Wondering what to do in La Spezia but tired of mainstream travel guides that lack the insider knowledge only locals can provide? Well, you’ve come to the right place! As locals, we know the hidden gems and activities that will make your visit to La Spezia truly memorable. In this comprehensive guide, we will take you on a journey through the top things to do in La Spezia, giving you an insider’s perspective on the best attractions, local cuisine, and beautiful beaches. Plus, we’ve got some insider tips on the best nightlife spots, festivals, and experiencing “sagra” for an authentic Italian way of life.
We’re all about making sure you have an incredible Italian experience. We want you to live la Dolce Vita, wherever you go in this beautiful country!
That’s why we’re super excited to share our favorite things to do in La Spezia with you. And trust us, this isn’t the typical touristy stuff!
La Spezia often gets overlooked as merely a starting point for those looking to explore the famous Cinque Terre but there’s so much more to explore in this area. So keep on reading for our top 10 picks of things to do in La Spezia and get ready for a unique exploration of La Spezia and its surroundings!
1. Explore the Historic City Center
The bustling streets and vibrant squares of the historic city center are lined with shops, cafes, and all sorts of delightful discoveries. Grab a seat at one of the cozy cafes, order your favorite caffeine fix or a deliciously creamy scoop of gelato, sit back, and soak up that authentic Italian atmosphere.
Keep an eye out for charming boutiques and artisanal shops along Via del Prione and Corso Cavour. From trendy fashion boutiques to unique handmade crafts, these streets offer something for everyone. Treat yourself to some stylish Italian fashion or pick up a one-of-a-kind souvenir to remember your time in La Spezia.
But that’s not all!
One of the fascinating features of La Spezia’s historic center is its intricate network of stairways. These picturesque staircases connect different parts of the city and offer a unique perspective as you ascend or descend through charming alleys and hidden corners. Don’t be afraid to take a detour and explore these stairways – you never know what hidden gems you might stumble upon!
As you wander through La Spezia’s historic center, keep an eye out for the distinctive Liberty style buildings that grace its streets.
Indulge in the Flavors of the Daily Food Market
If you’re a food lover (who isn’t?), make sure not to miss the daily food market in Piazza Cavour. It’s a feast for the senses! Stroll through the market stalls filled with fresh produce, local cheeses, cured meats, fresh fish, and aromatic spices. Engage with passionate vendors as you select ingredients for a homemade Ligurian feast.
Take a Stroll along Passeggiata Morin and Visit Porto Mirabello
Take a leisurely walk along Passeggiata Morin, the palm-lined promenade by La Spezia’s eastern harbor. It offers breathtaking views of the Ligurian Sea and is a favorite spot for locals and tourists to unwind and people-watch.
Don’t forget to drop by Porto Mirabello, one of Italy’s top-notch marinas. You’ll be amazed by the luxurious yachts floating in the crystal-clear waters. And hey, it’s not just for sightseeing – grab a bite at one of the restaurants or simply relax with a gelato while enjoying the view.
Passeggiata Morin and Porto Mirabello perfectly capture La Spezia’s maritime charm. These must-visit spots provide a tranquil glimpse into life on Italy’s stunning Riviera.
Immerse Yourself in La Spezia’s Rich Culture
After a day of exploring the boutiques, sipping a glass of Prosecco by the sea and feasting at the market, you can immerse yourself in La Spezia’s rich culture.
Visit the Museo Amedeo Lia, housed in a restored medieval monastery. Here you will find an impressive collection of more than 1,200 works ranging from medieval illuminated manuscripts to 17th-century paintings.
If contemporary art is more your style, head over to the Centro Arte Moderna e Contemporanea (CAMeC). The museum is home to a rotating collection of modern masterpieces, offering fresh experiences with each visit.
To explore local maritime history, make your way to the Museo Tecnico Navale. Located near the city’s port area, it showcases La Spezia’s naval traditions through exhibits about ship building and navigation.
