People sitting on beach on towels and under umbrellas in Tuscany. You can see blue sea in front of them.

My Guide to GIGLIO ISLAND’S BEACHES

Idyllic coves, mesmerizing clear water, dramatic coastline . . . 

Giglio Island (aka Isola del Giglio) is a small island off of the southern Tuscan Coast, in the Tyrrhenian sea. It has 28 km (over 17 miles) of jagged granite coastline with small coves and beaches.

Part of a protected marine reserve, Giglio Island is famous for its rich sea life.

My family and I go to Giglio Island numerous times every year. Here’s my guide to its few– but gorgeous–- beaches. I also have advice about when to go to Giglio Island, and how to get there. 

Don’t forget your snorkeling gear!

Most of Giglio Island’s beaches are tiny, except for Campese beach. And the majority of beach space is devoted to private beach clubs, where you can rent an umbrella (ombrellone), sun lounger (lettino) and/or beach chair (sdraio) for the day. 

There are also free public beaches, where you don’t have to pay, and you bring your own umbrella and beach chairs. Space is first-come first-serve. 

CAMPESE: GIGLIO’S LARGEST BEACH

BEST FOR: 

  • families
  • aperitivo and picnic at sunset
  • accessibility 
  • amenities
Campese beach on Giglio Island in Tuscany. Sand, beach loungers, and closed beach umbrellas. It's near sunset time.

Campese is a wide bay on the west side of Giglio Island. It has a large stretch of golden sandy beach, with both beach clubs and free access beaches. 

Campese is also the name of the town that sits on the bay: one of Giglio Island’s three villages.

Campese has the most amenities and is the easiest beach to access on the island. The entire area is relatively flat. 

If you like sunbathing on the rocks and swimming off the cliffs, check out the northern end of the bay.

Keep an eye out for a large sea stack in the distance at the southern edge of the bay, called il faraglione. On the northern end of the bay is the Campese Tower, built in the 1600s. Approaching Campese from above on the dramatic windy road is absolutely breathtaking.

These features aside, in my opinion when you’re actually on the beach, Campese is not as special or charming as other Giglio Island beaches. It doesn’t look that different from say Castiglioncello or another pretty beach on the Tuscan coast

However, Campese is the BEST beach for watching the sun set. 

The sun sets right over the water, so you have strong sun the entire afternoon and well into the evening. I absolutely recommend having an aperitivo or eating a pizza on the beach as you watch the sun go down! It’s a must for me every time I visit Giglio Island.

Read more tips about What to Do on Giglio Island.

How to get to Campese:

  • Drive (about 15 minutes from Giglio Porto). Parking: there is limited street parking, and a good size parking lot at the sports field
  • Bus from Giglio Porto (30 minutes) or Giglio Castello (15 minutes) . Check current bus schedules here
  • Taxi van (Andrea Ansaldo: + 39 340 8732865, Antonio Blanco: + 39 347 1941888, Ottavio Brizzi: + 39 338 9706950, Adriano Pini: + 39 330 731424)

Amenities at Campese

  • numerous beach clubs with bathrooms, and outdoor showers.

Food: 

  • there are public bars and restaurants right on the beach at beach clubs
  • the town of Campese runs just back behind the beach, with restaurants and small food shops like Panificio  Di Cristina

For my favorite spots, read Where to Eat on Giglio Island.

Rentals available: 

The pronunciation of Campese is: kahm-PEH-seh

Listen to how to pronounce Campese here:

CANNELLE

BEST FOR: 

  • families with small children (the water stays shallow a few meters out)
  • early risers
  • if you’re staying in Giglio Porto (read more about Where to Stay on Giglio Island)
  • Snorkeling
Boy wades at edge of water at Cannelle beach in Tuscany. There are a few pedal boats in the water and sailboats further out. Rocky coastline in background with umbrella pines and a few houses.

Cannelle beach is an idyllic small beach tucked away in a cove south of Giglio Porto. It has soft, fine white sand and water that stays shallow a few meters out, making it great for small children. The water is clear and fantastic for snorkeling. 

Half of the beach is free access, and the other half is a beach club with a bar and restaurant. Make sure you get there early to grab a spot! 

Another reason not to dawdle is that the sun goes down behind the beach in the late afternoon, leaving it in the shade for the evening. If you’re like me and don’t mind being in the shade, you’ll have the beach all to yourself!

Locals call it: Le Cannelle

How to get to Le Cannelle

  • hilly walk from Giglio Porto (1.3 km, about 25 minutes)
  • taxi van
  • water taxi from Giglio Porto (the boat companies’ information huts are at Giglio Porto next to the ferry dock)
  • drive (about 4 mins). Parking is an expensive private parking lot at the beach club that fills up fast.

Amenities at Le Cannelle

  • the beach club has pay toilets and showers 

Food: 

  • the beach club has a public bar and restaurant

Rental services available: 

  • beach umbrella and sun lounger rentals at the beach club
  • public kayak and paddle boat rental at the beach club

The pronunciation of Le Cannelle is: leh kan-NEH-lleh

Listen to how to pronounce Le Cannelle here:

CALDANE

BEST FOR: 

  • hiking to the beach
  • roughing it
  • early risers
  • if you’re staying in Giglio Porto
  • snorkeling
Cove with turquoise water and about 10 boats. Rocky coast with low green shrubs.
The walk to Caldane beach has incredible views.

Caldane beach is another oasis tucked away in a small cove south of Giglio Porto, just down the coast from Cannelle. You can only get to this tiny sandy beach by hiking a path along the cliffs (about 45 minutes from Giglio Porto), or by taking a water taxi.

