Porto Venere

The largest island of the Italian Riviera is largely undeveloped (it's home to around 50 residents) and lies just a short ferry ride from Porto Venere. Set with towering cliffs, picturesque coves and rocky beaches, the 1.9 sq km Palmaria makes a fascinating destination for a day trip. There are several well-maintained hiking trails on the island including the 510, which circles the island and takes you up high slopes, through Mediterranean forest and past pristine shorelines on a moderately difficult three-hour walk.

If you prefer to lounge on the beach, you can join sunseekers on the shore near Punta Secca, opposite Porto Venere. The best beach though is at Pozzale on the southeast side of the island. Ferries run every 30 minutes during summer (and every couple of hours off season) from Porto Venere to Punta Secca (€5, five minutes).

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Porto Venere attractions

1. Chiesa di San Pietro

0.41 MILES

This stunning wind- and wave-lashed church, built in 1198 in Gothic style, stands on the ruins of a 5th-century palaeo-Christian church, with its extant…

2. Castello Doria

0.42 MILES

No one knows when the original castle was built, though the current structure – a formidable example of Genoese military architecture – dates from the…

3. Grotta di Byron

0.44 MILES

At the end of the quay, a Cinque Terre panorama unfolds from the rocky terraces of a cave formerly known as Grotta Arpaia. Lord Byron once swam across the…

4. Porto Mirabello

3.62 MILES

It's worth taking a stroll down to the waterfront and across the scenic Ponte Thaon di Revel for a look at La Spezia's modern, expansive port. You'll see…

5. Castello di San Terenzo

3.63 MILES

Strategic fortifications date back at least to the 12th century on this hilltop perch overlooking the bay. As part of La Spezia's coastal defense system…

6. Ponte Thaon di Revel

3.69 MILES

Opened to much fanfare in 2013, this photogenic cable-stayed pedestrian bridge connects the city with the port. Vaguely resembling a large double-masted…

7. Spiaggia di San Terenzo

3.73 MILES

One of several lovely stretches of coastline in the area, San Terenzo has a sandy beach with free sections as well as places to hire loungers and…

8. Castello di Lerici

3.74 MILES

On a promontory high above the shoreline, Lerici's castle has played a pivotal role protecting the city since the Middle Ages. Rebuilt various times over…