2. Indulge in Local Cuisine
Foodies alert! La Spezia is an absolute heaven for your taste buds. We insist you try some traditional dishes during your stay because they are absolutely drool-worthy! Skip those touristy spots and head straight to the local trattorias and osterias – that’s where the magic happens.
The oldest pizzeria in town
First things first, you’ve got to try the oldest pizza place in La Spezia: La Pia Centenaria, based right in the heart of the city center (Via Magenta, 12, 19121 La Spezia), where you can not only have the best local pizza slice (their pizza is renowned for its crispy crust), but also savour the traditional farinata – a traditional dish made from a batter of chickpea flour, water, olive oil, and salt. It is similar to a savory pancake and is often topped with rosemary or other herbs. The result is a deliciously crispy and flavorful treat that is popular in the Liguria region.
Panigacci: a local specialty you can’t miss!
Now, let’s talk about panigacci – a local specialty you won’t find anywhere else. These thin pancakes made from chickpea flour are stuffed with all sorts of yummy fillings like cheese, cold cuts, and veggies. You’re in for a treat, my friend!
While there are numerous places to savor this delightful treat in the areas of Podenzana and Pontremoli, if you prefer to stay in La Spezia’s city center these are our favorite places in the heart of La Spezia:
- Basta Curve, Piazza Domenico Chiodo, 35, 19121 La Spezia (here you can find also fresh made pasta, ravioli and seafood)
- R’ Mazelao, Via Daniele Manin, 21, 19121 La Spezia
Calling All Foodies: Don’t Miss Out on Focaccia!
Get ready to dive into the scrumptious world of focaccia, a super popular Italian bread from Liguria. Picture this: it’s like pizza dough but flatter and oh-so-chewy. The best part? It’s loaded with fantastic flavors like olive oil, salt, and an amazing variety of toppings – think fresh herbs, garlic, onions, juicy tomatoes, briny olives, or even melty cheese!
Grab a piece of focaccia for a quick snack or pair it with antipasti for an authentic Italian experience. You can even get creative and use it as a base for making epic sandwiches or panini.
While exploring La Spezia, make sure to treat yourself to this must-try Ligurian specialty at one of the many local spots serving up this heavenly bread.
Trust us – once you’ve tasted fresh-out-of-the-oven focaccia in La Spezia, you’ll be forever hooked!
When it comes to finding the absolute “best” focaccia in town, it’s always a tough call, but these are our top 2 places for focaccia in the center of La Spezia:
- Il Fornaio (Castagnet), Via del Prione, 258, 19121 La Spezia
- Panificio Triangoleria Rizzoli, Corso Cavour, 176, 19121 La Spezia
Locals in La Spezia have a deep fondness for focaccia, making it a beloved morning tradition. It is not uncommon to find us starting our day with a delightful slice of freshly baked focaccia alongside a frothy cappuccino. It’s the perfect way to start the day, indulging in the irresistible flavors of this beloved Italian treat alongside a comforting cup of coffee. Join the locals and savor the tradition of enjoying focaccia for breakfast like a true La Spezian!
Seafood lovers, we’ve got you covered too! There are so many small restaurants to choose from in the center!
Known for its fresh catch from the Ligurian Sea, several restaurants serve up mouthwatering dishes that celebrate local flavors.
One notable spot is ‘Osteria Della Corte’, renowned for its creative take on traditional cuisine.
For those seeking an authentic trattoria experience, ‘Osteria Da Bartali’ or ‘Vicolo Intherno’ are a must-visit. Remember to pair your meal with a glass of local white wine, such as Vermentino, which beautifully complements the seafood fare.
- Osteria della Corte, Via Napoli, 86, 19122 La Spezia
- Osteria Da Bartali, Via del Torretto, 64/66, 19121 La Spezia
- Vicolo Intherno, Via della Canonica, 20, 19121 La Spezia
3. Discovering Inland Beauty: An Afternoon Exploring the Charms of Sarzana
After indulging in the culinary delights and vibrant atmosphere of La Spezia, take a short trip to the charming town of Sarzana for an unforgettable afternoon.
