This guide to the best beaches near Rome focuses on the Roman beaches which are easy to reach with public transport. While Lazio – the county or state which includes Rome – has some outstandingly attractive beaches including the Pontine islands and Sabaudia in the south, these are much more difficult to get to if you’re planning on making just a day trip from Rome.
So read on for the complete guide to visiting Rome’s best beaches which can be reached by bus or train, including full details of timetables updated for 2018, plus a price guide for beaches with paid facilities, such as sunbeds and umbrellas.
The best beaches near Rome include Ostia, Sperlonga, Gaeta, Anzio, Santa Marinella and Fregene, and they all have a different character and vary in the time it takes to reach them and the kinds of beaches you will find there. So with towel, sunscreen and water at the ready, here’s the full break down!
The best beaches near Rome: Rome’s cleanest beaches
While Italy boasts one of the most stunning coastlines in Europe, it can be a slightly frustrating activity trying to get to a decent beach when you live in Rome.
The Lazio region isn’t blessed with the crystal clear waters of Sardinia or Apulia, but there are still some fun and family friendly beaches you can easily reach from Rome using public transport. It all depends on whether you’re focused on swimming or bathing in the sea, or whether you’re simply looking for a pleasant sandy beach with an umbrella to hire and a well-stocked bar nearby, or something in between.
This guide to the best beaches near Rome will cover the obvious options, including Rome-on-sea, i.e. Ostia, just a 30 minute train ride from the centre of Rome, as well as slightly more complicated-to-reach options. As a general guide, the further you are prepared to move from the centre of Rome, the cleaner the water.
Lazio won eight ‘bandiera blu’ for 2017, Italy’s clean seawater classification, for the beaches of Gaeta, Latina, Sabaudia, San Felice Circeo, Sperlonga, Terracina and Ventotene in the province of Latina, as well as Anzio in the province of Rome.
Fregene still makes our recommended beach list, despite not having a blue flag, in the spirit of trying something different; Ostia’s on the list because it’s so convenient from Rome, and we wanted to share the best spots in Ostia for holidaymakers in Rome, including free and paying beaches.
We haven’t covered Sabaudia or Circeo as you have to get a coach from Rome to those destinations, which, from personal experience, is pretty hot and a bit too long-winded for a day trip. If you are planning on visiting Sabaudia, the coach leaves from Laurentina in south Rome. Otherwise, you really need a car. The same goes for Capalbio in the north, which is really a car-only destination.
Ventotene forms part of the Pontine islands, so has to be reached by boat, and is too far for a day trip. Full details on how to visit the Pontine islands coming up in another post.
1. The best beaches near Rome: Ostia
Romans have a love-hate relationship with Ostia, the small beach town which lies 25 km south-west of the city. It’s easy to get to – there are urban trains that link to the metro line in the city, so from anywhere in Rome, you just need to take the metro to Piramide, San Paolo or Eur Magliana, and change onto the Lido train line to reach the beach in around 30 minutes.
Tickets to the coast cost just €1.50 and can be bought on the spot, but it can be handy to get your return ticket in advance so you’re not stuck looking for a ticket machine that works in Ostia or a tobacconist to sell you a ticket.
It’s worth noting that the water isn’t that clean throughout Ostia, and in the main part of town, the seafront is literally gated off and ‘managed’ by private bathing establishments, which effectively charge you even to see the sea.
Ostia itself is characterised by a bustling sea-front, with lots of families with strollers, youths and cyclists trying to tackle its overrun cycle path, and row upon row of private or paying beaches. The controversy here – and say it in a whisper – is that many of the bathing establishments are run by a kind of local ‘mafia’, and you will see them rigorously enforcing that you pay to even get in and walk along the seafront.
Forget trying to bypass the controls and place a towel on the sand, even really close to the waves, as if you are within the parallel lines defining each private beach club, you will be charged something for occupying even a small piece of beach there.
