Identified as the Italian Riviera, Liguria is specked with exceptional fishing villages on the rugged coastlines, ancient ports, basilicas, medieval vestiges, and an abundance of natural wealth. The region is nestled between the Alps and Apennine mountain ranges and coasts of the Ligurian sea; and in between, sheltering hectares of dense forests, agronomic vegetation, and remarkable trails that connect the way to unexplored hamlets.
Aside from the striking countryside, colorful houses that hang off the coastal cliffs create a peculiar scenery unique to Ligurian cliff settlements. Noted for its exalted history, the nobility is found in the very essence of Ligurian cities; from luxurious resorts to a fine experience of authentic cuisine and hospitality, enrich the region’s cultural inheritances and artistic vestiges.
To discover the best of what Liguria has to offer, here is our comprehensive list of top 15 destinations and a few additional tips.
The time-respected city of Genova is the region’s capital and a significant Italian port. Lodged on the washing shores of the Ligurian Sea, the metropolitan is well connected to the free waters of Adriatic and by land, stands as a gateway to central and northern Europe.
At Centro Storico, Piazza Portello sites the Genovese’s focal point, with a soaring tower that provides generous perspectives over the townships and encircling blue horizons. Emblem with symbols of faith and power, Genova’s history is depicted in the 14th century Ducal Palace and its adjoining tower, Palaces of Musei di Strada Nuova, renaissance cathedral of San Lorenzo with the burial site of the holy grail and benedictory coins.
The ancient harbor reserves the city’s ethnicity and linked with an ancient passage to the narrow streets of Cita Vecchia. Il Bigo, the panoramic lift built by Renzo Piano, one of the best contemporary architects. The ancient port also houses the most extensive aquarium in Europe, exhibiting over 15000 animals from rare aquatic species- a fun family experience.
The picturesque hamlet of Portofino is a long-standing fishing village, on the shorelines of the Ligurian sea. Impressive houses of Portofino on the steep coastal hills, with colorful terracotta roofs and neoclassical architecture; making up a pleasant scene that has famed this fishing village.
Exceptional spectacle, cultural heritages, pristine beaches, and Portofino’s modern elegance, together lure the people from all walks of life; Pronounced as a holiday retreat for the rich and famous since the 1960s’, the township sprawls with lavish hotels, fine diners, and high-end cruise ship tours, while upholding its authentic feel.
The photogenic harbor of San Giorgio is dedicated to the conjoined church, embracing crystalline beaches that point to Portofino’s monumental lighthouse. The staircase of San Giorgio connects the ancient seaport to the city’s old quarters, an amusing labyrinth of well-curated courtyards and medieval buildings.
The civic architecture is a curious mix of Venetian, Savoy, Sardinian, Austrian, and consequently French influences, forming a harmonious disposition that is best observed in Castello Brown.
3. Cinque terre
At proximity of Portofino, the five towns picturesque town stage on the ramps of Riviera di Levante, overlooking Bay of Lungomare. This distinguished Italian destination is collectively titled as Cinque Terre and famed for its 11th-century feel and genuine Italian charisma. Since sited on the impossible heights of Apennine mountains, the connective road to these towns is a modern commodity and rarely accessible. In accordance with the regional transportation costumes, the five towns are commonly available by train and boat rides.
The vibrant town of Monterosso al Mare is the largest inhabitation among the five; glaring with the tower of Aurora, the splendid church of San Giovanni Battista, and baroque Chiesa di Madonna di Soviore. Regarded as the most beautiful of Cinque Terre, Vernazza is tucked in a charming fissure between the coastal cliffs, integrated with a fortified castle and its old aged barricades.
The hilltop town of Corniglio, colorful city of Manarola, laden with restaurants and blossoming flowers, and lastly the historical and quaint town of Riomaggiore, cover all the five towns from west to east.