As you wander through its picturesque streets, you’ll be transported back in time, surrounded by historic buildings and quaint shops. Start your visit by exploring the 14th-century fortress, Fortezza Firmafede. Climb up its towers for panoramic views of the town and surrounding countryside.
Next, meander along Via Mazzini, the main street lined with boutique stores selling unique local crafts and artisanal products. Take a moment to relax at Piazza Matteotti, enjoying an espresso while admiring the beautiful architecture of the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta. Wrap up your afternoon with a visit to one of Sarzana’s inviting trattorias or osterias, where you can savor traditional Ligurian dishes bursting with flavors that reflect the region’s rich culinary heritage.
Sarzana offers a delightful blend of history, culture, and gastronomy, ensuring that your afternoon is filled with enchantment and memorable experiences.
4. Discover Cinque Terre by Land and Sea
Okay, we know Cinque Terre isn’t exactly off-the-beaten-path… but hear us out! We’ve got the insider scoop on how to experience this UNESCO World Heritage Site like a true local.
Sure, hiking the famous trails is great and all, but why not spice things up a bit? Picture this: exploring Cinque Terre by boat! Not only do you beat those pesky crowds during high season, but you also get access to hidden caves and secret swimming spots that are impossible to reach by land. Rent a small boat or join a guided tour – trust us; it’s a game-changer!
When venturing through Cinque Terre, don’t miss the opportunity to explore the hidden gems that locals hold dear. Beyond the well-known villages, there are enchanting places tucked away waiting to be discovered!
The lesser-known destinations provide an opportunity to connect with Cinque Terre’s authentic essence while escaping from the more crowded areas.
Whether it’s exploring Tramonti di Campiglia’s lush landscapes, uncovering the hidden charm of Monesteroli, or immersing yourself in Volastra’s panoramic vistas and local flavors, these offbeat experiences will enrich your journey through Cinque Terre with unforgettable memories.
5. Relax at Beautiful Beaches
No trip to La Spezia is complete without hitting its beautiful beaches. Get ready for some serious sun, sand, and sea action!
Coastal Bliss in La Spezia: Lerici, San Terenzo, Baia Blu, and Fiascherino Beaches
Lerici is a beach lover’s dream come true – think sandy shores, crystal-clear waters, and breathtaking views. Grab your sunscreen and spend your day lounging on Lerici Beach or taking a leisurely stroll along the palm tree-lined promenade filled with gelato shops and seafood restaurants.
If you’re seeking to explore even more of La Spezia’s coastal beauty, make sure to also include San Terenzo in your itinerary. Located just a short distance from Lerici, San Terenzo is another charming coastal town that shouldn’t be missed. Sink your toes into the golden sands of San Terenzo Beach—a crescent-shaped oasis perfect for sunbathing or taking refreshing dips in the azure waters. As you relax on the beach, you’ll have the unique opportunity to admire an enchanting castle that overlooks the coastline, adding an extra touch of magic to your experience.
Looking for a paradise enclosed by lush greenery? Baia Blu beach is where it’s at! This hidden gem offers a tranquil cove with incredibly clear waters where you can kick back, relax, and soak up those good vibes away. It’s pure bliss.
And hey, don’t miss out on Fiascherino Beach either! Tucked between rocky cliffs, this little slice of paradise will leave you speechless with its pristine waters and jaw-dropping views.
For an exclusive and luxurious experience like no other, make your way to Eco del Mare beach resort. This secluded hidden gem offers a premium beach experience with top-notch amenities and services. Its charm has been recognized globally, even garnering attention from renowned publications like Forbes. Indulge in the lap of luxury as you unwind on their pristine shores and enjoy the stunning coastal views that surround you. Eco del Mare is the epitome of elegance and relaxation.
