Italy Trip Ideas water outdoor sky Coast Nature Sea mountain coastal and oceanic landforms promontory tourism cape headland terrain bay cliff peninsula Ocean City Village cove klippe
Trip Ideas

9 Gorgeous Places to Visit in the Italian Riviera

Mention "the Riviera" and minds instantly drift to France's infamous seaside towns of Cannes and Monaco, but hop over the border to Italy and you’ll come across a completely different version—one where rugged cliffs and pastel-colored villages are each more picture-perfect than the last. Tucked between the South of France and Tuscany, here are nine incredible places to visit on the Italian Riviera’s croissant-shaped coastline.

See recent posts by Lane Nieset

Italy Trip Ideas sky Sea Coast City tree water mountain promontory mount scenery tourism mountain range plant Village terrain bay hill hill station tourist attraction horizon landscape Lake travel cape cloud panorama Ocean
Italy Trip Ideas sky building landmark medieval architecture Town historic site Church place of worship cathedral facade town square history basilica City chapel abbey window arch parish estate middle ages tourism
Italy Trip Ideas arecales palm tree estate sky tree plant Villa real estate building mansion house home facade outdoor structure Garden mausoleum chapel
Italy Trip Ideas City sky Town tourism real estate Village panorama tree Coast building cityscape River facade


The Roia River divides the Italian border town of Ventimiglia in two, running between the old and new parts of the city. Start by trekking up the hill to the walled old town and its 10th-century churches, where you can take in sweeping views of the Ligurian Sea. From the coast, a section of the Via Aurelia—an ancient Roman road that once ran all the way to Arles—winds its way up to Hanbury Botanical Gardens, one of Italy’s most famous attractions and home to nearly 6,000 plant species from around the globe. After working up an appetite hiking around the 45-acre grounds, take a quick drive to the nearby town of Bordighera for a view just as scenic from cliffside eatery La Reserve. (We recommend pairing your rabbit-stuffed ravioli with a bottle of local Ligurian wine.) When you’re ready to walk off lunch, hit the boardwalk, or lungomare, back in Ventimiglia. On Fridays, the seaside promenade transforms into a sprawling, open-air flea market with nearly 500 stands hawking everything from handmade Italian leather gloves to fresh pasta to market goodies like cured meat and cheese. Housed inside a 16th-century building, three-room B&B Casa Fenoglio is a cozy place to call it a night in Ventimiglia’s medieval town.

See All Hotels in Ventimiglia
Italy Trip Ideas City Coast Sea sky aerial photography bird's eye view promontory tourism cityscape metropolitan area coastal and oceanic landforms horizon bay daytime cape port peninsula panorama marina suburb inlet
Italy Trip Ideas sky blue landmark palm tree arecales Town building daytime tree City Architecture tourism metropolitan area real estate tourist attraction facade plant estate plaza cloud mixed use metropolis roof
Italy Trip Ideas marina Harbor sky Sea Town port City Coast Boat water tourism mountain dock watercraft Lake bay loch lake district Village

San Remo

In the mid-19th century, the resort town of San Remo was a winter playground for the Russian jet set (including the likes of Tsar Nicolas of Russia) and even sports an onion-domed church reminiscent of Moscow’s Basilica di San Basilio. Think of San Remo as the Italian Monte-Carlo, with a century-old casino in the city center and a string of lavish villas (including the former homes of Alfred Nobel and Russian composer Tchaikovsky) lining the Corso Felice Cavallotti. You could easily get lost exploring the covered alleyways forming La Pigna, the oldest part of the city, which opens up to hilltop gardens that earned San Remo the nickname “City of Flowers.” If you want to hit the high seas, set off on a whale watching tour from the old port with Whalewatch Imperia before ending your evening by the water at the five-star Miramare The Palace.