Registered UNESCO World Heritage Site, Cinque Terre National Park is prominent for a hiking route famed as the path of Love. While Via dell’Amore is frequented for its poetic spirit and relatively easy passages, Blue trail marks the longest hiking route in this park; connecting all the five towns, velvety landscapes, and rugged viewpoints together.
As the smallest national park in the country, this natural refuge houses rare and endangered genus of bio-networks and is a popular spot for wildlife spotting.
Beneath the facade of an ancient resort city, Sanremo combines a spectacular nature, with heritage and new-age entertainment. This municipality is best known for its opulent casinos and holds a reputation for its festive ambient; parading several food and music festivals.
At the topmost, the way from the pine garden of queen Elena narrows down towards the medieval streets and stone-veneered buildings. Along with il Castello, San Siro Cathedral, the gothic and Russian orthodox churches and an antiquated harbor, the borough’s territory cultural features comprise Bussana Vecchia village in the northern hills.
Once settled by art connoisseurs and tasteful residents, the village holds countless masterpieces in restored palaces and medieval apartments. following an unfortunate earthquake in the late 19th century, Bussana was abandoned and identified as a ghost town, until the recent reincarnation.
Tagged as Riviera dei Fiori, Imperia is a coastal resort town, with sapphire shores and modern history. Although a few settlements existed in this area since the medieval era, under Mussolini’s order surrounding villages were joint to form this young town.
As a result, metropolitan holds several historic quarters from the pre-existing hamlets, often accompanied by medieval charm. Cathedral of San Maurizio is the city’s religious pole that houses Imperia’s city hall and province building.
The neoclassical architecture and bountiful gardens scattered around every street and boulevard enchant every viewer. Beneath the poetic mien, Imperia is constituted on trade strategy and represents the region’s stronghold of commerce, trade, tourism, and agriculture.
Besides the abundance of flower beds lying on the ringing slopes, “the city of flowers” also houses some of Italy’s best olive strain production, extra-virgin oil refineries, and the worlds’ most comprehensive olive museum.
6. San Fruttuoso
On the shorelines of the Ligurian sea, San Fruttoso town bears the legacy of a Benedictine monastery. Perched on the ludicrous slopes of Portofino’s national park, the secluded town has conserved its ancient charm and traditions. Admirers of San Fruttoso must sail on the favorable days or walk through the remarkable hiking paths from Camogli or Rapallo, to reach to the rewarding sceneries of San Fruttoso.
Beaming with its 15th-century watchtower, Torre Doria, the monastery was founded in the 13th century in the order of black monks. Throughout the reign of Doria dynasty, the abbey held a special place in the royal family and their influence over people throughout many centuries; construction of an additional loggia at the side of an ancient roman sepulcher, accommodated Doria family tombs for over 300 years; withholding the town’s treasures of history and cultural elements.
Protected Marine Area of the Bay shelters rare species of saltwater animals and the submerged bronze statue of Christ, Cristo degli Abissi. Diving tours and snorkeling are granted to discover the underwater world of Portofino.
Photogenic in every slant, Cervo is one of the most beautiful hamlets of Italy- presenting antiquity of over two thousand years and outstanding urban architecture. Multicolored houses, topped with a lofty tower, are stacked up delightfully on a soft hill at the side of Italian Riviera. The medieval center reveals arched passages and gates, flanked by swiftly ascending and descending narrow roads and medieval apartments, that formerly housed a coral reef village- Piazzetta dei Corallini.
Cervo was founded as an Agustus colony in the 1st century BC, however, flourished through the middle ages mostly for jewelry trades; Church of San Giovanni Battista is a Ligurian Baroque Chiesa and marks the coral producing quarters of the port, also known as the church of Corallini. Charming streets at the archival center are adorned with hanging flowers on the walls, authentic restaurants, and inherited jewelry shops that showcase the ancient artisan techniques.
