Amazing Day Trips to Take From La Spezia, Italy, by Boat

The village of Riomaggiore is a key stop in the Cinque Terre National Park
The village of Riomaggiore is a key stop in the Cinque Terre National Park | ©  Eloi_Omella / Getty Images
Photo of Oonagh Turner
19 November 2021

Colloquially known as the Gulf of Poets, the Province of La Spezia is a wide bay that once captivated the imagination of Lord Byron and Percy Shelley. Today the gulf continues to enchant its visitors. It is the gateway to the Cinque Terre – five fishing villages that cling to the cliffside, together forming a Unesco-listed site. Set sail from La Spezia and take in the region’s highlights, best seen on a sailing odyssey along the glittering Ligurian Sea.

Tour the scenic coast of La Spezia by chartering a yacht with SamBoat.

Porto Venere

Architectural Landmark
Castello Doria of Portovenere at the coastline of Cinque Terre National Park, Liguria, North West Italy
© travelbild excl / Alamy Stock Photo
Sail around the coast from La Spezia to Porto Venere village, home to the remains of Castello Doria, a striking example of Genoese military architecture. In the shadow of the castle sits Grotta di Lord Byron, a swimming spot adored by the English poet, who famously swam across the gulf to neighbouring Lerici to visit the Shelleys. Every August, the village is illuminated with thousands of Roman torches for the Madonna Bianca festival.


Natural Feature
Beach of Isola Palmaria in front of the Coast of Portovenere at the Ligurian Coast, North East Italy.
© travelbild-Italy / Alamy Stock Photo
Worlds away from the mainland but just a stone’s throw across the water are the rugged beaches on Palmaria Island. Spiaggia dei Gabbiani is a public beach looking out to sea, while Gabbiano Spiaggia offers a view back to Porto Venere. Moor your boat in Porto Venere and take the short ferry crossing. If you have time to spare, hike around the island, finishing at Locanda Lorena, a relaxed restaurant with a terrace overlooking the water.

Isola del Tino

Natural Feature
Old Fortifications on Isola del Tino near Porto Venere Liguria Italy
© Mark Sunderland Photography / Alamy Stock Photo
Sail around Isola del Tino and search for the remains of fortifications built by the Germans during World War II, created to defend the naval base at La Spezia. Today, this can only be observed from the sea as access is strictly prohibited. The gleaming white Madonna Bianca cuts through the azure sea – acting as a warning to passing mariners. Sail further south for Tino’s sister island, tiny Tinetto, home to ruins of a monastic settlement.


Architectural Landmark
© Frank Chmura / Alamy Stock Photo
From La Spezia, circle around the coast to Riomaggiore. This medieval village is set into the rock and characterised by bright coloured houses that cascade down the ravine into the harbour. It’s well worth docking at the small marina for an amble up into the hills. Grab a cone of fried calamari from Tutti Fritti before turning the corner into Riomaggiore beach or venture up to Via dell’Amore, or Lover’s Lane, so-called for its romantic panoramas out to sea.


Architectural Landmark
Manarola Panorama
© Rory McDonald / Getty Images
The oldest of the Cinque Terre villages, Manarola maintains a strong sense of independence, boasting its own dialect – Manarolese. Moor your boat against a buoy and head into the village to discover its winding labyrinths. Don’t leave Manarola without sampling the sweet white Sciacchetrà wine, an important part of Cinque Terre tradition which comes directly from its steeply terraced vineyards. Every Christmas, the hills are illuminated with lamps and figures as part of the world’s largest nativity scene.


Architectural Landmark
Aerial view of the colorful historic center of Vernazza, Cinque Terre, Liguria, Italy
© Marco Taliani de Marchio / Alamy Stock Photo
Another of the famous five within sailing distance from La Spezia is Vernazza. A quaint town with a medieval castle, Vernazza is home to Cinque Terre’s only natural harbour and offers plenty of buoys ready for mooring. The main square is Piazza Marconi, which welcomes with its pastel-coloured townhouses. Quench your thirst with an Aperol spritz from Ananasso Bar in the shade of its luminescent parasols. Access the small beach through a cave entrance, created after a landslide devastated the town in 2011.

Monterosso al Mare

Natural Feature
Beach umbrellas lining the beach in Monterosso al Mare, Cinque Terre, UNESCO World Heritage Site, Liguria, Italy, Europe
© robertharding / Alamy Stock Photo
Monterosso is one of the bigger of the famous Cinque beaches, as well as being the only sandy one reachable by dinghy from your boat. One end of the beach is guarded by the Monterosso Giant, a 14m (46ft) statue of a muscular and hulking Neptune. Il Gigante – as locals know the sculpture – may have lost his arms, his shell-adored crown, and been battered by years of the Ligurian Sea’s heavy swell, but he still makes for a striking backdrop to the bay.


Architectural Landmark
Historic district, Lerici, La Spezia district, Liguria, Italy, Europe
© robertharding / Alamy Stock Photo
Just south of La Spezia is Lerici, a town set within the Gulf of Poets, eulogised by Dante, Shelley, Byron, and DH Lawrence. On the south side of the bay, the port sits in the shadow of the 12th-century Castello di Lerici. Above the swathe of sand, the promenade is lined with townhouses painted in the pink, red and yellow colour palette synonymous with the Ligurian coast.

Explore more of La Spezia by hiring a yacht with SamBoat.

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