ULTIMATE GUIDE TO ONE DAY IN LA SPEZIA, ITALY
La Spezia has long been a port destination which serves as a gateway to many other well-known mediterranean locations such as Cinque Terre, Pisa, Florence and Genoa to mention just a few. Additionally this city, a major call for Mediterranean cruise itineraries is the perfect destination to stop and spend time in a port location. It’s worth spending one day in La Spezia discovering what this city has to offer as a stand alone destination and should not just be overlooked.
This guide aims to best describe how to spend at least one day in La Spezia featuring the best places to see, things to do and additionally where to enjoy some great quality local cuisine. There are options of hotels and day trips should you wish to extend your stay in the area.
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- Where is La Spezia?
- The Best Time To Visit La Spezia
- How To Get To La Spezia
- How To Get Around La Spezia
- How To Best Spend A Day In La Spezia
- Walk Along the Costantino Morin Promenade
- Cross The Thaon di Revel Bridge
- Stroll Through La Spezia Public Gardens & Monument of Giuseppe Garibaldi
- Visit The Naval Technical Museum
- Take a Wander Along Via Del Prione & Corso Cavour
- San Giorgio Castle
- Get Your Art Fix at CAMeC (Centre of Modern and Contemporary Art)
- Take In The Paintings at Amedeo Lia Civic Museum
- The Stairways of La Spezia
- Tours in La Spezia
- Are there Beaches in La Spezia?
- Where are the Best Beaches in Liguria?
- Where To Stay in La Spezia
- Find More La Spezia Hotels For Y0ur Travel Dates
- What are the Benefits of staying in La Spezia over Cinque Terre, Pisa or Florence
- Where To Eat & Drink Like A Local in La Spezia Like A Local
- Food Tours in La Spezia
- The Best Day Trips From La Spezia
- La Spezia 1,2 & 3 Day Itineraries
- Is La Spezia Worth Visiting?
- La Spezia Round-Up
- La Spezia Google Map
- La Spezia: Related Articles
- Resources to Help Plan Your Trip
Where is La Spezia?
La Spezia is located in the Western region of Italy called Liguria and as well as being a commercial port, it is also the Italian navy base. Today the population of the city is around 93,000 with settlement recorded here since the Roman Empire. The port itself is well known in Italy and combines a great mix of historical buildings, landscapes and is the perfect place to explore Liguria and Tuscany. Another La Spezia highlight is that it is very close to the world heritage site located in the Gulf of Poets, known as Cinque Terre (five villages) by means of train or boat. Lerici and Porto Venere are also in close proximity.
La Spezia is a bit of a hidden gem as it is not as touristy as its surroundings and offers beautiful panoramas of the gulf and Apuan Alps as well as fascinating museums, a historic city centre, great markets and streets lined with lovely cafes and restaurants.
It is the perfect base to stay when exploring the area, especially if you want to keep costs down as hotels and apartments are affordable yet of a high standard.
The Best Time To Visit La Spezia
The best weather in La Spezia can be enjoyed from April right through to September. Shoulder season is around April/May and then after September. It’s quite rainy in November and December however and if you enjoy swimming in the sea then June, July and August are great. Expect more crowds in the summer months though as many cruises will be docking in town and generally tourists will be flocking here to enjoy the summer break, this also means hotel prices will also be priced accordingly.
How To Get To La Spezia
La Spezia is easily accessible, due to its proximity to ports, major cities with airports as well as being on a regular train route.
The nearest airport to La Spezia is Pisa airport which is 64.3 km away. Other nearby airports include Florence (115.2 km), Bologna (126.2 km), Milan Linate (157.1 km) and Milan Bergamo (174 km). Upon arrival you can get a taxi from any of these airports or use public transport should you wish. Another option for greater flexibility is hiring a car from the airport.
La Spezia is easily accessible by car as it’s served by two motorways, The A12 Genoa-Liverno and the A15 connecting La Spa to Parma and the cities of the north of Italy..
Cruise ships will dock in the main port and from here a free cruise shuttle bus is mandatory for safety. Once at the main port building, it’s pretty easy to walk into the centre of la Spezia along the waterfront and head to the sights of the city as well as the train station.
Boat trips can also be an option from the port as opposed to taking the train to places like Cinque Terre, Levanto, Leric, Portovenere, Tellato and Genoa. This is typical in the summer months when the sea is calmer.
Related Article: Ultimate First-Time Cruise with Tips & Know Before You Go
La Spezia is well located on a railway line which crosses Liguria. The trains are regular between the small cities and villages of Liguria from la Spezia Centrale station but also you can travel to the major Italian cities from here. The train will also take you to the villages of Cinque Terre such as Manarola (duration is only 10 minutes) from here it’s easy to take the interconnecting train between the five villages too.
