Colorful buildings in Giglio Porto in Tuscany. The cove in front of the buildings is full of docked boats.

My Guide to GIGLIO ISLAND (Tuscany)

Dreaming of going to a small island in Tuscany? 

Isola del Giglio (Giglio Island) is breathtaking to behold. It has charming towns, mesmerizing clear water and a dramatic coastline with hidden coves and clean beaches. 

Here’s what you need to know to plan your trip to the island– from someone who knows the island well. Isola del Giglio is very special to my family: my Italian father-in-law grew up on the Giglio, and my husband and I got married there! My in-laws still spend a good part of the year at their house on the island, and I visit regularly.

Here’s my guide to:

  • what makes Giglio Island special
  • whether it’s the right place for you
  • when to go
  • tips for sea and land activities on Giglio Island
  • what to eat and drink
  • how to get around
  • how to get to Giglio Island

You’ll even learn how to pronounce Giglio like a pro.

Andiamo al Giglio! Let’s go to Giglio Island! 


Giglio Island is a small island off of the southern Tuscan Coast, in the Tyrrhenian sea. It sits just southwest of the Monte Argentario peninsula. 

To get to Giglio Island, you take an hour-long ferry from Porto Santo Stefano, a ferry town on Monte Argentario . 

Porto Santo Stefano is about 190 km southwest of Florence (about 2 ½ hour drive), 200 km southeast of Pisa airport (about a 2 hour 15 minute drive), and 146 km northwest of Rome Fiumicino airport (about a 1 hour 45 minute drive). 

Giglio Island in Italian is Isola del Giglio

The pronunciation of Isola del Giglio is: EE-zoh-lah dehl JEE-lyee-oh

Listen to how to pronounce Isola del Giglio here:

Pronunciation tip: Giglio contains a tricky Italian sound: GLI.

GLI in Italian makes a kind of LYEE sound, almost like the LLI in million. Listen to how to pronounce the GLI AUDIO sound.


  • It is 24 km² (9.3 square miles) of striking mountainous terrain, peaking at over 488 m (1600 ft)
  • A blend of unspoilt and cultivated landscapes with Mediterranean shrub, pine forests and vineyards
  • 28 km of jagged granite coastline with small coves and beaches
  • 2 charming villages and 1 beach town
View from above of Giglio Campese, a beach town on Giglio Island. You can see buildings, green hillsides, and the turquoise sea.

Giglio Island is the second largest of 7 islands in the Tuscan Archipelago National Park. It’s part of a protected marine reserve, and is one of only 3 Italian parks on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)’s Green List. 

There are 700 species of Mediterranean flora. The sea is host to rich marine life, like extensive Neptune sea grass, coral, and gorgona sea fans. The crystal clear water makes it easy to see the thriving sea life. Migrating whales and dolphins can even be spotted in spring and autumn.

Giglio Island gained worldwide notoriety in 2012 when the huge Costa Concordia cruise ship ran aground in front of the small, quiet port. The disaster lives in the memory Giglio locals, but the wreck has been taken away and the rich marine life flourishes again.


Sì! Yes! If you:

  • dream of crystal clear water and spectacular vistas
  • like swimming off the rocks (scogli) as well as beautiful beaches
  • like discovering small coves by boat
  • want breathtaking natural scenery  
  • enjoy hiking
  • like sunsets: watch the sun go down over the sea from Giglio Campese beach.

Skip it if you:

  • want convenience: you can have a perfectly lovely vacation sitting on Campese beach. But Giglio Island’s most spectacular scenery requires effort 
  • want beach clubs with plush facilities and comprehensive amenities like babysitting
  • have limited mobility: Campese is flat and relatively convenient. However, the rest of island is hilly and lacks accessibility
  • are looking for night life or the typical Italian beach scene
Tower at the end of a rocky point on the coast of Giglio Island in Tuscany. Golden sand and turquoise water in front and boats in the sea further out.
Campese beach


Isola del Giglio is not a large island. Its three towns are small, and the few sandy beaches fill up fast. In July and August, when Italians go on vacation for ferragosto, the restaurants and beaches are crowded.

