Sperlonga Italy’s whitewashed hidden gem

Discover Sperlonga, a gorgeous Italian whitewashed village between Rome and Naples with a sandy beach, stunning waters and local charm

Sperlonga is a small beach town about 2 hours South of Rome. If you have never heard of it, you are not alone. Sperlonga is well known to Italians but it is one of those rare places in Italy mass international tourism hasn’t quite reached yet.

I have spent countless summers in Sperlonga and this is my guide to this Italian hidden gem.

Inner courtyard in Sperlonga with a well and wall art
Not sure what is more charming: the art of the walls or the small well?

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Why you should visit Sperlonga

Sperlonga is a small town perched on rocky promontory overlooking the Mediterranean.

The village sits high above the waters and is a gem of whitewashed houses and small alleys.

At the base of the promontory, a large beach with soft sand stretches onto crystal clear waters, that lap the land with gentle, shallow waves.

It is a little gem of a place. If you want a sea and sun vacation in Italy, you can easily spend a week on Sperlonga’s beach, leisurely enjoying the water, the sand, the views and the many restaurants offering the best of Roman and Neapolitan food

If you are more into sightseeing, you can get lost into this whitewashed small town and you can explore the surrounding area that has a beautiful archaeological museum, the ancient Villa of Tiberius or of course stretch farther afield to Terracina, Gaeta.

You can also explore the area more and get to explore the Isole Pontine, islands just in front of this coastal area.

Another reason to visit Sperlonga is to tap into its glamorous past.

While the name may have not made headlines, Sperlonga was much loved by personalities from the arts world.

Marlene Dietrich, Brigitte Bardot, Arthur Miller, Andy Warhol, the writer Albert Camus were among the most famous international names while Vittorio De Sica and Raf Vallone are famous Italian names who made Sperlonga their creative grounds

Who should go to Sperlonga

Sperlonga is a lovely destination for may types of travelers. If you are looking for a couple getaway, Sperlonga has gorgeous sea views and hidden corners perfect for a romantic weekend away

If you have children, you are sure to enjoy the shallow waters and the town family friendly vibe and if you love history, you will relish in the opportunity of getting acquainted with an area much loved by emperor Tiberius.

The only travelers that may not find in Sperlonga welcoming are those with mobility issues. The town has many stairs and steps and can be hard if you have any walking difficulty.

Overall, Sperlonga has very much a small town vibe and a local feel.

It is much less glitzy than the nearby Amalfi coast and under many respects less scenic, but this is can be an advantage.

A stay in Sperlonga is perfect to unwind and relax and I recommend it as a great overnight stop if you are traveling from the Amalfi coast to Rome and want a break from those stunning yet busy destinations.

How to get to Sperlonga from Rome

Sperlonga is less than 2 hours South of Rome and the easiest way to get there is by private car.

If you prefer not to drive, you can also use public transport but you need to be ready for a little more hassle.

The train bring you from Rome to Fondi Sperlonga station and there you need to catch the local bus or a taxi to the town.

This is not difficult to do, but does add a little bit of traveling time, especially on days such as national Holidays when the local services are less frequent.

The best site to get hold of train tickets is Trenitalia.it: this is the official site of the Italian railways and is the one with the cheapest fares.

Sperlonga is one of the best day trips from Rome you can take in the good season: come between April and September for the best chance of good weather and, in summer, a splash in its blue sea!

It may not look like it, from below the rock, but Sperlonga is a whitewashed village with gorgeous white houses decorated with cascading flowers.

Taking a stroll in the village is a real pleasure and a photographer’s dream, alone one something that makes a stop in this town a worthy one. 

Sperlonga Italy whitewashed alley with geraniums on the windows

What to see and do in Sperlonga

This is my pick of the best things to do in Sperlonga

Take a stroll around its whitewashed alleys

It may not look like it, from below the rock, but Sperlonga is a whitewashed village with gorgeous white houses decorated with cascading flowers.

Taking a stroll in the village is a real pleasure and a photographer’s dream, alone one something that makes a stop in this town a worthy one. 

Explore Tiberius’ Palace and local archaeological museum

Emperor Tiberius is probably better know for having a villa on the island of Capri, but he was also fond of Sperlonga and vestiges of his palace are still visible.

The ruins are just outside the town and access to them include also entry to the local archaeological museum which has impressive sculptures of Polyphemus, Scylla, Odysseus and Ganymedes, something history and sculpture lovers cannot miss. 

The villa was only discovered in 1957, during road works in the area.

