Italy has it all. From breathtaking beaches to rolling vineyards, the Alps to the Dolomites. Whichever direction you look, you are sure to be mesmerized by the natural beauty of this nation. So let’s talk about turning this dream destination into a reality of paddle boarding Italy!
Stand-up paddle boarding is taking the world by storm as trepid adventurers head out across the globe. You may be one of these people searching for the next best location to dip your paddle in the water. Or, you may simply be looking for places to daydream about while sitting at your desk, with the slight hope of ‘one day’ circulating in your mind.
Why SUP Italy? It is quite simple. The landscapes are stunning and the food is divine. This little European SUP paradise has a super long coastline with an abundance of hidden coves waiting to be discovered. There is access to the ocean or lakes across most of the country, meaning you are never too far away from water.
Keep reading to grab a dose of SUP endorphins and dream about paddle boarding on Italy’s finest waters.
Table of Contents
Here are our top 10 destinations to paddle board in Italy in no particular order. This country is utterly gorgeous and a paddle boarder's dream destination.
Trieste is tucked away in the northeast corner of Italy. The city is filled with culture, flavors, and sights to see. The landscape is spectacular: on one side are the lofty Alps, and on the other is the twinkling Adriatic Sea.
This coastline offers a range of paddle boarding opportunities. Summer months offer calm and flat conditions, ideal for beginner paddle boarders to give it a go. Winter though is a different story. The bold Bora winds whip through Trieste which can make the conditions hard to paddle. However, if you have the skills and can face the cold winds, you will be rewarded with spectacular snow-capped mountain views across the horizon.
Lake Barcis, known as Lago di Barcis in Italian, is a man-made reservoir fed by the River Celina. This breathtaking location is reached by a picturesque road trip through Northern Italy, passing through the Dolomite's terrain.
Set out on your SUP on the unique emerald color water, taking in the beauty of the serene woods brushing against the banks. There are maintained walking routes around the lake with a number of great photo opportunities. The dam is impressive. But if you really want to get the wow factor, you have to be on the water to venture into natural gorges and rock formations.
Lago di Bracciano is a perfect place for beginner paddle boarders to find their feet and master the basic techniques. This volcanic lake just northeast of Rome is generally calm, offering flat conditions that are safe for all levels of SUP ability. However, be cautious of the wind coming across the lake. When winds pick up it is a good opportunity to practice downwind race training!
There are a number of water sports outlets on the lake that offer lessons and paddle board rental on Lake Bracciano. Anguillara Sabazia is a lakeside medieval town that is a good place to launch your SUP from.
Well known for its crystal clear waters, Lake Garda is a popular tourist destination and one of Italy’s most treasured places. From here you have insane views of the Dolomites. The shoreline is peppered with quaint town after quaint town, each with its own rich history and culture.
Lake Garda is often used as a location for the Italian Race SUP Championships. Beginner paddlers do need to be careful of the winds. Due to the size of Lake Garda, conditions can change quickly and can be challenging in some cases.
Tuscany is a beautiful region of Italy. The 230 km coastline is home to some of the best Italian beaches, surrounded by nature and dusted with secluded islands. Along with the ocean, you can also explore the Tuscan rivers and lakes by SUP.
Some of the key locations to paddle board in Tuscany are:
Toscana SUP is a SUP outfitter operating out of Tuscany. They offer tours, excursions, adventures, and paddle boarding courses. Head to these guys if you cannot bring your own SUP gear for the vacation and want some expert guidance in the area.
Sicily is the largest Mediterranean island and lies just off the ‘toe’ of Italy’s ‘boot’. The landscape is dramatic and volcanic, influenced heavily by Mount Etna. There is a rich history on the island waiting to be explored.
Stand-up paddle boarding is a fantastic way to explore the glistening waters surrounding Sicily. The Taormina coast is ideal for holidaymakers to soak up the fun and the sun. Launch your SUP from Giardini Naxos beach and head to the Lovers' Cave, a large heart-shaped inlet set in the white rock – great for photos.
Sicily’s coastline is beautiful and has plenty of hidden coves that can only be accessed from the water. Head south to get the waves and give SUP surfing a try.
Paddle boarding in the northwest region of Liguria is a great way to explore and discover more. Also known as the Italian Riviera, Liguria is charming, traditional, and an outdoor lover's paradise.
The coastline is dramatic as steep cliffs fall into the turquoise ocean. For the ultimate paddle boarding experience in Liguria, give Monterosso to Vernazza (Corniglia) a try. This route takes you away from crowded beaches and reaches untouched places. It is a half-day excursion on a paddleboard and is suitable for most people.
