If you’ve got the Italian Riviera on your bucket list, you’ve probably already pictured yourself luxuriating on the best beaches in the Cinque Terre, Aperol Spritz in hand, Mediterranean sun warming your salty skin.
Of course the Cinque Terre is famous for its multicolored tower-houses stacked on cliffsides, its terraced vineyards climbing the hills for miles, and its winding hiking trails connecting pretty villages.
But let’s face it — that sparkling, turquoise sea is a pretty huge draw!
Trust us, you want to be in this crystal clear water as much as humanly possible. It is heaven on earth.
The thing is, the Cinque Terre isn’t really known for its beaches.
Riomaggiore’s is a small, rocky cove; you can sun tan on the boat ramp in Manarola, or leap off of the stone outcrops that jut from the water there; Vernazza has a spit of sand at the foot of its main piazza and a scrabbly stretch of pebbles on the other side of one of its cliffs; and Corniglia is perched on a hilltop, so trekking down to the tiny marina there takes some doing. Only Monterosso has an extensive proper beach, with sun umbrellas, loungers, and a boardwalk.
Don’t get us wrong — these spots are still all Instagram-worthy and we love them.
But they’re where EVERYBODY goes.
Of course they do — at first glance it doesn’t look like there are any other options.
So what’s a bikini-clad mermaid-in-the-making to do?
Lean in close, that’s what.
We’re about to let you in on the 10 best beaches in the Cinque Terre and beyond, including some secret spots only the locals know about.
(Don’t tell them we told you!)
The 10 Best Beaches in the Cinque Terre and Beyond
1. Monterosso’s Beach (Cinque Terre)
Not a secret spot by a long shot, but Monterosso is definitely one of the best beaches in the Cinque Terre, if not the very best. Curving from one end of a wide bay to the other and lined with a colorful boardwalk, it’s a great choice if you want easy access and don’t want to venture too far from your Cinque Terre home base.
This is a great beach for families as the water is easy to get into and gets deeper gradually. Also, there are playgrounds as well as watersport rentals (paddle boards, snorkeling equipment, kayaks, paddle boats and more).
- La Spiaggia del Gigante is the free beach at the northernmost end on the Fegina side, and is where Monterosso’s New Town locals go. Look for the statue of the giant carved into the cliffside.
- Prefer a private beach club? The Old Town locals love Bagni Eden (they call it Cigolini) on the opposite end of the bay from Gigante. Look for the huge rock sticking out of the sea by the shore and Monterosso’s iconic green and orange umbrellas. Get a corner lounger and you’re golden. They have hot showers too!
GET THERE: Exit the train station in Monterosso. Turn right and walk all the way to the end of the beach for the Spiaggia del Gigante, or turn left and walk to the other end for Bagni Eden.
2. Canneto Beach (Cinque Terre)
Not usually included on “best beaches in the Cinque Terre” lists since it’s relatively unknown to outsiders, Canneto is a tiny beach just down the coast from Riomaggiore that you have to know about to find. It’s one of the locals’ best kept secrets!
The catch? It isn’t accessible by land, only by sea. The payoff is that you might have the whole place to yourself — a rare experience in the Cinque Terre to be sure!
Wild and untouched, this is a piece of rustic paradise at the foot of coastside cliffs. The water here is crystalline, and the only sound you hear is the lapping of the waves on the pebbly beach.
HOT TIP: Although it is technically possible to reach Canneto by kayak from Riomaggiore, it’s quite a distance to row by yourself, and you’ll have to get back too. Make sure you’re an experienced kayaker if you want to attempt to get here on your own steam.
3. Guvano Beach (Cinque Terre)
Corniglia is the only town in the Cinque Terre not right on the water, so not many people know that there is actually a beach here. One of the best beaches in the Cinque Terre because of its natural beauty and because it’s never crowded, Guvano is an unspoiled pebbled strip at the foot of the cliffside that slides gradually into the most beautiful turquoise blue water.
Guvano Beach was once a legendary hang-out for hippies and nudists in the ‘70s (it still attracts some buff bathers today, so steer clear if that freaks you out). Because very few people know it exists, and because it isn’t easily accessible, it’s a great place to get your Cinque Terre beach time in with hardly any other souls in sight.
HOT TIP: Access to this beach used to be via the old train tunnel or down a steep path from the main Cinque Terre hiking trail, but neither of these is considered safe anymore and we do not recommend them.
GET THERE: The best (and currently the only safe) way to get to Guvano is via the water. Rent a boat in Vernazza and make your way south towards Corniglia to find it.
4. Bay of Silence/Bay of Fairy Tales (Sestri Levante)
Let’s take a dip now into the “beyond” part of the “best beaches in the Cinque Terre and beyond.”
Located along the Ligurian coast about 45 minutes from the Cinque Terre by train is a charming little town called Sestri Levante. Even more charming? Its two spectacular free beaches — the Baia di Silenzio and the Baia delle Favole — that Italians have managed to keep mostly to themselves.
You really will feel like you’re in a fairy tale on this shoreline trimmed with pretty Ligurian tower houses, and local fishermen dragging their boats up onto the sand. You’ll feel comfortable with your kids here too, as the water is shallow and the sand fine.
GET THERE: Take the train to Sestri Levante and head down towards the water through the Old Town.
