The most beautiful beaches of Liguria
I live here most of the year when not travelling for business reasons (and recently that definitely stopped..). On vacation I don't go very far usually: I have seen almost every inch of our 350km (220 miles) of coastline. I didn't write this introduction on the Italian version of the blog because what I am writing here would be too obvious, however it may be interesting for someone coming from other continents. As world traveller I realize that while we take for granted our calm, warm and beautful Mediterrenean Sea, for people living on the real Oceans this must look quite different. Oceans waves are spectacular, but they are also big and frightening. There are actually a lot of advantages to live on a gentler smaller sea: the water here is generally warm and not icy like in the big oceans, it's normally calm (a problem only if you are a surfer) and perfect for long swims. Did I say sharks are really rare and shark attacks almost unheard of? Also the currents - when the weather is good - are generally not a problem, you can swim far out and go back to the shore (be careful: normally, doesn't mean always, if in doubt ask locals). All in all, this help making going to the beach in Liguria a well above average experience. So.. all that said.. this is Anders' take on the most beautiful beaches of Liguria.
I didn't write this introduction on the Italian version of the blog because what I am writing here would be too obvious, however it may be interesting for someone coming from other continents.
As world traveller I realize that while we take for granted our calm, warm and beautful Mediterrenean Sea, for people living on the real Oceans this must look quite different. Oceans waves are spectacular, but they are also big and frightening. There are actually a lot of advantages to live on a gentler smaller sea: the water here is generally warm and not icy like in the big oceans, it's normally calm (a problem only if you are a surfer) and perfect for long swims. Did I say sharks are really rare and shark attacks almost unheard of? Also the currents - when the weather is good - are generally not a problem, you can swim far out and go back to the shore (be careful: normally, doesn't mean always, if in doubt ask locals). All in all, this help making going to the beach in Liguria a well above average experience.
So.. all that said.. this is Anders' take on the most beautiful beaches of Liguria.
6 top beaches in Liguria
Over the years I have visited them all, with my family as a kid or more recently as a dad, sometimes on my own - if my bike doesn't count as company🚲./p>
A beach that I remember with nostalgia going back with memories to a sweet romantic day of my youth, may be as well be remembered as a nightmare if visited again with small kids under the blazing sun of august. That 300 meters trail on the edge of the cliff didn't seem so dangerous when I was eighteen.. To find a spot to park my car packed full with stuff for the kids is not as easy as to jump down my vespa 🛵 and run to the water.. or did I get there by train that time?
What I am trying to say is that beautiful doesn't always mean practical. This post is not about the most convenient beach or the best place to bring the kids. Even if some of these beaches may even meet those criteria, here we are primarily writing about what we feel are the most beautiful beaches of our region based on aesthetics and the surrounding scenery.
We will soon write about other type of beaches: sandy beaches perfect for kids and families, hidden secret beaches, beaches for dogs and more. Today we talk about the places that we never get tired of seeing: any time we go there, any season, we are stunned by their natural beauty and fall in love 😍 all over again.
Malpasso Beach (Baia dei Saraceni)
- Western Riviera
- Varigotti (Savona)
- 70 km from Genoa
The tiny fishing village of Varigotti has 3 beaches and all of them are pretty amazing. Following the criteria established for this post, we have chosen the Malpasso beach (Spiaggia del Malpasso), also known as Saracens Bay (Baia dei Saraceni)
The beauty of this landscape is even superior to that of the Varigotti main beach. The majestic rocky cliffs dive right into the blue sea, gigantic rocks lie between the water and the sand as if thrown by a giant in a fit of rage. The grainy sand you find here will feel great under your feet: it's the perfect sand for me, not too fine and sticky, but definitely soft enough to lie comfortably on a towel.
If you are not familiar with Liguria you should know that in our region you will hardly find super long, huge beaches. By our standards this is definitely big enough and when you get tired of its 350 meters (less than a quarter of a mile) you can always hop to the next one which will be quite different keeping things always interesting. From here you can choose any direction and you will hardly be disappointed. Driving just a few k's on a spectacular road that seems to be coming out of a car commercial, you will end up on the Fishermen's Beach of Noli. Going westward you will just need to walk a few hundred meters and go through a pedestrian tunnel to find yourself on the main beach of Varigotti.
