach in Latina, marvel at the ruins of the Imperial Villa of Nero at the Caves of Nero beach in Anzio or bask au naturel in the sun at Pian di Spille in Tarquinia.

Adventure and romance in Tuscany

Tuscany is home to likes of vineyards and olive groves, Renaissance art – think Michelangelo's sculpture 'David – and scores of postcard-perfect beaches. The beach at the town of Marina di Pisa, a 20-minute drive from the Leaning Tower, is popular with families because of its calm water, while windsurfing and kitesurfing aficionados flock to the sandy beaches of the Talamone fishing village in Maremma. The island of Elba boasts more than 70 splendid beaches, including the black-pebbled Tombe and the romantic Innamorata.

Embracing solitude in Abruzzo

The region of Abruzzo is home to pristine beaches on the Adriatic Sea that aren't overrun with tourists – perfect for those craving solitary swims. Relax on the fine golden sand at Punta Penna in Vasto, see how the sky and the sea merge in shades of blue at Calata Turchino in San Vito Marina, or marvel at the towering green cliffs at Ripari di Giobbe beach in Ortona.

Beach escapes in Southern Italy

With its Mediterranean climate, the southern region is a popular destination for beach holidays in Italy, even during the off-peak autumn months. Book a villa rental and explore any of its 13 UNESCO World Heritage cultural sites, sample mouth-watering cuisine, visit islands overflowing with history and mythology, and revel in first-class beaches.

Coastal delights in charming Campania

Once a colony of Ancient Greece, the Campania region is home not only to famous archaeological sites like Pompeii and Herculaneum, but also to some of Italy's most well-known beaches. A holiday cottage on the Amalfi Coast in Salerno will give you easy access to pretty villages with pastel-hued buildings and both fashionable and secluded beaches. Close to the capital city of Naples are beautiful beaches like Gaiola and Ieranto Bay beach on the Sorrento Peninsula.

Cliffs and crescents in alluring Apulia

Forming the heel of Italy's boot, Apulia – or Puglia – boasts some of Italy's most beautiful beaches along its 500-mile coastline. You can bathe in the crystalline waters of the Ionian and Adriatic seas at Santa Marie di Leuca beach, make your way through the coves and caves of the Tremiti Islands, or watch exciting cliff-diving competitions at Lama Monachile beach in the town of Polignano. The crescent-shaped La Purita beach in the town of Gallipoli is another of the region's gems.

Captivating sights in Sicily, above and under the water

Sicily is known for its dramatic scenery and its beaches are no exception. From bustling lidos to virtually deserted stretches of sand, there's something for everyone here. Climb the staircase-like formation called the Scala dei Turchi above the blue sea near Agrigento, go snorkelling in the translucent waters off Isola Bella beach in Taormina, or watch picturesque beach sunsets from your villa rental in the ancient town of Cefalu beside the Tyrrhenian Sea.