Portovenere and Palmaria Island: Unveiling Hidden Paradise near La Spezia
Oh, and one more thing! Make sure to visit Portovenere – it’s absolutely stunning! And while you’re there, hop on a boat to Palmaria Island just off the coast. This untouched paradise is a nature lover’s dream with hidden caves and mesmerizing swimming spots that’ll make you feel like you’re in your own private paradise.
With Lerici, Baia Blu, Fiascherino, San Terenzo, Portovenere, and Palmaria Island, La Spezia offers a wealth of beautiful beaches to explore. Whether you seek relaxation or adventure, these coastal gems are sure to leave you spellbound with their natural beauty and mesmerizing surroundings.
6. Unveiling the Hidden Gems of Magra Valley
Prepare to be blown away by the incredible wonders of Magra Valley tucked away in La Spezia. We’re talking about a seriously epic destination that’s got it all – history, nature, and coastal beauty. Buckle up and let’s dive into the awesomeness Magra Valley has to offer.
Castelnuovo Magra: Ancient Vibes and Quaint Charm
Prepare to be swept away by ancient vibes and oodles of charm in Castelnuovo Magra. This place is straight-up magical!
Walk through its narrow alleys, where traditional houses adorned with colorful flowers transport you to another time. And wait till you see that castle perched high on a hill – it’ll make your jaw drop with its breathtaking panoramic views!
Montemarcello: Nature’s Paradise and Coastal Bliss
Nature enthusiasts, rejoice! Montemarcello is your dream come true! Hike along winding trails that meander through lush Mediterranean greenery until you reach stunning viewpoints overlooking the sparkling Ligurian Sea. Trust us, those vistas will blow your mind!
And guess what? Secret coves and serene beaches await, calling for relaxation or refreshing dips in crystal-clear waters.
Punta Corvo and Punta Bianca: Coastal Havens Unleashed
Prepare to be dazzled by the coastal havens of Punta Corvo and Punta Bianca. These places are simply out of this world!
Whether you choose to follow picturesque paths or hop on a boat, the adventure will leave you breathless. Sink your toes into soft golden sand, marvel at dramatic cliffs that frame the beaches, and take a dip in the crystal-clear waters – it’s pure paradise!
7. Experience Nightlife in La Spezia
First things first – aperitivo time! As dusk settles upon La Spezia, locals flock to Corso Cavour and nearby alleys for their beloved ritual of aperitivo. This pre-dinner tradition involves sipping a refreshing Aperol Spritz or indulging in local wines paired with delectable bites. One must-visit spot for this delightful experience is Osteria Giobatta (Corso Cavour, 36, 19121 La Spezia ) – which we love for its exceptional cocktails and warm ambiance.
Another place in the heart of La Spezia we love for an aperitivo is Resilience Cafè, Via Vanicella, 8, 19121 La Spezia.
In the city center, between Piazza Cavour and Viale Italia you’ll find several streets adorned with charming bars that cater to every taste imaginable. Whether you’re looking for pulsating beats or a cozy ambiance perfect for intimate conversations, La Spezia has it all. Stroll along these vibrant avenues and let your senses guide you to the bar that speaks to your soul.
Now, if you’re looking for some relaxed party vibes after dinner and a really local experience, make your way to ‘Pin’ located just by the garden near the harbor, where you can groove to live bands or dance the night away!
8. Immerse Yourself in Local Festivals
To truly experience La Spezia’s vibrant culture, make sure to check out the local festivals happening during your visit. These events are not only one of the best things you can do in La Spezia and but they showcase the rich traditions of the region.
Keep an eye out for music concerts, art exhibitions, and cultural events happening in La Spezia during your stay.
One festival you can’t miss is “Palio del Golfo”( a traditional boat race that has been held for over 90 years and involves teams from the 13 coastal towns of the Gulf of La Spezia), held annually in August. It’s a celebration of the town’s deep connection to the sea, with parades, fireworks, and of course, plenty of delicious seafood feasts. Join in the fun and embrace the lively atmosphere as locals gather together to honor their maritime heritage.
