Panoramic view of Portofino with yachts and boats in little marina, Italy

Things to do in  Piedmont & Liguria

Retro cool on the Italian Riviera

The foodie destinations of Piedmont and Liguria are strikingly different, despite their long shared border. Inland Piedmont has manicured vineyards offset by the noble Alps, is home to the former royal seat of Turin, and produces the world’s most exclusive chocolate, truffles, and wine. Rough-and-tumble Liguria wows with its wild coastal cliffs, vertiginous fishing villages, gritty yet glorious Genoa seaport, and rustic cuisine founded on the foraged bounty of the land and sea. Put them together, however, and these two regions form an inviting whole for culinary and cultural adventures, among other things to do.

Top 15 attractions in Piedmont & Liguria

Portofino Marine Reserve (Area Marina Protetta di Portofino)

The resort town of Portofino on the Italian Riviera is a popular bolthole for the international jet set, but the town offers more than tony boutiques and glorious sea views. It's also home to an important protected marine area (Area Marina Protetta, known for its pristine coastline and diverse marine life.More

Holy Shroud of Turin (Sacra Sindone)

In Turin’s Cathedral of San Giovanni Battista, the faithful and curious from across the globe gather to view the Holy Shroud of Turin (Sacra Sindone), one of most famous and controversial religious relics in Italy. This linen cloth is said to have been laid over Jesus’ body after his crucifixion, though its authenticity remains debated.More


Riomaggiore is photogenic at every angle, thanks to its multicolored buildings cocooned between sea cliffs and fronted by the ocean. The largest and southernmost of northern Italy’s five Cinque Terre villages, Riomaggiore is the place for taking romantic promenades, sipping coffee in cafés, and bird-watching along the rocky shores.More

Egyptian Museum (Museo Egizio)

With over 26,000 ancient Egyptian artifacts gathered between the 18th and 20th century, Turin's Egyptian Museum (Museo Egizio) houses one of the largest collections of Egyptian antiquities in the world. The galleries were extensively enlarged, renovated, and reorganized, reopening in 2015, and the result is both spectacular and engaging.More

Genoa Cruise Port

As the birthplace of Christopher Columbus, it's fitting that Genoa (Genova) is home to the second-largest port in Europe. A popular stop for cruise liners, Genoa Cruise Port serves as a jumping-off point for shore excursions to Liguria's pretty coastal villages, as well as offers easy access to historic Genoa proper.More

Genoa Cathedral (Cattedrale di San Lorenzo)

In the heart of Genoa’s old town, Genoa Cathedral (Cattedrale di San Lorenzo) is the most important church in the city. It’s a soaring Gothic and Romanesque masterpiece in alternating bands of black and white marble, where the magnificent art and architecture serve as reminders of this former maritime republic’s historic wealth and power.More

Spianata Castelletto

The port city of Genoa (Genova may seem like an overwhelming monolith at first glance but it is actually a patchwork of distinct neighborhoods, each with a unique history and identity. One of the most scenic is hilltop Castelletto, home to the Spianata di Castelletto overlook, offering one of the most commanding views over the city.More

Royal Palace of Turin (Palazzo Reale di Torino)

Elegant Turin, which was the seat of the Duchy of Savoy before briefly becoming the first capital of unified Italy, is home to a number of sumptuous historic palaces and castles. The Royal Palace of Turin (Palazzo Reale di Torino) is among the most opulent, and today it houses the Royal Museums, with an extensive art collection, armory, and gardens.More

Piazza de Ferrari

Piazza de Ferrari is the expansive main square in Genoa, separating the historic district from the modern city center. Its large fountain is the square’s centerpiece and a central meeting point for tourists and locals alike. The piazza is named for Raffaele de Ferrari, who donated a lot of money to help expand Genoa’s port in the 1800s.More


Arguably the prettiest—and steepest—of the Cinque Terre villages, Vernazza is striking: Its snaking narrow lanes and crescent-shaped harbor are framed by forested peaks and the glittering Mediterranean. Stroll the waterfront, snap pics of pastel-colored buildings, and explore a medieval castle before heading to the sandy beach for a swim.More

Mole Antonelliana

Turin’s most recognizable landmark—and home to the National Museum of Cinema—the Mole Antonelliana dates to 1889. This soaring tower, with its pyramidal dome and 551-foot (168-meter) spire rises above the Turin skyline, and its viewing platform offers top-notch city vistas.More

Cinque Terre National Park (Parco Nazionale delle Cinque Terre)

Cinque Terre National Park is full of postcard-worthy landscapes: sea cliffs with sandy coves, bright villages clinging to steep terraces, forested plateaus blooming with wildflowers. Stretching a distance along northern Italy’s rugged Italian Riviera, the park dazzles visitors with breathtaking views of the Mediterranean coastline.More