RELATED: The Most Stunning Hotel Villas in Italy

See All Hotels in San Remo
Italy Trip Ideas sky Nature mountain village tree Town Village plant woody plant City leaf estate house residential area mountain rural area real estate autumn home landscape mountain range mansion Villa suburb tours hill evening tourism facade


While technically part of the Italian Riviera, the tiny town of Seborga (population: 362) has more in common with Vatican City than nearby Ventimiglia. The principality boasts its own passport, license plate, and local currency (luigino), which you can purchase at a shop in the Old Town’s Piazza della Liberta. Stroll through the narrow cobblestoned streets for a find just as exciting—fresh pasta—at Osteria del Coniglio, where a handful of tables sit in a tucked-away cobblestoned courtyard.

See All Hotels in Seborga
Italy Trip Ideas sky castle château building cloud tree Village estate fortification medieval architecture Ruins mountain ancient history house facade history landscape
Italy Trip Ideas sky landmark building Church historic site tree parish place of worship City estate facade medieval architecture real estate steeple cathedral basilica spanish missions in california bell tower
Hotels Italy Luxury Travel Trip Ideas tree sky real estate plant estate Coast home mansion terrain City Resort house Sea mountain building tourism Villa Village water bay
Hotels Italy Luxury Travel Trip Ideas wall indoor ceiling room interior design Suite furniture Bedroom home bed lighting bed frame plaster floor light fixture flooring molding window bed sheet interior designer
Italy Trip Ideas wall indoor room interior design bathroom ceiling floor sink flooring countertop estate interior designer Suite toilet
Italy Trip Ideas waterway water transportation water sky City reflection Harbor Town Canal marina tourism River Lake Boat Sea bay port channel Coast tree mountain


Portofino is the kind of town Italian dreams are made of. Home to only 500 permanent residents, the harbor is surrounded by a hillside cascading with olive groves and vineyards and pretty pastel-hued buildings lining the waterfront piazza. British aristocrats flocked here in the 1850s to bask in la dolce vita, which isn’t hard to do at Belmond Hotel Splendido, a former Benedictine monastery turned boutique hotel where Richard Burton proposed to Elizabeth Taylor. Spend your days lazing by the saltwater pool or set off on the hotel’s private boat on a sunset cruise to the village of San Fruttuoso, accessible only by sea or footpath. Once there, you can have lunch on the cliffside at Ristorante Da Giovanni before kayaking over to Portofino’s mega yacht-lined main square, Piazza Martiri dell’ Olivetta, for an Italian aperitif come nightfall. If you really want to experience life in a traditional fishing village, hop on board the Castel Dragone boat to learn how to cast a line like a local. Another way to live like a Ligurian is by staying in the 18-room Eight Hotel Portofino, a member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World, which sits a short stroll away from the piazzetta.

RELATED: 11 Most Colorful Places on the Planet

See All Hotels in Portofino
Italy Trip Ideas land vehicle transport vehicle tree neighbourhood Town cable car residential area plant rolling stock hill station City sky mountain suburb road track Village mountain range hill
Italy Trip Ideas Sea sky Coast shore promontory cloud water terrain rock Ocean coastal and oceanic landforms tourism headland building cliff wave
Italy Trip Ideas sky Sea Coast body of water water Town shore Beach coastal and oceanic landforms City Ocean tourism wave bay terrain cloud vacation evening travel house landscape sand mountain horizon


While neighboring Portofino continues to draw well-heeled crowds, Alassio has retreated from the spotlight and become something of a local secret, where Italians go to bask on one of the longest stretches of sandy beach on the eastern Ligurian coastline. A 45-minute hike along a stretch of the old Roman Via Aurelia will take you from the city to Capo Santa Croce, where a namesake 13th-century church towers over the sea. Another historic sight worth visiting is the round Torrione Tower—the village’s oldest building—which protected coral fishermen from pirates during the 16th century. In the 1950s, Hemingway was one of the many famous figures who frequented town and inspired the owner of popular meeting place Caffè Roma to create Alassio’s version of the Hollywood Walk of Fame—a stone wall dotted with 550 colorful ceramic tiles bearing autographs of other well-known names like Jean Cocteau. Follow up lunch at U Levantin, whose menu mixes local and internationally fueled flavors into dishes like Ligurian rabbit with baked potatoes, with some of Italy’s best gelato at Alberto Marchetti’s A Cuvea Gelateria. After a day of sightseeing, treat yourself to a round of detoxifying Thalassotherapy, or sea-inspired treatments, at the gorgeous waterfront Grand Hotel Alassio. If you’re looking for a more secluded spot to rest your head, hide away in the hillside Villa della Pergola, whose 12 rooms perched above the bay are surrounded by pine trees.