What more is there to say? Remember to carry with you a few euro's to access the beach: it's a free beach but to keep it clean and to use its services it is fenced and a very small fee is charged to gain access. The water is always clean as chemical analysis performed every spring attest.
I must confess I really love Varigotti and its beaches. I have been coming here in all the seasons of my life
There is even a "secret" third beach in Varigotti that you will never find if you don't read our next article 😊: Punta Crena, the secret beach of Varigotti.
- HOW TO GET TO VARIGOTTI MALPASSO BEACH BY CAR: Getting here via the main toll way coming from Genova, Milano or Torino take the exit in Spotorno, follow the now blue road signs pointing you to Noli. Once in Noli keep going, a spectacular road overhanging the sea will take you there. It's the first beach you will see after Noli you can hardly make a mistake
- WHERE TO PARK YOUR CAR:It will be very difficult to find a free parking spot in the high season between mid june to late august, almost impossible during weekends unless you get there very early. Don't try to leave your car in funny places, almost certainly you will be fined. But don't worry, there is a big parking lot on the other side of the road where you should be able to leave your car and enjoy the day
- HOW TO GET TO VARIGOTTI BY TRAIN OR PUBLIC TRANSPORT: The closest train stations are located in Finale Ligure and Spotorno: definitely too far to walk all the way, you will need to take a bus. Considering this limitation we do not recommend this beach as a first choice if you must rely on public transport, there are a lot of fantastic alternatives that are right out of the train station
San Fruttuoso di Camogli. The beach by the medieval abbey
- Eastern Riviera
- Camogli, Monte di Portofino Regional Park
- 25 km from Genoa
Small perfectly rounded pebbles caressed by the kiss of the sea, 100 different shades of green, turquoise and blue reflecting on the water from the overhanging Mediterrenean lush vegetation of the Portofino Regional Park, clean waters full of marine life. The medieval Abbey, indifferent to the insult of time, defies with its arches the winter storms impassible and tough as the grey stone of which is made. An iconic spot. To me it is the proof of the thesis that the most beautiful landscapes are not the 100% natural ones, but those where nature finds the perfect balance with human ingenuity
It gets better: this place cannot be reached by car, there are no roads. You can get here only on foot following the perfectly kept trails of the Regional Park. You will find very clear indications at every crossroad and it is quite difficult to get lost this way, although you will still to be in enough good shape to walk - on sometimes steep, but never dangerous trails - for 1h30 / 2h Needless to say this makes the place even more unique and well preserved.
Sometimes from these trails I have spotted dolphins swimming a few hundred meters off the shore and jumping around🐬
Ok, ok.. ! Don't worry. I was kidding, even if you do not feel like going for a hike you will still be able to get to this small paradise. The summer sun can be pretty strong, it is absolutely possible to catch a boat in Camogli to reach this place. You will also find even a restaurant and a café. One last suggestion: to really enjoy this place I would recommend to avoid - if possible - to visit in the summer in the super busy July-August period. It will still be amazing, but definitely a bit too crowded
Now that we have established that this is a place that must go on your bucket list, have you made up your mind? Will you go here on foot or by boat?
IF YOU TAKE THE BOAT TO REACH SAN FRUTTUOSO DI CAMOGLI BY SEA:
- GET TO CAMOGLI BY CAR FIRST: Take the Recco exit on the autostrada (toll way), follow the indications for Camogli. From the small port of Camogli it will be possible to take the boat from the beach, here the timetable and prices.
- WHERE TO PARK YOUR CAR IN CAMOGLI: We recommend you to park near the train station or keep going down to see if you can find a spot even closer. Blue lines parking spots are free only for residents: look for a ticket vending machines, better have a few euro coins to pay for the hours you intend to stay (prices for street parking can range from 1 to 2 euro per hour in most cases )
- HOW TO GET TO CAMOGLI BY TRAIN AND PUBLIC TRANSPORT: Take a train to Camogli station and just take a short walk down to the pier
HOW TO GET TO SAN FRUTTUOSO BEACH ON FOOT:
- GET BY CAR TO TRAIL HEAD FIRST: Leave the autostrada (toll way) taking the Recco exit. Follow the indications to the center of Recco. At the round about take the road up to Ruta di Camogli. Once you get to the top you will find a tunnel, go right under an arch and follow the road in the woods to the end. Here you will find the trail head
- FROM PORTOFINO VETTA TO THE BEACH: Once on the trail look for directions for PIETRE STRETTE and then follow for San Fruttuoso. At a leisurely pace it will take around 90 minutes. As you are basically going down, to reach the beach it's much less physically demanding than coming back. Keep sufficient time to go back before it gets dark or consider taking the boat to go back to Camogli.