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 scenery 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.



Giglio Island is full of picturesque spots for enjoying the clear water, from tiny coves to a large sandy bay. 


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. 

Beach umbrellas in the sand and boats in the sea in Tuscany.

PHOTO 4 CAPTION: Campese beach

Here’s a quick rundown of Giglio Island beaches, organized by location. For complete details read Giglio Island Beaches

If you’ve just gotten off the ferry at Giglio Porto, here are the closest places to take a dip:

  • Scalettino beach: known by the locals as lo scalettino, a free sandy beach on the north end of the harbor.
  • Saraceno beach: a tiny cove nestled among the town’s cobblestone streets at the south end of town. It has a miniscule strip of sand but the setting is one of a kind.

Here are the beaches south of Giglio Porto:

  • Cannelle beach: sandy, part beach club/part free beach. Access: hilly walk from Giglio Porto, taxi, water taxi, drive (expensive parking). 
  • Caldane beach: sandy, part beach club/part free beach. Access: hike past Cannelle beach, or water taxi. 

North of Giglio Porto:

  • Arenella– mostly beach club/small free beach. Access: taxi, or big hike from Giglio Porto.  

On the west side of Giglio Island:

  • Campese– Giglio Island’s largest beach, it is sandy and flanked by rocky coast. It has beach clubs and free beaches. Access: drive, bus or taxi from Giglio Porto. 


Have you ever wanted to swim off rocky cliffs into bright blue water? Try the scogli (rocky cliffs) at Scalettino beach, Arenella and Campese. If you like hiking, venture to Punta del Capel Rosso, on the remote southern tip of the island. 


Rent a boat and swim off the boat right into the water in one of Giglio’s gorgeous coves that are only reachable by boat, like Cala del Corvo

Turquiose water in a cove in Tuscany. Rocky coastline and a few boats in the water.
The rocky coast near Cannelle beach


Giglio Island is a scuba diving destination because of excellent visibility and incredible marine life. There are several companies at Giglio Porto and Campese that rent diving equipment and run excursions. 

Because the area is a marine reserve, there are wonderful snorkeling opportunities all around the island.

Most of Giglio Island’s coast can only be reached from the sea. Boating is the only way to see the island’s many special coves and Cala del Corvo, a grotto on the western side of the island. There are boat rental companies at Giglio Porto and Giglio Campese, as well as Caldane and Arenella beaches.  

My favorite way to see the Giglio is a boat trip around the island (called a Giro dell’Isola in Italian). Several boat companies on the island offer these guided trips: definitely book in advance in the summer months! This is an unforgettable experience: a chance to take in the entire coastline and even take a swim in special spots that can only be reached by boat.

It’s not all about motor boats: explore the inlets and coves along the island’s coastline by kayak, just stay aware of the wind and current.

Another fun way to explore the coastline and the bays is on a SUP (stand up paddle board) or in a pedalò (pedal boat). Beach clubs at Giglio Campese, Cannelle and Arenella beaches offer short rentals. 


Colorful buildings set on the sea in Tuscany. Behind are hills with green low brush. Boats docked.
Giglio Porto


Giglio Porto is where the ferry arrives. Porto means harbor or port in Italian. Giglio’s harbor is picture-perfect, with pastel-colored houses, and green and red lighthouses to welcome you to the island.

Stroll along the harbor front, lined with bars, little shops and restaurants. Walk all the way from one lighthouse to the other, checking out the boats and tucking into small shops for souvenirs on the way. 

Giglio Castello literally means castle. It stands guard on the island’s highest peak. Enjoy the incredible views from up here– on clear days you can see the island of Monte Cristo. Castello is in the association of I Borghi Più Belli d’Italia: Italy’s most beautiful villages

Inside the castle walls, get lost in the maze of cobblestone streets. You’ll find bars, restaurants, shops and small piazzas hidden among the winding paths.

Giglio Campese is the town at the island’s largest beach. There are restaurants and stores scattered in various clusters among the houses and along the shore. But this town’s main attraction is the long, wide sandy beach that faces west on the majestic bay.

For more on these villages, read Giglio Island Towns.