See All Hotels in Alassio
Italy Trip Ideas building ground waterway way outdoor scene water water transportation sidewalk Canal reflection Town street alley Boat gondola City neighbourhood sky channel orange stone
Italy Trip Ideas building outdoor Town neighbourhood street alley infrastructure City road house residential area home way mixed use real estate facade window Downtown tree sky apartment store sidewalk
Italy Trip Ideas outdoor mountain sky Coast Nature Sea promontory cliff rock terrain coastal and oceanic landforms tourism water tree cape bay escarpment klippe plant headland leisure recreation Ocean traveling stone hillside
Italy Romance Trip Ideas water outdoor Boat waterway scene water transportation sky Harbor Town reflection tourism City watercraft Sea boating leisure Coast port Canal recreation several

Cinque Terre

Over 70 miles of stone hiking trails connect the five hilltop towns of Cinque Terre—the main mode of transportation when it comes to exploring the jewel-colored villages hugging the rugged coastline. The easiest trail is the 30-minute Via dell’Amore, which connects Riomaggiore and the town of Manarola, known for its wine and olive oil production. Sample some of the regional vino in the vineyards of Val di Vara in Riomaggiore at Cantine Litàn or in the town of Monterosso at Enoteca Internazionale. The unofficial capital of Cinque Terre, Monterosso boasts the only sand-covered beach in the area, Fegina. While you’re here, visit the village’s boutique vineyard of Buranco or take a seat in front of the main church of Saint John the Baptist at family-owned Ristorante Ciak, which serves up Ligurian seafood specialties (think seafood ravioli slathered in shrimp sauce) alongside local bottles of wine. In the middle of Cinque Terre, the oldest of the five villages (and only one sans beach), Corniglia, sits 370 steps above the sea surrounded by terraced fields growing grapes used in Vernaccia-based white wines. Get a taste at the cash-only Osteria a Cantina de Mananan, tucked inside a former wine cellar, which sources produce from the surrounding gardens and seafood from local fishermen. You won’t find much in the way of luxe lodging in Cinque Terre, but there are two standout spots to spend the night: La Torretta Lodge Manarola, housed inside an old tower with balconies overlooking Manarola’s vineyards, and the villa-style Hotel Porto Roca, with a saltwater pool carved into the cliffs above Monterosso.

See All Hotels in Cinque Terre
Italy Trip Ideas Coast Sea cliff coastal and oceanic landforms sky promontory headland terrain rock bay klippe cape cove escarpment tourism formation water stack inlet
Italy Trip Ideas Sea promontory Coast fortification castle building sky water history château ancient history Ruins rock cliff
Italy Trip Ideas waterway body of water water Harbor water transportation sky Sea Boat watercraft port City tourism marina boating Coast reflection channel Canal vehicle


From Cinque Terre, hop on board a boat bound for the next town south, Portovenere, nestled along the “Gulf of Poets.” A favorite of English greats like Lord Byron and Percy Bysshe Shelley, this town was once used as a major Roman base on the route from Gaul to Spain. Enter the ancient Latin-inscribed gates and make your way along the Via Capellini—the city’s restaurant-lined main drag—or head up to the hilltop 16th-century Castello Doria, where you can soak up views of the Romanesque San Pietro Church. From the promenade, speed off on a water taxi to Palmaria, the largest of the three islands sitting offshore known for its Capri-like Blue Grotto and seaside panoramic eatery and inn, Locanda Lorena, which is housed in a former post office frequented by sailors in the 1930s.