Road excavations brought to light statues at first, both in what turned out to be the ancient villa and the nearby natural cave, and it is interesting to notice that they are vastly linked to the hero Odysseus and story.

This has to do with the settings of the odyssey, that seem to recall locations in this area and the south of Italy (Circeo, Scylla in Calabria just as an example).

Ruins of Tiberius's palace with sea in the background
The ruins of Tiberius’ palace just outside Sperlonga are one of the best things to visit in the area

Eat, eat, eat

The location between Rome and Naples, two major food capitals, may have given it away but Sperlonga is a great place for food too.

Pizza, seafood and fish are all delicious here: start your evening with an aperitivo and then indulge in your favorite foodie treat in one of the many non pretentious, authentic restaurants in this village  

Sperlonga whitewashed alley
Sperlonga has small, narrow alleys with homes, restaurants and shops

Go to the beach

Sperlonga is a seaside town and the main reason to come here is without a doubt the beach. Here the water is shallow and clean and this makes is perfect especially for families and non swimmers.

If you are idea of the sea is snorkeling and diving this is not the place for you but for sunbathing and sea paddling, Sperlonga is just perfect!

The beach here is mostly occupied by hotels and ‘stabilimenti’ (beach clubs) so if you want to get a nice spot it is advisable to book chairs and umbrellas or pay on the day.

The cost varies and may get steep in high season: the best deals are usually with hotels, which often have private beach access.

Usually free access beach area are available, just walk along the waterfront for an umbrella free area.

Where to stay in Sperlonga

Sperlonga is a popular holiday destination and has several campsites and hotels catering for all types of visitors.

My personal favorite place to stay in Sperlonga, hotel Aurora, which is perfectly located on the beach and has nice room, pleasant breakfast and a lovely terrace cafe overlooking the beach.

Visiting Sperlonga with children

Sperlonga beach is clean, soft, sandy and it stretches for miles.

The water here is shallow and clean and it is perfect for families with kids.

Wandering into the Mediterranean here is safe: the water in only few inches deep until pretty far out and this means that even tiny tots can play on the shore without fear of sudden waves or sudden drops.

Me on the beach with our first travel pushchair
Sperlonga is the first place we visited as a family!

The only challenge families of very young children may face is the presence of stairs to the upper part of the village.

The steps are not passable by stroller so I highly recommend you bring a carrier so you can take the short stroll up.

A large, paved road does go up into the town so if you have a hotel at the top and a car, you do have access. However, I do recommend you opt for being at the bottom of the town. close to the beach, if traveling with kids.

I hope you enjoyed this overview of this small Italian gem and it inspired you to plan a stay in Sperlonga. Safe travels!

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15 thoughts on “Sperlonga Italy’s whitewashed hidden gem

  1. Pingback: 9 reasons Italy is the perfect destination for a family holiday - Learning Escapes

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  3. Pingback: 9 reasons Italy is the perfect destination for a family holiday | Learning Escapes | Little Travel Notes

  4. Megan Donoghue says:

    Thanks for letting me know about Sperlonga – sounds wonderful. I love spending time in Rome, and while I’m not normally a fan of Naples, it always serves as a great base for day trips into the greater region. So perhaps we can stop at Sperlonga as a midway point next time we’re in Italy 🙂

    • Marta - Learningescapes says:

      Thanks for stopping by, Megan! Sperlonga is lovely as a base and much easier to handle than Rome or Naples. They are amazing cities in many ways, but driving in and out of them can be a nightmare, this is is a much more relaxing option 🙂

  5. Carol Colborn says:

    Somehow I have never thought of Italy for beaches and swimming but history and religion. Good post!

    • Marta - Learningescapes says:

      Interesting to hear that! I grew up going to the coast almost every year so the sea is something I strongly associate with Italy but you are right: cultural tourism is the biggest reason people come visit (and they are right to come for that!!)

  6. Voyager says:

    Sperlonga looks so utterly alluring, loved the beach and the charming by lanes of the town. Had not heard about this place, but would definitely like to add this to our itinerary, when next in Italy.

  7. Bell | Wanderlust Marriage says:

    Looks beautiful! Always a little scary to try and recreate a childhood memory, but it sounds like your trip was perfect! Thanks for the tips on Sperlonga, would love be to visit one of these days!

  8. Alicia Dawn says:

    Nice pics. You shared really good things about Italy. I will go Italy in July and definitely go to these places. Please share some more beach holiday homes in Italy.

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