- From Camogli remember that you will need to take the car you left in Portofino Vetta (Portofino top)
- HOW TO GET FROM PORTOFINO AND SANTA MARGHERITA LIGURE TO THE BEACH OF SAN FRUTTUOSO DI CAMOGLI ON FOOT: It is also possible to start off from Portofino following for Base 0 (Base zero) and from there to San Fruttuoso. Being complex to park in Portofino, it is advisable to leave the car in the village of Nozarego and from there follow the well-kept and impeccably marked paths of the Regional Park, to Base 0> San Fruttuoso. About 2h30, 3h
Paraggi Beach (Spiaggia di Paraggi)
- Eastern Riviera
- Santa Margherita Ligure
- 34 km from Genoa
If you look up the top beaches of Liguria (and allow me to say of the whole Mediterrenean) you will always find Paraggi beach (Spiaggia di Paraggi) near Portofino. As you approach it coming from Santa Margherita Ligure you will see this perfect turquoise swimming pool of crystalline water and as you get closer marvel at the spectacle provided by the green pines, holm oaks and olive trees that almost seem to be mixing seamlessly with the water: I bet only one thought will form in your head, "I want to take off my clothes and dive in!"
Paraggi beach is sandy and 100 meters long. Slowly walking in the water countless fishes dance around your feet. As soon as you dive you will see even more: do not forget to bring a mask because the seabed is incredibly rich and full of life. Swimming goggles will also be great: the perfectly calm waters make it perfect for a great swim with the added bonus of the company of marine life. Definitely more interesting than swimming at your local pool..
The sun rises early in the morning here and part of the beach will be shaded in the late afternoon, not necessarily a bad thing in the hottest months of the summer
Let us not beat about the bush: being literally one of the most famous playas in the world the fancy beach clubs are pretty expensive and the free access area a bit too crowded in the high season. I don't really like crowded beaches, but for this one I always make an exception as I spent many summer days here. Floating in these waters is worth all the trouble
The space and comfort are guaranteed if you gain access the glamorous beach clubs, while if you want to stay in the free areas, there are various possibilities. It is advisable to arrive early to find a place in the only public part of the main beach. However there are also some platforms, rocks or side beaches in the immediate vicinity that allow access to the same incomparable stretch of sea.
This small beach surrounded by holm oaks and maritime pines is a true masterpiece of nature. It is a free beach and you can get there by descending the stairs down from the main road: you will find a little further on in the direction of Portofino.
- HOW TO GET THERE BY CAR: Take the Rapallo exit on the Autostrada (toll way), after which continue towards Santa Margherita and then Portofino. The beach is a few curves before Portofino, you will see it from the road. Coming from Genoa, however, you can also decide to spend 10 minutes of the clock (no more) taking the Recco exit on the Autostrada and then follow the indications for Santa Margherita. This way you can admire the wonderful Golfo Paradiso and Camogli from the top of the Ruta Pass. Since you are probably on vacation, if you have never been to these areas, you will not regret the choice: these views are certainly more interesting than the vaults of the motorway tunnels.
- WHERE TO PARK: Behind the beach, across the road, there is a paid parking. There is almost always room, however we cannot guarantee it in very high season. There is no free parking here, don't even try looking for it. You could also consider parking in Santa Margherita and then take a shuttle or - if the season is not the hottest - take the beautiful walk along the sea for a few kilometers, leaving the car always in Santa Margherita or perhaps halfway at Punta Pedale.
- HOW TO GET TO PARAGGI BY TRAIN: The train station is Santa Margherita. From there you can either take a shuttle / bus or you can consider taking the beautiful walk along the sea for a few kilometers if the day is suitable.
- HOW TO GET TO PARAGGI WITH OTHER VEHICLES: For those staying in the area, renting a Vespa, a scooter or perhaps a bike or e-bike is definitely a great idea. The whole area is not suitable for car use due to the scarcity of parking, a problem - let's say - typical of our region framed between the sea and the mountains.
