Palmaria Island is a UNESCO World Heritage Site together with Portovenere, Cinque Terre and the smaller islands of Tino and Tinetto. It is located in the Gulf of Poets (or Gulf of La Spezia), right across the medieval hamlet of Portovenere.
Here are the top reasons why you should visit Isola Palmaria during your vacation in the Italian Riviera.
1. Nature away from the crowds
With less than 50 residents, no cars and a pristine landscape, Palmaria Island is the ideal destination for nature lovers. Most visitors choose to visit the nearby Cinque Terre or to reach Portovenere, but few decide to cross the sea channel to explore the island, which therefore remains a secluded, crowd-free place!
The local flora features about 500 different species, while among the fauna you will find common kestrels, peregrine falcons, sparrowhawks, wild goats, rabbits, and – among other animals – bats that live inside grottos.
Palmaria Island is one of very few places in Liguria that still has a small population of European leaf-toed geckos.
2. The amazing coastline
A great way to begin your exploration of Palmaria Island is by sea. Sail around the archipelago to admire Tino, Tinetto and Palmaria. You will notice how the latter has a triangular shape: two sides have gentle slopes covered by Mediterranean vegetation, while the third one features dramatic cliffs perched on the sea.
This is where you will find amazing grottos like the Blue Cave.
If you opt for a boat tour, your expert guide will tell you everything about the amazing coastline around the islands, Portovenere and up to Lerici and Tellaro, along the gulf that was loved by poets and writers such as Byron and Shelley.
3. Hiking between nature & history
If you have some time, don’t just disembark for a quick swim, but go for a hike, you won’t regret it!
It takes you about 3 hours to tour Palmaria Island, hiking along its 9-km loop trail. Not only will you find many stunning viewpoints of Portovenere, the other islands and the Gulf of Poets towards Tuscany, you can also find paths that descend to the sea for a relaxing and refreshing swim.
And you will notice some ruins of military outposts, and stumble upon the impressive Forte Umberto I, a 19th-century fort.
One of the best ways to learn more about the local history and nature, is to book a hiking tour with an insider. Why?
Because your private guide can explain about the abandoned quarry where black portoro marble used be extracted, talk about the fossilized bones of Pleistocene animals found in the Cave of Pigeons, share anecdotes about the WWII bunkers scattered around the island, and knows all the best coves for a dip and the most striking spots for memorable views.
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