1. Rimini, Emilia-Romagna
It makes sense to start our list of the best beaches in Italy by train with Rimini for several reasons. First of all, it's impossible to leave off the list. Secondly, as the capital of its eponymous region and a major hub for the Adriatic Coast, it's very well serviced by train connections all over Italy. High-speed trains, regional lines, day-tripper routes, and commuter networks all pass through the buzzing Rimini train station, situated right in the heart of the city beside the beach. You can go from Rome to Rimini in just over 3 hours, Venice in 2 hours and 20 minutes, or Bologna in just 50 minutes.
The main reason for choosing Rimini, of course, isn't the train. Rimini combines its magnificent beach and beautiful town that can't be ignored. The beach is expansive, seeming to stretch off out of sight in both directions, accommodating the crowds that come each summer. Rimini's architectural beauty is diverse, from its Roman amphitheatre to colourful canalside facades and turn-of-the-century palaces. Its food showcases the best of Emilia-Romagna's famous culinary heritage, which counts balsamic vinegar, Parmesan cheese, and fresh egg pasta amongst its claims to fame.
2. Monopoli, Puglia
Right on the heel of Italy's boot, Monopoli encapsulates why Puglia's beaches are among the best-loved in Italy. An old fishing village where you can still watch fishermen weaving nets by the docks, Monopoli is blessed with authentic charm. The ancient town centre features an impressive cathedral and a maze of twisting alleyways, while its long sandy beach opens onto the expanses of the Adriatic Sea. Monopoli has a famous rock formation straddling the sea and an iconic lighthouse, which both compete for the most popular photo spot come sundown. It's easy to avoid the crowds and find plenty of casual neighbourhood cafes, bars, and restaurants.
You can go from Monopoli to Bari in only 22 minutes by train. Bari serves as a major ferry port for the Adriatic, so even if you're just arriving in Bari from Albania, Croatia, Montenegro, or further afield, Monopoli is well worth a day trip. Bari is well-connected to other major cities and easy to reach from most places in southern Italy. You can get from Naples to Bari in as little as 3 hours and 30 minutes, while trains from Rome to Bari take 3 hours and 40 minutes.
3. Tropea, Calabria
Laden with stunning scenery and rich history, yet surprisingly devoid of foreign travellers, Calabria remains one of Italy's best-kept secrets. Still, it's surprising that Tropea hasn't garnered more international acclaim, given the sheer amount of beauty it packs into one place. Perfect beach with turquoise water? Tick. A historical town centre of colourful houses clinging onto a clifftop? Tick. A lonely 6th-century church looking out onto the Tyrrhenian Sea? Tick. And a reputation for producing Italy's best red onions? Oh yeah, tick. As if its beauty wasn't enough, Tropea also has a lively local wining and dining scene, so you'll never be at a loss for places to perch for a perfect sunset aperitivo.
Calabria's arrangement of small and medium-sized towns makes it a bit difficult to drive around, but it does enjoy excellent railway links. One memorable section of the regional train line from Scilla to Tropea, taking 1 hour 30 minutes, clings impossibly to the rocky coastline between Tropea and Rosarno, providing perfect photo opportunities out to sea. If you're up for a long haul, you can even get a direct train from Milan to Tropea. Taking about 14 hours, this leisurely ride passes through many of Italy's most famous cities along the way.
4. Viareggio, Tuscany
With perfectly formed sand, gently lapping waves, and seemingly more beach umbrellas than people, Viareggio is, on the surface, a typical Italian beach destination. But add a backdrop of rugged Tuscan hills, a smattering of art deco and Belle Époque buildings, a carnival celebration to rival any in Italy outside of Venice, and you start to understand what makes Viareggio unique. Few places can boast Viareggio's combination of lively atmosphere, historical beauty, and superb beach conditions. You can swim, sunbathe, or do water sports here as easily and safely as anywhere. At the end of the day, you're spoilt for choice with the number of bars, cafes, and brilliant seafood restaurants framing the waterfront.
Viareggio is well-situated on the north Tuscan Coast for exploring the region. It's only 1 hour and 30 minutes from Florence to Viareggio, and even closer to Pisa and Lucca. Florence is on the Frecciarossa high-speed train line connecting Milan and Rome, making it easy to reach by train in under 2 hours from either city.
5. San Remo, Liguria
Nestled comfortably at the intersection of the French and Italian Rivieras, the sparkling seaside town of San Remo has its fair dose of glitz and glamour, but it doesn't overdo it. The town's streets are full of art nouveau architecture and Old World charm. San Remo is above all a beach haven, surrounded by some of the best beaches you'll find in Liguria. Don't forget that Liguria is also where you find Italy's best focaccia, and San Remo is certainly no exception. If you're still searching for an additional reason to visit San Remo, here's one—visit the house where Alfred Nobel, who founded the Nobel Prize, lived for the final year of his life.
San Remo, like many Riviera towns, has the advantage of having its main train station in the heart of the old town, right by the beach. The train journey to San Remo is easy from either direction; from France, it's only an hour by train from Nice to San Remo. If you're already in Italy, you can get a direct train to San Remo from Genoa (2 hours), Turin (4 hours), or Milan (3 hours 30 minutes).
This is, of course, only a selection of the best beaches in Italy that can be reached by train. To find out more about each of them, discover others, or start planning your journey, visit our web page on train travel in Italy.