Even though it’s remote, Caldane is far from undiscovered. In fact, it’s packed during the summer. Part of the beach is free access, and the rest is a beach club

Once upon a time, Caldane was a rustic beach. However, to make the beach more comfortable, the beach club now provides umbrella and sun lounger rentals, Wifi, boat rentals, and a fitness area.

Even though it’s not easy to get to, the beach fills up in the summer. If you want to rent a beach umbrella, I recommend calling ahead to the Spiaggia delle Caldane beach club to reserve.

Locals call it: Le Caldane

How to get there: 

  • hike past Cannelle beach (2.1 km from Giglio Porto, or about 45 minutes) 
  • water taxi (the boat companies’ information huts are at Giglio Porto next to the ferry dock)

Amenities at Le Caldane

  • there are no public bathrooms, but the beach club has Wifi and a fitness area. Go figure.

Food: 

  • bring your own food and water from Giglio Porto, the beach does not have a restaurant or full-service bar

Rental services available: 

  • beach umbrella and sun lounger rentals at the beach club
  • public SUP, kayak, paddle boat, and motor boat rental at the beach club.

The pronunciation of Le Caldane is: leh kahl-DAH-neh

Listen to how to pronounce Le Caldane here:

ARENELLA

Best for: 

  • early risers
  • if you’re staying in Giglio Porto
  • snorkeling
Blue umbrellas and lounge chairs in the sand on the edge of Aranella beach on Giglio Island. Pedal boats in the water and rocky coastline with some umbrella pines.

Arenella beach lies in a small cove north of Giglio Porto, on the eastern side of the island. It is only about 100 meters long, so there is limited space. Most of the beach is taken up by the Arenella beach club, but there is some free access space on the southern end.

While the beach itself is sandy, there are rocks on the sea bottom which can make it tricky getting in the water. These rocks are also fun to explore with a mask and snorkel.

Snorkelers also love to explore the rocky coastline alive with marine life that flanks both ends of the beach. 

Arenella is fabulous in the morning, when there is full sun. Watching the sun rise over the water in the morning is incredible. The sun sets behind the beach in the late afternoon.

Locals call it: L’Arenella

How to get there: 

  • Drive (2.4 km, or about 7 minutes from Giglio Porto). Parking: small private lot that fills up fast.
  • Taxi van
  • A steep 40 minute hike up from Giglio Porto (2.4 km) along via del Castello. A less steep, but longer hike, along the main road is about 50 minutes (3 km).

Amenities at L’Arenella:

  • toilet at the beach club

Food: 

  • there is a small public bar at the beach club

Rental services available: 

  • beach umbrella and sun lounger rentals at the beach club
  • public kayak, paddle boat and motor boat rentals at the beach club

The pronunciation of L’Arenella is: lah-reh-NEH-lleh

Listen to how to pronounce L’Arenella here:

GIGLIO PORTO BEACHES

View of colorful buildings of Giglio Porto. You can see the turquoise water of the sea and behind the buildings is a hill with low green brush and cypress trees.
Scalettino beach

GIGLIO PORTO BEACHES ARE BEST FOR: 

  • taking a dip right after you get off the ferry
  • one day on the island
  • if you’re staying in Giglio Porto and want to take a quick swim
  • the morning (shade starts early)

There are two small beaches right at Giglio Porto. If you’ve just gotten off the ferry and can’t wait to take a swim, here’s where to go. 

SCALETTINO BEACH 

A few people sit in the sand at Scalettino beach on Giglio Island. Jetty and two lighthouses at the end - one green and one red.

Known by the locals as lo scalettino, this is a free access sandy beach on the north end of the harbor. 

There’s plenty to see, since the beach is right next to the harbor, and boats and ferries go by all day long. The water is protected on both sides by rocks, like a little pool. Just make sure you don’t go out past the breakfront (it’s dangerous, as well as illegal). 

The sandy beach fills up fast during the summer, and is especially popular with the local children. However, there are rocks just south of the beach which are fun for sunbathing and swimming too. 

The pronunciation of Lo scalettino is: loh skah-leh-TEE-noh

Listen to how to pronounce Lo scalettino here:

SARACENO BEACH

Rocky coastline with a stone building on Giglio Island in Tuscany, Italy. One boy in the water close to the shore.

This tiny cove is nestled among the town’s cobblestone streets at the south end of town. It has a miniscule strip of pebbly sand but the setting is one of a kind.

The pronunciation of Saraceno is: sah-rah-CHEH-noh

Listen to how to pronounce Saraceno here:

Amenities at Scalettino and Saraceno beaches:

  • access to both beaches is free. The beaches themselves don’t have any amenities per se. However, the town of Giglio Porto is right there, full of bars and restaurants. Look out for free hoses along the harbor where you can rinse off your feet. 

Food: 

  • Giglio Porto is brimming with bars and restaurants, just steps away

Rental services available: 

WHEN SHOULD I GO TO GIGLIO ISLAND?

Isola del Giglio is not a large island. Its three towns are small, and these few sandy beaches fill up fast. 

In July and August, when Italians go on vacation for ferragosto, 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. 

To get a break from the crowds, I recommend visiting Giglio Island in June or September. In July it’s best to go during the week. 

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

The Giglio is pretty deserted the rest of the year. There are only about 1400 residents, so very little is open.

View of Arenella from above. You can see boats in the cove, as well as rock shoreline and low brush on the hillsides.

HOW TO GET TO GIGLIO ISLAND

BY FERRY

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. 

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.

GETTING TO THE FERRY IN PORTO SANTO STEFANO

GETTING TO THE FERRY BY PLANE + CAR

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. 

GETTING TO THE FERRY BY BUS 

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

GETTING TO THE FERRY BY TRAIN

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