Last summer, we embarked on an unforgettable journey along the stunning Italian Riviera. A stretch of coastline that has captivated travellers for centuries. Basing ourselves in the town of Rapallo, we explored this Mediterranean paradise by train, uncovering the region’s most unforgettable spots.
Where is the Italian Riviera?
The Italian Riviera, known for its picturesque coastline, stretches from the French border to Tuscany in the north west Italian coastal region called Liguria. It’s a blend of charming colourful seaside towns, crystal clear beaches, lush hillsides, and a rich history that dates back centuries.
What’s The Most Beautiful Part of the Italian Riviera?
The Italian Riviera has so many picture perfect destinations, but the most beautiful part of the Italian Riviera has to be Portofino. Its vibrant harbour, adorned with boutiques and restaurants, and the panoramic views from Castelo Brown make it an unmissable destination.
How Long Do You Need in the Italian Riviera?
Ideally, allocate at least a week to fully immerse yourself in the Italian Riviera’s beauty, from the luxurious charm of Portofino to the rustic allure of the Cinque Terre towns.
Where to Stay
Staying in towns like Santa Margherita or Rapallo offers a perfect balance of convenience and charm. They are great bases for exploring the coastline and provide a variety of accommodation, restaurant options and are well connected by train.
The Italian Riviera and Cinque Terre’s main towns are all well connected by train. Though Portofino is an exception but is easily accessible by ferry or bus from Santa Margherita & Rapallo.
How to get to the Italian Riviera
Reaching the Italian Riviera and Cinque Terre from major cities like Milan or Florence is straightforward by train. The journey itself is part of the experience, with scenic views along the way. You can also get there from the South of France easily by train changing in Genoa.
Our Favourite Towns on the Italian Riviera
An unmissable town on the Italian Riviera, we loved exploring colourful Portofino with its boutiques, restaurants, and afternoon aperitivo by the harbour. The walk up to the Castelo Brown is also beautiful with views overlooking the town. You can get to Portofino by bus, ferry or by Uber from Santa Margherita and Rapallo, we wouldn’t recommend driving as there is no parking.
2. San Fruttuoso
A beautiful day trip, accessible only by ferry from either Portofino, Santa Margherita or Rapallo. We spent the afternoon swimming in the crystal blue waters exploring the coastline and lunch at the abbey.
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3. Baia Cannone
Known for its natural swimming spot and iconic photo opportunities, Baia Cannone is best visited early in the morning to avoid crowds. This hidden spot is easy to miss, you’ll find it along the road to Portofino. Pop in “Baia Cannone” on google maps to find the exact spot, there is no parking here, the bus stops right at the spot or you can walk from Portofino.
4. Santa Margherita
Beautiful town, Santa Margherita is a great place to stay as a base for exploring the coast. It’s full of restaurants bars, cafes and beach clubs. We spent the afternoon at Bagni Serena beach club, then aperitivo drinks by the marina at Tortuga American Bar.
A dramatic seaside town with colourful buildings and a charming fishing harbour. It’s easily accessible by train and perfect for a beach day or seaside sunset drinks & dinner.
6. Monterosso al Mare (Cinque Terre)
One of the first of the Cinque Terre towns as you come down the coast, this is the best one for swimming as it has a beautiful long beach. Ideal for a relaxing day by the sea.
7. Riomaggiore (Cinque Terre)
One of the most famous Cinque Terre towns with its vibrant colourful buildings and dramatic coastline. Beautiful to explore the shops cafes and restaurants. Also a popular spot to grab a takeaway pizza and sit on the sea wall to watch the sunset.
8. Vernazza (Cinque Terre)
The town that was the inspiration for the Pixar movie Luca, Vernazza is one of the most iconic of the Cinque Terre towns. It has a beautiful harbour with colourful boats and a great coastal walk where you can get a high view overlooking the town.
While you’re here be sure to check out our blog on our South of France itinerary here