The famous seaside resort of Levanto along the Italian Riviera is a perfect introduction to the Cinque Terre. Set at the mouth of a river valley between dense pines and olive trees, Levanto is pretty, local, and family-friendly. Still, the high season brings hoards of visitors and this once-untrodden fishing village isn’t the hidden gem it used to be, so is Levanto worth visiting?
Levanto is located around 80 km east of Genoa and 20 km northwest of La Spezia, the busy port city in Liguria, on the other side of Cinque Terre. Levanto is accessible and authentic and, although popular, it’s a great alternative to the tourist-choked villages that climb the coast of the Italian Riviera.
There are plenty of reasons to visit Levanto but we’ve explored just a few of our favorites in this guide. From the spacious beaches to the sumptuous cuisine, and even more attractive prices, here’s why Levanto belongs on your travel bucket list. Let’s get into it.
Levanto might be no stranger to tourism, but even with the high-season crowds, it doesn’t get the same number of day-trippers as nearby Cinque Terre and has managed to maintain its local, family-friendly vibe.
Levanto’s town center is beautiful and quiet, perfect for getting lost. Close to the beach, it’s mostly car-free and this is the prettiest part of Levanto that you’ll find right in front of you if you’re arriving by boat. The narrow streets are blessed with colorful homes, cafes, and boutique stores. Levanto has a large, flat center, unlike most other towns in Cinque Terre, so there aren’t as many meandering alleyways, but this does make it easier to get around on foot, especially with small children.
Cycling paths also connect Levanto to Bonassola, the next coastal town along, following a disused railway line that’s easy and scenic to cycle. If you’re looking for a relaxing way to get some exercise and tour the nearby valleys, enjoying views of Levanto town from beyond the harbor, renting a bike is the way to do it.
Laidback, casual beach vibes are synonymous with Levanto and it feels much more authentic than the postcard, pastel villages of Vernazza and Monterosso al Mare along the Italian Riviera. Not to be missed is Monastero Delle Clarisse, the busting Via Garibaldi, Oratorio di San Giacomo, and, what remains of Levanto’s medieval heart, La Loggia, all located in the town center.
Still, you’re also sure to find simple pleasures in being able to enjoy an aperitivo by Levanto’s harbor and hear Italian spoken around you by locals, which is becoming harder and harder in Cinque Terre.
The pull of the Mediterranean is one of Levanto’s biggest draws and the town is home to one of the largest beaches in the area. The sandy shores are lined with pretty cafes and the views of the bay and surrounding nature are simply charming.
The beach itself is dark in color with a mixture of sand and pebbles, which is typical of this part of Italy. Still, it’s well-equipped for a full day of relaxing with sunloungers and amenities, and the refreshing waters of the Ligurian Sea are crystal clear.
Part of the beach is free while the other part is owned by beach clubs. You can hire kayaks from some of them as a fun and active way to explore Levanto Bay. You can also swim from May to October here when the water is warm enough.
Levanto is also in reach of some other delightful beaches along the Italian Riviera. Some of the most notable are the three beaches of Corniglia, one of them being Guvano Beach, famous as Cinque Terre’s great naturist beach that is popular with nudists around the world.
The Vernazza Beaches and Manarola Beaches are also well known for their imposing rock faces and sparkling waters. All of these shores are no more than 30-40 minutes away by car from Levanto.
The Cinque Terre is a string of five old fishing villages that straddle the rugged coastline of the Liguria region. Levanto isn’t one of these towns, but it is a gateway to them and, although busy, the centuries-old seaside towns with their colorful houses that cling to steep terraces, should be on your bucket list.
Riomaggiore is the largest of Cinque Terre’s villages and acts like the center, with a busy train station and plenty of hotels, restaurants, and tourist amenities. Fossola Beach is one its main attractions. Although small, this strip of pebbly sand is one of the most picturesque beaches in Italy.
