If you’re dreaming of an authentic Mediterranean experience, look no further than Porto Santo Stefano. As the capital city of the Monte Argentario province, it offers a glimpse into a unique part of Tuscany.

Crystal-clear turquoise waters, quiet coves, and orange terracotta roofs can be found elsewhere in Italy, but Porto Santo Stefano is special. It provides more authentic (and less touristy) experiences to visitors. It has a deep history with the Romans, Austrians, and French, among others, adding to its cultural and architectural richness. You’ll find no shortage of sailboats, seafood, or gelato.

Interested in heading to Porto Santo Stefano during your next Italian vacation? Keep reading to plan the perfect trip.

6 Places to Visit in Porto Santo Stefano

Before we jump into the spectacular beaches and destinations around the peninsula, let’s talk about the best places to visit in the town itself.

1. Spanish Fortress

The Spanish Fortress of Porto Santo Stefano
The Spanish Fortress of Porto Santo Stefano – trolvag, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Spanish constructed this coastal fortification between the 16th and 17th centuries. The defensive structure was built from the rubble of a destroyed stronghold that stood in the same place. The French strengthened the fortress during the Napoleonic Period to protect themselves from the British.  Continuing to have importance after Italy’s unification, the Spanish fortress carried out military functions in both WW1 and WW2. Currently, the fortress functions as a museum for the public. Visitors can check out archeological findings and shipwright documents.

Additionally, the fortress boasts panoramic views of the Tyrrhenian Sea, making it a perfect spot for photography enthusiasts. The museum also occasionally hosts cultural events and exhibitions, adding to its appeal as a historical and educational destination in Porto Santo Stefano.

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Its elevated position provided a panoramic view of the Tyrrhenian Sea, allowing soldiers to monitor and defend against pirate attacks and enemy invasions. This historical context adds depth to its architectural beauty and offers a glimpse into the maritime history and conflicts of the region.

Official Website: Spanish Fortress

Location: Piazza del Governatore, 58019 Porto Santo Stefano GR

Reviews: 4.3/5

Insider Tip: Beautiful View

2. Mediterranean Aquarium

The entrance of the Mediterranean aquarium in the Argento Coast
The Mediterranean Aquarium of the Argento Coast – Ceppicone, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Acquario Mediterraneo dell’Argentario has been up and running since 2001.  This aquarium’s goal is to accurately reproduce the coastal ecosystems along the Argento coast. Although it’s small, the charming aquarium features a total of 17 tanks packed with sea life. Here, you can observe vibrant fish, corals, anemones, and other fascinating creatures while learning about the area.

The aquarium also offers interactive and educational experiences for visitors of all ages. It’s particularly engaging for children, who can learn about marine conservation and the importance of protecting our oceans. Special guided tours are available, providing deeper insights into the marine ecosystem of the Argentario coast.

Official Website: Argentario Aquarium

Location: Lungomare Navigatori, 44, 58019 Porto Santo Stefano GR

Reviews: 3.9/5

Insider Tip: Nice Place to Discover with Kids

3. Old City 

The overview of the historic center of Porto Santo Stefano
Panoramic view of the old city – “Porto Santo Stefano (3)” by Link Travel and More is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

The historic center of Porto Santo Stefano consists of stone staircases and alleyways that weave among shops and shops. At the heart of the old city, you’ll also come across the Spanish fortress, a massive structure that adds to the area’s history. Exploring this part of town offers a glimpse into the daily life of locals, with vibrant markets and traditional Italian cafes dotting the area.

The architecture here is a blend of historical and modern influences, providing a charming backdrop for a leisurely walk. Don’t miss the opportunity to sample local cuisine at one of the many authentic restaurants nestled in these quaint streets.

4. Passeggiata Porto Santo Stefano

The tourist is walking with her dog in a pedestrian area of ​​Porto Santo Stefano

If you want to simply enjoy the Mediterranean breeze and take in your surroundings, go for a stroll along the passeggiata. This stone path borders the sea and offers breathtaking views of both the horizon and the town. There are plenty of palm trees and benches along Passeggiata Porto Santo Stefano. You’ll even pass a small stone monument, the Monumento ai caduti, which honors fallen soldiers.

The walkway is especially enchanting during sunset, as the sky transforms into a canvas of vibrant colors reflecting off the sea. It’s a popular spot for both tourists and locals, ideal for jogging, walking pets, or simply relaxing. Along the way, you’ll find charming cafes and gelaterias where you can indulge in Italian ice cream while enjoying the serene seaside ambiance. The passeggiata is a perfect place to unwind and embrace the laid-back lifestyle of the town.