Rocky and dirt hiking path leads through low brush. Hiking sign on left.

The Giglio is a great place for hiking: be prepared for some rough terrain and hills. Some trails wind along the coast while others give you a chance to explore the inland terrain.

You can also walk along the island’s paved roads. They are steep, curvy, and often narrow, but with incredible views at every turn.  

Before there were paved roads on the island, there were the mulattiere, mule paths for mules carrying loads, as well as people. Today you can hike the steep paths all the way up to the Giglio Castello from Giglio Porto and Giglio Campese.

There are also walks and hikes that lead to the island beaches and swimming spots. For example, from Giglio Porto you can hike to Caldane beach, which is only reachable on foot or by boat. Another spectacular hike goes along Via Panoramica, all the way out to the Capel Rosso lighthouse on the island’s southern tip. 

Don’t forget to take enough water, and make sure you wear good shoes! Here is the Giglio Island tourist office’s trail map (as of 2023). 


There are only about 20 km of paved roads on the Giglio, which connect the three towns: Giglio Porto, Castello and Campese. But the roads are intense and offer one of a kind views.

Get ready for challenging ascents and descents, curves and hairpin turns, and breathtaking vistas. There are also paths for skilled and adventurous mountain bikers. 

Want help on the steep climbs? Try an electric bike. If you’d like to rent one when you get to the island, Eco Bike is right at Giglio Porto. 

For complete recommendations, read What to Do on Giglio Island.


Plate of seafood pasta.

On Giglio Island keep an eye out for the following local specialties:

  • Ansonaco, the local wine
  • Panficato: a traditional sweet chewy cake, similar to Christmas panforte from Siena, made with figs, walnuts, honey, wine and grapes.
  • Zuppa di pesce fish stew 

You’ll find seafood and fish on almost all menus. Classic dishes popular all over Italy are spaghetti alle vongole (spaghetti with clams), and fritto misto (mixed fried seafood: usually calamari and shrimp).

A pre-dinner aperitif, or aperitivo, is a must on Giglio Island. You’ll see plenty of bright orange aperol spritzes, as well as mojitos.

For more recommendations, read Where to Eat on Giglio Island.


If you want to grab food to bring to the beach, Giglio Island has:

  • alimentari (small food shops) in all three towns, where you can get supplies and sandwiches
  • Our favorite for bread, focaccia, takeaway pizza squares (pizza a taglio) and sandwiches is Panificio di Cristina. There are two stores, one in Giglio Porto and one in Giglio Campese


Our favorite spot for a restaurant meal and an evening out is Giglio Porto. Picturesque restaurants line the harbor, and some are even perched above the water. 

Enjoy delicious food at one of the many charming restaurants right on the water, while looking out at the boats. After dinner take a stroll along the harbor, window shop at the cute little stores, and enjoy the one-of-a-kind nighttime ambience.


Giglio Porto is bursting with bars offering aperitivo, or a pre-dinner drink, overlooking the harbor. It’s hard to go wrong, but our favorites include Bar da Rosa (fun cocktails if you don’t mind loud music) and Ferraro (very nice staff).

At Giglio Campese indulge in an aperitivo while you watch the sun go down right over the bay. Our favorites are Tukul (despite the name), Lo Scoglio and Chiringuito in front of Hotel Campese (the aperitivo includes great snacks).

View of wooden table with people sipping drinks and eating snacks for aperitivo. Bowls of chips and olives and squares of pizza.
Aperitivo at Ferrara in Giglio Porto


Our favorite gelateria (ice cream shop) is Gelateria Artigianale da Nilo hidden in a small cobblestone alley in Giglio Porto. It has stood the test of time over the decades my Italian family and I have been going to Giglio Island. 


Scooter, bus and taxi are your best bets if you’re going to Giglio Island for just a few days . Here’s the rundown on all your different options for getting around.


Even though I usually don’t recommend bringing a car to the Giglio, driving is the easiest and fastest way to get from town to town. Roads go between Giglio Porto, Cannelle beach, Arenella beach, Giglio Castello and Giglio Campese. 

