Does Genoa have nice beaches? Yes – if you know where to find them. Beaches near Genova: How to get to beautiful beaches in Liguria by train in less than one hour.
Close to Southern France, only a stone’s throw away from Switzerland, two hours by train from Milano: The city of Genoa sits in the middle of Europe, on the Mediterranean Sea.
So, can you go for a swim at Genoa’s seaside? Are there any nice beaches close-by on the Ligurian coast?
Genoa beaches: how to find beautiful places for Swimming
On the subject of Genoa and the beach, first the bad news: as a (former) industrial city and ferry port, the city of Genoa itself offers only very limited beach enjoyment.
The good news: by train and bus you can reach beautiful, pebble or sandy beaches in a short time. Here are the best tips for the lovely coastline around Genoa.
Boccadasse: The aperitivo beach of Genoa
Boccadasse is a famous old fishing village near Genoa, or Genova, as the Italians say. With its small pebble beach, it is very popular with swimmers and even more popular with those who prefer to have an aperitif or aperitivo or appetizer in one of the small seaside restaurants or bars. Picturesque!
For the Spiaggia di Boccadasse, the weekend rule (see below) is especially important. You are more likely to get a place at the Boccadasse Beach for a morning coffee rather than for the aperitivo.
Genoa Beach Boccadasse, informations
From the Genoa city center Brignole train station, you can reach Boccadasse by direct bus in about 25 minutes.
On foot, it takes about an hour, part of it along the seafront promenade Corso Italia. By bike, it takes about 20 minutes to reach Boccadasse Beach.
Genoa beaches: in Pegli the suburb rests
Pegli will probably never win a prize for the best or the most beautiful city beach on the ligurian coast. On this pebble beach, suburbia takes its urban vacations. Tourists hardly ever come to this place.
The beach of Genoa-Pegli is bigger than Spiaggia Bocadasse. A beach bar and restaurants across the street round out Pegli’s spiaggia offerings.
City beach Genoa Pegli, informations
From Genoa’s tourist port of Porto Antico, it takes about 30 minutes by bus to reach Spiaggia di Pegli.
Take a seat on the left side of the bus in order to catch a glimpse of the shipyard of Fincanteri, one of the world’s largest shipbuilders.
Pebble beach near Genoa: Arenzano
If your time is short but you want a quick breath of beach air from Genoa, Arenzano can be a good thing. Not a beach paradise, but an entry point to the spiaggia scene.
Very special about Arenzano: the path from the train station goes through a beautiful park with lots of trees. This is extraordinary because trees are rather scarce in Genoa.
Beach near Genoa: Arenzano Information
By treno, it takes about 25 minutes from Genoa Central Station in the fast way, and about 40 minutes in the slower way.
Free pebbly sandy beaches are located at the right end of the promenade towards the port. There, in the marina, you can also find some nice restaurants.
Genoa Beach: Varazze
Varazze enjoys a good reputation among surfers; the town is considered a hotspot for wave-riders. No Hawaii, but the Ligurian mini-variant of it.
In high summer, unfortunately, almost the entire beach front is owned by the bagni bosses and can only be used for a fee. Relax: There is a way to find beaches that are more budget-friendly.
Nevertheless: If you have reached the long beach promenade and then turn right in the direction of the harbor, you will come across a pretty little free beach with pebbly sand.
Spiaggia Libera del Porticciolo is a pebbly, crescent-shaped bay, bordered towards the end by large boulders. It is located in the direction of the viewpoint Frangiflutti di Varazze near the port Marina di Varazze.
Beaches Genoa: Information Varazze
From Genoa’s main train station you can reach Varazze in 30 minutes by fast train; by slow train it takes about 50 minutes.
Along the way to the beaches there is also a side entrance to the old town of Varazze. Well worth a visit, for example for a last beer before the journey home to Genoa.
Beaches near Genoa: Rapallo
Now we’re off in an easterly direction. Rapallo, located on the Gulf del Tugullio, is a really good start for people who want a beach experience near the city of Genoa.
The beach is as easily as quickly accessible from the train station of Rapallo. And there is a clean public restroom at the train station – at least there was in May 2023 (and it is checked regularly).
The beach, which is free of charge, is in a good position in the center of the town. Right there where the weekly Mercato Settimanale di Rapallo takes place every Thursday.
Rapallo is located about 19 miles southeast of Genoa and offers a very pretty old town. The relatively large city (30,000 inhabitants) is a good starting point for a visit to Portofino – or even to make a stop in Camogli (see next tip) on the way back to Genoa.
Rapallo Liguria: Beach Info
From Genova Piazza Principe train station you can reach Rapallo by train in less than 40 minutes, or by slow train in a little more than an hour.
On foot, it is only about five minutes from the station to Spiaggia Libera on the street Lungomare Vittorio Veneto. Here a relatively large pebble beach awaits you.
Beaches near Genoa: Camogli, the favorite of tutto Genova
The Ligurian town of Camogli is enchantingly nestled against the mountain. Camogli is one of the great treasures of province and the Ligurian coast. In short: One of the loveliest coastal villages of the Italian Riveria.
The pebble beach of Camogli is relatively large. Nevertheless, it is worth taking seasonal holidays and weather conditions into account in order to avoid becoming a victim of day-trip overtourism.