When I get here from Genoa at my wife's house on the hills in the area, I forget the car and use only the Vespa and the bike (plus a lot of walking). Really.. is it worth worrying all the time about where to park your car ruining your day, when there are such greatly enjoyable alternatives: the dolce vita Italian life style is a scooter and the freedom to speed (carefully and respectfully 😉) around our small roads with a nice breeze in your face. 😊
Bay of Silence Beach (Baia del Silenzio) in Sestri Levante
- Eastern Riviera
- Sestri Levante
- 47 km from Genoa
This place is truly unique. Hmm.. you must have read this incipit many times, probably a nice place, but just as many others isn't it? Please suspend your disbelief and go see it, I am quite sure you will concur with me that this place is really something else.
Baia del Silenzio it's an half crescent shaped beach with grainy sand and clean waters, look at the pictures here below and you can imagine the activity of a not so distant past when fishing was the main activity: the smell of the salty sea, olive oil and focaccia that melt with the landscape and the ..silent.. water of the calm bay
Just cross the 2 roads of the old town..
...and you will find your self on yet another magnificent beach on the other side, this one much bigger and wider, it is called la spiaggia della Baia delle Favole, the Bay of Tales beach.
Yes. Sestri Levante is a peninsula so packed of beauty that in a few meters you have the wonder of the old merchant town and 2 spectacular beaches. This is why Sestri Levante is also called “la città dei due mari”, the city of the two seas.
You can check out the aerial video to see exactly what I mean
The beach of the Baia del Silenzio is a free access beach, you will just have to find a spot among the fishing boats, if you choose the Bay of Tales side (Baia delle Favole) you will have full serviced clubs and free beaches with good public services (showers, toilets etc..)
- HOW TO GET TO SESTRI LEVANTE BAIA DEL SILENZIO BEACH BY CAR: Take the Sestri Levante exit on the toll way, then follow for the center.
- WHERE TO PARK: In low season it will not be impossible to find free parking, while in high season season it will be easier to turn to paid parking, on the street blue lines mean you need to pay for parking. The largest and most spacious covered parking is the Parking Sant'Anna, however it is much more convenient to access the Baia delle Favole beach (it is adjacent to the beach), while it is about 1 km from the Bay of Silence. ul>
- HOW TO GET THERE BY TRAIN AND PUBLIC TRANSPORT: From Sestri Levante station you can reach the Bay of Silence with a pleasant walk of 500 meters. This beach is therefore recommended especially for those who do not travel by car or with their own vehicle.
Balzi Rossi Beach (Spiaggetta dei Balzi Rossi, the Red Cliffs)
- Riviera di Ponente
- 170km da Genova
Balzi Rossi definetely makes the list of the best beaches of Liguria , recently it became even more famous thanks to article published by Forbes in which it even made it into the list of the beast Italian beaches.
It is indeed a special place. Green and blue waters, perfectly rounded pebbles, and the red rocks that earned the place the its name make for a charming scenery
It feels so Belle Époque and French Riviera being so close to the border. The border with France is just literally there (to the West), you could really swim over the border and nothing would happen, you will just find yourself on the French side towards Mentone.
The only thing is the beach is really really small and the main part is occupied by an upmarket beach club: remember that when we say beach club we don't mean to say it' s a private club, if they have place of course you can use their services paying for admission. This is something you need to know when you go to the beach in Liguria. In any case you can absolutely go there and sun bath on the flat rocks: try it if you are used only to Californian like beaches it's got some disadvantages (hard surface to sit on), but also some pluses (no sticky sand and super clear water to dive into directly) There is also another nice beach nearby called Darsenun Beach that you could consider. Very similar to the Balzi Rossi beach, but definitely bigger. You will find it if you walk in the direction of VentimigliaHOW TO GET THERE BY CAR: Take the exit Ventimiglia on the Autostrada (toll way) and continue towards France following the Hanbury botanical gardens. The beach is located just before the state border with France. Alternatively, take the exit of Menton on the French toll way if you are coming from France, crossing the border of Ponte San Luigi. The beach is a few hundred meters after the border.
- WHERE TO PARK: Parking in the area is scarce, if you spend at least a few days in the area it is advisable to consider renting a scooter, an e-bike or a bike.
- HOW TO GET THERE BY TRAIN AND PUBLIC TRANSPORT: The reference station it is that of Ventimiglia from the Italian side, however the Mentone station is much closer. If trains are available, you could consider getting off on this side of the border.
