Turquiose water in a cove in Tuscany. Rocky coastline and a few boats in the water.


Not sure when to visit Giglio Island in Tuscany? 

Giglio Island is a 9 square mile gem in the Tyrrhenian sea off the southern Tuscan Coast

It’s the second largest of 7 islands in the Tuscan Archipelago National Park, and part of a protected marine reserve. 

Here’s my guide to the best times to go to the Isola del Giglio (Giglio Island), whether you’re interested in swimming and the beach, or hiking and exploring on land. I have advice for peak times, when to go to avoid the crowds, and details about special events that pack the island.

I go to Giglio Island numerous times every year, in all seasons. My Italian family and I have been going to Giglio Island for over 3 decades– I even got married there.

Keep in mind that from November to March, Giglio Island is pretty deserted. There are only about 1400 residents, so very little is open. Hotels close their doors for the season.

For a more general guide, read My Guide to Giglio Island.

Traveling with children? Read Giglio Island with Kids.


Isola del Giglio is not a large island, and it’s packed in the summer. Its three towns are small, and the few sandy beaches fill up fast. 

I always recommend visiting Giglio Island in June or September to avoid the crowds. The weather is usually hot enough to go to the beach and go swimming. 

If you want to enjoy the beaches without necessarily going in the water, April, May and October are also lovely. 

Spring and fall are perfect for hiking, visiting the island’s small villages, and exploring on land. Read What to Do on Giglio Island for plenty of ideas.

Beach umbrellas in the sand and boats in the sea in Tuscany.
Campese beach. Giglio Island’s beaches are crowded in the summer, especially August.


Summer is prime time on Giglio Island, and August is the absolute peak.

Italians go on vacation for ferragosto in August, and the restaurants and beaches are crowded. If you wish to eat dinner out, or rent an umbrella at a beach club, make sure to call ahead of time to reserve a spot

August is also the time for exciting special events and festivities on the island: read about San Lorenzo and San Rocco below. There are the MusicalGiglio chamber music festival and the Il Giglio È Lirica music festival (dates change year to year).

If you like being in the thick of things and wish to experience the island at its busiest and buzziest, August is the time. 

However, to go in the heat of the summer but avoid peak crowds, I recommend visiting in July. Even better, go in July during the week. Giglio Island is still full of people, but it’s generally less hectic than in August.  


Here are some of Giglio Island’s most important festivals. Accommodation availability will be more limited and the island will be more crowded at these times, for good reason!

Read Where to Stay on Giglio Island for my recommendations.


The Palio Marinaro is a rowboat race held on August 10, the Feast of San Lorenzo, Giglio Porto’s patron saint day. The town’s four neighborhoods, or rioni, compete against each other as crowds lining the harbor roar and boisterously cheer them on.

August 10 is the Feast of San Lorenzo, Giglio Porto’s patron saint day. Festivities last for several days. The most exciting event is a special boat race, or palio, between the town’s four neighborhoods (rioni). 

In the afternoon of August 10, members of the rioni parade along the harbor, dressed in their neighborhood colors. Then it’s time for the main event: the Palio Marinaro, a rowboat race the locals have been waiting for all year. Roaring crowds line the piers, cheering boisterously for their rione’s boat. 

No matter who wins, it’s a tradition for everyone to jump into the harbor at the end of the race (even though it’s not officially allowed). If your kids can hang on until about midnight, they’ll get to see a spectacular fireworks display right over the harbor.

Colorful buildings set on the sea in Tuscany. Behind are hills with green low brush. Boats docked.
The Palio Marinaro takes place right in the harbor at Giglio Porto.


August 16 is San Rocco, Giglio Campese’s patron saint day. In the afternoon, there is a boat procession to honor sailors lost to sea. At night, a DJ spins on the beach. The festival is capped off with fireworks right over the bay!


September 15 is the Feast of San Mamiliano, Giglio Castello’s patron saint. It’s one of my all-time favorite festivals because you can actively participate in the dancing fun. The festivities last several days.

On the most important day, September 15, there is not only a religious procession but a real live donkey race. In the evening, scores of people dance the quadriglia, a traditional local dance, in the piazza. Don’t hesitate to join in! To top it all off, at night there are fireworks over the Castello!


La Festa dell’Uva e delle Cantine (Grape and Cellar Festival) is a recent tradition held at the end of September. The locals call it Cantine Aperte, or Open Cellars

Giglio Castello’s tiny wine cellars open their doors for tastings of Giglio Island’s local wine, called ansonaco. There are also traditional foods to try, and music.  

For more about ansonaco and Giglio Island specialties, read Where to Eat on Giglio Island



MareGiglio and Toremar have frequent, regular ferry service between Porto Santo Stefano (on mainland Italy) and Giglio Porto (on the island). The 18 km trip takes about 1 hour each way. There is service every day of the year (weather permitting). 

To buy your tickets in person, in Porto Santo Stefano head to the ticket office at Piazza Facchinetti 6/7. It sells tickets for both ferry companies.

In Giglio Porto, Maregiglio’s ticket window faces the ferry, while Toremar’s ticket window is adjacent to the ferry. They open just one hour before each scheduled departure of their company’s own ferry.

You can also buy tickets online at Maregiglio and Toremar’s websites. 

BOX OUT: [I absolutely recommend reserving ahead online if you are:

  • taking your car
  • returning to Porto Santo Stefano on a Sunday afternoon or evening, with or without your car.

In August, you can only bring your car on the ferry if you’re staying on the island for a minimum of 5 days. You must provide a supporting self declaration form.]



The nearest airport to Porto Santo Stefano is Rome Fiumicino Airport (FCO), which is about 146 km away from Porto Santo Stefano (about a 1 hour 45 minute drive). The closest other airports, with distances from Porto Santo Stefano, are:

  • Rome Ciampino (CIA), 166 km (2 hr drive)
  • Florence Amerigo Vespucci (FLR), 194 km (2 hr 30 min drive)
  • Pisa International  (PSA), 200 km (2 hr 15 min drive)
Where to park in Porto Santo Stefano

If you’re not taking your car with you on the ferry to Giglio Island, there are numerous long term parking lots in Porto Santo Stefano within walking distance to the ferry. 

My family has used Parcheggio Fanciulli, right on the harbor, for decades. Economy parking is about a 10-minute walk away from the harbor, but has also taken good care of our cars. 

Definitely call ahead to reserve parking, especially in the summer and on weekends. 


There is bus service to Porto Santo Stefano from Orbetello-Monte Argentario train station in Orbetello, Tuscany. In the summer buses leave about every 30 minutes, and take about 20 minutes to reach Porto Santo Stefano. Look up complete bus schedules here


The town of Orbetello is the closest you can get to the Giglio ferry by train. From Orbetello, take a bus to the ferry in Porto Santo Stefano (see the bus section above). 

To get to Orbetello-Monte Argentario train station from:

  • Rome Termini station: trains leave about 10 times a day, and take about 1 hr 45 minutes
  • Pisa Central station: trains leave about 8 times per day, and take a little over 2 hrs
  • Florence Santa Maria Novella train station: there is frequent daily train service, but you need to change trains at least once.

To buy train tickets online, see complete train schedules and find fare information, visit the official website of Trenitalia

For recommendations on organizing your visit to Giglio Island, read 1 Day on Giglio Island LINK, and 2 Days on Giglio Island.

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