Nestled between the gorgeous sea and the lush mountains, Liguria features many charming villages along the coast.
They are fascinating not only because of the unique landscapes, but also thanks to their artistic and historical treasures.
Let’s discover 7 beautiful seaside villages in Liguria, starting from the Riviera di Levante (eastern coast bordering Tuscany) all the way to the Riviera di Ponente (western coast bordering France).
Portovenere is a romantic medieval hamlet and cozy fishing village.
Its majestic Doria Castle overlooks the colorful harbor and the wild island of Palmaria across the sea channel, while the iconic San Pietro Church sits atop a dramatic cliff.
Portovenere is often referred to as “the sixth land”, for it’s the beautiful gateway to the famous five villages of Cinque Terre (a name that translates literally to “five lands”).
Portovenere is a fantastic destination for outdoor activities that allow you to discover the surrounding territory!
* A note on Cinque Terre: this guide does not include the five villages of Cinque Terre in the list because they are famous all over the planet and don’t need any introduction! Also, we have many dedicated articles, such as All you need to know about Cinque Terre.
Danish author Hans Christian Andersen fell in love with Sestri Levante and lived here for a short time in 1833.
In his honor, one the two bays that characterize the village is called “Bay of Fairy Tales”, while the other is known as “Bay of Silence”.
This is the magical atmosphere that surrounds you when you visit Sestri Levante, which is also a fantastic destination for foodies.
In fact, there are many delicious gelaterie, focaccia bakeries and quality restaurants scattered around its alleys. And here you can learn how to make the perfect pesto sauce with a local chef, using the traditional mortar and pestle!
Don’t worry about the calories: with the Hike and Cook experience you also get to explore the amazing trails between Sestri Levante and Punta Manara.
The picture-perfect Camogli overlooks the wonderful Golfo Paradiso.
It’s interesting also from a historical and artistic point of view thanks to attractions like the 12th-century Basilica of Santa Maria Assunta and the medieval Dragonara Castle.
In the past, this village had an incredible fleet of more than 700 sailboats, and that is why Camogli was nicknamed “the city of a thousand white sailing ships”.
This is the homeland of the Ligurian Focaccia, so make sure to stop in bakery to try it or join a tasting tour to discover more local delicacies.
Camogli is the ideal start point for an e-bike tour along the coast and up to Portofino.
This village has remained the same throughout the centuries.
It preserves noble palaces, stone towers, the Ursino Castle and the Church of San Paragorio, which is part of the list of Italian National Monuments.
Noli is built on a beautiful sandy beach where you can admire the traditional fishing boats called “gozzi”, and you will notice the landscape contrast with the amazing white cliffs of nearby Capo Noli.
Varigotti is one of the liveliest and distinct seaside villages in Liguria.
Many of its colorful houses have flat roofs that give it an oriental touch. On a similar note, its large bay is called “Baia dei Saraceni”, which inspired Walt Disney’s cartoonist Marco Rota in the episode called “Donald Duck and the Night of the Saracen”.
Both Noli and Varigotti are fantastic foodie destinations on the western riviera.
They are dotted with delicious ice cream parlors and restaurants where you can taste dishes that combine the flavors of the sea and of the hinterland.
In this area you can also visit the plantations of Chinotto, a rare and precious citrus with a long history.
Laigueglia has natural and architectural beauties that make it a unique place.
It maintains the charm of an old fishing village with its maze of winding alleys, squares overlooking the sea, and the baroque-style, eighteenth-century Church of San Matteo.
Sunny Laigueglia features a beautiful sandy beach on the “Baia del Sole” and, thanks to its Nordic Walking Park, is a great option for travelers who love this practice or any activity in nature.
You will be impressed by the landscape when arriving here: from a distance, you will see the village of Cervo perched high above a steep slope on the sea, like a pyramid of houses hanging from the magnificent baroque Church of San Giovanni Battista.
This enchanting village offers beautiful beaches, a medieval urban structure that is still intact, and the striking Clavesana Castle.
What’s the best way to visit Liguria’s most beautiful villages?
We recommend taking your time and embracing the concept of Slow Travel to make the most out of your holiday.
Visiting the Italian Riviera is about contemplating, discovering and appreciating a unique landscape with beautiful seaside hamlets that deserve to be “tasted” and experienced.
For example, if you want to visit the famous Cinque Terre but also explore the nearby area off the beaten path – like Portovenere and the Gulf of Poets – then a trip like “Cinque Terre and Beyond” is just perfect for you.
Were you intrigued by the unknown hamlets of the western riviera like Varigotti and Laigueglia?
Then check out the Genoa and West Riviera Food Tour.
If you want the best of both ends – east and west – we recommend a week-long exploration of Liguria’s most beautiful villages with the Best of Italian Riviera trip.
More Tips and ideas?