Porto Ercole is a small town located on the comune of Monte Argentario in the Tuscany region of Italy. It’s one of the most charming places I’ve ever visited, and I’m shocked that more people don’t know about it. I lived in Italy for over 2.5 years, and never heard of the place! It’s truly one of the best hidden gems in Italy!
My wonderful cousin Anna and her family moved to Porto Ercole a few years ago, and I was finally able to visit them this past summer. I was originally planning on staying for only 3-4 days, but ended up crashing on their couch for nearly 3 weeks! It’s pretty great having family out there, because I learned that it’s actually a popular vacation destination for wealthy Romans who spend their time in stunning Italian Country Villas in the area. Not only Italians love to vacation here though, because Vladimir Putin even owns property on Monte Argentario!
If you’re planning your own visit anytime soon, here’s what I think are the best things to do in Porto Ercole and the surrounding areas in Tuscany!
Planning a trip to Italy…? Make sure you pick up a copy of the new Italy Lonely Planet Guide Book to help you along the way! I always travel with a Lonely Planet book, and love having it as a helpful resource!
VIA PANORAMICA DRIVE
Having a rental car during your time on Monte Argentario is imperative, because the public transportation is pretty much non-existent. This is also because the scenic views you drive along Via Panoromica are absolutely stunning! There are several different “Forte” you can visit,
While the roads can get a bit bumpy at times, it’s absolutely worth it. I made it just fine in my Audi A3 Rental, and would highly recommend it.
FENIGLIA BEACH DAYS
During the summer, my cousin would take her kids to the beach basically every day. While there really isn’t any “wow” factor to the actual beach, it’s definitely a great place to sit back, relax, and read a book.
It’s also a very popular place for beach camping, but can be pretty hard to get a reservation during the busy summer season.
Random tip: it’s an amazing place to swim at night underneath the stars!
ORBETELLO LAGOON SUNSET
Just a few minute drive from Porto Ercole you’ll find Orbetello, and most nights you can witness pretty spectacular and colorful sunsets! The reflection of the sky on water is mesmerizing, and it’s the best place to enjoy a couple sunset drinks.
ISOLA D’GIGLIO DAY TRIP
After taking a scenic 40-minute ferry ride from the mainland, you’ll soon find yourself in paradise. Isola D-Giglio is gorgeous, and it’ll be harder to find clearer water anywhere else in Italy (okay, maybe in Sardegna).
You can hire a boat to take you to several different beaches, or just drop you off at one and do some quick hikes along the coast.
RENT A BOAT / SNORKEL & DIVING TRIP
While I unfortunately didn’t have the time to do this, it’s definitely one of the best attractions in the area! There’s fantastic snorkel and dive spots, and would be great to enjoy the destination while on a boat. There are tons of boats to rent in Porto Ercole, as well as Argentario Divers if you’re looking to go with a company.
You can’t leave Porto Ercole without trying a slice from Pizza Grano. This is my cousin’s Antonio’s shop, and his food is absolutely delicious! It’s also the best value meal you’ll find in Italy, as a large order of pizza is only 1.50 euro.
If you go to Pizza Grano, tell Antonio I say Ciao!!
Take the 30-minute drive to Capalbio to discover the real tuscany, and I guarantee you’ll be glad you did. This medieval town is super pretty, and you can get incredible 360 degree views from the castle rooftop! Wander through the tiny alley ways while you take tiny spoonfuls of tasty gelato, and you’ll get that Italian vacation feeling you’ve been looking for.
PORTO SANTO STEFANO
This is the biggest city on Monte Argentario, and really is a beautiful place to see both during the day and at night. You’ll have to come here anyway to catch the ferry over to Isola D’Giglio, and I’d recommend staying a bit longer for dinner after you return from the island.
SATURNIA THERMAL BATHS DAY-TRIP
There are these FREE HOT SPRINGS just about an hours drive away from Porto Ercole in a area called Saturnia. It really is a fantastic experience to swim in these natural pools complete with perfectly temperature water and cascading falls. While it can get pretty crowded at times, it’s definitely a highlight!
The drive is also gorgeous, and I’m sure you’ll be stopping several times along the way to take pictures of the gorgeous Tuscan countryside.
WEST COAST SUNSET
Last on the list, you’d be a fool if you didn’t drive to the West Coast of Monte Argentario to enjoy some marvelous sunset views. You’ll be able to see Isola D’Giglio nearby, as well as Isola D’Elba in the distance! The coastline is beautiful during golden hour, and will certainly provide a fantastic end to your day. There’s a few restaurants you can eat at during the sunset along the west coast, but they can be pretty pricey.
WHERE TO STAY IN PORTO ERCOLE…?
When I visited I stayed with family, but these are the best hotels and accommodations options in Porto Ercole.
AirBNB – There are some really AMAZING apartments and villas for rent on AirBNB, and would be a fantastic way to spend your Italian vacation. If you’re new user, you can get $40 Off Your First AirBNB Stay.
Hotel Don Pedro: This mid-range hotel is absolutely gorgeous, is a close walk to the beach, and has an amazing restaurant.
Sawatdee Rooms: Budget-friendly rooms, perfect location, and beautiful rooms! Definitely worth a visit.
Well there are certainly plenty more things to do in Port Ercole, these were my top highlights during my visit. I really do think there’s something truly special about this destination, and I wouldn’t surprised if it becomes Italy’s next tourist hotspot!
It might have taken me several years to get there myself, but I guarantee that I’ll be back for more next summer!