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Wandering through Porto Santo Stefano, you’ll stumble upon enchanting side streets, where narrow alleyways are adorned with delightful houses and charming local shops. Every so often, these hidden paths reveal stunning, unexpected views of the harbor. These tucked-away treasures provide a more personal and authentic glimpse into the unique charm and allure of Porto Santo Stefano, making your exploration all the more memorable.

5. Church of Santo Stefano

The beautiful historic church located in the historic center
The Church of Porto Santo Stefano – Ceppicone, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Located in the bustling heart of the town, the Church of Santo Stefano offers a serene escape from the lively streets. This historic church, with its simple yet elegant architecture, is a cornerstone of the town’s rich cultural and religious tapestry. Inside, visitors are welcomed by a peaceful atmosphere, perfect for reflection. The church’s interior is adorned with art and religious symbols, each telling a unique story of the local heritage and faith.

It stands as a quiet reminder of the town’s deep historical roots, inviting passersby to pause and soak in the tranquility. The Church is more than just a building; it’s a living piece of history and a testament to the enduring spirit of Porto Santo Stefano.

6. Torre di Lavidonia

The Torre di Lividonia, a stoic sentinel perched on the rugged coastline of the town, is steeped in history and mystery. This ancient watchtower, dating back to the time when pirates roamed the seas, stands as a silent guardian over the azure waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea. Its strategic location offers panoramic views that are nothing short of breathtaking, stretching across the horizon where the sky meets the sea.

The tower’s weathered stones and timeless architecture speak of centuries past, inviting visitors to step back in time and imagine the tales of old. A visit to Torre di Lividonia is not just a journey to a historical landmark, but an adventure into the heart of Porto Santo Stefano’s maritime legacy, a place where the past lingers in the salty sea air and the whispers of bygone eras echo in the wind.

Experiences around Porto Santo Stefano

Best Hotels to Stay in Porto Santo Stefano

Below, you’ll find our curated selection of recommended hotels for your stay in Porto Santo Stefano.

Bike&Boat Argentario Hotel

The terrace of the Bike&Boat Argentario Hotel in Porto Santo Stefano
Photo Credits – Booking.com – Bike&Boat Argentario Hotel

This beautiful hotel offers organized tours and cycling opportunities for guests. All suites include balconies, and you can request one that overlooks the sea.

Location: Via Panoramica 239, 58019 Porto Santo Stefano, Italy

Stars: 3

Features: Sea view, Superb breakfast, Balcony

Reviews: 8.4/10

Baia d’Argento

A room in Baia d’Argento hotel
Photo Credit: Booking.com – Baia D’Argento

This is a sustainable 4-star hotel with vibrant apricot-colored rooms. It offers access to a private beach, complete with free beach towels, sun beds, and umbrellas. The hotel’s restaurant serves scrumptious Mediterranean cuisine for lunch and dinner during the summer months.

Location: Pozzarello, 58019 Porto Santo Stefano, Italy

Stars: 4

Features: Excellent Breakfast, Ocean view, Pet friendly

Reviews: 8.5/10

Villa la Terrazza

The terrace of Villa la Terrazza, in Porto Santo Stefano
Photo Credit: Booking.com – Villa la Terrazza

This villa for 6 features charming stone walls and extraordinary views. Watch the sunset over the Mediterranean from your terrace that overlooks the town’s terra cotta roof.

Location: 3 N Via del Sole Condominio Argentarma, 58019 Porto Santo Stefano, Italy

Stars: 3

Features: View, Pet Friendly, Family rooms

Reviews: 7.7/10

The Best 5 Beaches Near Porto Santo Stefano

Porto Santo Stefano is full of cale, or coves, which are generally more intimate and colorful than typical sandy beaches. Consisting of aquamarine seawater often surrounded by lush greenery, cale are wonderful beaches to spend a sunny day. 

Here are the 5 best cale near the town.

1. Cala del Mar Morto

The Cala del Mar Dead beach photographed at sunset
The beautiful beach of Cala del Mar Morto – “Cala del Mar Morto” by Jacopo Reggiani is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

Cala Mar Morto is a rather wild beach, composed of pebbles and rocks that line the sea. It’s a fantastic destination for any adventurous traveler.

There, you can rent beach chairs, umbrellas, and kayaks. The crystalline water offers outstanding snorkeling, so bring a snorkel if you want to observe the colorful marine life.

This beach isn’t located right in Porto Santo Stefano, but it’s only a 20-minute drive south. Many say that it’s easier to access than other beaches in the area.

2. Cala la Cacciarella

Cala la Cacciarella is another rocky beach in the area, but it’s closer to Porto Santo Stefano than Cala Mar Morto. This beautiful cove is just a 4-minute drive west of the town.

Check out the fish, sea sponges, anemones, and other creatures that live in the clear waters.