Corniglia is the quiet middle village that sprawls atop a 330-ft rocky promontory flanked by vineyards. It has no direct sea access and is the only Cinque Terre town without a beach but steep steps lead down to a rocky cove if you really fancy a dip. Narrow alleys, pastel-colored houses, and hidden boutiques characterize its old core. Bear in mind, it might be less busy than the other towns but Corniglia is by no means tourist-free.
Vernazza is probably the most popular of the five villages, but for good reason. The steepest, quaintest, most iconic of them all, the main cobbled streets are lined with cafes and link to the seaside Piazza Marconi with a functional train station and spectacular sea views. Visitors swim in the harbor where fishing boats bob and the energy is always electric.
Levanto is within an hour’s drive of all of these towns but you can also take the scenic train journey or travel by boat (with a tour or on a ferry) for more of an adventure.
Levanto itself is much more accessible than those less easily reached villages perched high on the Italian Riviera. If you’ve got your heart set on the Cinque Terre but don’t want to navigate the crowds and high prices every day, Levanto is a great stepping stone to get you there for day trips and tours. Or if you like the look of the Cinque Terre but don’t want to make the haul, a vacation in Levanto could be the perfect alternative.
You can’t talk about Italy without mentioning the food and it’s as good a reason as any to visit the sun-soaked Mediterranean peninsula. Still, the gastronomy of the Italian Riviera gets an honorable mention as it’s known for some of the best cuisines in Italy.
Fresh seafood is the star of the show—Levanto is a fishing village after all. Spaghetti scoglio is a staple, combining thick pasta noodles with clams, muscles, prawns, and a white wine sauce, while anchovies are worshiped across the board in Liguria, whether they’re dissolved in a tomato reduction or served on focaccia with your aperitivo.
It’s not all fishy delights though. Cinque Terre is also famous for pasta al pesto, especially made with trofie and trenette types of pasta which you’ll find huge, cheap bowls of in Levanto town. Ricotta and spinach stuffed pansotti with a walnut sauce is another indulgent vegetarian option worth trying.
The Italian Riviera is also known for its wine, and vineyards cover the hills beyond the seaside towns. Levanto is brimming with wine bars and there are plenty of wine-tasting tours to book onto. In fact, the local vino is a big part of the food culture. Check out Cantina dei Mile, located on Via Garibaldi, for delicious wine-paired platters and local snacks. With indoor and outdoor tables, the vibe is informal and welcoming.
You should also pay a visit to Focacceria Raso for freshly baked bread and take-out focaccia slices, Cantina dei 1000 for great wine and aperitivo options, La Vineria which is perfect for a light meal with plates of pasta, salads, and rice dishes, and Gattabriga, a small, family-owned restaurant with a limited but curated menu of local food.
Italy isn’t known for its shoestring destinations and the Italian Riviera is by no means a budget-friendly place. The Cinque Terre, for one, is one of Italy’s most expensive spots and is often compared to places like the Amalfi Coast when it comes to accommodation and meal prices.
Levanto isn’t always cheap either, but for the taste of Cinque Terre life that it offers, the comparably much lower prices are a big appeal. For example, an inexpensive restaurant meal could cost you around €8-12 in Levanto, but you should expect to spend closer to €15-17 for a bowl of pasta in Cinque Terre. Likewise, a mid-range meal for two could cost just €40 in Levanto but more than 50 percent more in Riomaggiore.
You can enjoy a cappuccino by the harbor for just €1,50 in Levanto and an Aperol spritz for €5—order at aperitivo hour and you’ll get a platter of snacks on the house too. Hotels range from around €75 to €360 a night in Levanto, with an average of €130, but just half an hour away in Monterosso al Mare, the average soars to €350 a night, with a range of €150 to €712.
The same can be said for vacation rentals. There are plenty of holiday homes and apartments available in the center of Levanto, ranging between €111 and €315 a night at the beginning of the high season with an average nightly price of €166. Whereas, across the Cinque Terre, the range is €150-450 with a nightly average of over €220.