Camogli near Genoa, informations
From Genoa-Brignole city station, it takes about 40 minutes by train to reach the lovely village of Camogli. Just the train ride along the sea is worthwhile.
From the station down to the sea, there are numerous viewpoints and picture opportunities. In my humble opinion, the word «instagrammable» was invented for places like Camogli.
Sestri Levante Liguria: Two sandy beaches
Up to now, we have desribed pebble beaches. In Sestri this changes. Now we talk about spiagge di sabbia.
Italian connoisseurs will notice: Ah, spiagge, plural of beach. Sabbia means sand in Italian. Or: Sandy beaches.
In fact, with the Baia del Silenzio and the Baia delle Favole, there are two sandy beaches to enjoy. My favorite: the smaller, crescent-shaped Baia del Silenzio with its beautiful sand and picturesque scenery.
To cut a long story short: When it comes to sandy beaches close to Genoa, Sestri Levante ist your best option.
Liguria Sestri, good to know
From Genoa’s Brignole rail station, Sestri’s sandy beaches can be reached in 40 minutes by the best rail option. By slow train it takes about 15 minutes longer.
Sestri is very popular with Italian and international tourists from all over Europe. In the high season and on weekends, Baia del Silenzio fills up quickly.
But Baia delle Favole is pretty too. You can even find a decent Spiaggia Libera there (see below).
In my opinion, the sun sets more beautifully on this sandy beach than on the Baia del Silenzio.
Tip for the evening: go for dinner or apericena (the extended version of aperitivo) in the picturesque downtown of Sestri.
If you can manage at all to get a table in a restaurant or a hotel. Best idea: be there early or reserve well ahead.
Beaches near Genoa: 4 tips
Before you set off for the Ligurian Sea in Genoa, there are three things you should know. Seasonalities, days of the week and beach fees play an important role.
These four best tips will help you to make the most of your day trips to the beaches of the Ligurian Riviera.
Genoa beaches: pay attention to the season
If you are traveling between June and August, be prepared for large crowds.
What this means for you is that you should either get there early in the morning or wait until evening. My best idea: Go for the early bird option.
The crowds at the Spiaggia start to thin out around 7 pm when the Italian Cena is announced — the dinner with friends and family in hotels and restaurants.
Spending quality time with friends and family for Cena in the hotel is an Italian duty. So take advantage of this – and go to the beach while the Italians gather.
Beach trips Liguria: Weekend note
The second tip also applies to the extended summer, that is, the period from mid-May to mid-October.
On fine settimana (weekends) the Italian urge to go to the spiaggia is always particularly strong. So, again, either arrive very early or wait until later in the evening.
For the evening, take provisions. Because just when you want to go to the Spiaggia-Ristorante, the Italians are probably already there.
For example, bring some sandwiches as the Internaut himself prepares and enjoys: Here you can learn how to prepare a sandwich or tramezzino the Internaut way.
Going swimming near Genoa: look fore «Spiaggia Libera»
Third tip: Many of the most beautiful beaches in Italy, the so-called balneari or bagni, can only be accessed – at least in high season – for hefty fees.
If you do not want to support this Spiaggia Business-Case, look before departure on Google Maps or another navigation platform. So you can find public beaches without any fees.
Beaches that are marked as «Spiaggia libera» or «Spiaggia pubblica» can be accessed without an entrance fee or other hefty fees for deck chairs, sunbeds or umbrellas.
Beaches near Genoa: tip 4
Given the sweltering heat, this clothing tip may sound absurd. Nevertheless, it’s a good idea to take a scarf with you on train journeys.
The reason: trains and buses are cooled down considerably in Liguria in high summer. If you’re not used to this chill factor, you can easily catch a cold. Which considerably dulls the enjoyment of the beach.
Genoa Beaches: Water Quality, Riviera di Levante and Riviera di Ponente
The closer the beaches are to the port of Genoa, the poorer the water quality usually is. Close to the city you will mostly find pebble and shingle beaches. For sandy beaches, such as those of Sestri Levante, you will have to travel a little further.
A geographical note: the section of the Ligurian Riviera that stretches east of Genoa towards Portofino, La Spezia, Cinque Terre and Tuscany is considered the Riviera di Levante.
Three of the beaches mentioned here (Boccadasse, Camogli and Sestri) are also located to the east.
Those beaches that lie west from Genoa towards Finale Ligure, Ventimiglia and Southern France are on the Riviera di Ponente.
Of the six beaches the Internaut recommends here within the province of Genoa Italy, three are east of Genoa. And three are west of Genova.
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P.S. Why actually always tips by train, bus, on foot or by bike? Because der Internaut likes to travel by public transport. And because he has been to Genoa by car twice: for the first and for the last time.
I prefer to leave the car-trouble – Italians might call it «macchina thrill» – to people who are better suited for parking, heat attacks and tedious city traffic.
P.S.2: How does der Internaut arrive at his ratings and reviews of the most beautiful swimming spots around Genoa: I consider public beaches that are no more than an hour by bus or train from Genoa, so that you can easily make a hassle-free beach tour as a day trip.
If you like to read in German, you can find here a more detailed version of this blogpost about die schönsten Sandstrände bei Genua.