There is limited parking along the street. Beachgoers recommend against going here around lunchtime, when it’s busiest.

3. Cala del Gesso

Cala del Gesso, near Porto Santo Stefano
The beach of Cala del Gesso, near Porto Santo Stefano: one of the best beaches of Monte Argentario – Photo by gianfranco.vitolo, CC BY 2.0

Situated on the west coast of the Argentario peninsula, Cala del Gesso highlights the beauty of Italian cale

The sharp contrast between the blue water and lush green trees above truly makes for a magical experience. Small boats often dot the sea and create a picturesque background.

Cala del Gesso is approximately a 15-minute drive away from Porto Santo Stefano. Keep in mind that to get there from the road, you’ll have to walk down a steep trail.

4. Cala Grande

Cala Grande sits in between Cala del Gesso and La Cacciarella, just 9 minutes away from Porto Santo Stefano.

The water is quite clean and optimal for a dip or snorkeling adventure.

Cala Grande is a very sunny beach, with little shade during the day.

From the road, you’ll have to walk about 15-20 minutes. It’s recommended to get there early in the day to ensure that you get a place on the beach. 

5. Cala dell’Olio

Porto Santo Stefano view from the sea
Porto Santo Stefano is worth exploring for its seafood restaurants

This last cala is located just below the Torre Maddalena castle. As of now, the castle is permanently closed, but it still makes for a stunning and unique backdrop for the beach.

The excellent water quality of Cala dell’Olio makes it a great destination for swimming and snorkeling.

Cala dell’Olio is roughly 20 minutes south of Porto Santo Stefano.

Read more: Best Beaches in Tuscany – Discover The Beauty

The Best Restaurants in Porto Santo Stefano

No trip in Italy is complete without tasty eats. Let’s dive into 3 amazing restaurants in Porto Santo Stefano.

Trattoria Lo Sfizio 2.0

A plate of spaghetti cooked by the trattoria Lo Sfizio in Porto Santo Stefano
Photo Credit: Trattoria Lo Sfizio

This lovely trattoria is located just along the seaside, offering extraordinary views alongside delicious dishes.

Watch the sunset over the Mediterranean horizon while you enjoy your seafood meal. Options include delectable seafood risotto and fried calamari.

Official Website: Trattoria Lo Sfizio 2.0

Location: Corso Umberto 1°, 100, 58019 Porto Santo Stefano GR, Italy

Reviews: 4.5/5

Insider Tip: Excellent Antipasto

Ristorante La Bussola

Fried fish from the compass restaurant
Photo Credit: Ristorante La Bussola

Ristorante La Bussola is another great option if you want an authentic taste of Argentario. 

The restaurant specializes in seafood and pasta, creating dishes like spaghetti with sea urchins and salt-encrusted fish.

Choose between the luxurious dining room and the enclosed patio with a flowing golden ceiling.

Official Website: Ristorante La Bussola

Location: Piazza Facchinetti, 11, 58019 Porto Santo Stefano GR, Italy

Reviews: 4.4/5

Insider Tip: Delicious Home Made Pasta

Trattoria dei Frati

A fruit-based dessert from the trattoria dei frati in Porto Santo Stefano
Photo Credit: Trattoria dei Frati

If you’re looking for a change from seafood, check out Trattoria dei Frati. This trattoria, which specializes in dishes from the land, sources fresh ingredients from local markets and farms.

Try the Florentine steak, tortelli with meat sauce, or delicate green tortellini.

Official Website: Trattoria dei Frati

Location: Via Panoramica, 149, 58019 Porto Santo Stefano GR, Italy

Reviews: 4.4/5

Insider Tip: Outstanding Place

What to Visit Around Porto Santo Stefano

There’s no shortage of things to see in Porto Santo Stefano and beaches to head to nearby. But what other fun destinations exist on and around the peninsula?

Monte Argentario

Monte Argentario is the name of the municipality and peninsula that contains Porto Santo Stefano. It also contains the port town of Porto Ercole, as well as some small and inviting villages. Check out the Panorama sull’Isola Del Giglio viewpoint, the Torre di Capo d’Uomo, and, if you’re up for an adventure, the Grotta di Punta degli Stretti caves.

Additionally, Monte Argentario offers a rich tapestry of natural beauty and historical sites. The region is perfect for hiking and exploring the rugged landscape, with trails leading to secluded beaches and hidden coves. The panoramic views from the higher elevations are simply breathtaking, providing a perfect backdrop for unforgettable memories. Whether you’re seeking relaxation or adventure, Monte Argentario has something for every traveler.

