Cinque Terre is too crowded, here are 5 alternatives in Liguria

Tired of the crowds in Cinque Terre? Discover these 5 charming alternatives on the Italian Riviera that offer serene beauty and authentic experiences away from the tourist rush.

If you’ve ever visited Cinque Terre during peak tourist season, you might have found yourself navigating through busy crowds rather than enjoying the beauty of the Italian coastline. While Cinque Terre’s charm is undeniable, crowds can ruin your experience!

I was lucky to visit back in 2016 when mass tourism was not an issue and again in 2020 when international travels were limited. However, in 2024, the situation is completely different and even the shoulder season has become the new ‘it’ season.

This is why I want to share these other great alternatives in Liguria. I am sure you have heard about Cinque Terre and Portofino, but most people don’t even know what is Liguria. 

For reference, I live in Genoa, which is the capital of Liguria, so I have visited the Italian Riviera extensively. My partner grew up in this region, so together we have made a list of the best Cinque Terre alternatives, so you don’t have to worry about crowds.

*Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links. If you purchase after clicking one of these links, I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.

5 Cinque Terre alternatives in Liguria to escape the crowds

1. Portovenere

Cinque Terre is too crowded, here are 5 alternatives in Liguria
Cinque Terre is too crowded, here are 5 alternatives in Liguria

Portovenere is a wonderful alternative to Cinque Terre, offering historical charm, stunning landscapes, and a more laid-back atmosphere. It is an unofficial sixth village of Cinque Terre, which means that this is not a hidden gem, but only seasoned travelers make it to Portovenere.

Located on the Ligurian coast, just a short distance from Cinque Terre, Portovenere has managed to retain a more peaceful ambiance, making it an excellent choice for those looking to escape the crowds.

Wandering through the narrow, winding streets of Portovenere’s historic center, you can explore medieval buildings, quaint shops, and charming cafes.

The ancient walls and the 12th-century Doria Castle enhance the town’s historical atmosphere. From the castle, you can enjoy panoramic views of the Gulf of Poets, which inspired writers like Lord Byron and Percy Bysshe Shelley.

The nearby Palmaria Island, part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site that includes Cinque Terre and the islands of Tino and Tinetto, is a haven for hikers and nature lovers. I have to warn you that this is not an easy hike, but a great alternative to Cinque Terre trails.

For those who love the sea, Portovenere’s harbor is the perfect starting point for boat tours and kayaking excursions. Exploring the coastline by boat allows you to discover hidden coves, sea caves, and the picturesque cliffs that define this part of the Italian Riviera.

—> Boat Tour of the 3 Islands & Portovenere
—> Private Boat Tour of Gulf of the Poets, Portovenere & islands

The only downside is the lack of connection as there is no train station in Portovenere. The closest station is in La Spezia and you can take a bus from there. It is easier to arrive by car or boat.

Need a place to stay in Portovenere?

2. Sestri Levante

Cinque Terre is too crowded, here are 5 alternatives in Liguria

Nestled on the Italian Riviera, Sestri Levante is a coastal town often overshadowed by the more famous Cinque Terre. However, Sestri Levante offers some of the most picturesque views in Liguria which makes it a perfect alternative for those seeking a less crowded destination.

One of Sestri Levante’s main attractions is its stunning natural landscape. The town is uniquely positioned on a promontory, with the Bay of Silence (Baia del Silenzio) on one side and the Bay of Fairytales (Baia delle Favole) on the other.

Sestri Levante has beautiful beaches that easily compete with the beach in Monterosso al Mare. The sandy shores of the Bay of Fables offer calm waters and space for sunbathing. It is great for families traveling with kids.

Additionally, the town is a gateway to several hiking trails, such as the path to Punta Manara, which offers breathtaking views of the Italian coastline and the Mediterranean vegetation.

The culinary scene in Sestri Levante is another highlight. Ligurian cuisine, known for its fresh seafood, fragrant pesto, and hearty focaccia, is a staple here. Local restaurants and trattorias serve dishes made with locally sourced ingredients, offering an authentic taste of the region.

Sestri Levante is easily accessible by train, making it a convenient destination for travelers. It is well-connected to major cities like Genoa, Pisa, and Milan, with frequent train services.

Need a place to stay in Sestri Levante?

If you are a foodie, don’t miss Pesto Experience, Cooking Classes, Wine Tasting in Sestri Levante.