The problem is parking! It’s a major hassle.

Street parking is extremely limited, especially during the summer. Giglio Castello has a parking lot outside of the castle walls, and Giglio Campese has a decent sized parking lot at the sports field, but parking at Giglio Porto is scarce. At Cannelle and Arenella beaches there is limited parking, for a hefty fee.

Driving on the island is not for the faint of heart–  the roads are narrow in spots, and curvy with hairpin turns (with no guardrail in sight).

The town centers are very small and the best way to see them is on foot. They are closed to traffic. The charming cobblestone streets of Giglio Porto and Giglio Castello are so narrow that cars wouldn’t even be able to get through. 

My rule of thumb is definitely avoid bringing your car during the summer, unless you’ll be staying for at least a week, and your accommodation has designated parking.

In May, June, September and October parking is easier to find. Bringing your car may be worth it, as long as your accommodation has its own parking spots. 

If you bring your car, be sure to reserve the ferry in advance.

People walking down a pedestrian street. Colorful buildings on either side. People in beach clothing.
The small town centers on Giglio Island are pedestrian only.


My favorite way to get around Giglio Island is by motorcycle. It’s the most fun, the easiest and fastest. Nothing else comes close to whizzing up, down and around the island, taking in the breathtaking views from the back of my husband’s bike. 

Not only that, even when cars can’t find a parking spot, there’s always a little corner for a motorcycle or scooter. 

If you bring your own motorcycle or scooter, in the summer I’d recommend reserving the ferry in advance. 

There are many rental agencies at Giglio Porto where you can rent a scooter if you don’t bring your own.


Regular bus service runs between Giglio Island’s three towns all day long during the summer. The route runs from Giglio Porto to Giglio Castello (15 minutes) and then on to Giglio Campese (another 15 minutes), as well as vice versa. Check current bus schedules here

You can buy tickets at the local tabaccheria (tobacco shop), on the AT App, or the Tabnet app. Find up to date prices here

During the summer the buses fill up quickly and get very hot and crowded. If you get car sick like me, I do not recommend the bus (I’ve had a couple close calls!). 


There are several taxi vans that go between Giglio Porto, Cannelle beach, Arenella beach, Giglio Castello and Giglio Campese. 

I absolutely recommend calling ahead to reserve, since taxis are very busy in the summer. Usually you end up sharing the van with other people. Prices vary depending on the number of passengers and the route, so make sure to find out the fare in advance.

Andrea Ansaldo: + 39 340 8732865
Antonio Blanco: + 39 347 1941888
Ottavio Brizzi: + 39 338 9706950
Adriano Pini: + 39 330 731424


Giglio Island also has taxi boat and shuttle service to the island beaches. Go in person to the boat companies’ information huts at Giglio Porto next to the ferry dock.


Getting around by bike on Giglio Island is not for the faint of heart. It is possible to ride a bike to Cannelle and/or Arenella beach from Giglio Porto, and even all the way to Campese and the Castello. 

However, we’re not talking about a flat, leisurely ride. Only consider it if you’re up for challenging steep climbs, descents and turns– or if you have an e-bike to get you up the hills!


When deciding where to stay on the Giglio it’s best to keep in mind how close you want to be to a beach, and how you’ll get to the beach (if the beach is a priority).

Accommodation is clustered in the three towns. Here are the pros and cons of each:

  • Giglio Porto: great for dining out, boat rental, small town beaches. Walk/hike to Cannelle and Caldane beaches. Campese beach is on the other side of the island.
  • Giglio Castello: stay up high in a castle village with incredible views. Inland and a drive to the beaches.
  • Giglio Campese: you’re right on the island’s largest beach and right in front of the sunset. But Campese is anonymous, built up, and lacks the charm of the island’s other towns.

Giglio Island offers a range of accommodation, from apartments to B&Bs to hotels. Among the island’s truly special and unique accommodation is the Baia del Sole campground on the cliffs overlooking the sea near Campese, Pardini’s Hermitage  (only reachable by boat), and the Faro di Punta Fenaio Resort in a real lighthouse!

For complete recommendations, read Where to Stay 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. 

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