9. Experience Food Festivals for an Authentic Italian Way of Life
If you really want to live it up the Italian way, then make sure to keep an eye out for local “sagre”. These traditional food festivals are a true celebration of regional dishes, offering you a chance to indulge in authentic cuisine and immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere where locals take great pride in their culinary traditions.
From sagra di pesce (fish festival) to sagra del raviolo (ravioli festival), you’ll get a taste of La Spezia’s diverse flavors and specialties.
Italian sagre aren’t just about food, they’re also an entryway into the heart of the community. As you mingle with locals over plates of spaghetti alle vongole (clam spaghetti), or sample pansotti filled with aromatic herbs, each dish tells a story—connecting you to age-old recipes mastered over generations.
Food festivals create an ambiance like no other: a lively atmosphere filled with laughter, music, traditional dances, and joyous celebrations. It’s a time when locals proudly share their traditions, ensuring that these culinary treasures are preserved and celebrated for generations to come.
Immerse yourself in the vibrant spirit of these sagre, savoring every moment and embracing the authentic Italian way of life.
To fully experience this authentic Italian tradition, check the local event calendar or ask locals about upcoming sagre!
10. Visit Local Wineries
La Spezia and its surrounding areas are home to some amazing wineries where you can truly immerse yourself in the world of Ligurian wines. Get ready for an exciting wine tour that will take you through picturesque vineyards, charming cellars, and delightful tasting rooms, all showcasing the region’s exceptional winemaking.
During these winery visits, you’ll have the wonderful opportunity to learn directly from the passionate experts themselves – the winemakers who pour their hearts into every bottle. Engage in warm conversations with them as they share fascinating stories about their craft, providing insights into the region’s viticulture, grape varieties, and the unique characteristics that define the wine production of this area.
Liguria is known for producing exceptional wines, each reflecting the region’s distinctive terroir and traditional winemaking techniques. A few local wines that you can discover during your wine tour near La Spezia are Vermentino and Sciacchetrà.
Vermentino is a white wine, known for its refreshing and crisp character. It showcases notes of citrus, white flowers, and a subtle minerality.
Sciacchetrà is a unique dessert wine that holds a special place in Ligurian winemaking. Crafted from sun-dried grapes, Sciacchetrà dazzles with its intense sweetness balanced by vibrant acidity. It showcases luscious notes of dried fruits, honey, and aromatic herbs, making it a delightful way to conclude a meal.
As you explore wineries near La Spezia, let your senses be captivated by the stunning views of vine-covered landscapes stretching out before you. Inhale deeply and be transported by the enchanting aromas that fill the air within their cellars. And when it’s time to taste their delightful creations, relish each sip as you discover a diverse range of flavors that make Ligurian wines truly special.
Discover La Spezia: Things to do in La Spezia like a local
La Spezia has so much to offer: from exploring the charming historic city center and indulging in mouthwatering local cuisine to discovering Cinque Terre by both land and sea, there are plenty of exciting things to do in La Spezia. And hey, let’s not forget about the festivals and those beautiful beaches that will leave you sun-kissed and smiling. So pack your bags, embrace your inner adventurer, and get ready for an incredible journey through La Spezia – just like a local would do it!
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We’re a husband and wife team of professional vacation photographers specializing in couples and families who want to experience their trip the Italian way and savor every single moment. Imagine strolling hand-in-hand through the enchanting streets of La Spezia or having a blast playing on the sandy beaches with your kids – we’ll be there discreetly capturing those priceless moments. Our approach is all about creating a relaxed atmosphere where you can simply be yourselves – genuine smiles, warm embraces, and spontaneous laughter are what we’re after!
Reach out to us today and let’s get you booked for a vacation photoshoot in La Spezia and its surroundings. Trust us when we say that these timeless mementos will keep those cherished memories alive for years to come. Get in touch now and let’s make your Italian adventure unforgettable!