The Italian Riviera stretches from the chic beach side towns of Portofino and Santa Margherita Ligure all the way to the quaint and instagrammable cliff towns of Cinque Terre.
Want to avoid the huge swathes of tourists and holidaymakers in high summer? Then head to the Riviera in September or June, when you won’t have to fight for breathing room on the beach or tables at a restaurant. Here’s our guide to some of our favourite places to stay, eat and beach.
Written by Fifi Faiz
WHERE TO STAY Paraggi: Nestled between Portofino and Santa Margherita Ligure we love the terrace room at Hotel Argentina. With deck chairs, a hot tub and spectacular views this is a great place to stay when exploring the area. Portofino: If money is no object then the swanky Hotel Portofino is a must. Opened in 1902 the hotel has played host to generations of glittering guests. Santa Margherita Ligure: Old world charm and spectacular views are what you will get at the Hotel Imperiale. This stunning hotel Vernazza: Not technically part of the Cinque Terre, but only a few minutes train or drive away, B&B La Madonetta is perfect for exploring all the local towns. Only opened a couple of years ago, the owners have renovated an old church to create a charming B&B. Their passion comes through in the warm and attentive service.
WHERE TO BEACH Camogli Beach: a 30 min drive north of Portofino is Camogli. This beachside town is a favourite of Italians who return season after season. Away from the tourist crowds, this chic town has a lovely beach worth spending a day at. Bagni Fiore Paraggi: A small bay between Portofino and Santa Margherita Ligure with beach beds, restaurants and clear water. In high summer this beach is packed but in September you won’t have to fight for a bed or for breathing space. Make a day of it and enjoy an exquisite seafood lunch at Langosteria restaurant just on the beach as well. Cinque Terre: Want to spend time swimming in the beautiful waters here? Then hire a boat for a few hours and get away from the beaches. You’ll be able to get a great view of the towns (perfect for some instagramming) and dive into azure blue waters away from the crowds.
WHERE TO DRINK Miami, Santa Margherita: Miami is the place to head to for post dinner and pre clubbing drinks. Great for people watching and capturing some of the nightlight. Buranco vineyard, Monterosso: You’re in Cinque Terre and want to experience a boutique vineyard. Then head to Buranco for beautiful views, delicious food and of course their great wines. Fuori Rotta, Riomaggiore: A wine bar with a great view and a long wine list. Make sure to stop by and even order some antipasti while you while away your time.
WHERE TO EAT Da Puny, Portofino: Hob nob with the stars, politicians and royals at this classic Portofino restaurant. If you’re lucky the owner will come and regale stories of all the celebrity diners to you while you’re there. A charming places to enjoy a meal. Da o Batti, Portofino: Away from the hustle and bustle, enjoy their signature seafood and pesto dishes. Ligurian food at its best! L’Articiocca, Levanto: A quiet restaurant nestled on an even quieter street. Patrons come here for good local food, though it might be a little wait until you get a table. Piè de Mà, Riomaggiore: This cliff-hugging bar is perfect for a drink while you gape at the astounding view. However you can even stop by for a simple bite or antipasti as well. Heads up, there is no table service, so head to the bar to place your order.