Situated on the Gulf of Naples, on the western coast of southern Italy, Naples' history, culture, and cuisine are forever tied to the Mediterranean Sea. Sailors from the Greek island of Rhodes were the first to establish a small commercial port here in the first millennium BCE, founding the city of Parthenope, renamed Neápolis in the sixth century BCE.
Although the city stretches along the Mediterranean Sea, it is not typically considered a resort destination. There are, however, a few spots where you can enjoy a lovely day on the beach, whether you're looking for a great swim or somewhere that's perfect for families with young children to splash about. Here are our picks of the best beaches in Naples, Italy.
Spiaggia della Gaiola is part of a marine park and ideal for snorkeling
Spiaggia Della Gaiola, or Gaiola Beach, is one of the most beautiful beaches in Naples. Popular with locals during the summer months, entry is always free, and you'll want to arrive early to beat the crowds. Located along the Posillipo coast, on the northwestern edge of the Bay of Naples, the beach belongs to the Parco Sommerso Della Gaiola, a protected national marine park.
The park is divided into two zones: Zone A is a protected nature preserve; Zone B is limited to 100 visitors a day. Thanks to a ban on motorboats and fishing, the Mediterranean Sea is wonderfully clear and calm here, making it an ideal beach for snorkeling. Swim out to the two tiny, rocky islands in the near distance or snorkel the submerged ruins of a Roman-era villa. Bring a dive mask or swim goggles: plenty of colorful fish call this crystal blue corner of the Baby of Naples home.
Bagno Elena is a top beach for families with young children
The private beach Bagno Elena boasts a splendid location in the Bay of Naples, adjacent to the 17th-century palace Palazzo Donn'Anna in Posillipo. Bathers have been catching rays and swimming the deep blue Mediterranean Sea here since it opened in 1840. Legend has it that Oscar Wilde once enjoyed whiling away summer days at the elegant Bagno Elena.
The beach is divided into three main areas: the central pier is dotted with comfortable sunbeds for lounging under the Mezzogiorno sunshine, while the two side beaches are ideal for families thanks to shallow calm waters, plus plentiful umbrellas and sunbeds. Enjoy an espresso at the Beach Bar or a lunch featuring regional seafood specialties at Il Ristorante, located on the pier.
Dine at Bagno Sirena's beachside restaurant
Steps away from Bagno Elena, on the other side of Palazzo Donn'Anna, Bagno Sirena is a smaller beach where you can relax on comfortable sunbeds and swim in the crystal clear sea minus the maddening crowds. Both Bagno Elena and Bagno Sirena boast incredible views of Mt Vesuvius in the distance. The main draw is the beachside restaurant, where you can enjoy top-notch Neapolitan cuisine: try the house speciality, impepate di cozze, fresh mussels prepared with tomatoes and white wine.
Centrally located La Rotonda Diaz is ideal for a quick dip
La Rotonda Diaz, also known as Mappatella Beach, on the city's downtown lungomare (waterfront) is the most centrally located stretch of sand in Naples. Since it's so close to Naples' bustling port, the sand isn't always sparkling, and the sea isn't so clear due to the many passing ships. That said, it's the perfect beach if you are looking to catch a couple of hours of sunshine, take a quick swim to cool off from the summer heat, or enjoy a cold beer while you dip your toes in the sea.
Take a dive from the cliffs into saltwater pools at Rocce Verdi
When the sun shines on the submerged rocks at this stunning beach along the Posillipo coast, on the northwestern edge of the Bay of Naples, they take on a green hue, hence this beloved beach's name, Green Rocks. Though you'll have to pay an entry fee, Rocce Verdi has a lot of perks. Catch some rays on a comfortable sunbed situated on the rocky coast, or head to the top of the beach's anterior cliff, where you can dive into one of the two large saltwater pools overlooking the bay. Enjoy a cocktail or lunch at the restaurant, also located on the upper edge of the rocky beach. In the distance, you can see the island of Capri and the entire Sorrento peninsula. Kayak rentals are available for paddling the tranquil bay, and the beach also hosts wellness activities, including daily yoga and pilates during the summer months.
Scoglione in Marechiaro is perfect for a peaceful swim
The Scaglione di Marechiaro (Marechiaro Cliffs) isn't a full-service beach, but it's one of the best spots to swim in the sea in Naples. The volcanic rock beach, located just off the coast in the Posillipo neighborhood, can only be reached by boat, with boats departing round the clock from the Marechiaro Port. Significantly less crowded than other nearby famous beaches, this is a beach for swimmers that crave crystalline waters. A stand rents sunbeds, which can be set up along the rocky cliff – enchanting views await.
You might also like:
Getting around Naples is easy with these top tips
The best things to do in Naples: livin' la dolce vita
Everything you need to know before your trip to Naples