Explore Santa Margherita Ligure: Top Beaches, Restaurants, Attractions – Your Ultimate Riviera Guide
Perched along the Riviera di Levante, Santa Margherita Ligure serves as a gateway to the charm and allure of the Ligurian Sea.
The Coastal Paradise
Gaze upon the hills surrounding Santa Margherita Ligure, acting as an amphitheater to the village, and you’ll discover a painting come to life. Separated from the Ligurian Sea by a unique combination of sand and rocks, this area showcases a pristine blend of Mediterranean scrub, well-maintained gardens, and the elegant remnants of villas from yesteryears.
Located just 35 km from Genoa, the town is a hidden treasure along the eastern edge of the Portofino Promontory, where the Gulf of Tigullio whispers secrets of maritime tradition.
What are the top attractions in santa margherita ligure?
- Villa Durazzo: Set amidst breathtaking gardens, Villa Durazzo is an elegant historical site hosting beautiful frescoes, art collections, and offering splendid views of the sea.
- Marina di Santa Margherita: This bustling marina is not only a hub for yachts and boats but is also surrounded by colorful buildings, restaurants, and cafes, making it a perfect place for a leisurely stroll or meal.
- Abbey of San Girolamo al Monte di Portofino: This secluded and peaceful abbey offers a spiritual escape and breathtaking views. It’s a perfect stop for those hiking around the Portofino promontory.
- Paraggi Bay: A beautiful sandy beach nestled between Santa Margherita and Portofino. The clear waters and gorgeous surroundings make it a favorite spot for sunbathing and snorkeling.
- Church of Santa Margherita d’Antiochia: A stunning example of Ligurian baroque architecture, this church is a peaceful retreat with beautiful artworks and a fascinating history.
- Seghezzo Gardens: Offering a panoramic view over Santa Margherita, these gardens provide a peaceful escape filled with lush vegetation, sculptures, and tranquility.
- Castle of Santa Margherita Ligure: Also known as Castello di Santa Margherita, this castle adds historical charm to the landscape, and its gardens are a popular venue for exhibitions and cultural events.
- Portofino Natural Park: For those keen on hiking, the trails of Portofino Natural Park offer breathtaking views, diverse flora and fauna, and connect Santa Margherita Ligure with neighboring areas like Portofino and San Fruttuoso.
- Shopping Streets: Santa Margherita Ligure’s shopping streets, filled with boutiques and artisanal shops, offer delightful opportunities to shop for unique clothing, local food products, and crafts.
- Water Activities: Being on the coast, don’t miss out on the various water activities such as kayaking, sailing, and diving. Local providers offer tours and rentals to explore the coast from the sea.
- Cultural Festivals: Depending on when you visit, Santa Margherita hosts various cultural and gastronomic festivals throughout the year. These provide wonderful insights into local traditions and flavors.
- Day Trips to Portofino and Cinque Terre: With its close proximity to renowned locations like Portofino and the Cinque Terre, Santa Margherita Ligure serves as a perfect base for day trips to explore these iconic Italian Riviera destinations.
Transportation: Your Road to Santa Margherita
Reaching this slice of paradise isn’t a complex affair:
By Car. Navigate the A12 Genova-La Spezia motorway, exiting at Rapallo. Follow the sings for 5 km, and you’re there.
By Train. Santa Margherita-Portofino station is well-connected and welcoming to both local and long-distance travelers.
By Air. If you’re flying into Genoa, catch a direct train to Genova Principe and then the AMT Volabus to Santa Margherita.
Luxury and Comfort: Where to Stay
The Riviera di Levante presents various accommodations, but the 4-star B&B HOTEL Park Hotel Suisse Santa Margherita Ligure stands out. With a panoramic view of the Gulf of Tigullio and a fantastic seawater swimming pool, guests can enjoy on-site dining, super-fast WIFI, and available parking. Additionally, the hotel’s Diving Center offers equipment and courses for diving enthusiasts.
The Vibrant Harbor Life
The town’s small port is an epicenter of activity. Traditional fishing boats share space with luxurious yachts, and water sports such as sailing, rowing, and scuba diving find a natural home here. Social events, regattas, and the daily return of fishermen add to the area’s appeal.
Uncover the Natural Splendor
Towards the hinterland of Liguria, terraced cultivated lands present a breathtaking panorama. Explore the Portofino Natural Park, protected since 1939, where countless excursion opportunities reveal the harmony between man and nature.
Beaches and Coastal Delights
The coast of Santa Margherita Ligure offers beaches, rocky coves, lively beach clubs, and peaceful inlets. Whether you prefer a sandy shore or a stony free beach, you’ll find the perfect spot. Summer nights may come alive with beach parties, traditional culinary feasts, and the warm embrace of Italian hospitality.
In areas like “Gravel,” you can explore paid beaches or the sandy shore near the magnificent 16th-century castle of Paraggi. Today’s Paraggi is a renowned seaside resort filled with shops, restaurants, and trendy clubs.
Savor the Flavors: Top 7 Restaurants
Santa Margherita Ligure is not just a feast for the eyes but a delight for the palate as well. Here are seven standout restaurants, each offering unique culinary adventures:
- Ristorante da Michele: Famous for its seafood, it’s a spot to relish authentic Ligurian flavors.