- Riviera di Levante
- Monterosso al mare (Cinque Terre)
- 88 km da Genova
- HOW TO GET THERE BY CAR: In all cases you will take the Carrodano-Levanto exit on the Autostrada (toll way) and follow initially for Levanto and then for Monterosso. Among all the Cinque Terre villages we believe that Monterosso is the easiest to reach by car, also considering the roads to reach it and parking spaces. A car park with 300 spaces (Fegina Parking) is to be found directly next to the beach. It certainly does not contribute to the beauty of the place, but it can be convenient. Differently, parking in high season in the Cinque Terre is a difficult undertaking.
- HOW TO GET THERE BY TRAIN AND PUBLIC TRANSPORT: This beach is particularly suitable for those traveling by train: the beach is very close to the Monterosso station. It is basically right out of the station.
- In the most western part of Liguria you may also consider Bordighera or Sanremo and its Belle Epoque heritage.
- Moving further east, definitely it is worth a stop in Laigueglia or in Alassio; not forgettingPietra Ligure e Finale Ligure and its enchanted old walled town.
- Right before Savona you will find Noliand the sandy beaches of Spotorno and Bergeggi perfect for families with kids.
- If you are closer to Genova currently, how about Celle Ligure or Varazze, Arenzano and Cogoleto?
- Even in the city of Genoa you can enjoy a day at the beach: for example in Boccadasse so close to downtown and yet out of it all and Nervi near the promenade.
- One beach that could have made easily the list is that of Camogli and its rounded pebbles. I remember those well because when I was a kid I was hit on the head by one of those while playing and ended up briefly in hospital, probably that is why I didn't include it 😁 ..
- The coast of Tigullio is also spectacular and leaving out San Michele di Pagana (near Santa Margherita e Rapallo) was probably a mistake. I personally like quite a lot also Zoagli.
- Further on you will encounter more beaches in Lavagna and Cavi di Lavagna, this is just before Sestri Levante.
- The palm for the best kept "secret" probably goes to Moneglia, Levanto and Bonassola, these places are probably shadowed by the fame of the Cinque Terre, but here you find way better beaches as actually Cinque Terre has almost no real beaches. You should really consider these places
- Liguria ends with the Gulf of Poets in the province of La Spezia: the best spots here are Portovenere, Lerici, Borgo Tellaro and the pristine beaches of Monte Marcello which you can reach only on foot or by boat.
The payment system for blue street parking in Sestri Levante is different from those you normally find in our region: instead of printing a ticket to be displayed visibly inside your car, you will have to enter the license plate number . This makes it possible to avoid going back to the car and is well explained. Too bad it is only in Italian, for foreigners it is definitely incomprehensible.
That is why we are here! ☺️
Near the Balzi rossi beach you will also find the museum that collects the archaeological finds of the area and tells stories of that distant past: the Prehistoric Museum of Balzi Rossi and the area of the Via Balzi Rossi caves is all worth visiting, even if, personally, we like the Hanbury Botanical Gardens even more. We will tell you more about it soon!
Monterosso Cinque Terre Beach
The beach of Monterosso is the biggest beach you will find in the Cinque Terre. Actually it's the ONLY real beach you will find in the Cinque Terre. It is long about 500 meters and the only sandy beach of the Cinque Terre, this is why is quite well known: rocks and diving spots are amazing, but lying down on soft sand has got its perks😉 . Everyone remembers it usually for that huge rock coming out of the sea, almost defiant, stubbornly taking the pounding waves of the winter storms and resting on the placid water in the summer
To be really accurate the beach "with the big rock in the middle" is the Fegina Beach - the main one -, while the real Monterosso Beach is the one just in front of the old village. The two beaches are anyway very close and connected by a nice path.
It will never be possible to have an agreement on the most beautiful beaches of Liguria, at the end of the day it comes down to personal preferences. Since the ultimate post cannot be written I can always write more until you also find your most favorite Ligurian beach 😊.
This is anyway a great starting point to start exploring: wherever you are right now in Liguria, you can reach one of these places quite quickly
There are so many amazing places to talk about, we are only just started 😎
Liguria top beaches: Western Riviera
The best beaches of Liguria: Genoa
The best beaches of Liguria: Eastern Riviera