Best Places to Visit in Liguria – The Most Beautiful Places at the Italian Riviera

Liguria is spectacular! It is located in the northwestern part of Italy, along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, also known as the Italian Riviera. Full of colorful villages and towns, and beautiful beach areas, it is one of the best places to visit in Europe.

Liguria has many popular attractions, including world-famous Cinque Terre, which has no shortage of crowds. But there are a lot of equally beautiful, if not more so, places to visit. So, if you are wondering where to go in Liguria and the Italian Riviera, this post will give you some great ideas for your own itinerary. Here are the best places to visit in the Italian Riviera and Liguria.

What is the Italian Riviera?

A stretch of coastline located in the northwest of Italy, the Italian Riviera is known for the pristine lakes, beautiful scenery, hiking opportunities, and colorful towns and villages that are found throughout the region. It stretches along the Ligurian Sea, from the French/Italian border to the Tuscan border, with its capital in Genoa. 

World-renowned for places like Portofino and Cinque Terre, these lovely locations are nonetheless extremely busy. However, there are more stunning spots to see along this coastline, if you just look. This post will help you find some of the most beautiful places to visit on the Italian Riviera.

How to Get Around Liguria

By car: The streets are well paved and the freeways are good. However, Italy has expensive tolls and petrol. Also, the streets are narrow and Italian drivers can be… a little crazy. 

Public transportation: Liguria’s public transportation is generally good. The trains are cheap and efficient, and a good alternative to driving. You can, with some planning, get around to lesser known places in Liguria by boat, bus, and train (or car).

By boat: It is also possible to visit many of the places by boat – e.g. you can easily get to Portofino from Santa Margherita by boat etc.

Best Places to Visit in Liguria / the Italian Riviera

Genoa

Genoa is the capital of Liguria, and worth a visit. I really loved this city because of its spectacular architecture. It’s rather underrated, which I can’t understand, especially with its gorgeous palazzos and churches, lovely squares and piazzas, and the museums. 

Best secret places in Italy, Genoa or Genova
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Best hidden gems in Italy, Genoa
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This is one of the best places to see in Liguria. Genoa has a really authentic Italian feel to it. It has these darling narrow streets that you can wander and a harbor that you should definitely sit back and enjoy. This city is a great choice for your trip.

Porto Venere

This is one of the best towns to visit in Liguria. It’s absolutely beautiful, and I’m sure you will enjoy discovering it. Porto Venere offers a colorful seaside promenade that you can stroll along. After that, you can visit the Old Town and explore its narrow streets.

Best hidden gems in Italy, Porto Venere
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Church St. Peter seen from the way to Doria Castle
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For the best views, you can go up to Doria Castle. Dating back to the 12th century, the surrounding scenery makes the climb worth it. San Lorenzo Church is another great place to stop. You can take in the beautiful architecture of this restored, centuries-old church – both the inside and outside are worth a look.

To find out more about this gorgeous gem, check out my blog post on Porto Venere.

Portofino

Portofino is another place that you should add to your Liguria itinerary. This town is very popular among the rich and famous (although I personally preferred Porto Venere). But this is a great half-day trip, and can be combined with Santa Margherita. 

Portofino Harbor approahing by boat, a good day trip from CInque Terre
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Santa Margherita is one of the best places to see on the Italian Riviera, and very picturesque. You can get amazing views if you hike up to Castello Brown, and the Church of San Giorgio is also a perfect place to take in the scenery.

While in Portofino, enjoy the colorful harbor and brightly-painted houses, which are a great representation of this region. Despite its diminutive size, it’s one of the best villages on the Italian Riviera to visit.

Curious about Portofino? Then check out my quick Portofino guide.

Riomaggiore 

This is one of the villages of Cinque Terre, and the first one after La Spezia. It is also one of the most famous because of its extremely colorful promenade by the sea. Riomaggiore is one of the most beautiful hamlets in Liguria because of the spectacular views it offers. 