RELATED: 8 Gorgeous Coastal Getaways Around the World

See All Hotels in Portovenere
Italy Trip Ideas outdoor waterway neighbourhood City Town water urban area Canal mixed use marketplace sky building street house people facade channel vehicle tourism Downtown
Italy Trip Ideas landmark building classical architecture palace Town town square City plaza neighbourhood metropolis urban area sky Architecture metropolitan area facade estate daytime window residential area mansion tourist attraction house château Downtown mixed use apartment seat of local government tourism stately home
Italy Trip Ideas sky vegetation property tree plant estate house cottage mountain village real estate mountain home Villa Village terrain mount scenery roof landscape hill mansion tourism hacienda arecales
Italy Trip Ideas indoor floor wall room ceiling Living bed Suite Bedroom wood hotel interior design real estate estate boarding house furniture flooring area hard
Italy Trip Ideas swimming pool water property Resort estate leisure Villa real estate vacation sky Sea house tourism resort town tree
Italy Trip Ideas Harbor marina water waterway sky City reflection Town port Boat water transportation watercraft dock Sea cityscape channel mixed use tourism tree facade


Renaissance poet Petrarch once described Liguria’s capital as “superb for its people and its walls.” Frescoed palazzi dot the Caruggi district (old town)—the most remarkable being the Renaissance-style Palazzi dei Rolli, which is comprised of 42 palaces that once hosted royal families and nobility. Today, palaces like the 17th-century Palazzo Reale, the former residence of the Royal Family of Savoy, serve as museums where travelers can explore regal throne rooms, hanging gardens, and even a Hall of Mirrors. It’s easy to mistake Via Garibaldi 12 Lifestylestore for a museum: not only does the Baroque-style eight-room shop spread across the first floor of the Palazzo Campanella feature a selection of stunning home furnishings, it’s also part of the UNESCO-listed collection of palaces. You might know Genoa’s claim to fame as the birthplace of explorer Christopher Columbus, but it’s also where Italian pesto originated. (Sample the specialty at the century-old Il Genovese; we recommend ordering the pesto-topped gnocchi.) About an hour from the city center along the seaside Corso Italia promenade lies another spot worth the trek: the fishing village of Boccadasse. Legend has it the bay here boasts healing properties, so take a dip before grabbing a bite at one of the seaside eateries like Antica Osteria Dindi.

Book Hotels in Genoa
Italy Trip Ideas tree Coast hill station tourism water City River sky mountain Village building bay
Italy Trip Ideas Nature tree water leaf estate Village sky landscape plant watercourse River house
Italy Trip Ideas Sea sky City Coast Town water tourism tourist attraction terrain coastal and oceanic landforms promontory building Ocean cityscape vacation bay


Cinque Terre’s trails may be overrun by tourists, so if you’re looking for a hike where you’ve got the path all to yourself, Camogli is your place. Once called the “City of a Thousand Sails” in celebration of its maritime past, the fishing village today is known more for sailing vessels of a smaller variety, with tiny painted boats floating in the harbor. From the coast, a stone footpath snakes past fragrant olive groves to San Rocco, the beginning of a scenic hike to the area’s best-kept secret—the rocky enclaves of Punta Chiappa—where a shrimp-lined cave aptly named Grotta dei Gamberi is a favorite among scuba divers. Back in Camogli, Hotel Cenobio Dei Dogi is the perfect place to call home for the evening, where you can take a seat on the seaside terrace and watch the sun slip behind the colorful tall homes lining the gulf, Aperol Spritz in hand.

See All Hotels in Camogli

What to Wear in the Italian Riviera

For info on these editor-selected items, click to visit the seller’s site. Things you buy may earn us a commission.

Want more?



All products are independently selected by our writers and editors. If you buy something through our links, Jetsetter may earn an affiliate commission.