- Trattoria da Pezzi: Known for traditional Italian pasta dishes, a must-visit for the pasta lovers.
- La Darsena: Experience fine dining with a view of the harbor; the seafood risotto is a favorite.
- Ristorante Beppe Achilli: A fusion of tradition and innovation, this place is ideal for truffle enthusiasts.
- Pescato e Mangiato: For a casual yet unforgettable seafood experience, this place is a must-visit.
- Gepi: A delightful culinary haven where ambiance meets flavor, offering a rich tapestry of Ligurian specialties, from the freshest seafood to succulent local beef dishes
- Ristorante Puny: Situated near the port, a perfect spot to enjoy fresh seafood in an elegant setting.
What are some must-try foods and local cuisines in Santa Margherita ?
- Focaccia di Recco: This incredibly thin and crispy flatbread filled with creamy cheese is a local specialty not to be missed. Perfectly golden brown and oozing with flavor, it’s a delight to the senses.
- Pesto alla Genovese: Originating from this region, pesto made with fresh basil, garlic, pine nuts, olive oil, and Parmesan is an essential experience. Try it with trofie pasta for a dish that sings of Liguria.
- Frutti di Mare: As a coastal town, seafood is at the heart of local cuisine. From grilled fish to seafood salads and pastas, the freshness and quality of the catch are unparalleled.
- Acciughe al Limone: Anchovies marinated in lemon juice and olive oil showcase the simplicity and purity of Ligurian flavors. It’s a refreshing and tangy appetizer.
- Farinata: A savory chickpea flour pancake, baked until crispy on the outside and soft inside. Often flavored with rosemary, it’s a popular street food you’ll find throughout the region.
- Torta di Verdura: This traditional vegetable tart combines greens like chard or spinach with eggs, cheese, and marjoram, encased in a buttery pastry crust.
- Panissa: A hearty dish made with chickpea flour and often flavored with fennel, then fried to a delicious crispness. It’s comfort food at its best.
- Local Wines: Don’t miss trying some local Ligurian wines, such as Vermentino and Sciacchetrà, that beautifully complement the flavors of the region.
- Gelato: While not unique to Santa Margherita Ligure, no visit to an Italian coastal town would be complete without indulging in some artisanal gelato. Look for local flavors made with fresh, seasonal ingredients.
- Ligurian Olive Oil: Known for its delicate flavor, Ligurian olive oil is often used in local dishes or simply enjoyed with fresh bread.
Capture the Perfect Moment: Best Photographic Spots
The standout place for an unforgettable selfie or breathtaking photograph is the Portofino Promontory.
Stand atop the cliffs and gaze down upon the azure sea, dotted with colorful boats, and framed by lush vegetation. The panoramic view of the coastline, extending into the infinite horizon, is unparalleled.
For a magical sunset shot, head to the Santa Margherita Ligure Harbor.
Whether it’s a selfie that needs no filter, a love-struck moment frozen in time, or an artistic capture that resonates with the heartbeat of the landscape, Punta Chiappa obliges with a grace that is both wild and refined. As an added brushstroke to this picturesque tableau, the nearby Church of San Nicolo whispers tales of history, a quaint and charming presence that layers the scene with an echo of time past.
What are the best beaches in Santa Margherita?
- Paraggi Beach: Nestled between Santa Margherita Ligure and Portofino, Paraggi Beach is famous for its clear, calm waters and beautiful sandy shores. This sheltered bay is ideal for swimming and snorkeling, and the surrounding beach clubs offer amenities for a comfortable day by the sea.
- Santa Margherita Town Beach: Conveniently located near the town center, this beach offers both public and private sections. Though mostly pebbly, its central location and easy accessibility make it a popular choice for both locals and tourists.
- Bagni Fiore: A well-maintained private beach offering sun loungers, umbrellas, and beachside service. Bagni Fiore provides a delightful environment for those looking for comfort and convenience.
- Bagni Sirena: With excellent facilities and an inviting beach bar, Bagni Sirena is perfect for those looking to spend a relaxing day by the sea, with all amenities close at hand.
- Bagni Regina Beach: This beach club offers a serene and family-friendly environment. With clean waters and plenty of space, it’s a wonderful spot to take in the sun and enjoy the Ligurian Sea’s gentle waves.
- Minaglia Beach: For those looking for a more secluded and natural setting, Minaglia Beach offers a peaceful retreat. It’s less crowded and provides a chance to enjoy the beauty of the coastline in relative tranquility.
- Spiaggia Libera Prelo: This free public beach is a nice option for those looking to avoid the beach club fees. It’s simple and unpretentious but offers lovely sea views and a chance to mingle with the locals.
- San Michele di Pagana: Just a short distance from Santa Margherita, this small coastal village has charming beaches like Spiaggia di San Michele and Spiaggia Pedale, known for their scenic views and clear waters. They are easily reachable and offer a pleasant extension to your beach exploration.
- Day Trips to Nearby Beaches: Consider taking a short boat ride or hike to nearby destinations like Portofino or San Fruttuoso. The secluded beaches and coves in these areas add to the range of options for beach enthusiasts.