A new Liguria begins in Varazze. You leave the metropolitan city of Genoa and for the first time you get to know the real Ponente (Western Coast). It is here, from Varazze onwards you feel physically outside the imaginary and the everyday life of Genoa. Despite this, or rather because of this, Varazze is beautiful and enigmatic. The comparison runs, for example, immediately to Arenzano, its counterpart on the other side of the provincial border, to which it is connected by a wonderful bike path. 11 km separate Varazze and Arenzano, and even if we cannot explain why, as locals you can feel them all. This feels more like the begging of the real Riviera.
Varazze, compared to Arenzano, is slightly larger, more seaside resort, even more summery. Varazze has done a wonderful job with its marina and its port: modern, very pleasant, with its wooden buildings. At first glance they seem a bit out of place... looks more like mountain huts, doesn't it? But after all it turns out that why not, you can build like this even on the Mediterranean shore.
Varazze has something of a "pleasing" feel to it. Perhaps it is helped by the panorama, the beautiful silhouette of the sanctuary of the Guardia that watches over it from the other side, or simply, it is just a reflection of its position, too good not to be already everything you need, there is no need to go further away: half an hour from Genoa, even less from Savona, Milan and the Po Valley just across the Appennines: in Varazze you are immediately on vacation.
The beach of Varazze just in front of the town, is the classic, cheerful, succession of bathing establishments next to the promenade. Its beach is just nice, so much so that we often choose it for our days off coming out from Genoa: there is no need to go anywhere else. Usually, we stop at the free equipped beach at the mouth of the Teiro torrent: it's nice there and the managers are so kind, right next to the Marinai d'Italia pier. Once, leaving in haste, we forgot Katerina's bag, and they kept it for us for months: nothing was missing.
The sea on the beach of Varazze is clean, getting into the water can be a challenge at times between sand and stones, but really never so difficult to require rock shoes get into the water.
The most pleasant part of the coast of Varazze, in our opinion, is just at the edge of town, in the direction of Cogoleto. Driving in the direction of Genoa, and having passed the town beyond the bridge over the Teiro, there is in fact a shoreline that asks nothing more than to stop there: you will certainly see it while driving and you could walk and explore a bit further along the bike path course.
The beach of Varazze, just outside the town, at the beginning of the bicycle path of Lungomare Europa, changes personality, the cliff takes over and the establishments give way to stretches of free beach and coves more and more isolated, more difficult to access but perfect for laying your towel and find a little 'coveted tranquility. These include the bay of the Crow and the cove of the Gronghi, but also the informal nudist beach of Varazze. You will also find here the official dog beach of Varazze.
The Spiaggia dei Bergamaschi (Bergamaschi beach) deserves a special mention. It is a free beach, located between Varazze and Celle Ligure, but still in the territory of Varazze, which can be reached just going past the marina. It is usually very crowded, and it is all stony with small handkerchiefs of sand. To enter the water we recommend rock shoes, but it is worth it because the color of the sea is among the best you can find in Varazze. It is a beach with no amenities at all, but we quite like to explore some wilder places so close to home.
The beach of Varazze is also very popular for surf lovers. So much so that among the initiates of this cult, the name of the coastal town is pretty famous. Varazze has a stretch of coast that is perfect for surfing thanks to the spilling into the sea of debris from the construction of the highway decades ago. Year after year, the sea has done the rest, shaping the seabed and making it capable of creating respectable waves. In the eastern part of Liguria nice spots for surfing can be found in Levanto and Recco. But just to be clear, this is not the ocean, big waves - especially in the summer - are not the norm. You need to wait for the right conditions and the surfers of the Mediterreanean Sea know it too well...
The beach clubs of Varazze are located both in front of the town's seafront and just beyond. We count about 20 bathing establishments. As always, they are the ones who set the summer of Varazze in motion!
The wide choice of bathing establishments, an equipped and well organized sea front, quality waters and colors of the right "palette", a very nice old town, and the right distance from Piedmont, Lombardy and Switzerland, have always decreed the success of Varazze. This has naturally meant that there are many hotels in Varazze, and for all budgets.
Varazze is an excellent destination to choose a vacation home in Liguria. For all type of vacationers Varazze is an interesting destination. It is certainly suitable for a type of mature tourists who will appreciate the convenience, services and proximity to everything, but young people will not have to complain. On the contrary. The proximity of Genoa and Savona makes for a rich nightlife. In summer we can really say that the Genoese movida moves to these parts and so there are many clubs.
For this reason, we have selected b&b, case e alberghi a Varazze that can be suitable for everyone, including families, because when there are kids around we know well, everything must be as easy as possible. Check out our hotels by the sea, 3-star or 2-star: the category is not up to us to decide, but we take seriously our job to suggest the best value for money hotels in Varazze.
Varazze how to get there
Let's see now how to get to Varazze in the most convenient way.
- By car, you can get to Varazze simply by exiting at its tollbooth on the A10 Genova - Ventimiglia highway. Once you exit, the center is quite close and it's a matter of a handful of km downhill. By car, you can reach Varazze also driving along the SS1 Aurelia, in this case going getting past Cogoleto if you are coming from Genoa, or driving past Celle Ligure if you are coming from Savona. As you can see, the distances to reach Varazze and its beach are a great plus: from Milan it is only 161 km and 2 hours 10 minutes, from Turin 152 km and 2 hours, from Lugano it's about 230 km.
