Yes, we know that it’s very difficult to summarize the things to do in the Italian Riviera in a list of only 10 points.
Nonetheless, we have selected the best activities that will give you a memorable and authentic experience of Liguria, so that you can get to know the essence of the region like a local.
1. Visit Genoa
Liguria’s capital is one of those captivating Italian cities that remain off the tourist radar. When visiting Genoa, it’s great to see both its famous UNESCO World Heritage Sites as well as the hidden corners, moving around like a local through lifts and funiculars. It’s also ideal for street food!
2. Taste and make Pesto
Pesto is the product that represents Liguria in the world. When visiting the Italian Riviera, not only can you taste homemade pesto, you can also join a cooking lesson to learn how to make it with a marble mortar and wooden pestle!
If you want to go even deeper with a field-to-table experience, you can visit the historic family-owned greenhouses where the delicious basil is grown before being used to make pesto.
3. Live the Dolce Vita in Portofino
The small fishing village of Portofino has become a symbol of luxury lifestyle and a center of élite tourism. You can arrive there in style by boat, to admire its unique beauty and colors from the sea.
Chill in the “piazzetta” square, dine in its elegant restaurants and shop in its glamorous boutiques. And make sure to visit its charming neighbors – Santa Margherita Ligure and San Fruttuoso.
4. Taste olive oil and visit sea-view olive groves
The history of Liguria’s olive oil dates back to the 14th century and is full of interesting facts and legends for you to discover while strolling among the olive groves that overlook the Mediterranean Sea.
When you taste this delicate olive oil, you will notice that it has a fruity taste, sweeter towards the west and slightly spicy towards the east of the Italian Riviera.
5. The famous five: Cinque Terre
Visit the villages of Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso, and the local amazing, yet delicate, nature.
Stay at least 2 nights in Cinque Terre to take your time: this area has become a spot for mass tourism and fast tours but deserves to be tasted and experienced with Slow Travel. If you have more time, visit the neighboring Gulf of Poets too.
6. Discover heroic viticulture and local wines
Despite the rocky and steep territory, Liguria produces wine since Etruscan and Roman times. Some vineyards are cultivated in steep slopes accessible only by foot or boat, and that’s why the viticulture is defined as heroic.
The region is home to over 100 grape varieties and there are 8 DOC wines for you to enjoy in restaurants or with wine tasting in wineries.
This is one of the best ways to fully appreciate and respect nature, to explore hidden corners and to find amazing panoramas, for example in the Cinque Terre National Park and Portofino Regional Nature Park.
But there is also urban hiking in Genoa, the vertical city where you can walk down through the typical Ligurian “creuze”.
8. Sail away
A private boat trip is one of the great ways to discover the beautiful coastline with its rugged cliffs, turquoise water and colorful fishing villages away from the crowds.
Make the experience extra special by choosing a restored fishing boat or a traditional sailboat called “leudo”.
9. Authenticity in food shops and artisan “botteghe”
Ligurians love their traditions. Make sure to stop in a characteristic confetteria pastry shop, in a friggitoria for healthy fried food, and to ask locals for the neighborhood’s best bakery to eat genuine focaccia.
Go to the local market for a sensory experience among colors, scents, flavors and sounds. In the old botteghe, artisans will welcome you and share their family history while working on their handmade creations.
10. Relax, travel slowly and deeper
In Liguria, at a close distance you have mountains, sea, vineyards, beaches and UNESCO World Heritage Sites. When everything is at your fingertips, it is easy to be tempted to see and do as many things as possible, even if you don’t have too much time.
But our advice is to take it easy, to give the local nature, traditions and culture all the attention and understanding they deserve. This way you’ll discover much more than just famous sites, you will get in touch with Liguria’s authentic soul.
How to see the best of the Italian Riviera during your Vacation
BeautifuLiguria proposes selected experiences and trips for stays of different lengths. Choose the one-week trip called “Best of Italian Riviera” to explore Liguria’s key destinations while you dive into local culture, art, nature and, of course, food and wine.