Viareggio is located in Northern Tuscany and is a Riviera style resort along the Italian coast. With gorgeous buildings housing luxurious hotels, shops, cafes and restaurants it is a popular destination for holiday makers looking for a relaxing holiday that incorporates brilliant hot sunshine, warm blue waters, long white sands as well as designer shopping, great nightlife, authentic Italian cuisine, history, culture and beautiful views. If you visit at the right time you can also witness the vivid and lively Viareggio Carnevale which is one of the most well-known carnival festivals in Italy which occurs in the three Sundays before Shrove Tuesday (the day of the main Carnavele) and the Sunday after this where you can experience parades, theatre, music and an array of locally held events. If you’re not visiting in Easter then there are plenty of music festivals and events all the way through the summer.
Almost the entire beach is owned by the hotels situated along the strip which is great if you are staying in one of these as it means you have a private section of the beach to enjoy (at a discount) but if you are not, you will have to pay full price which will be around 8 to 35 euros depending on the time of year and hotel, for a parasol and sun lounger on the beach – which the entire strip is filled with whether they are being used or not.
This gives the feeling that the beach is absolutely packed as these sun loungers and parasols are visible as far as the eye can see, yet, when we visited Viareggio in September there were very few people in these sections. Without them the beach would have looked much more vast and nearly empty! So this may not be the kind of beach to go for if you prefer quiet and natural looking strips of sand where you can lay your towel anywhere you please.
When I visited Viareggio this summer (for a day trip as I was staying about an hour’s drive away) we decided to visit the ‘free’ section of the beach as we were not staying at a hotel and were unsure of how we would go about getting onto those sections of the beach that are owned by hotels. Though after this experience, if it is Viareggio you choose, I'd highly recommend not doing this and forking out a few euros to hire a sun lounger from a hotel, partially because when we went at the beginning of September, it was very very hot and our pale English skin (in comparison with the bronzed Italians) needed the protection if we were to stay and lounge in the hot sun all day. Plus these looked great for leaving your towel and beach bags on whilst you went into the beautiful water for a dip! Not to mention having the luxury of facilities such as changing rooms and toilets.
The other main reason I’d recommend hiring in a section of the private beach is because the free beach we visited was a miniscule section compared to the rest of the strip and it was crammed with people – there was barely anywhere to lay a towel. You could hire a umbrella on this section too but it wasn't as good as what the hotels had on offer. Another huge factor (that actually ruined my exciting day trip to the coast to dip my toes into the Mediterranean and wear my new Baku bikini with pride) was the beach sellers that are allowed to wander on this section of the beach - They were relentless! Being bothered every 10 minutes by a man who shoves a cheap pair of sunglasses in your face when you’re obviously wearing a nice pair (Seafolly Marilyn - was excited to wear these too!) already is pretty annoying. Not to mention the fake watches, handbags and jewellery on offer. If they are the kind of things you want when you're trying to catch some rays at the beach then the free section is definitely the way for you to head. I learnt my lesson and would most definitely make the effort to hire on a privately owned stretch of the Viareggio coast next time.
That being said we took a lovely walk along the whole strip at the very front by the water; you can walk on these parts of the beach owned by the hotels but not sure if you’d get shooed off it you decided to set up camp - we sat for a while and this didn’t seem to be a problem. The water was so warm and clear it was just heavenly and with beautiful views of the mountains nearby it is really a lovely beach to enjoy. When we got hungry later in the day we walked along the promenade and found a lovely little restaurant where we ate delicious pizza and pasta made with fresh home-made pesto – it was honestly the best of its kind I've ever eaten - so simple yet divine and the prices were very reasonable too. There we’re also some of the lovely gelateria along the promenade which Italy is famous for.
I’d definitely come back here for a longer stay and maybe experience more of what Viareggio has to offer – some of the hotels looked gorgeous with beautiful swimming pools that overlooked the sea and the great thing about Viareggio is, is that it is not too far from other great Italian cities such as Pisa and Lucca, so if you want to come here for the day or leave here for the day and see other sights it’s a really great location for you to experience some of the best places Italy has to offer, Tuscany is so beautiful, any journey will be worth the ride just for the views.
Are you going to Viareggio or have you been there? Any questions or comments please leave them below and I'll do my best to get back to you!