At Liguria’s heart lies its capital, Genoa, with its rich maritime heritage and historic center whose winding streets, colorful buildings, and hidden squares have seen it bestowed with UNESCO World Heritage status. Just a stone’s throw away, the serene beaches in Genoa offer an enticing contrast, their sun-soaked sands and azure waters framing this vibrant, cultured city.
To the west of the city lies what is known as the Riviera di Ponente with its sandy shores and charming coastal towns, while to the east is the Riviera di Levante, at times more rugged but dotted with chic, high-end hotspots such as Santa Margherita Ligure and Portofino.
Whichever the direction of travel, one thing is for sure, these Genoa beaches—and those of Liguria—will stay long in the memory after a visit.
Spiaggia di Boccadasse, Genoa
Boccadasse is one of a handful of beaches located within Genoa’s city limits, and it’s a good choice for those pressed for time but still wanting ocean views while in town.
Tucked away among a series of rocky outcrops along the seafront, the pebbly beach here is deep rather than wide and is backed by rustic Piazza Nettuno, a cobbled square that’s home to trattoria restaurants and various gelataria.
The water is clear, but there are some rocks underfoot in the shallows making this more of a people-watching and paddling spot than a favorite for swimming.
Paraggi Bay, Paraggi
Heading north of Portofino on the same peninsula lies the hamlet of Paraggi, which sits on an inlet with clear, calm waters and an almost perfectly shaped crescent of sand, covered in sun loungers and umbrellas.
It’s easy to find shade here, whether on the sands or on the terrace of one of the many cafés that line the path that surrounds the beach.
The Castello di Paraggi, a 17th-century fortress that sits on the end of a neighboring promontory is also worth a visit while here.
Baia del Silenzio, Sestri Levante
Often voted as one of Italy’s most beautiful beaches, Baia del Silenzio is small but almost perfectly formed.
Serving as the inspiration for myriad postcards, this beautiful arc of sand is backed by the pastel-colored buildings typical of the region, yet there are no watersports, pedal boats or kayaks, just crystal clear waters, soft, golden sand and a real air of tranquility.
Spiaggia San Fruttuoso, Camogli
Tucked away on the wooded headland that leads to Portofino, this small sandy beach is surrounded by forests. It’s worth visiting for the chance to take in the Abbazia di San Fruttuoso, a 10th-century monastery featuring ancient Roman cloisters and a history museum.
Despite its remote location, there are two restaurants on the beach, while those interested in scuba diving can pay a visit to another local monument. Just off-shore and at a depth of around 55 feet is Christ of the Abyss, a dramatic bronze statue of Jesus sunk to the bottom of the ocean.
Beaches of Arenzano
Overlooking the Capo San Martino, Arenzano is one of the most popular towns among visitors to the Ligurian Riviera.
A 30-minute drive or train ride from downtown Genoa, it’s backed by the towering mountains of Beigua Regional Park and people have settled here since Roman times.
The town has a pretty mix of architecture, from 16th-century towers to 18th-century palazzos, all sitting along a mile-long stretch of beach.
Much of the central area is made up of various bagni (Italian beach clubs that charge an entrance fee), although there are two public areas, Terrarossa to the north and Porticciolo to the south. The latter also overlooks the yacht-lined moorings of the town’s pretty marina.
Spiaggia di San Michele di Pagana, Rapallo
Just south of the town of Rapallo is another former fishing hamlet worth a visit, thanks to both its pretty architecture in the typical low-key colors seen on the coast, and for its choice of three beaches along the same bay.
Travello to the south and Pomaro to the north offer small sandy stretches with little in the way of facilities, while the main beach that sits between them is home to fine sand, a selection of dining options and a jetty from which to dive into the water.
Spiaggia di Pegli, Pegli, Genoa
Skip one bay to the west from Multedo, to find this equally pretty beach, just six miles from downtown Genoa.
The sand here is largely fine with the occasional pebble and the seas relatively clean, but it’s a combination of the views and the backdrop that make it such a choice location.
Out to sea, vistas stretch seemingly for miles given the next land mass is the French island of Corsica some 160 miles away, while the suburb of Pegli makes for a handsome backing to the beach thanks to its rows of pastel-colored buildings that line the oceanfront.
Spiaggia di Voltri, Voltri
The western suburb of Voltri is famed for being the site of one of the most famous battles of the French Revolutionary Wars. Habsburg Austrian armies defeated the French here in April 1796.
The atmosphere today is much more peaceful, thanks to the nearby Parco Naturale Beigua and this handsome beach that stretches for around a mile along the Ligurian coast. With a mixture of fine sand and shingle, there are few organized facilities outside of the restaurants and bars that back onto the beach.
For visitors looking to stretch their legs rather than dip their toes in the water, a fine boardwalk runs along the beach’s length.
Spiaggia di Sturla, Genoa
One of the best beaches in Genoa, Sturla takes its name from a river that flows into the ocean here right in the middle of the stretch of fine sand.
