Rome is wonderful in every season but there’s something special about la dolce vita during the summertime. Each weekend from June to August, Romans flock to the coastline for a dip in the sea, a plate of spaghetti alle vongole, and some relaxing hours out in the sunshine. There are lots of great beaches located an hour from Rome, so they’re perfect for a day trip. Others, however, are slightly further away and are better for a weekend getaway.
1. Santa Marinella
Santa Marinella is easily the nicest beach close to Rome. Set in a sleepy seaside town, it’s perfect for a day trip, with trains departing from all of Rome’s main train stations (Trastevere, Termini, and San Pietro). Plus, the boardwalk is just a 5-min walk once you arrive. The water is beautiful, especially at the start of the season, and there are lots of stabilimenti to rent a lounger.
Renting sun beds at Santa Marinella is a little pricier than you’d expect, and the beach gets very crowded during peak season (weekends and anytime from mid-July to mid-August) but I love coming here in May-June and September. In the summer a great little kiosk/hole-in-the-wall opens up below Gigi Bar where you can get fresh salads, sandwiches and pizzas. If you want to stay overnight, book a room at the chic Villa delle Palme which has its own private platform set upon the sea. The next-door Molo 21 is an excellent restaurant for fish.
2. Santa Severa
Santa Severa is just one stop before Santa Marinella and is a pretty beach marked by an enormous 14th-century castle set right on the shore. The Castello di Santa Severa is now home to a boutique hostel: some of the rooms have balconies overlooking the sea, and private bathrooms.
The beach here is a mix of stabilimenti and a free beach area, and there’s more room compared to Santa Marinella so you can find a spot to lay down a towel in any season. The Isola del Pescatore bar & restaurant is picturesque (if you can snag the lone little table outside on the porch, you’re in luck!) and nearby Lydo serves delicious pastas. You’ll have to cross a highway on foot if you come by train so it’s best to come by car (though parking can be hard to find during the peak summer months).
If you can splurge on a weekend getaway, look no further than La Posta Vecchia in Ladispoli: one of the most exclusive escapes near Rome. Owned and managed by the Sciò family (who also own Il Pellicano in Tuscany and Mezzatorre in Ischia), this gorgeous villa encapsulates the essence of la dolce vita and is a favorite among jet setters and in-the-know Romans. The bedrooms are elegantly furnished with historic works of art collected by John Paul Getty, who inhabited the residence between 1960-1975. La Posta Vecchia has a lovely beach club, luminous indoor pool and patio restaurant which are all open to external guests upon reservation.
Romans love flocking to Fregene for its proximity to Rome and party vibe. The crowd here likes to see and be seen, so come prepared with your beach bod and designer shades. Located just north of Fiumicino airport, you can only reach it by car. Singita Miracle Beach is a favorite watering hole (with extremely affordable loungers). On summer evenings, a crowd gathers for aperitivo on the beach and a ritual gong marks the sunset. At nearby Maccarese beach, Creuza de Mä is a fun hangout with a tiki-themed cocktail bar.
You could call Ostia an “infamous” beach resort due to its historic crime and alleged pollution, although its proximity to Rome makes it a great escape from the city. Located at the mouth of the Tiber River, the ancient city of Ostia was a thriving harbor whose ruins you can still visit today at the Ostia Antica archeological park (a great alternative to Pompeii if you don’t want to make the trip south). The modern city of Ostia was developed during Mussolini’s Fascist rule and features rationalist architecture, along with members-only beach clubs and some designated free beach areas.
In town, the Pontile di Ostia jetty is popular for taking a passeggiata. And, locals line up at Krapfen Paglia for freshly baked donuts filled with chocolate or cream. Le Chat has excellent artisanal gelato and Osteria Toscanelli is lovely for an al fresco lunch. In the evenings, La Drogheria is a popular wine bar & pub and RIZcafè by the port is a chic place for dinner or aperitivo with a view of the yachts. Further south in town, La Vecchia Pineta is a seaside white tablecloth restaurant with an upscale crowd.