Italy’s Amalfi Coast is a 50 km stretch on the southern peninsula of Italy. With secluded coves and caves in turquoise waters, it is no wonder why this is one of the most popular destinations in Italy.
This region is full of marine reserve waters that restrict boats, but SUPs are allowed. There is an abundance of wildlife in the surrounding waters and you may even be lucky enough to spot the Mola Mola (sunfish) basking at the surface.
Some popular towns on the Amalfi Coast include Sorrento, Massa Lubrense, Positano, Amalfi, and Capri. You can launch your SUP from just about anywhere on this secret coastline, discover unassuming little beach bars, and have an incredible session.
Puglia is known for its rural landscape and whitewashed towns on the hillside. However, the crystal clear waters of this region are hypnotizing. If you are planning to SUP from here, make sure you start in Polignano a Mare. This stunning old town hangs over the water and being in the ocean gives you a new perspective.
From here, you can access a number of caves:
Elba is another beautiful Italian island surrounded by the turquoise waters of the Tyrrhenian sea. There is over 140 km of coastline to explore which is perfect for anyone wanting a dreamy paddle boarding experience.
Anyone who ventures to this paradise will fall in love with the beaches. With white sands and rugged cliffs descending into perfect waters, we won’t blame you for not wanting to leave!
Sardinia is a large Italian island in the Mediterranean Sea. It has almost 2,000 km of coastline with perfectly sandy beaches and a mountainous interior. As you can imagine, the paddle boarding opportunities here are incredible!
If you are looking for an escape to nature, Oristano is the place to go. The gulf waters are deep blue with unique rock formations to discover. When conditions are right, SUP surfing is good here. There is also a perfect downwind paddle of about 14 km from San Giovanni di Sinis to Oristano. Make sure you have a northerly wind for this route.
If you are after a quiet destination in Sardinia, then nowhere beats San Pietro Island. With crystal clear water and white sandy beaches, this is a perfect place to go paddle boarding. After your session, you can unwind with the delicious coastal cuisine to wrap up what will be a perfect day in paradise!
Lake Como is a famous body of water in the mountainous Lombardy region in northern Italy. There are quaint villages directly on the lakeside. Without a doubt, this lake is one of the most iconic parts of Italy. Paddle boarding, sailing, windsurfing, and kayaking are all popular activities to enjoy on the lake.
You can easily spend a whole day on the water exploring. Soak up the sun and be sure to pack a waterproof camera for the ride.
Where to paddle on Lake Como?
Along with the most famous Italian alpine lakes, there are over 200 more to explore. Paddle boarding on alpine lakes is an experience like no other. The air is crisp and the water is clear. You are surrounded by mountains and nature is so refreshing.
Here are 5 more alpine lakes in Italy you should add to your SUP dream list:
Choosing when to visit Italy with a SUP is an important decision to make. And of course, it ultimately depends on what type of paddler you are and what conditions you want.
Winter is cold and wet. However, it can be great for surfing and downwind race training. These colder months also give you a unique experience of paddling with snowy mountains surrounding you.
Summer is busy with tourists and can get unbearably hot. Winds tend to be at a minimum.
We recommend going to Italy for a paddle boarding vacation on the shoulder seasons:
This avoids crowds but still has decent weather with comfortable temperatures. If you plan to visit some of the top tourist destinations at the same time, be sure to book accommodations at least 4 months in advance to avoid disappointment.
Check out these destinations for some ultimate SUP tour inspiration in Italy:
Lake Como is open to paddle boarding and other water sports activities. It promises spectacular views and a window to the most iconic Italian characteristics. There are several lakeside villages that you can paddle board into and make a full day of exploring Lake Como by SUP and discovering hidden gems.
Yes! You can paddle board the Venice Canals. However, you do need to be cautious. Venice has a strict ‘no-swim’ rule and is busy with gondolas. So, if you are going to paddle board in Venice, make sure you give way to other boats/taxis and do not fall in – no pressure!
Fall and Spring are the best times to paddle board in Italy. Typically, there are fewer crowds but the temperatures are at a pleasant level. However, if you want to experience another side of Italy and see snowcapped mountains, then you will need to be brave and SUP in the winter months.
We recommend using an inflatable paddle board when traveling through Italy. This will allow you to explore further as you can easily hike to lakes or reach hidden beaches. iSUPs are compact and lightweight, which is what you need when on an Italian road trip! If you do not have your own inflatable SUP, then there are plenty of rental places available across the country.
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