Piazza San Carlo

Of Turin’s many baroque squares, Piazza San Carlo is a standout. Lined with porticoed palaces housing historic cafés, and the twin churches of Santa Cristina and San Carlo Borromeo, this square on Via Roma between Piazza Castello and Piazza Carlo Felice is one of the liveliest in the city.More

Piazza Castello

To stroll through Turin’s Piazza Castello is to walk through the city’s history, as this vast square is home to sumptuous buildings like the Savoy Royal Palace and Palazzo Madama, the first seat of the Italian parliament. Lined with elegant porticoes, shops, and cafés, the square is a highlight of this vibrant city.More

Santa Margherita Ligure

The resort town of Santa Margherita Ligure on the Italian Riviera is often outshined by its famous neighbor, Portofino, but deserves no less attention. The larger of the two, Santa Margherita Ligure feels less overrun with tourists while offering similarly quaint cafes and boutiques, pastel-painted buildings, and glorious views of the sea.More

Top activities in Piedmont & Liguria

La Spezia Shore Excursion to Florence & Pisa
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Small group Pasta and Tiramisu class in Riomaggiore
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Cinque Terre Private Boat Tour

Cinque Terre Private Boat Tour

From La Spezia to Pisa with optional Leaning Tower Ticket
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Andrea Boat Charter Portofino

Andrea Boat Charter Portofino

per group
Cinque Terre tour with limoncino tasting from La Spezia Port
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Do Eat Better Experience - Food Tours in Genoa
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The best of Cinque terre Tour

The best of Cinque terre Tour

per group
Boat Tours 5 Terre

Boat Tours 5 Terre

Turin: Egyptian Museum 2-hour monolingual guided experience in small group
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Home Cooking Class & Meal with a Local in Riomaggiore
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Private Tour to Portofino and Santa Margherita from Genoa
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All about Piedmont & Liguria

When to visit

Piedmont's truffle woods and vineyards attract gourmands from across the globe in the fall and winter when the region’s top food and wine festivals are held. Visitors bid six figures for white truffles at Alba’s fair and auction and sip their way through the Barolo and Barbera hills as temperatures take on a nip. However, summer reigns supreme in coastal Liguria as seaside hot spots like Portofino and the Cinque Terre draw the world’s yacht set.

Getting around

Piedmont and Liguria have a rolling topography that makes it almost impossible to move in a straight line between two points, so train travel in most regions is slow and sinuous. The only exception is the regional rail line along the Mediterranean between the seaside resort towns, including the Cinque Terre. Explore Piedmont’s wine country and Alpine slopes by car, then ditch the wheels and take the train to venture along the coast.

Traveler tips

The Cinque Terre Card is a must if you plan to visit this UNESCO-listed clutch of fishing villages on the Ligurian coast. The card includes unlimited rides on the local train that runs between the towns all day long and access to the hiking trails inside the National Park. Book your Cinque Terre Card on the park’s website in advance to avoid waiting in the long line at the ticket office once you arrive on the coast.

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People Also Ask

What is Piedmont known for?

Piedmont is one of Italy’s premier culinary regions, and a number of the most prestigious specialties in the country are produced here. White truffles from Alba top the list, while Piedmont’s vineyards turn out iconic wines like Barbera and Barolo, its hills are blanketed with hazelnut trees, and the capital city of Turin is a mecca for high-quality chocolate.

Is Piedmont French or Italian?

Piedmont sits along the border with France, and its northern reaches are deeply influenced by French culture and cuisine, but the region is politically and geographically Italian. Locals speak Italian, and the Savoy royal seat of Turin briefly served as Italy’s capital after the country's unification in 1861.

Is Liguria worth visiting?

Yes, Liguria is a spectacularly scenic stretch of coast in northern Italy known as the Italian Riviera. Its waterfront is dotted with picture-perfect fishing villages, including Portofino, the Cinque Terre, Portovenere, and the captivating former marine republic of Genoa. In addition, Ligurian cuisine is among Italy’s most beloved—the region is the birthplace of pesto and focaccia.

What are the main cities in Liguria?

The largest cities in Liguria are Genoa, a major port city with a glorious history as a significant maritime republic, and La Spezia, where many cruise ships dock. The region’s biggest draws, however, are the tiny fishing villages of the Italian Riviera like the Cinque Terre (Monterosso, Manarola, Vernazza, Corniglia, and Riomaggiore), Portofino, and Portovenere.

Are the beaches sandy in Liguria?

The Ligurian coastline has sandy and rocky stretches, both popular destinations for sunseekers and water sports enthusiasts. The Italian Riviera to the west of Genoa tends to be sandy, while the coast to the east is lined by rocky cliffs, and the beaches are generally covered in pebbles.

Is the Italian Riviera the same as the Amalfi Coast?

When people talk about the Italian Riviera, they generally mean the coastline of Liguria from the French border on the west to La Spezia on the east. The Amalfi Coast, far to the south along the Italian coastline, is more often called the “Costiera” and is lined with similarly colorful fishing villages.

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