Liguria is well-known thanks to Cinque Terre, Pesto Genovese and Christopher Columbus who was born here, but I want to take you beyond that. I want to discover the most beautiful towns in Liguria with you and hopefully help you plan your perfect Italian Riviera itinerary.
Liguria is tucked between the border of France and the magical Tuscany region. The capital of Liguria is Genoa and that’s exactly where I live. This makes me a local expert! I have seen it all, so I am here to share only the best places to visit in Liguria.
I can guarantee that after reading this article, you will be surprised to see how many beautiful towns there are in this underrated Italian region.
We will cover the best beaches, historical villages, luxurious getaways, and hidden gems that you didn’t know existed. Let’s discover the Italian Riviera and the most beautiful towns in Liguria!
The Most Beautiful Towns in Liguria
Apricale is a medieval town on the top of the hills of Liguria. It is surrounded by olive trees and vineyards – a hint for local souvenirs. If you are coming from Ventimiglia or Sanremo, you will see a wonderful view on Apricale – make sure you find a stop and capture the beauty in front of you. Church of St. Anthony can be used for a viewpoint as well.
Once you arrive in Apricale, you will find stone labyrinths and steep tiny streets that take you to the main square. By the time you arrive, it feels like traveling back in time. In front of the main square, you will find Castello della Lucertola.
If you are looking for a simple local cuisine, I advise you to book Da baci’ restaurant.
Make sure you add Apricale to your itinerary because it is one of the most beautiful towns in Liguria.
Camogli is one of the top picturesque villages in Liguria. In fact, as soon as you arrive, everything around you looks like a beautiful painting from an old Italian movie. Just with warm pastel colors!
It has a beautiful seafront, beach, old town, tiny colorful streets, and a little marina around the corner. Camogli is not as glamorous as the rest of the Italian Riviera, but that’s exactly why you should visit it. It doesn’t get more Italian and more authentic than this.
Use this opportunity to try local Ligurian cuisine and visit Ostaia da ö Sigù – highly recommended by locals. And don’t miss Basilica Minore di Santa Maria Assunta and Camogli’s Marine Museum.
I would even say that Camogli is a hidden gem of Liguria. Not between the locals, but certainly between foreign travelers.
You can also explore the city by joining one of the tours:
Portofino is a place that you simply must add to your Italian Riviera itinerary. It’s where elegance meets glamour with a pinch of Italian charm.
Here you will find fancy restaurants, high-designer shops, and luxury hotels. Considering how small is Portofino, it has a lot to offer. You certainly don’t need to stay here for a week, but you certainly can’t miss it either.
I suggest you start your visit with Chiesa del Divo Martino, see the main square, walk the marina bay, and indulge in the charm of Portofino. Later go up to Chiesa di San Giorgio for some postcard views. I highly suggest visiting Castello Brown and arriving at Faro di Portofino – the walk is easy and quick.
Once you are done, you can have lunch in I Gemelli (da I Gemelli) right in front of the marina and try Gnocchi Alla Portofino. Or just head for a swim in Baia Cannone. Or both!
There is a public boat from Santa Margherita Ligure that offers wonderful views of Portofino from the water once you arrive.
Best tours in Portofino:
Portovenere is actually the sixth town of Cinque Terre. It is similar to the rest of Cinque Terre, but it doesn’t have train access. The best way to reach Portovenere is by boat, but it’s available from April until November. This is probably the main reason why Portovenere is not overcrowded and not so many people choose to visit it.
If you choose to come by boat, the views are absolutely breathtaking and that’s where you fall in love with Portovenere.
You should visit the Church of San Pietro and Doria Castle. Walk to the end of Via Capellini or down from San Pietro church. There’s a lookout in an ancient stone wall where you can survey the scene above the typical Ligurian bay. Portovenere offers many hiking trails – just like Cinque Terre.Get your hiking tour in Portovenere
What I’m trying to say is… If you love Cinque Terre, but don’t like big crowds, Portovenere is your must-visit! And it is one of the most beautiful towns in Liguria, so why not?
Rapallo is another town on the Italian Riviera coastline. So maybe you are thinking if Rapallo is worth visiting? The answer is yes and here is why.
First of all, it has a unique castle right on the promenade. You don’t even need to visit Rapallo Castle because the views from the coastline are unique and worth seeing.
Behind the promenade, you will find many locals shops. Small designers, souvenirs, some delicacies, and many gelaterias.
If you like the heights, there is a cable car that offers unforgettable views over Rapallo.
You don’t need to plan an entire day in Rapallo, but you certainly need to make a stop here to see the unique castle and more!
San Fruttuoso might be tiny, but it has one of the best beaches in the entire Italian Riviera. On top of that, it’s accessible only by boat or long hike – cars can’t even get close.
The main attraction is the Abbey of San Fruttuoso. This place, thanks to the difficulty of access, has maintained all its wild and enchanting charm over the centuries.
But most of the time, people visit San Fruttuoso for the beach and that crystal clear water.
Another gem of San Fruttuoso is II Cristo degli Abissi. It is a bronze statue placed at a depth of 15 meters on the bottom of the bay of San Fruttuoso. If you are familiar with diving, don’t miss this spot.
I highly advise you to combine San Fruttuoso with Camogli and take the boat from there. This would be a perfect itinerary for one day in the Italian Riviera.
Similar to Portovenere, Tellaro is the best-kept secret of Cinque Terre. Once again, it is very similar, but not many tourists know about it. If you read my blog long enough, you know that I have a thing for hidden gems, but the ones that still leave you breathless. Tellaro is one of these places.