Romans complain Ostia’s water isn’t the cleanest but it’s extremely convenient: you can use your ATAC bus ticket to catch the Roma-Lido train at Porta San Paolo train station (attached to the Piramide metro station). For a better vibe and more alternative crowd, head further down to the Cancelli for a laid-back atmosphere, sand dunes and themed beaches, including a dog beach (Gate 1), and an LGBT-friendly & nudist beach (Gate 4). Bud Beach at Cancello 8 is a favorite.
If I had to personally rank the best beaches near Rome, Santa Marinella would be first and Anzio would be a close second. The water here is lovely, the city is bustling and the crowd is primarily local. Anzio is a medium-sized city and many residents live here year-round. There are multiple beaches and coves in the vicinity.
My favorite spot to lay out is a stretch of free beach right in front of the Grotte di Nerone, the ancient ruins of Emperor Nero’s seaside palace that date back to the 1st century AD. For a glass of wine and snacks, check out Enoteca del Gatto, Da Alceste, Romolo al Porto and Fraschetta del Mare, all popular fish restaurants. Head to Gelateria Treccioni for great artisanal gelato for dessert.
7. Torre Astura
A real hidden gem on Lazio’s coast, Torre Astura is a fairytale beach that is somewhat of a trek from Rome but worth visiting if you have an adventurous spirit. You can only arrive by car and you’ll need to walk 20-30 minutes to reach the beach which is set within a sprawling nature reserve, but once you reach the shore you’ll be rewarded by gorgeous views of the medieval Torre Astura castle.
The current structure was built by the noble Colonna family and dates back to the 15th century, although a previous castle was built here in the 1200s atop the ruins of an ancient Roman villa. Be sure to bring your own food and drinks because there’s nothing but a pine forest around.
The Pontine Islands off the coast of Rome are another of Italy’s true hidden gems. This archipelago includes a number of islands: Palmarola, Zannone, and Gavi are located in the northwest, while Ventotene and Santo Stefano are on the southeast. Ponza is the largest island and the best organized for tourism. You can hire a skipper or rent a rubber gommone boat to take a tour of the island. There are lots of boutique hotels and restaurants to spend a weekend basking in the sunshine.
Ponza is way more low-key than Capri but it has a similar feel, with faraglioni rocks emerging from the sea, cute aperitivo bars and plenty of crystalline coves to explore. For beaches, check out Cala Feola, the Piscine Naturale and Spiaggia di Frontone. In the evenings, head to Bar Tripoli for a sunset spritz and then enjoy fresh fish dishes at Oresteria or Gamberi & Capperi. You can reach Ponza by ferry or aliscafo from Formia, Anzio or Terracina.
I’ve spent many birthdays in Sperlonga so this town has a special place in my heart. It also tops many lists of best beaches near Rome because the beautiful white-washed hilltop town is perched above two long stretches of white, sandy beach and has some of the nicest water in the Lazio region. You should plan to spend the weekend here because the town is truly lovely. Picture tiny alleys, sweeping views and excellent restaurants for dining al fresco. Gli Archi is set in a little piazza with great food and a romantic ambiance. Some other local favorites include Ricciola Saracena and Mudejar Spiriti e Cucina.
The easiest way to reach Sperlonga is by car, but you can also take public transportation. Catch a train from Roma Termini to Fondi-Sperlonga and flag a cab at the train station — it’s quicker than waiting for the bus. Sperlonga doesn’t have particularly nice boutique hotels but Hotel Aurora and Virgilio Grand are decent. Nearby, check out the Cave of Tiberius with a beautiful view of the sea, and if you have a car, the popular Spiaggia 300 Scalini located halfway towards Gaeta.
Set on a promontory, Gaeta is a lovely fortified town with a long military history (and a NATO presence). Like Sperlonga, it is best for a weekend getaway from Rome. It is well-known for its briny Olive di Gaeta and the town’s delicious Tiella. This savory pie comes stuffed with fillings like octopus and tomato or escarole and olives. Grab a slice to take-away from Pizzeria del Porto.
Gaeta’s main beach, Spiaggia di Serapo is located behind the town, so it doesn’t have the same appeal as Sperlonga where you can see beautiful views while you’re swimming. But the water is crystal-clear, and the medieval town is a delightful place to stroll. Stay at B&B La Gaetana and dine at Ristorante Masaniello, Ristorante Mediterraneo or Antico Vico.