Local wine is a pull to this region and you could get your hands on a bottle in the supermarket in Levanto for just €5, while you’ll pay around €18 in the restaurants. To enjoy the same wine along with your meal in Vernazza you’ll pay €22-30, while a bottle from the local market will be closer to €9.
The Places to Stay
Levanto has no shortage of charming accommodation options to suit every budget and style. The town is known for its family-friendly charm so it’s no surprise that you’ll find great hotels and vacation rentals to accommodate you and the kids. But the Italian Riviera is also undoubtedly romantic and couples will feel especially at home in the boutique hotels and sea-view apartments.
It’s lacking in backpacker options, but as a much cheaper alternative to the Cinque Terre, staying in one of Levanto’s modest guest houses or B&Bs could be your gateway to the Italian Riviera on a budget.
Have a look at some of the affordable accommodations you can expect from Levanto below:
Affittacamere Il Borgo ($$) – Just a ten-minute walk from the train station, this quaint property offers comfortable rooms, some with private garden terraces, free wi-fi, and private parking. Triple rooms, perfect for families or friends, start at €100 a night.
B&B ALDA ($$) – Charming and well-equipped, this B&B offers private bathrooms, free toiletries, a communal kitchen, a shared garden, and lovely city views just 350 yards from Levanto Beach. Bag a small double for €110 a night with a generous Italian breakfast served every morning.
Angiolina’s Farm ($$) – Featuring stunning garden views and panoramas over Levanto Bay, you’ll find an outdoor pool, an on-site bar, an expansive garden, and two heated hot tubs on Angiolina’s Farm. The stylish and cozy rooms all come with satellite TV and a minibar, starting from €200 a night with an exceptional breakfast included.
Located in the northwest, it actually gets very mild in the low season in Levanto, but this isn’t a bad thing. Cooler weather scares away some of the crowds, but the beauty of the Italian Riviera is by no means compromised when temperatures drop. In fact, it’s not uncommon for the Ligurian coast to experience some winter snowfall, and if you visit at this time, you could see Levanto and the Cinque Terre in an entirely different light.
The al fresco cafes and family restaurants become hole-in-the-wall haunts, lit by firelight and frequented by locals. The food varies slightly by season but winter brings the chance to enjoy some of the fantastic rustic favorites of the rural Liguria region like polenta and hearty beef stew.
That said, Levanto is also loved for its sumptuous summer climate. Blessed with Mediterranean heat, you can expect highs of 28 degrees Celcius throughout July and August and it stays warm enough to swim until mid-October. The shoulder seasons are a little chillier than some places in southern Italy, but if you like to feel the seasons, Levanto could be perfect for you. Expect highs of more than 20 degrees Celcius from May onwards and plenty of clear skies.
How many days do you need in Levanto?
To enjoy a laidback beach holiday with plenty of time to explore the old core and restaurant scene, we recommend at least five days in Levanto, and a few more if you plan to take a few day trips, such as, to the nearby Cinque Terre and its historical towns. Levanto is a sleepy port but there’s plenty to keep the whole family entertained, and a few beach days are a must.
Which village in Cinque Terre should I visit?
Each Cinque Terre town offers something different. Vernazza Port is one of the most popular spots on the coast and the landscape is dominated by Doria Castle. Swimmers cool off in the harbor where fishing boat’s bob and there’s always a good atmosphere. On the other hand, Riomaggiore is one of the most accessible towns with a busy station and plenty of amenities, while Corniglia is quiet and set back from the sea. Manarola is an especially beautiful town with its strew of multicolored houses hidden in the hills, while Monterosso al Mare has a great beach and is known for its fragrant lemon groves.
Is northern Italy safe?
Italy is a safe country and violent crime is rarely reported by tourists. The north is even more problem free, with much of the crime being isolated to the mafia-run and poverty-stricken towns in the south. Abruzzo, Milan, Liguria, Verona, Bologna, and Turin have some of the highest qualities of life in the country and consistently low crime rates. You should always be aware of your surroundings wherever you go and be extra alert in big cities, but there’s no reason to feel unsafe in northern Italy.