That said, there are some good value options, and most will let you enter for €5 if you just want to stick your towel on a square of sand and soak up some sun. Otherwise, just go with the flow and rent a sunbed and umbrella, with prices for both starting at about €8 apiece. We like Vittoria beach, easy to reach by foot from Ostia’s central station, Ostia Centro.
When you get off the train at Lido Centro, in the heart of Ostia, expect to walk through a recently renovated pedestrian area in the town and cross the busy street that flanks the seafront to reach the beach establishments.
Once you reach the seafront, if you turn left, keeping the sea on your right, you will eventually reach a couple of stretches of free beach, but they get very busy, noisy and dirty in the summer and are only recommended if you’re on a real budget and frankly don’t care much, beyond getting a tan and having a quick dip in the water.
If , on reaching the seafront, you turn right, keeping the sea on your left, you will eventually reach the port of Ostia, a smart and recently constructed docking area for yachts and boats of all dimensions, well-served by a cluster of restaurants and bars. Out of season, it is also fun to stroll or bike down here and contemplate the port, before stopping for a cool drink or a bite to eat.
There is a third option in Ostia, and that’s visiting the Cancelli, which translates literally as ‘gates’, and is a stretch of eight ‘open’ bathing establishments subsidised by the local council. These are a lot better than the description sounds and are actually my favourite option for going to the beach in Ostia. Why is this the best beach in Ostia? Quite simply, because you have the option of renting a sunbed and umbrella, and paying for drinks and snacks, but can equally just take a towel and your own umbrella or beach tent and pack your own picnic for the day.
How to get to the Cancelli beaches in Ostia
The only issue is that these eight beaches aren’t in the centre of Ostia, so you have to take an extra bus. How to get to the Cancelli beaches in Ostia? The drill is this: when you take the Lido train to Ostia, stay on it until the last stop, called Cristoforo Colombo, and then as soon as you come out of the station, take a bus, usually the 07 MARE bus, or simply follow the crowds equipped with beach bags and sun parasols. Your €1.50 metro ticket will cover both parts of your journey, so you don’t need to buy an additional ticket for this.
You then have a choice of which Cancello to try. My favourite of the Cancelli beaches in Ostia is the last one, number 8, with the black billiard ball logo. It has a pleasant raffia covered beach bar surrounded by swings, and as well as neat rows of umbrellas and sunbeds for rent, also offers an ample area of free beach near the dunes which offers space and seclusion even on the busiest of days.
Please note, while the buses to the Cancelli are frequent in the summer months, out of season, and even during the spring and autumn, they are few and far between, so you may have to wait a while to get your connection.
How to get to Ostia using public transport: Reaching Ostia from the centre of Rome requires a €1.50 metro ticket on the city’s regular metro line, departing from or changing at Lido station, situated next to the Piramide metro stop on Rome’s blue line.
2. The best beaches near Rome: Sperlonga
By far and away Lazio’s prettiest beach resort, Sperlonga is a unique spot on this coastline and is well worth the trip. I can confidently say that this is probably the best beach near Rome, so if you like gorgeous resorts and clean seas, this may be the best choice for you. Sperlonga has often been compared to a Greek fishing village, and it’s easy to see why: houses like white cubes are pressed into a steep-sided rock, with dramatic views over the sea and two handsome, sandy bays for bathing in the sea. Up in the old town, winding cobbles streets provide much needed shade, as well as a mix of gift shops, bars and restaurants.
The dilemma: how to get there. By car, you have to brave the agonisingly slow Pontina road (2 hours in traffic) or shoot down the A1 motorway and then work your way back to the coast. The cheap and fast option is the 1’ 10” train from Roma Termini to Fondi, but the challenge then is getting the bus from Fondi to Sperlonga. These run only every two hours (even in the summer) and seem designed to miss the connection with the train from Rome. We wonder if the local “unofficial” taxi cartel has something to do with it. Minicabs cost around €20 from Fondi to Sperlonga (don’t let them charge you more) but if you travelling alone or as a couple, local taxis are happy to charge to €5 per head and allow you to ‘go in’ with other travellers trying to reach Sperlonga. It is all worth it, as once you get to Sperlonga, it’s a rare paradise. Walk round the rock on which the town is founded to the second bay for the prettiest views and the better beach facilities.
