Tucked away in its own peaceful cove of the Italian Riviera, Santa Margherita Ligure will have no trouble capturing your heart with its colourful Ligurian architecture, picture-perfect promenade and mild year-round temperatures. And while it’s true that this easygoing seaside village, located just 32km from the city of Genoa, is perfect for dawdling holidays beside the Med, the resort is also full of fabulous experiences that can easily be squeezed into a trip. Here are a few reasons to put it on your itinerary.
Supported by the Comune of Santa Margherita Ligure
Its seafood's worth crossing oceans for
Like bucatini all'amatriciana in Rome or pizza in Naples, this region has its own special relationship with a beloved delicacy. We’re talking about the famous Santa Margherita Ligure red shrimp. Nearly 200 tonnes of these meaty crustaceans are caught off the coast of Liguria every year before ending up in the village’s waterfront restaurants. Order a bowl for yourself and get stuck in.
The scenery deserves a red carpet
When Santa Margherita Ligure unveiled its enhanced coastal walking trail in 2017, it seemed fitting for a region known for its glamour that it was given the red-carpet treatment. And how. The town marked the occasion by covering the full 8km sidewalk, which links the town with Portofino and Rapallo, with a giant velvet rug, breaking the world record for the longest-ever red carpet in the process. This seaside stroll is a great way to see the region’s best scenery in one swoop, taking you past historic buildings, like baroque churches and a 16th-century watchtower that looms over the cliff edge, as well as palatial gardens, grand mansions and several hidden beaches.
Its diving is out of this world
If you’re excited by the idea of swimming alongside vibrant marine life and colourful reefs or getting up close with underwater sculptures and shipwrecks, you’ve come to the right place. Fish and coral thrive in the marine-protected waters that lap the Santa Margherita Ligure shoreline, with everything from octopus and conger eels to groupers and barracudas calling the Ligurian coastline home. There are loads of dive schools in the area too, so whether you’re a beginner, an expert or just in need of a refresher, you'll find plenty of ways to explore Italy's best dive site.
And the outdoor pursuits are pretty special too
Strap on your hiking boots and get ready to see the magical sea views from up high in Portofino Natural Park. This vast protected area overlapping the Santa Margherita Ligure hillsides is a rambler’s paradise, with a wealth of trails that weave through pinewood forests and around fragrant olive groves, before detouring to some unforgettable coastal lookouts. You’ll find routes of every difficulty level, though all offer the reward of exquisite Mediterranean scenery or even a cooling dip in a hidden bay. Hiring an electric mountain bike for the day is a great way to see even more of the Ligurian countryside (not to mention it's a helluva lot less strenuous). A guided tour will take you down coastal roads where you can indulge in endless ocean views, before passing through charming fishing villages and along rural paths carved into the cliffs.
Your wardrobe will be forever grateful
It’s a great jumping-off point
See what treasures lie further along the coast or head inland and escape the sea air for the day: Santa Margherita Ligure is perfectly situated to embark on some fun excursions. Take a boat eastward and explore the delights of Cinque Terre, a string of hamlets where you’ll find trattorias serving Italian specialities doused in Liguria's pesto. Alternatively, go west to Camogli – famous for its plates of hot, creamy cheese focaccia bread – and sample another local delicacy. For something completely different, go for a round of golf in nearby Rapallo. The course offers 18 holes sculpted into the mountain range, and it's open year-round.