The Liguria region of north-west Italy is one of the most beautiful stretches of coast in Europe, with resorts and towns including San Remo and Portofino and numerous picturesque villages including the stunning villages of the Cinque Terre
Liguria travel guide and places to visit
Liguria is the region of north-west Italy that follows the Mediterranean coast, from the border with the Cote d'Azur in France in the west to the border with Tuscany to the east. Liguria only extends about 25 kilometres inland from the Mediterranean.
The highlights of the region include the coastal towns of Genoa, Portofino, and San Remo and the beautiful Cinque Terre villages in the east of the region.
Although Liguria only extends about 25 kilometres inland from the coast there is also a good deal to see in the inland part of the region, especially in the hillside villages and away from the intense development that has covered a large part of the coast of Liguria.
The inland parts of Liguria are also less accessible than the coastal towns - there is an autoroute that follows along the coast, but roads inland are much slower moving.
In our travels below we travel from west to east through Liguria (starting from the French border and heading towards Tuscany).
In the west of Liguria near the border with France the most popular attractions include the lovely botanical gardens at Villa Hanbury close to Ventimiglia, and a short distance inland you can visit Dolceacqua with its medieval humpback bridge and castle dominating the village.
This section of coast is called the Riviera di Ponente.
Almost on the border with France there is an ancient prehistoric site in the cliffs in a very scenic location and with crystal clear waters and a pebble beach (the beach is unfortunatey largely privately owned) at Balzi Rossi.
A further 20 kilometres east along the coast you reach San Remo, a rather upmarket seaside resort built at the beginning of the 20th century.
A little further and the interesting village of Bussana Vecchia, abandoned for much of the 20th century after a devastating earthquake, is now gaining new life among the artistic community. In the hills to the north of San Remo we also suggest you visit the village of Triora.
Another highlight near here is the cave system called the Grotte di Toirano: inhabited 100,000 years ago these caves have rare prehistoric footprints as well as very lovely rock formations to see.
In the centre of the Liguria region, the coastal city of Genoa is the largest commercial port in Italy and also has the largest medieval centre of any town in Europe. As a result it lacks the pristine prettiness of much of the Ligurian coast but has an appealing down to earth charm and several notable historic monuments to visit.
Continuing towards the east, be sure to visit the harbour in the traditional fishing village of Camogli then onwards to the Portofino peninsula and the exclusive resort of Portofino itself, one of the most upmarket and sophisticated resorts in Italy, and always very popular with visitors - not surprising since it is also exceptionally pretty!
This area of coast is called the Riviera di Levante.
About 50 kilometres south-east from Portofino you reach one of the greatest highlights in Liguria: indeed the five cliffside villages of the Cinque Terre together form one of the most beautiful areas in the whole of Italy, and a visit is extremely highly recommended!
Note: the path between the villages of the Cinque Terre and the views along the coast and towards the villages are as much a highlight as the villages themselves so allow plenty of time to visit.
Liguria highlights - a photo gallery
Most Beautiful Villages - Liguria
The following Italian towns and villages in Liguria are listed among the 'most beautiful villages in Italy':
Apricale / Borgio Verezzi / Brugnato / Campo Ligure / Castelbianco / Castelvecchio di Rocca Barbena / Cervo / Finalborgo / Laigueglia / Lingueglietta /Manarola / Millesimo / Montemarcello /Noli / Tellaro / Triora / Varese Ligure / Vernazza / Zuccarello
Orange Flag Tourism towns in Liguria
The following Italian towns and villages in Liguria are listed among the 'Orange flag towns in Italy'(a national tourist award):
Apricale / Brugnato / Castelnuovo Magra / Castelvecchio di Rocca Barbena / Dolceacqua / Toirano / Pigna / Pinion / Sassello / Santo Stefano Aveto / Seborga / Triora / Varese / Ligure