How to get to Sperlonga with public transport: Take the 08.42 if you can from Termini to Fondi, which should coincide with the 10am bus going from Fondi to Sperlonga.
Cheapest solution: The €14 all day ticket (7 zones) for Lazio will give you the freedom of the region for 24 hours (regional trains only; includes all trams, metro and buses in Rome as well). Ask for a €14 BIRG at one of the newspaper stands in Termini. The Sperlonga bus is €1 each way in addition. Two sunbeds and an umbrella start at €20 in Sperlonga.
Lunch tip: We like Da Martini sul Ponte up in the old town for the best views and an enviable breeze overlooking the coast.
My top Sperlonga hotels
Ideal if you’re arriving by car, Moresco Park Hotel is set up on a hill with a gorgeous green garden and incredible views across the azure waters of the Gulf of Terracina, just 800 metres from the pretty town centre of Sperlonga. Free parking, spacious, modern rooms, air conditioning and private balconies with sea views make this an excellent choice (parking can be a real challenge in the historic centre, and gets expensive too).
To find out more or reserve a room at the property, click here.
Hotel Corallo has a special place in my heart and it’s still my favourite downtown hotel in Sperlonga. This immaculate three-star hotel has a prime position in the white streets of the pretty old town and it’s just a five minutes’ walk from the beach. Ideal if you’re arriving with public transport, it has a gorgeous panoramic terrace, perfect for a drink at sundown.
To find out more or reserve a room at the property, click here.
Located along Sperlonga’s main promenade, but set back from the traffic of the sea front, B&B Sperlonga is a great, central choice. It’s five minutes’ walk from the Ponente beach, but there’s none of the walking up and down steps that you associate with accommodation in the old town. Clean, modern facilities, a bus-stop to Fondi close by, and Wi-Fi in all areas make this an ideal, practical choice.
To find out more or reserve a room at the property, click here.
For a full list of Sperlonga hotels and a more in-depth guide, read: How to Get to Sperlonga From Rome or Naples – Plus the Best Sperlonga Hotels
3. The best beaches near Rome: Gaeta
If you like combining sunbathing with sightseeing, Gaeta is always an option. Take the same train that you would for Sperlonga, but stay on until Formia (again the €14 24 hour BIRG ticket is valid). Cotral buses run every 20 minutes from outside the station to Gaeta (and accept the same BIRG ticket, so no extra expense).
Stay on the bus until you get to Corso Italia and walk down to Via Marina for your pick of the dull but functional stabilimente. This isn’t a pretty stretch of sea front like Sperlonga, but the sea is clean and you’re close to nature if you head for the promontory of rock under the ruins of the old Aragon castle. We tried the private beach Risorgimento which asked €20 for two sunbeds and an umbrella. From the Via Marina, you can also walk around the coast road to the stunning old town, where a steep climb is rewarded with magnificent sea views and a visit to the imposing gothic church of San Francesco d’Assisi (not sure about the paint job).
The same circular bus from the foot of the old town will take you back to the station of Formia; trains run every hour back to Rome but remember that the BIRG is only valid on the regional train, not the Intercity.
If you’re not enjoying your day in Gaeta there are also regular buses to Sperlonga from the town centre.
How to get to Gaeta with public transport: Take any regional train from Rome to Naples (running every hour from Roma Termini) and then hop on a bus to Gaeta.
Cheapest solution: The €14 all day BIRG should cover it. Stabilimenti cost from €15 for two sunbeds and an umbrella (typically more expensive from July onwards).
Lunch tip: Take a packed lunch this time to make the most of the beaches and the sightseeing options, also because the journey is longer.
