Genoa province features an abundance of seaside towns and villages to discover. Genoa is both the capital of the province and Liguria.
The A12 autostrada connects everything up so that visiting them is easy. The train line is parallel to the autostrada, and stops at nearly all of these towns.
The Province of Genoa Map
Seaside Towns in Genoa Province
We’ll start in the east and work our way west to Genoa.
Sestri Levante is a charming town that’s just off the Autostrada. It’s very easy to plop down on a beach, or stop for a great seaside seafood meal.
Sestri Levante is in a fairy-tale setting, between the Baia di Silenzio (Bay of Silence) and the Baia delle Favole (Bay of Fables), so-named as a tribute to Hans Christian Anderson, who once lived here. It is sometimes referred to as “the city of the two seas”. There is a romantic harbor, a boardwalk and quiet beaches on the Baia di Silenzio side, while the Baia delle Favole boasts a seafront promenade, bigger beaches, more houses and a lively atmosphere. — Sestri Levante
Lavagna is known for its stretch of fine beach and for the mining of “Ligurian black gold” namely slate. It was also home to the Fieschi, a family that supplied two popes and 72 cardinals to the world—not to mention a cake whose recipe survives to this day! In the high town you’ll find the unusually ornate Monumental Cemetery. Don’t miss it, there are fine views.
Chiavari is one of those lesser-known towns, part of “hidden Liguria” that’s squished between better-known places, but it’s one of our favorites for its archaeological museum, great food, and small town feel.
Rapallo is a very laid-back seaside town with a very interesting town center in which the fine food options seem limitless. It’s a place definitely planned for pleasure, especially considering the giant chessboard downtown, but there’s a twist on top.
If you took a train here, you’d see the churches, go inside the cute little castle, maybe visit the lace museum, then you’d be stuck, wouldn’t you? Perhaps you’d go on to the nearby Cinque Terre. After all, you’d have no way to get out into the countryside, or if you did climb that hill behind Rapallo to see the big picture, you’d waste valuable vacation time sweating in the sun…
But hang on. A five minute walk from the Rapallo train station brings you to the Funivia station. Don’t know the word “funivia?” It’s the aerial tramway, and in 7 minutes it will take you to a whole new world. If you play your cards right, you can put yourself right into an impressionist painting of the landed gentry having lunch in the sun-drenched countryside, looking down (way down!) on the Golf of Tigullio.
Yep, there’s a place of pilgrimage, restaurants and a great view. Here’s a short video of the trip.
And just in case you find yourself still hungry: Rapallo: Great ice cream, specialty foods, wine and coffee.
Santa Margherita Ligure has a castle built for defense against coastal pirates. Then again, it has a very highly rated five star hotel as well.
Pretty buildings in Santa Margherita’s colorful historic center are decorated in typical Ligurian trompe l’oeil style. Pleasant walking streets are lined with stores, gelato shops, bars, bakeries, and restaurants. Churches to visit include the 17th century Basilica of Santa Margherita, Chiesa Cappuccini, and Church of San Giacomo as well as a couple of small oratorios.
It’s also a good place to learn of the maritime nature of this part of Liguria. Inside to Oratorio di Sant’Erasmo, model boat line the walls, left by sailors as ex_votos because their lives have been spared by God during some storm or other.
Then we come to Portofino, playground of the rich and famous famous for its picturesque harbour and historical association with celebrity and artistic visitors. Today you come for the eye candy, but it’s better to eat elsewhere if you’re on a budget. In any case the best eye candy comes from above, where there’s a small castle, once home to the British consul to Genoa, reached by a walk through the botanic garden. Along the route to the castle is San Giorgio Church and another trail takes you to the lighthouse.
You might wander what the weather might be like in the middle of the Genoa Province coastline, so check out the Portofino weather and climate.
Camogli is a charming Italian Riviera fishing village set on a rocky outcrop on the Portofino Peninsula. Many of its colorful houses and buildings in the old town are decorated with Trompe L’Oeil painting. Its harbor is lined with shops and restaurants.
Several hiking paths start from Camogli including the trail to San Rocco and San Fruttuoso Monastery, the trail to Punta Chiappa, and a trail to Portofino.
Very close to Camogli is Recco, where you may wish to make a stop to taste one of Liguria’s favorite breads, Focaccia di Recco, on our list of Liguria’s favorite foods. We recommend you have it at the Ristorante La Rotonda right on the beach, where it comes to you fresh and hot, and order the octopus if you don’t harbor a grudge against the thought of one.
And finally our journey ends at Genoa, long ignored by tourists but looking finer than it ever has in recent memory. Here there are lots of options, so I’ll just button you up to discovery of Liguria’s capital and Italy’s sixth largest city.