The shoreline here is lined with beach clubs, restaurants, and bars, many with terraces that open directly onto the beach, or on their roofs, making it an ideal location of choice for those who want to gaze out to sea as the sun begins to dip toward the horizon.
Spiaggia Torrente Lerone, Cogoleto
Sitting at the confluence of several rivers that flow into the sea from the mountains of the Monte Beigua Natural Regional Park, Cogoleto is a picturesque, thriving vacation destination packed with restaurants, shops, and bars and is home to one of the region’s best golf courses at St. Anna.
The town’s beach stretches for around two miles, some of which is home to bagni beach clubs interspersed with free access sections. The best of these is Spiaggia Torrente Lerone where the Rio Lerone meets the Ligurian Sea.
Baia dei Saraceni, Varigotti
As the coast winds its tortuous route southwest from Genoa, it becomes increasingly more rugged and mountainous. By the time it reaches Varigotti, the surrounding cliffs tower over beaches such as Baia dei Saraceni, lending a dramatic appeal to a visit.
That dramatic setting is more than matched by the beach itself, which is home to some of the finest sand and clearest waters on this stretch of coast.
The cleanliness of the water also makes it a great snorkeling spot thanks to some underwater rocky areas to the north of the beach.
Spiaggia Libera Sotto La Chiesa, Bogliasco
A 30-minute drive east of the city in the suburb of Bogliasco sits this quirky, small fine-sand beach surrounded by steep, rocky cliffs.
Some of the rocks flatten out here to make natural sunbathing platforms, ideal for those adverse to the idea of sand getting into everything, and the waters are calm and clear thanks to the natural shelter of the bay.
A promenade along the top of the rocks is home to a viewing platform with a mural dedicated to different types of winds, while the Natività di Maria Santissima church is also worth exploring here.
Spiaggia Centrale di Recco, Recco
There are several beaches lining a stretch of coastline that veers sharply south on the way to Portofino. The northernmost, and perhaps the one with the best facilities is this offering at central Recco.
The beach is an almost perfect arc of fine sand and the waters are calm, shallow and clear here thanks to the protection of an off-shore sandbar that can often be seen at lower tides.
For those looking for more of a pool swim, the beach is also home to the open-air Punta Sant’Anna Municipal Pool.
Spiaggia Libera, Camogli
One of the hidden jewels of the Italian Riviera is Camogli. With its handsome, pastel-colored buildings, cobbled streets, quaint fishing harbor, low-key vibe and fine dining, a visit here feels like a step back in time in contrast to its neighbors Portofino and the towns of Cinque Terre.
As with many of the bigger towns around Genoa, the beach consists of paid-for bagni and free-to-use public stretches, though the sand-and-shingle make-up of the beach remains throughout.
A long boardwalk sits behind the beach, with the tables and chairs of restaurants spilling out and intermingling with each other. Sitting here with an espresso watching the world go by can feel like being on a film set like as you gaze out over the water.
Spiaggia di Vesima, Vesima
Heading west from Genoa, Vesima is one of the stops on the Genoa to Alassio train line, though the train passes through in a flash given the hamlet is home to less than 100 residents.
A stop here, though, is rewarded with a small but rather handsome beach of fine sand, home to a pizzeria and a beach club, as well as public areas that are free to access.
Spiaggia Dell’Olivetta, Portofino
If Camogli is the hidden jewel of the Italian Riviera, its shining star is Portofino, the fishing-village-turned-high-end-resort-town sitting at the tip of a wooded peninsula southeast of Genoa city.
Here, pastel-colored houses mix with seafood eateries and plush boutiques around the Piazzetta, a cobbled square overlooking a harbor that now hosts as many superyachts as it does fishing boats.
The beach in the town center is just as pretty but can be incredibly busy. A good alternative then is this secluded bay on the eastern side of the peninsula and surrounded by dense woodlands.
Spiaggia Multedo, Multedo, Genoa
One of the closest beaches to the city center as one heads west to the Riviera di Ponente, Spiaggia Multedo sits alongside the rear arc of Genoa’s main port, making it a fine choice for those short on time.
A wide stretch of dark sand mixed with shingle, it’s a popular spot for dog walkers and local joggers, as well as members of several sports clubs that are housed towards the back of the beach.
It’s a great spot for dining here as well, thanks to hostelries that include a Japanese restaurant, a seafood eatery and an Irish pub.
Spiaggia di Murcarolo, Genoa
Murcarolo is one of the first swimming beaches as you head east from the city, making it a popular spot for locals looking to cool down during summer in Italy.
At high season it can be quite busy, but those visiting early in the day or outside of the peak months of July and August will find an almost perfect square of sand with shallow waters and several rocky outcrops that offer the chance for snorkeling.
Spiaggia di Capolungo, Genoa
As the coastal road winds towards Portofino and beyond, Capolungo offers another city beach alternative or a great stop on the journey southeast.
Cut off from the main city by train lines, it can be approached by car on Via Ancona or on foot thanks to Via Giovanni Romero. The fact it’s so hidden away is reflected in the fact this is one of the city’s least visited beaches.
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