A number of the town’s medieval apartments serve as elegant hotels and even cozy bed-and-breakfast accommodations, overlooking the fishing port with bobbing boats
A fine stretch of soft pebbles and sandy beaches on the Gulf of Genoa marks the township of Albenga. The city combines the contemporary art of tourism with its cultural ethnicity; bringing forth an exceptional beach destination, enriched with historic gravitations. Titled as “City of Hundred Towers”, this outstanding port is the birthplace and ruling seat of many remarkable individuals since the roman era.
The initial settlement was established close to a prehistoric road that was reconstructed as via Julia Augusta during the Roman era. The road, an amphitheater, remnants of a few villas, and the artifacts at Naval Roman Museum depict the city’s legacy.
Cathedral of St. Michael the Archangel dates from the postclassical period, with an adjacent baptistery, both decorated in gothic and Romanesque styles. The city also hosts numerous religious, music, and food festivals throughout the year, that contribute to urban livelihood.
The small island of Gallinara was the past dwelling place of wild chickens and thus earning its name, while marking the ancient port of Greeks and romans. Posing as a fashionable destination for diving and snorkeling at Sciusciau and Falconara drop points, the island is a nature reserve with outstanding landscape and wildlife.
Of the most beautiful hamlets in Italy, Tellaro is described by many artists and writers who were lured to this fishing village, as poetic, unique, and charismatic. Impressive apartments, as though decorating the hill, rise delightfully to the town’s old quarters; the magnificent church of burgh’s patron saint, San Giorgio, marks the Centro Storico.
Characteristic homesteads and souvenir boutiques are integrated with the renowned culinary of Tellaro, specializing in seafood. The legend has that in a night deluded with fog, Arab Pirates intruded the city’s marine, although an octopus saves the village by pulling the ropes of the church’s Campanile and alarming the sleeping inhabitants for defense; Octopus Festival is celebrated every second Sunday of August, preparing the most delightful octopus dishes of the region.
Where mountains meet the sea, landscape forms a peculiar beauty; Montemarcello lodges on the skirts of Murlo mountain, sweeping down to the cliffs and beaches of Genova gulf; embodying a wealth of natural and manmade beauty. Parco Nazionale Montemarcello houses several botanical and animal species, with an exceptional landscape.
Trekking paths to spectacular viewpoints, la Ferrara cycling routes, and climbing Murlo mountain are popular activities of this park. The village, however, retains its middle age attributes in architecture and preserved structures including San Pietro church built consequently with the arriving gate of the city. While Golfo dei Poeti is recognized as the most sensual viewpoint, the spectacular view of Punta Bianca stands rival with its far-reaching horizon to Apuan Alps, Cinque Terre, Porto Venere and the cerulean waters of the gulf and abutting fringed cliffs.
Previously a colony of ancient Ligurians, Savona ranks as one of the region’s continuously inhabited locales since the ancient times, with all its artistic and cultural glory. Overlooking the Italian Riviera, Torre Leon Pancaldo and Branadale tower and an adjacent complex stand as the defensive watch-terraces, dating back to the 12th century. Paces from the rustic towers, Genovese fortress of Priamar harbors the city’s archeological museum and Ligurian vestiges of distinct historic eras.
Following Via Pia street leads to the historic heart of the town, filled with ambient bars and splendid restaurants and monumental structures from 11th century onwards; including Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta and featuring breathtaking frescoed depictions in the cathedral’s Sistine Chapel.
Christopher Columbus, the fabled navigator who altered the world’s destiny by his adventures, was a Savonese native. At the museum of Villa di Colombo, parades of Columbus’s relics, scriptures, and maps are presented at the side of his personal chambers and library, on the suburban hills of Savona.
12. Terme di Pigna
On the highlands of Val Nervi, the small spa of Termi di Pigna is famed for stunning pine forests, landscapes, and curative waters. Terme surges from springs of Madonna Assunta at a temperature of about 13 Celsius degrees, certified by medical boards for its benefits. Wellness of the mind and body is the sole purpose of Pigna’s modern spas with a wide range of therapeutic packages and detoxifying thermal baths.
