The Italian Riviera – also known as Liguria or the Ligurian Coast – is a crescent-shaped strip of Mediterranean coastline that stretches between France in the west and Tuscany in the east. The region is known for its rugged cliffs, turquoise coves, idyllic fishing villages, romantic resort towns, and of course, delicious foods like pesto and focaccia – since they were both invented here! There’s no doubt that the Italian Riviera should be on every travel-lovers shortlist, but with so many incredible options, how do you choose which towns/villages/cities should you visit? In this blog we’ll share what we think are the 5 must-visit places on the Italian Riviera.
Be sure to watch our “One Day on the Italian Riviera” travel vlog for a closer look at our time in this beautiful region!
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Serving as Italy's largest seaport, Genoa (or as Italians know it, Genova) is a city of great contradiction offering both splendor and grit, unadulterated history and modern marvels. The city is rich in art and remarkable architecture, but despite its many lures Genoa remains under-the-radar for many tourists. That along with its close proximity to many of the popular tourist sites makes it the perfect jumping off point to explore the Riviera.
Camogli is a glimpse into the old Italian Riviera. A time long before designer stores lined seaside promenades and celebrities parked their yachts in the marinas of better known Ligurian towns. And while the village tends to be overshadowed by its more popular and more glamorous neighbors, living in the shadows allows Camogli to keep its old-town charm. From the seaside promenade full of quintessential restaurants and small B&Bs to the picturesque marina surrounded by the colorful historic buildings and the ruins of the medieval castle, Camogli is the perfect destination for a holiday in total relaxation
Probably the most well known and luxurious town in all of Liguria, the small fishing village of Portofino is insanely beautiful featuring a tranquil, crescent shaped harbor cradled by a piazza lined with pastel colored shops and restaurants making it a must for anyone visiting the Italian Riviera. The best views of the harbor can be seen by taking the short 10-15 minute walk up a scenic pathway up to the 15th century Castello Brown which now operates as a historic house museum and events venue hosting high-profile weddings, most recently Kourtney Kardashian and Travis Barker’s wedding in May of 2022.
4. Santa Margherita Ligure
This former fishing village wins hearts today with its enchanting architecture, beautiful beaches, delicious food, and warm hospitality. Italians and in-the-know international travelers have been flocking to Santa Margherita Ligure for decades to enjoy the sun-splashed Mediterranean ambience, and while it still has a “hidden gem” character, Santa Margherita Ligure is one of the best known and most renowned under-the-radar tourist resorts in all of Liguria.
5. Cinque Terre
Set along a six-mile stretch of some of the most dramatic coastal scenery on the Italian Riviera lies the villages of the Cinque Terre (pronounced cheen-kweh teh-rreh) – a string of five small, traffic-free villages (yes, cars have been banned within the villages for more than a decade) that are perched high on the cliffs overlooking the Mediterranean. While the region is now a holiday hotspot and can get quite busy (especially during the summer months), it maintains a feeling of authenticity with very few roads, impeccably preserved architecture, and an impressive network of coastal and mountain trails.
Vernazza: The gem of Cinque Terre (the most touristy and dramatic) crowned with a ruined castle above and a lively waterfront with a natural harbor below.
Monterosso al Mare: Home to Cinque Terre's best beaches, swimming, and nightlife, Monterosso al Mare is a flat resort town with a charming old town and a modern new town. It has the most restaurants, and the nicest hotels.
Manarola: This laid-back, hiking-focused waterfront village is wrapped in vineyards and dotted with a mix of picturesque shops and cliffside houses.
Riomaggiore: The most ordinary of the five villages, with a decent nightlife.
Corniglia: This quiet hilltop village is the only one in Cinque Terre without a harbor. It's known for its cooler temperatures, fewer tourists, and fine wines.
We hope that this guide has helped you plan your visit to the Italian Riviera, and if it has, we hope that you’ll consider following us on Instagram and subscribing to our YouTube Channel for more travel tips!
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