- The other great way to get to Varazze is to catch a train. Varazze has its own station along the line Genoa - Ventimiglia, but check carefully as fast trains will not stop here, only local trains and some interregional. Luckily, there are direct trains to Varazze from Milan, while if you are coming from Turin you will have to change train in Genoa Piazza Principe or Savona. Travel time from Genoa, depending on the train, about 50 minutes, at a cost of just under €5, one way, per person.
- Is it possible to get to Varazze also by bus? Certainly, even with direct runs from the other big cities of the North of Italy. In Varazze, moreover, there are also local suburban buses departing from Savona, and stopping also in Albisola and Celle.
Varazze what to see
Varazze is certainly more famous for its beach and for its bathing establishments and hotels on the sea than for monuments, places of interest and things to see. But anyway there are options to keep us busy for a day or even more in case of a cloudy day.
First of all the spectacular bike path that connects Varazze to Arenzano comes to mind. It runs on the route of the old railway, and we can assure you that it is a treat to walk, run and cycle along the sea, in the narrow tunnels between mountains and cliffs. For runners like us it is a dream: a round trip becomes an almost perfect half marathon distance, and is really ideal for the long Sunday run! Along the bike path there are bars for resting, snacks and aperitifs at sunset, when the view on the promontory of Capo Noli is magical. Some of these places keep open at night in summer time and you can dance and stay up late to party.
The old town of Varazze is small and cosy, but there is no shortage of typical Ligurian alleys, with colorful facades that put a smile on your face... so that we locals can stop trying! Having thrown away the self-sarcasm, in the center of Varazze you will particularly appreciate the old walls, which by now are so integrated into the fabric of the town that the distracted eye hardly notices them. The ancient gates still resist, such as the Torrione, the Busci, the Loggia. Obviously, the place of honor is reserved to the church of Sant'Ambrogio, the cathedral and "the bell tower" to which the whole city clings.
The Parish of Sant’Ambrogio is located right in the heart of Varazze: it was built around 1300 and then renovated on several occasions in the mid 1500s, 1600s and early 1900s. In addition to the majestic bell tower, and a really appreciable façade, it contains numerous artifacts of valuable artistic value, paintings and sculptures and other works. And what a nice churchyard!
The sanctuary of Nostra Singora della Guardia is one of the most characteristic "landmarks" of Varazze. It is an excursion absolutely not to be missed, perfect also to climb with an MTB. Built at the top of a dirt road, long but not excessively tiring, the church occupies the summit of a magnificent place, where the breathtaking view is only part of the vibrations that you can breathe there. Reachable after about 1 hour of walking, it will be unforgettable to take a focaccia break up here and wander with your eyes where the sea and the horizon meet.
We of This is Liguria particularly love the Oratory of San Bartolomeo,also in the historical center of Varazze, a few steps from the civic library. Especially for its Presepe, which is model of the seaside village of Varazze as it was in the past. Everything is cared for down to the last detail, and truly, it deserves a visit even by those who come from outside, to keep living the tradition of the good old days.
Finally, it is not really something to see, and we have already mentioned it before. But the Varazze – Arenzano bike path deserves a few more lines, and its most spectacular stretch is right outside Varazze, with the longest former railroad tunnels, and exhilarating stretches carved into the rock, such as the panoramic one that goes by the name of White Rocks. You don't need to be an athlete or know how to ride a bike to enjoy it, just a few steps to leave the world behind, and be enraptured by the beauty of our sea.
Varazze outdoor: Beigua Park and the Marina
Finally, let's not forget that Varazze and its surroundings are a real paradise for outdoor activities. First of all, because Varazze is the real heart of the Beigua Natural Park.
The Regional Park of Mount Beigua which is part of the UNESCO Global geopark network, and which extends from Varazze to Genoa, passing through Arenzano and going up to the borders with Piedmont in Stella, Sassello, and Campo Ligure, is pure wilderness. An infinite territory with geological, paleontological, mineralogical and archaeological interests. A unique territory from the naturalistic point of view, of lakes, wetlands, peat bogs, lakes, forests. A place where excursions and events never end, crossed by the Alta Via dei Monti Liguri, by trail running races, where in winter you can walk with snowshoes, in autumn go for mushrooms and take magic pictures of foliage, where in spring you can meet with friends for barbecues in the many equipped areas. In the Beigua Park, outdoor activities have no limits. You can go birdwatching, there are cycle paths that go as far as the Orba and Stura valleys, in the lower Piedmont.
And of course among the sport and outdoor activities there is all the part that has to do with the sea. At the marina of Varazze you can rent kayaks but also jet skis, and try all the activities that come to mind, such as water skiing, sailing courses, diving, and everything that the fashion of the moment and the summer will make us try.
Andrea & Katerina's opinion
Varazze has so much to say, it is a wonderful and beautiful destination, even if it is so close to everyone and easily reachable. A town where you could actually live, day after day Varazze reveals her nature: it is sporty and lazy at the same time, everyone will be able to follow his own inclinations here. It's not all sea that glitters, it's not all mountains that shine.