The Italian Riviera has become one of the most sought-after travel destinations—with good reason. Famous for its pastel houses sitting atop steep cliffs overlooking sparkling turquoise waters, its dramatic scenery makes it one of the most picturesque places in the world. From Cinque Terre to Portofino to Santa Margherita, there’s no end to this region’s captivating allure. Keep reading to learn just why you’ll fall in love with the enchanting Italian Riviera!
The Italian Riviera holds a unique charm that’s hard to come by. Whether you’re strolling down cobblestone pathways or perusing the abundance of freshly caught fish, there’s a magical, old-world quality present around every corner. Much of the Ligurian region is a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site, and efforts have been made to preserve as much history and culture as possible. This means you’re unlikely to encounter much road traffic, as many towns have a no-car policy. But have no fear—train, boat, and walking are all common ways to easily travel around the area. A trip here feels like a trip back in time, and the laid-back way of life is intoxicating.
Italy as a whole is renowned for its delicious cuisine, but the Italian Riviera has some famous dishes of its own. With countless fishing ports, this coastal region has all the seafood you could wish for, and always fresh, of course. When ordering fish at a restaurant, you’re sure to be chowing down on the daily catch. Anchovies are a staple here, and are a must-try whether or not you consider yourself a fan. Although anchovies are often extremely salty in the US, the freshness and diverse ways of traditional preparation make all the difference. And for those who salivate over pesto, you’ve come to the right place—Liguria is the birthplace of this zesty sauce! Enjoy pesto alla genovese like never before as fresh, locally-grown basil, cheese, olive oil, garlic, and pine nuts are ground together. Pair your pesto with focaccia bread, another Liguria original. This flatbread is baked with olive oil and salt, but this simple dish will excite your taste buds nonetheless. Of course this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the region’s cuisine, and you’ll find a variety of other traditional seafood and pasta dishes, as well as a selection of crisp wines. The region is home to many breathtakingly beautiful vineyards, and there’s no better place to sit back, relax, and soak in the sun as you sip on a glass of flavorful wine.
The storybook landscape is without a doubt what first captures your attention and why many wish to visit the Italian Riviera to begin with. The ethereal setting is mesmerizing, evoking a feeling of magical mystery. The rugged coastline sits on the dazzling azure waters of the Ligurian Sea, and there’s a surprising amount of diversity from town to town. Of the villages sitting directly on the coast, there are both sandy and pebbly beaches. Some towns have no designated beach at all, and it's popular to lounge on the sturdy rocks hugging the coast. The steepness of the towns also differs, as some require hundreds of steps to travel from land to water, while others are spread out over a much flatter plot. Although each town holds unique qualities and beauty, the scenery is gorgeous no matter where you look. As if the gentle waters and lovely architecture wasn't magnificent enough, the lush, rolling hills and distant mountains create a stunning backdrop for the colorful seaside villages.
The Italian Riviera provides an endless array of adventure. Hike winding trails, taking in otherworldly panoramas. Breathe in the salty air as you warm yourself in the bright, Italian sun. Savor the rich flavors of Ligurian cuisine. Water lovers can swim, snorkel, and kayak—or if you’re seeking a little more excitement, try your hand at paragliding. If you wish to relax while exploring the coast, hop on a boat tour for a new perspective of the region's beauty. There’s also an easily accessible train service that’ll quickly take you from city to city, helping you drink in as much of the area as possible. Visit the sprawling vineyards, get to know the friendly locals, check out the bustling markets, and tour the many landmarks spread throughout this charming land. The possibilities for extraordinary experiences are never-ending, and it’s impossible not to have an unforgettable time in this heavenly Italian paradise.