We are sure that Italy is on the travel bucket list of many of you and many of you have heard of the Italian Riviera but not everyone knows exactly what it is and where it is.
The name certainly evokes sun, sea, relaxation, breathtaking views, boat rides, and picturesque villages but what exactly are we talking about?
Do you want to know everything about the Italian Riviera? Well, then read on. It is the place where we live and we have decided to tell you everything you need to know.
What is the Italian Riviera?
Warning! You will not find the Italian Riviera on any map.
Yes, because the Italian Riviera is not one of the Italian regions but is simply the evocative name by which the Liguria region is known abroad and especially in the USA.
You can find Liguria on the map. “Riviera” in Italian means a stretch of coast overlooking the water and Liguria is a long and narrow strip of land overlooking the Mediterranean Sea.
Therefore Italian Riviera and Liguria are exactly the same things.
Where is the Italian Riviera?
Liguria, aka Italian Riviera, is located in the north of Italy and is that arc of coast that extends from the French border to Tuscany.
But be careful not to get confused. Many confound the Italian Riviera with the Amalfi coast which is located in southern Italy, just below Naples.
How to get to the Italian Riviera?
If you arrive by plane, you can land directly in Genoa, the capital city of Liguria.
Genoa airport does not have direct intercontinental connections but is well connected with Rome and with many large European airports such as Paris, Amsterdam, and Munich.
A valid solution is also to land in Nice, France, from which it is easy to reach Liguria in less than one hour by car or even by train.
By train, you can get from Milan to Genoa in less than two hours. From Tuscany, you can use the direct train from Pisa.
What makes up the Italian Riviera?
The Italian Riviera has the shape of an arch facing south (which is why the climate here is so mild!).
At the center of the arch is Genoa, the main city. To the west of Genoa is the West Riviera, known as the Riviera di Ponente and to the east of Genoa, there is the Riviera di Levante.
What’s the difference?
Well, the landscape of the Riviera di Levante is steeper, with mountains that plunge directly into the sea. The dominant colors are green and the dark and intense blue of the deep sea. Here you will find the very famous Cinque Terre and Portofino.
On the Riviera di Ponente, the landscape is a bit gentler. Here you will find beautiful sandy beaches alternating with white cliffs that give the sea a beautiful clear blue color. Here the climate is particularly mild and favors luxuriant vegetation.
You will find beautiful gardens and a special light that fascinated the impressionist painters.
Best places to visit in the Italian Riviera
There are so many wonderful places! It’s hard to make a choice. We will then tell you which ones we think you shouldn’t miss.
The Cinque Terre
The most famous spot in Liguria. The Cinque Terre are 5 super picturesque villages perched on a magnificent stretch of coast with steep slopes cultivated with terraced vineyards.
Just near the Cinque Terre do not miss the magnificent village of Portovenere.
Portofino, with its handful of pastel color houses set around the Piazzetta, is the home of Italian style Dolce Vita. Glittering boutiques, villas, and VIP yachts are the glamorous side of Portofino but it still preserves its amazing wild side since the village is the center of Portofino Natural Park and Marine Reserve.
If Portofino is on your travel bucket list, read this article about all that you need to know before visiting it.
Close to Portofino, you shouldn’t miss the village of Camogli.
Maybe we are biased because we are Genoese, but we think Genoa, aka “La Superba” has something truly magical to it.
This is a city with authentic Italian charm where mass tourism has not managed to change the spirit of the people.
Travelers visit for the first time and immediately fall in love, so be prepared!
A village still completely surrounded by walls. You will feel like stepping back in time and you will be close to some of the most beautiful beaches in Liguria
Apricale and Dolceacqua
In the far West, you will find enchanting villages nestled in the hills. They are the ideal place if you are looking for the real hidden Italy.
What to do in the Italian Riviera
Beautiful coastal paths suspended between sky and sea, picturesque fishing villages where you can relax sitting in a café sipping a glass of Ligurian wine, artisans who hand down centuries-old traditions, ancient shops.
Whether you love nature and active holidays or art or are crazy about Italian food, Liguria offers many possibilities. We advise you to discover here the 10 Best things to do in the Italian Riviera.
Do you want to explore Liguria with our backstage pass? Here you can choose and add authentic experiences to your trip that will make it truly unique.
The best time to visit the Italian Riviera is from mid-March to the end of October. July and August are the hottest months, and we suggest not going hiking in that period.
On the other hand, summer is a perfect period for boat tours. In summer Liguria is a popular destination for Italians too so that our preferred seasons are spring and fall.
How many days to spend in the Italian Riviera?
If you’re not a first-timer to Italy and are looking for new regions to explore, you need about 6 days to spend in Liguria. Here is a sample itinerary that allows you to discover the Best of Italian Riviera.
If, on the other hand, you want to include Liguria as a stop on a longer holiday in Italy, you can spend 3 or 4 days between the Cinque Terre and Portofino.
Here is an idea of a luxury holiday that will make you discover magnificent places out of mass tourism with a boutique touch.
Best destinations to combine with the Italian Riviera?
Did you know that from Liguria you can reach Piedmont in just 2 hours?
If you are a wine and food lover this combination is ideal for slow travel among authentic tastes, culinary traditions, and great wines.
If you want to visit the most picturesque villages you must not miss the Cinque Terre and the villages of the Tuscan countryside.
If you want to experience “La Dolce Vita” and are looking for a romantic atmosphere, visiting Portofino and Lake Como is a great solution for you.
How to plan a bespoke luxury holiday in the Italian Riviera?
Liguria is a land with little space, mountains that plunge directly into the sea and perched villages. There are no large tourist facilities (thankfully!).
This is why luxury here means choosing small charming boutique hotels, it means experience more than appearance.
It means discovering untouched places, soaking in the local culture, meeting local people, have time to relax and enjoy local beauties at your own pace, without a strict schedule.
And this lies at the root of our travel philosophy.
More Tips and ideas?