Renowned for hospitality and prominent cultural conservation, the small Comune is awarded the orange flag of Italian hinterlands, as a remark of excellence in sustainable tourism. Spa accommodations and characteristic apartments host the visitors of the most serene and relaxing destination throughout the region.
13. Parco Naturale Regionale del Beigua
Highlighted for panoramic vista over the Ligurian landscape, the National park of Beigua is the region’s largest Natural Reserve with cultural and natural remarks. Trail of Alta Via dei Monti Liguri covers the reserve’s Apennine summits, crossing Monte Beigua and spectacular viewpoints. Biosphere in this park ranges between various ecosystems, thus flora and fauna here, require a sophisticated handling system and responsive expertise.
The landscape includes three significant Regional State Forests, a protected area for migrating birds- as the park’s typical feature- and a collection of geological wonders and fossils enlisted as a UNESCO Global Geoparks. while Wildlife spotting, trekking around the geological excavations, and enjoying the park’s exceptional scenery, visitors are treated by equipped stations along the way to rest and even take shelter for the night- providing a true taste of adventure at safety.
14. Varatella valley and Toirano
In Valley of Varatella, a series of karst grottos conceal parietal cave paintings, representing the Paleolithic cave dwellers at vicinity of Toirano town. Handprints, animal drawing, hybrid figures and exceptional rock formations are seen in 70 grottos including cave of Saint Lucia and outstanding Bàsura Grotto.
Lounging on the fertile banks of Varatella river, Toirano is admired most for its caves, hence the epithet “City of Caves“. The towns’ touristic attractions include; a Benedictine Certosa at the medieval labyrinths of old quarters, an ethnographic museum that parades the glories of flourishing settlements since the prehistoric tribes, and a scenery refreshing as a canvas. Strolling on the leafy meadows is accompanied by occasional small farm holdings, and fruits and olive gardens; rooting for the city’s flavorful cuisine.
Parco Nazionale di Portofino is an exceptional natural reserve and biosphere, engirdling the municipalities of Camogli, Portofino and Santa Margherita Ligure within its confines. From Sanremo to San Lorenzo al Mare, cycling route or Marina’s Pista Ciclabile is fringed with cyclist’s rest-stops, elegant flower bed, and an outstanding vista over the Mediterranean seaside.
15. Citta Finale di Liguria
Finale Liguria is noted as the most popular coast across the region for its elegant hospitality, lively ambient and white sabulous stretches on the sea. The city is subdivided into three distinctive boroughs; Finale Marina sprawls on crystalline beaches, with restaurants offering the fine art of culinary, alternative music clubs, and aquatic sports clubs.
At Finale Pia, culture and modern amenities emerge into a lively seaside urban with lavish resorts. Lastly, Finalborgo the medieval facade of the city is sheathed within the defensive wall, standing as the only inland inhabitation of Finale Liguria.
Apart from posh touristic facilities, luring natural attractions is not missed in Liguria Finale; a terrain resembling the Sardinian landscape, Sparkling waters of Baia dei Saraceni pinpoints a prominent coastal attraction; in particular for diving and snorkeling fanatics. Grotta dell’Edera, Vittoria Beach and the serene Bagni Mariella, all contribute to Finale’s gravitation.
In the vicinity of Albenga, a small island was noted for an extinct wild chicken that patronized this emergent island, and therefore earning its name Gallinara. While marking the ancient port of Greeks and Romans, today it poses as a popular destination for diving and snorkeling at Sciusciau and Falconara drop points. The island is also a nature reserve with outstanding landscapes and wildlife.
At Riviera di Ponente, the longest sandy shorelines are entitled to the small seaside town of Alessio. This uncharted town offers outstanding natural views and cobbled stoned roads that lay at the side of historic monuments and cultured inns and markets. Located at a short drive from Alessio, Laono is rich in history and adorned with the tasteful legacy of the Doria dynasty in their castles, villas, and a 16th-century fountain.