5. San Terenzo (Lerici)
The Lerici-San Terenzo bay is a gorgeous stretch outside of the Cinque Terre that’s much less visited than other places in this area because it isn’t accessible by train. Think turquoise sea, lush green hills rolling back from colorful buildings, and wide stretches of sandy beach.
On one end you’ll find the town of Lerici, and just two miles north-west is San Terenzo. In between is a beautiful seaside promenade that winds from one to the other past private beach clubs and free areas that you can choose from.
In San Terenzo, the main beach has a free section as well as private beach clubs where you can rent loungers and umbrellas. There’s a play area for kids here too, right on the beach, as well as lots of bars and restaurants.
- If you like your beaches cozy and intimate, follow the promenade west from under the San Terenzo castle and you’ll end up at a sweet little cove called La Marinella.
- Walk along the promenade towards Lerici if you like your beach experience private and kitted out. The Colombo Beach Club is great for families, and Beach Venere Azzurra has been awarded the Blue Flag for almost 20 consecutive years.
GET THERE: If you don’t have a car, take the train to La Spezia Centrale (a 5-minute trip from Riomaggiore), buy bus tickets from the newsstand on Platform 1, then catch the L/S bus outside the station to Lerici. Or take the ferry from Portovenere.
6. The Levanto-Bonassola-Framura Trail
The old train tunnel that used to connect the towns of Levanto, Bonassola and Framura just to the north of the Cinque Terre has been repurposed into a stunning walking and bike path that is dotted with official and non-official beaches for all tastes.
While you’re strolling along from Levanto you’ll have your pick of cute little sandy coves and swimming spots you can climb down to enjoy. These will make you feel like you’re on your own little private island, surrounded by rocky outcrops and lush greenery.
You’ll be in Bonassola in a half hour, where you can treat yourself to a lounger and an umbrella at one of the beach clubs there (our fave is Sabbia d’Oro), or you can continue through town to the short tunnel that takes you to Framura. There you can take a dip right away in the crystal clear bay, or keep going to Porto Pidocchio for a more traditional beach.
HOT TIP: Do not leave Bonassola without sinking your teeth into some focaccia at the Focacceria Atica Liguria da Marisa. To. Die. For.
GET THERE: Take the train from the Cinque Terre to Levanto (or hike from Monterosso if you’re feeling energetic!). Walk down to the seaside and head north along the boardwalk until you see the old train tunnel entrance. Start walking!
7. Gabbiano Beach (Palmaria Island)
There is an island just off of Portovenere — a town informally known as the “sixth Cinque Terre village” — called Palmaria. And on this island is Gabbiano Beach, with gorgeous views back towards the coast and a lot fewer people than you’ll find on many of the mainland beaches in the area.
You can rent loungers and umbrellas here, but you can also lay out on your own towel for free and still take advantage of the offerings at the beach club’s bar.
HOT TIP: Have lunch or dinner at the seafood restaurant next door — really yummy food here, at good prices.
GET THERE: Take the ferry from the Cinque Terre to Portovenere, then another ferry 5 minutes across to Palmaria. Or take a taxi boat directly to the beach.
The beach in Camogli — a picturesque little town an hour outside of the Cinque Terre — may be pebbly, but it is nevertheless one of the prettiest seaside locales on the Italian Riviera, with drool-worthy views across the bay to boot.
You can take your pick of free areas or fully-equipped beach clubs, and there are lots of restaurants and bars to choose from along the town’s promenade as well.
HOT TIP: This beach can get crowded in July and August, but mostly by Italians, not travelers. So either avoid it then, or immerse yourself in la dolce vita italiana!
GET THERE: Take the train to Camogli-San Fruttuoso and wander down towards the water.
9. San Fruttuoso
About an hour outside of the Cinque Terre, this beach near Portofino will bring out the misty-eyed romantic in you. Presided over by a 10th-century abbey and Saracen tower, it looks like something out of an old Italian storybook. Just magical! San Fruttuoso has long been considered by many to be one of the best beaches in Italy.
HOT TIP: Scuba divers will love visiting the Christ of the Abyss here, a bronze statue of Jesus with arms outstretched placed 17 meters underwater in 1954.
GET THERE: You can get here by ferry from Portofino or Santa Margherita, or via hiking paths from Portofino or Camogli.
10. Eco del Mare Beach Club (Fiascherino)
In the Gulf of Poets just outside the Cinque Terre is a little town called Fiascherino, where there are two public beaches, but if you really want a luxe beach experience, you’ll want to splurge at the Eco del Mare Beach Club.
Owned by Francesca Mozer, wife of famous Italian singer-songwriter Zucchero, this beach club has everything you need for a truly pampered beach day — an elevator to take you down to the water, lush pines and olive trees surrounding the tiny cove, breezy white linens protecting your beach bed from the sun, private wooden cabins, hot and cold showers, a limited number of spots available (no crowds allowed!), and a great restaurant for lunch or dinner.
HOT TIP: Plan to spend the earlier part of the day on the beach — the sun dips behind the cliffs at around 4 pm.
GET THERE: Take the train to La Spezia Centrale from the Cinque Terre, then grab a cab to Eco del Mare. Or drive your car — they have private parking and valet services.
Hope you love our best beaches Cinque Terre edition?. Tell us what your idea of a perfect beach is, and if any of these look like they fit the bill. We’d love to hear from you in the comments!
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Image credits: Monique Znamiec