The Most Beautiful Villages in Liguria

The Most Beautiful Villages in Liguria

If you’ve ever enjoyed a bowl of pasta tossed with a few dollops of green pesto, you’re already familiar with the joys of Liguria. That classic combination of basil, Parmigiano Reggiano, pine nuts, garlic and extra virgin olive oil originated in Genoa, the capital of this sunny northern Italian region. Liguria lies along the Italian Riviera, famed for its colourful fishing towns, medieval architecture, crystal-clear waters and, of course, its pesto. If you need some help choosing which of Liguria’s stunning villages to visit first, read on for our list of the most beautiful villages in Liguria.


  1. San Fruttuoso
  2. Bussanna Vecchia
  3. Apricale
  4. Manarola


San Fruttuoso

Village without Roads

Accessible only by sea or on foot through the scenic Portofino Regional Park, this nook along the Italian Riviera is home to the beautiful Romanesque San Fruttuoso Abbey, which sits at the foot of a lush green hillside. Beyond it, a pebble beach and the sparkling waters of the Ligurian Sea lie in wait. This little village is a true escape from the roar of traffic and the chaos of honking horns, an opportunity to hide away amid the Mediterranean scrubland and explore the waters of Portofino’s marine protected area. Popular with free divers, snorkellers and swimmers, the bay is also a favourite among kayakers and paddleboarders who take to the water to visit the Christ of the Abyss: a religious statue that has been sitting on the seabed since 1954. The beach of San Fruttuoso has been consistently ranked among the most beautiful beach in Italy, and rightly so, but it’s not all the area has to offer. Don’t miss a visit to the village itself, which you can reach via a staircase that leads to the square.


Bussanna Vecchia

Village of Artists

Following a devastating earthquake in 1887, Bussanna Vecchia stood empty above the Ligurian Sea for over 60 years. In the late 1950s, it was rehabilitated by a group of international artists who wanted to pursue the dream of living a simple and creative life. While the village’s artistic community has historically faced clashes with the police as well as the descendants of the area’s property owners, today it remains an artistic haven where creators and craftsmen live, organise events and sell their pieces to tourists. Bussanna Vecchia’s original charm lies in the many workshops and ateliers scattered throughout its medieval streets, which you can visit in about an hour on foot. Come during the summer to listen to live music in the village’s open spaces and enjoy an evening on the terrace of the local tavern.



Village of the Sun

The name Apricale is derived from the Latin word ‘apricus,’ meaning ‘sunny,’ which is the perfect name for this village that’s built on the southern side of a sun-drenched hill. Apricale is a labyrinth of narrow cobbled alleyways flanked by 11th-century stone houses, all nestled into the green of the Nervia Valley. With buildings dating back to 1267, it’s the oldest of all the valley’s hilltop villages. At its heart is the Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II, the main square which is surrounded by buildings on different levels including the 16th-century Oratorio di San Bartomeo and the Castello Della Lucertola (‘Lizard Castle’), home to a fascinating museum dedicated to the village’s history. Apricale is chock full of charm, having only recently begun regularly welcoming tourists. It may be small, but its beautiful buildings and historic atmosphere make it well worth the detour from the Nervia Valley’s larger villages such as Dolceacqua (another enchanting spot). During your time here, don’t miss a chance to try the local delicacy: pansaroles, a traditional fried dough dessert that’s usually accompanied by a serving of warm zabaione (a beverage made with egg yolks, sugar and a sweet wine).



Village of Romance

A list of the most beautiful villages in Liguria would be incomplete without a mention of the Cinque Terre, a group of five stunning seaside villages set along the Italian Riviera, known for their outstanding beauty. Though each village carries its own charm, Manarola is certainly in the running for the most beautiful, full of scenic viewpoints and narrow alleyways that eventually lead to the sea. Multicoloured houses sit 230ft above the deep water, and the small square next to the harbour has a choice of restaurants where you can enjoy fresh fish, pizza and pasta. There’s no traditional beach at Manarola, but the harbour area offers excellent deep-water swimming with ladders that lead to the crystalline water. If you’re feeling adventurous, seek out some of the more secluded rocky areas for total privacy before heading to the popular hilltop viewpoint at sunset, when the village is bathed in a golden glow. While this village is brimming with romance, it’s not the easiest place in the Cinque Terre to explore with children. If you’re searching for a more accessible spot that still has that quintessential Riviera charm, we recommend a trip to Monterosso.