In Tellaro you will find a typical maze of colorful streets, green Ligurian window shutters, and tiny boats of fishermen. Come here and get lost, enjoy the wandering around, that’s your only task of the day!
If you are looking for a remote beach in Liguria, visit Fiascherino Beach which is nearby Tellaro.
Lerici is famous for its weekly market that happens every Wednesday. The local market brings many Ligurians here and makes it feel like a home away from you. You simply become part of the Italian Riviera and you almost can speak Italian already!
Lerici Castle and the walls offer spectacular views over Lerici, a tiny marina, and a beautiful coastline. But there is a catch! It takes 360 steps to get there! I’m sure that after eating all the pasta and drinking all the wine, you have some calories to burn off, so it won’t be a problem, right?
If you ask me, Lerici is one of the best places in Liguria where you can find Italian charm and enjoy it the authentic way. Don’t miss out and discover one of the most beautiful towns in Liguria.
Sestri Levante is the heart of Liguria and it has one of the best beaches in Liguria. Also, Sestri Levante is quite big compared to the rest of the towns, so you can spend a couple of days here… you won’t get bored.
There is a peninsula surrounded by Silent Bay and the Bay of Fairy Tales that makes this place unique. And it gets particularly beautiful from the top. You can use Salita Mandrella as your final destination and follow the beauty.
Silent Bay is a cute tiny beach that is loved by locals. It is free, so it gets very crowded in summer. Bay of Fairy Tales on the other side is longer, but not as nice if you ask me.
Behind the beach, you will find a very lively old town. My advice for you? Go there to enjoy Italian aperitivo. A couple of hours before dinner time, restaurants offer drinks with cold snacks, so go to order a glass of Spritz and enjoy some local snacks.
Bussana Vecchia is hands down my favorite hill village and of the most beautiful towns in Liguria. If you are familiar with the South of France, it reminds me of Èze. Just less crowded, more peaceful… simple, but in a good way!
After a devastating earthquake, it became a ghost town. It was renovated by local artists so nowadays it attracts many visitors. It is not as popular as most of the towns on the Italian Riviera, but if you like remote villages, Bussana Vecchia will welcome you with open arms.
It’s basically an open-air museum, so wander around the tiny streets, appreciate the art, and discover the work of local artists – literally everywhere around you.
Imperia is a lovely coastal city on the Liguria coast, so beautiful pastel houses are surrounded by electric blue water. More postcard views for you!
Imperia is well known for the cultivation of flowers and olives and is a popular summer destination for visitors. The local Piscina Felice Cascione indoor pool has hosted numerous national and international aquatics events.
Visit Duomo di Oneglia San Giovanni Battista, the gardens of Grock Villa, Olive Museum, and Piazza Dante, and spend some time on the beach!
Santa Margherita Ligure
Santa Margherita Ligure is a place that connects Portofino with the rest of Liguria. In order to arrive in Portofino, you simply must go through Santa. However, most people just use it for transit and that’s a big mistake if you ask me.
This Italian town has a very active nightlife, many beaches, and local shops and I would say it’s a great base if you are planning to visit Liguria, but can’t afford to stay in places like Portofino or Cinque Terre.
This is where you experience il dolce far niente in the real Italian way – coffee for breakfast, some beach for lunch and wine with friends, or aperitivo for dinner.
It is certainly underrated and deserves to be on the list of the most beautiful towns in Liguria.
Sanremo is actually a famous Italian city, but I still decided to include it in this list. You might have heard about Sanremo Music Festival or Casinò di Sanremo. Similar to Cannes in France, Sanremo has been the playground of the rich for years. Curious to see why?
In Sanremo, you will find many impressive churches. Make sure you visit inside even if you are not religious – this actually applies to the rest of Liguria as well. Plan your time for Villa Nobel, Regina Elena Gardens, the famous casino, Passeggiata Imperatrice, the gardens of Villa Ormond, and La Pigna.
If you are visiting in March, don’t miss The Flower Parade (Corso Fiorito) of San Remo. Less famous than Music Festival, but very loved by locals.
Cervo reminds me of candy town – especially if you look up from the tiny beach of the town. It’s a typical medieval village on the Italian Riviera. I challenge you to find the best view and take a cute photo for your memory book.
The streets of the town are steep and colorful. Climb all the way up to the church of San Giovanni Battista which stands above Cervo and has a facade that is a good example of the local baroque architecture.
Cervo Castle is the oldest building in the village, so it deserves to be seen at least from the outside.
Dolceacqua is a very different town compared to the rest of the list. In fact, I’m not sure you can find something similar in the rest of Italy.
The main attraction is a unique bridge that has been described as the ‘jewel of lightness’. It was built in the 15th century on the ruins of an earlier bridge: the only donkey-backed archway, 33 meters long, gives it elegance and vigor at the same time.
As soon as you cross it, you travel back to the 19th century – if not even earlier. The place was painted by Monet and it looks exactly the same as in his painting.
So visit Dolceacqua and become part of an old painting. Not only it is one of the most beautiful places in Liguria, but it is also a unique place that you won’t find anywhere else.
Further reading for the most beautiful places in Liguria
Other popular regions of Italy
After reading this article, you know the most beautiful towns in Liguria and I bet you are ready to hit the road. Don’t forget to add Genoa to your list as well as it is one of the best cities to visit in Liguria.
I would love to hear your thoughts, so if you have any feedback or additional tips, leave a comment below. Also, check out my Instagram for regular travel videos and travel inspiration. Or explore other destinations on this travel blog.