Explore more: Capalbio – Guide to the Medieval Village in Southern Tuscany

Giglio Island

The Spanish mill in the Orbetello lagoon, near Porto Santo Stefano
The Orbetello lagoon and the Spanish mill

This pearl of an island, one of the seven that make up the Arcipelago Toscano National Park, is located southwest of Argentario. The mild climate, sandy beaches, and emerald waters make for a memorable trip. To get there, take a ferry directly from Porto Santo Stefano.

Once on Giglio Island, immerse yourself in its tranquil beauty and unspoiled nature. Explore the picturesque villages, indulge in local cuisine at quaint waterfront restaurants, and enjoy the laid-back island lifestyle. The island’s crystal-clear waters are ideal for snorkeling and diving, offering a glimpse into the vibrant underwater world. Giglio Island’s charm lies in its ability to blend relaxation and adventure, making it a must-visit destination for those exploring the Tuscan Archipelago.


The town of Orbetello is located on a small peninsula that almost touches the Argentario peninsula. It sits over a lagoon and is surrounded by city walls from the 5th century BC. The main sights include Forte delle Saline, the ruins of the monastery of Sant’Angelo, and the cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta. Orbetello is just a 15-minute drive away from Porto Santo Stefano and with its unique location, offers a blend of natural beauty and historical intrigue.

The town’s ancient city walls and historical structures, like Forte delle Saline and the monastery ruins, provide a fascinating glimpse into its past. The cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta stands as a testament to Orbetello’s rich religious heritage. This charming town is not only a hub of history and culture but also a gateway to the stunning lagoon, perfect for bird watching and enjoying serene water views. A short drive from Porto Santo Stefano, Orbetello is an ideal destination for a day trip filled with exploration and discovery.

Porto Ercole

Along with Porto Santo Stefano, Porto Ercole is one of the two major towns of Argentario’s township. There are plenty of things to see, including religious buildings and military architecture. Of particular interest are Chiesa di Sant’Erasmo, Palazzo dei Governanti, and the walls of Porto Ercole. If you want to explore another charming town on the Argentario peninsula, Porto Ercole is a wonderful option.

Stroll along its quaint streets to discover the architectural beauty of Chiesa di Sant’Erasmo and the imposing Palazzo dei Governanti. The well-preserved walls of Porto Ercole tell tales of its past, adding to the town’s allure. With its stunning seaside views, cozy cafes, and a relaxed atmosphere, Porto Ercole is an enchanting destination, offering a glimpse into the authentic Tuscan coastal lifestyle. Whether for a leisurely day trip or an extended stay, Porto Ercole is a delightful complement to the experiences of the Argentario area.

How to Get to Porto Santo Stefano

Porto Santo Stefano is located in southern Tuscany, along the coast. It’s situated on the slope of Mount Argentario, which sits on a raised mass of land in the Mediterranean. 

The town is fairly equidistant from Rome and Florence. So, it’s a convenient destination if you’re visiting either of these two famous Italian cities.

Options for Getting to Porto Santo Stefano

If you’re coming from Florence, you have the choice between bus, train, and car. By public transportation (either by train or by bus), the journey will take between 3 and 4 hours. Driving will take about 2 to 3 hours. 

From Rome, the trip is a bit quicker. There’s a direct train that takes just under 2 hours. If you drive, it should take from 1.5 to 2.5 hours. 

So, although Porto Santo Stefano is approximately the same distance from Rome and Florence, it’s quicker to come from Rome.

FAQs about Porto Santo Stefano

People are walking on the road in front of the sea in Porto Santo Stefano
The seafront of Porto Santo Stefano

Is Porto Santo Stefano Worth Visiting?

Yes! Porto Santo Stefano is a unique town that is certainly worth the visit. Not only will you get a taste of the town’s bubbly atmosphere, but you’ll also be able to explore Mediterranean shores. Many tourists seek out the tropical-like waters of an Italian island like Sardinia or Sicily. Porto Santo Stefano is a cheaper and less crowded door to nearby coves with pristine waters and wonderful snorkeling.

What is Porto Santo Stefano Known for?

Porto Santo Stefano is known for its picturesque harbors, historic Spanish Fortress, and as a gateway to the Tuscan Archipelago. This charming seaside town on the Monte Argentario peninsula offers stunning coastal views, fresh seafood, and access to beautiful beaches and nearby islands like Giglio.


Wrapping up, Porto Santo Stefano isn’t just a destination; it’s an experience waiting to be had. With its scenic harbors, historical treasures, and irresistible coastal vibe, it beckons travelers seeking something truly special. Imagine wandering through its charming streets, savoring delicious seafood, or setting sail to stunning nearby islands. If this resonates with the type of experience you enjoy, don’t hesitate any further. Pack your bags, set your sights on this location, and get ready to make memories in one of Tuscany’s most captivating towns. Trust me, it’s a journey you won’t forget!