3. Camogli

5 Cinque Terre alternatives in Liguria to escape the crowds
5 Cinque Terre alternatives in Liguria to escape the crowds

Camogli, a picturesque fishing village on the Italian Riviera, is an enchanting alternative to the famed Cinque Terre. If you are looking for a hidden gem on the Italian Riviera, Camogli should be at the top of your list.

Established as a fishing village, Camogli’s history is deeply intertwined with the sea. The name “Camogli” is thought to derive from “Casa delle Mogli” (House of Wives), referring to the women who managed the town while their husbands were at sea.

Camogli is known among Italians for its stunning coastal scenery. The town is set against the backdrop of green hills and the azure waters of the Ligurian Sea, competing with Cinque Terre postcards.

The beach, lined with pebbles and colorful fishing boats, is a perfect spot for sunbathing and swimming. You can either stay on the public beach or get one of the chairs.

5 Cinque Terre alternatives in Liguria to escape the crowds
San Fruttuoso

Adventurous visitors can explore the underwater world by diving, with the nearby Christ of the Abyss statue being a popular spot. Additionally, a boat trip from Camogli San Fruttuoso Abbey is a must.

For those who enjoy hiking, the trail from Camogli to San Fruttuoso offers panoramic views of the coastline and the Mediterranean landscape. Keep in mind, that it is for experienced hikers only.

This is my personal favorite as it is easily reachable from Genoa and you rarely spot tourists from aboard. I have been to Camogli many times and there are a few tourists in the harbor ready to visit San Fruttuoso, but that is about it.

Located just a short distance from Genoa, it is well-connected to major cities in Italy and can be easily accessible by train.

Want to enjoy local life in Camogli? Join this Lunch or dinner and cooking demo at a local home in Camogli!

Need a place to stay in Camogli?

4. Lerici

5 Cinque Terre alternatives in Liguria to escape the crowds

Lerici, a charming seaside town on the Ligurian coast of Italy, serves as a refreshing alternative to the popular Cinque Terre. Lerici offers visitors an experience that combines natural beauty with cultural depth.

Similarly to Portovenere, Lerici is nestled in the Gulf of Poets and has attracted writers and artists like Lord Byron and Percy Bysshe Shelley.

Castello di Lerici is a medieval fortress overlooking the Gulf of Poets. It is an important historical symbol and hosts various exhibitions, however, I have to say that panoramic views are the highlight of the castle.

The Church of San Francesco, with its beautiful frescoes and serene atmosphere, is a notable landmark. The Oratory of San Rocco, another significant religious site, offers insights into the town’s spiritual life.

And can we just take a moment to appreciate the picturesque views over Lerici Bay? I am sure you will want to put your camera to work when visiting this hidden gem in Liguria.

You will need to take the bus from La Spezia since there is no train station in Lerici. Alternatively, you can jump on the boat or come by car.

Need a place to stay in Lerici?

  • Hotel Byron – top-rated mid-range hotel with an amazing view

5. Tellaro

Cinque Terre is too crowded, here are 5 alternatives in Liguria

Tellaro, a quaint fishing village on the eastern Ligurian coast of Italy, offers a serene and picturesque alternative to the busy Cinque Terre. This hidden gem, perched on a cliff overlooking the Gulf of La Spezia, will leave you speechless.

I have to say that there are not many attractions in Tellaro, however, it has been recognized as one of the most beautiful villages in Italy by I Borghi più belli d’Italia. And for all the right reasons, if you ask me.

Despite its small size, Tellaro is rich in cultural heritage. The village hosts several festivals and events throughout the year, celebrating its maritime traditions and local culture. One of the most famous events is the Festival of the Octopus, held every August.

To get to Tellaro you will need a car. Or you can get off in La Spezia, take the bus to Lerici and then another bus to Tellaro, this way you can visit two Cinque Terre alternatives in one day.

Fun fact! Tellaro was another town beyond Cinque Terre that inspired the director of the famous Luca film by Pixar Animation Studios for Walt Disney Pictures. I am sure you will notice the resemblance if you have seen the film.

Need a place to stay in Tellaro?

In conclusion…

Cinque Terre is too crowded, here are 5 alternatives in Liguria

This is the end of less crowded Cinque Terre alternatives and I am sure that you will enjoy the beauty of the Italian coastline and laid-back atmosphere. 

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.

Pin it for later and save these less crowded Cinque Terre alternatives!

Cinque Terre is too crowded, here are 5 alternatives in Liguria
Cinque Terre is too crowded, here are 5 alternatives in Liguria

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