4. The best beaches near Rome: Fregene
Many Romans seem to favour Fregene as a beach resort so I had to go and see what all the fuss is about. There are some pretty chic ‘stabilimenti’ out here, ideal if you want to stay until the early evening and enjoy an aperitivo on the beach. Singita and Onda Anomala are two of the most popular resort-style bathing establishments, but there’s plenty of choice here. The water isn’t much cleaner than Ostia but Fregene is ideal if you like a little luxury at the beach, from pottering around by a pool to enjoying a bite to eat al fresco in a decent beach restaurant. The town itself is a pretty anonymous place so stick to your stabilimento of choice and don’t forget your cruise wear.
How to get to Fregene with public transport: Take the train to Maccarese, from Termini, Tuscolana, Ostiense, Trastevere or San Pietro. Then, from Maccarese station, hop on a bus to Fregene – for example the 020 line. It’s only a 5km journey but can get busy at peak times. If you’re feeling adventurous, you could travel with a bike (preferably folding) and cycle to the coast from Maccarese station along Viale Castel San Giorgio, but watch out for speeding cars.
Cheapest solution: A single on the train costs just €2.10 and takes between 20 minutes and half an hour from the centre of Rome.
5. The best beaches near Rome: Santa Marinella
A little further from Ostia and Fregene, Santa Marinella, pictured above, is a popular beach destination from Rome, as well as being the town where a number of Romans choose for their retirement, due to the reasonable real estate prices and the sleepy vibe. This town is flanked by a long stretch of coast but if you’re just going for the day, there’s no need to make things complicated: you might as well just go to one of the paying beaches very near the railway station.
To reach Santa Marinella, definitely one of the best beaches near Rome, catch a train from Rome’s Termini station or its suburban Ostiense station. The slowest train can take around an hour and a quarter, but there are also options taking around 50 minutes – check before you jump on.
By public transport: Expect to pay €4.60 for your ticket from Roma Ostiense or Roma Termini to Santa Marinella. No change is required.
Lunch tip: There are cheap bars in most of the bathing establishments, or take your own packed lunch.
6. The best beaches near Rome: Santa Severa
Pretty Santa Savera has a reassuringly wild feel, with its impressive castle overlooking the sea and a long stretch of wide sandy beach, making it one of the best beaches near Rome. Much of the beach is the so-called ‘spiaggia libera’ – a beach freely accessible by all, but lacking the facilities of the paying beaches.
However, these multiple options for beach lovers and the size of the sandy area means that this beach is absolutely packed during the summer months. I actually prefer it off-season, as pictured above, for a stroll in the springtime or the autumn, including a quick ice-cream or a light lunch before returning to Rome.
How to get to Santa Severa with public transport: It takes about an hour to reach Santa Severa by train, and the train line is the same one that takes you to Fregene. Tickets cost €4.00.
Lunch tip: Pino al Mare, a restaurant connected to one of the beach resort’s better hotels, is a pleasant, well-priced lunch choice; otherwise take a packed lunch for the beach.
7. The best beaches near Rome: Anzio
Anzio is just an hour away from Termini and trains run hourly (slightly less frequently on a Sunday); while the beaches are a pleasant surprise. We got off at Marechiaro station, from which it’s a short walk to the seafront where you can choose public or private bathing establishments; this stretch of coast was a deserving winner of the blue flag award once again this year and the sea is clean. Try the stabilimenti of Tortuga or Sole e Luna for a simple and natural experience (we paid €26 in July for two sunbeds and an umbrella at Sole e Luna; the beach is pretty busy at this time of year). Anzio played its part in the second world war beach landings so history buffs might want to check out the Anzio War Cemetery or the Beach Head Cemetery, its two Commonwealth War resting places.
How to get to Anzio with public transport: With a single costing just €3.60 (or ask for a 24 hour Lazio ticket costing €8) it’s a pretty cheap day out.
Lunch tip: The fish is excellent at Punto D’Anzio in the town centre. It’s a small and popular restaurant so you might want to book in the evenings.