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


From stunning beaches and clear water, to charming towns and challenging hikes, there’s plenty to experience on Giglio Island (Isola del Giglio in Italian). Here are my tips for activities by the water and on land. 

Read about what to do on Giglio Island from someone who goes there numerous times every year! My Italian family and I have been going to Giglio Island for over 3 decades– I even got married there. 

Find out about:

  • Swimming
  • Snorkeling and Scuba diving
  • Boating
  • Exploring the island towns
  • Eating, drinking and shopping
  • Riding a scooter around the island
  • Watching the sunset
  • Hiking and cycling

and more!

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. 

Andiamo! Let’s go! 



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. 

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

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 cliffs. 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 also 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

Waves lap against natural rocky walls on the coast of Giglio Island in Tuscany.
Cala del Corvo


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

Our favorite spots are along the rocky cliffs by Arenella, Cannelle, Caldane and Campese beaches. Even better, rent a boat to get to spots only reachable by water, like Cala del Corvo.


Giglio Island is a scuba diving destination because of excellent visibility and incredible marine life. There are several island companies that rent diving equipment and run excursions, for example:

In Giglio Porto: 

In Giglio Campese: 


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. 

It is not always necessary to have a boating license to rent a boat. There are boat rental companies all over the island, for example:  

In Giglio Porto:

In Giglio Campese:

and at Arenella beach club and Caldane beach club

Boat rental companies can recommend which coves and bays are best for the weather that day: listen to their advice! You may end up in a cove with many other boats, but for good reason. Only certain spots are sheltered when there are strong currents and wind, and the locals know them well.

Huge natural rocky structure in the water on the rocky coast
This side of the faraglione sea stack in Campese Bay is only visible from the sea.

My favorite way to see the Giglio is a boat trip around the island (called a Giro dell’Isola in Italian).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.

Several boat companies on the island offer these guided excursions: definitely book in advance in the summer months! Here are a few examples:


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 (paddle boat). Beach clubs at Giglio Campese, Cannelle, Caldane and Arenella beaches offer short rentals. 

You can rent kayaks, SUPs, and paddle boats at:


If you’re not much of a beach person, or if the forecast predicts cloudy skies, here are some activities on solid ground.


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. 

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

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.


The promenade along Giglio Porto’s harbor is lined with cute little shops and boutiques. There are souvenirs, food, wine, houseware, watersports gear, jewelry and clothing stores. 

Take a break with a coffee or a glass of wine at one of the harbor’s many waterfront cafés.


Dining out can be a scenic event on Giglio Island, especially if you like fish and seafood. Giglio Porto is perfect for a meal with views of the harbor, and a stroll afterward. Giglio Castello and Giglio Campese have beautiful sunset views at dinner time.

Man walks by ivy-covered restaurant above the sand in Giglio Porto in Italy. Shops and buildings on left.
Some restaurants in Giglio Porto, like Ristorante Doria, are built right on the water.

Seafood and fish are featured 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).

Keep an eye out for the following local Giglio Island 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 
  • Scaveccio fried fish soaked in vinegar

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 detailed recommendations, read Where to Eat on Giglio Island.


In my opinion, riding on a scooter is one of the best ways to see Giglio Island. Nothing beats whizzing up, down and around on the island’s 20 km of curvy roads and hairpin turns, taking in the breathtaking views. It’s not for the faint of heart however!

There are many scooter rental agencies at Giglio Porto, for example:

Andrea Ansaldo Giglionoleggio
Island Experience
Il Faro Verde


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 about 20 km of paved roads on the Giglio, which connect the three towns: Giglio Porto, Castello and Campese. 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. 


One of my favorite things to do on Giglio Island is to watch the sun set right over the water from Giglio Campese beach. Even better, do it while sipping on an aperitivo at one of the many beachfront bars, or having a picnic on the beach.

Sunset at private beach in Italy. You can see pedal boats in water, sailboats in distance. On beach, boy carries an inflatable dolphin past closed beach umbrellas and sun loungers.
Sunset on Campese Beach.

From its perch on top of the island, Giglio Castello has the most panoramic views of all. Watch the sun go down with sweeping views of both the sea and the island landscape. 


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.

You may also want to read Where to Stay on Giglio Island.