Cinque Terre, Riomaggiore Harbor Italy (1 von 1)
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Cinque Terre, Riomaggiore where to go in Cinque Terre (1 von 1)
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Tucked into a small valley, you can hike to higher elevation and look out over the entire village. It’s really gorgeous and worth the effort. After taking in the scenery, you can head to the next place on this list – Manarola, which is the next Cinque Terre village. 

Check out my Cinque Terre guide for more information.

Manarola

Also part of Cinque Terre, this is one of the best villages in Liguria. It’s also probably one of the most popular towns in Liguria. Its steep and narrow streets, tiny harbor, and colorful houses make Manarola a charming place to visit.

Cinque Terre, what to do in 1 day, Manorola (1 von 1)
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Cinque Terre, what to see in 24 hours Manorola
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With its extremely picturesque promenade and the amazing views from its clifftops, Manarola is also one of the most Instagramable places on the Italian Riviera. After you’re done getting the best shots, enjoy one of the many cafes and restaurants that sit at the top.

Corniglia

Corniglia is one of the best towns to visit on the Italian Riviera because it is so different from the rest. This Cinque Terre village is more authentic than the others, maybe because there are less tourists. 

Cinque Terre best places to visit in Corniglia
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Cinque Terre, the best hamlets to visit in Corniglia
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The village is also not as easily accessible, which might explain why is doesn’t get as many visitors. You will have to climb more than 300 steps to get to it! But despite the climb, it is worth checking out. The houses here are not as colorful as you usually see in Liguria, but the stone houses and architecture are still very interesting. 

Vernazza

This is the fourth Cinque Terre village, and one of the best places to go on the Italian Riviera. If you approach the town from Manarola, you will have the best views. From this vantage point, I can understand why Vernazza is so popular.  

Cinque Terre 24 hours in Varnazza
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Cinque Terre most beautiful town Varnazza Marina
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It’s absolutely picturesque, with the 14th-century Santa Margherita d’Antiochia Church on the piazza and the charming promenade. You can also visit Doria Castle, a medieval defensive structure with an interesting tower. Vernazza looks so unique and is one of the most Instagramable places in Liguria.

Santa Margherita

Santa Margherita is probably the second biggest place on this list, and also one of my favorites. It is one of the best villages in Liguria because it is so unique. It is very neat and clean, with colorful houses that are not quite the same as those in other towns in this area. Everything looks picture-perfect.

Santa Margherita in Liguria, colorful houses
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Santa Margherita in Liguria, hidden secrets in Italy
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Santa Margherita has one of the most spectacular churches – the Basilica di Santa Margherita. There is also a great shopping street and a park, which offers great views of the Ligurian coast and the 17th-century Villa Durazzo. While this village is underrated, it is also one of the most beautiful places to visit in Liguria.

Lerici

This is probably one of the three most beautiful villages on this list in my opinion. Lerici is a little bigger than the other villages here, but still a manageable size with some lovely sights.

Underrated places in Italy, Lerici in Liguria
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Best hidden gems in Italy, Lerici
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The seaside promenade is so beautiful, and one of the best places to go in Liguria. If you prefer a more elevated view, then you can hike up to Lerici castle for some breathtaking sights. This town is small and you can’t get lost here for hours, but it is definitely worth visiting. 

Tellaro

If you are still wondering what to visit on the Italian Riviera, don’t miss Tellaro. It is like Cinque Terre, but without the crowds. You can see the same colorful houses and architecture located on a clifftop, though it is a little smaller than the villages in Cinque Terre. 

Most underrated places in Italy, Tellaro Liguria
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It is not that easy to get to Tellaro, but buses do regularly travel here – and you can go by car as well. You can also combine it with a day trip to Lerici since it is located nearby. This quiet little haven is great for those who want to escape the crowds and still want to see the most beautiful places – truly one of the best towns to visit in Liguria.

 

I hope this post has helped you decide on what to visit in Liguria. There are so many gorgeous places to see, but these are absolutely some of the most beautiful hamlets on the Italian Riviera. With all these colorful houses, lovely scenery, and ancient landmarks, Liguria is not to be missed.