How To Get Around La Spezia
If you intend to just explore La Spezia, the best way to do this is by foot and walking through the alleyways through the squares and staircases of the city. This will give you a great orientation of La Spezia. Its a pretty small city and don’t miss discovering the steep staircases (more on that later!)
How To Best Spend A Day In La Spezia
La Spezia may not be Liguria’s number one tourist spot but it definitely is a gem when it comes to things to do and discover. Here is what you can do in one day in La Spezia.
Walk Along the Costantino Morin Promenade
If you are visiting La Spezia in one day on a cruise then you will be walking into the city via the seafront which is a long promenade lined with beautiful palm fringed trees. This stretch is a familiar meeting place for the locals and tourists alike and there are ample places to take a break on one of the benches along the promenade and spot some of the yachts moored in the harbour front before you.
- Location: Passeggiata Costantino Morin
- Find on Google Map
Cross The Thaon di Revel Bridge
This is the 150 metre long pedestrian bridge that was built back in July 2013 and is clearly visible as you walk up the Costantino Morin Promenade. The bridge connects the Morin promenade to the Mirabella Marina and is built from steel, concrete and wood. Compared to the rest of the city, it has a very modern appearance and you can get a great panorama of the port if you walk half way along it.
- Location: Thaon di Revel Bridge
- Find on Google Map
Stroll Through La Spezia Public Gardens & Monument of Giuseppe Garibaldi
Walking more towards the historic centre of La Spezia, away from the harbour and seafront, stroll through La Sezia public gardens, a worth while walk with a snapshot of history. The gardens themselves are a great oasis of calm and green space but the real draw is the statue of Giuseppe Garibaldi. The statue was built in the nineteenth century and shows the the vernal, patriot and republican on a horse as he visited and stayed in La Spezia on more than one occasion;
- Location: Giardini Pubblici, 19121 La Spezia
- Find on Google Map:
Visit The Naval Technical Museum
The largest Naval Museum in Italy is located in la Spezia, dating back to the end of the 18th century. The current museum as it stands was inaugurated in 1958. The Naval Museum will be of interest for those with an interest in all things maritime activity. The displays inside are grouped into six sections and include; the bond between la Spezia and the marina, the relics that result from the creations of the artisans of the Arsenale, the wooden artefacts that were displayed on the prows of ships to scare off bad luck or to show power and wealth, expeditions to the North Pole and the Hero of the Red Tent, the development of naval architecture from prehistoric times right through to current day, and since 2017, contains he most prominent collection of Marconi equipment in the world.
The aim is to see the technological advancements of maritime explorations across the worlds oceans as well as seeing original historical treaties and documents, artefacts, relics prior to the unification of Italy. Don’t miss the vessels from the 19th and 20th centuries with old diving tools and the like.
- Location: Arsenale Militare Marittimo di La Spezia I +39 0187 784763
- Find on Goggle Maps:
- Website: The Naval Technical Museum
- Daily Hours: Monday-Sunday 08:00-19:30
- Admission: 3€
Take a Wander Along Via Del Prione & Corso Cavour
These are the two main streets in La Spezia where you’ll find shops, bars, cafes scattered with a generous helping of Ligurian facades and architecture. Take a leisurely stroll down and stop off wherever takes your fancy
Find on Google Map
San Giorgio Castle
La Spezia has a castle! Its located on the ‘Poggio’ a small hill and the site formed an ancient defensive fortress.
The castle itself dates back to the thirteenth century and was rebuilt in 1371. It was later extended in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
If you fancy a visit, you’ll also get to see the civic museum of la Spezia which was founded in 1873, which is now referred to as the Fortmentini civic museum and was relocated inside the castle following its 1998 restoration project.
If you’re visiting in the summer months, watch out for the cultural festivals and events that are lined up here. If you adore your views then head to the terrace for panoramic views of the gulf coast, city and port.
- Location: Via XXVII Marzo, SN, 19121 La Spezia I +39 0187 751142
- Find on Google Maps
- Website: San Giorgio Castle
- Daily Hours: Monday-Sunday 10:30-17:00
- Admission: €5.50
Get Your Art Fix at CAMeC (Centre of Modern and Contemporary Art)
The CAMec has the appearance of being the newest building you will see in La Spezia but actually dates back to the early 1900s in the historic centre of the city, taking pride of place on Piazza Cesare Battisti.
The museum houses a collection of temporary exhibitions on a rotation basis focussing on languages, multimedia art, design, video, computer, cinema and performances by means of dance, theatre and speech arts. It showcases these areas from the Liguria region.
- Location: Piazza Cesare Battisti, 1, 19124 La Spezia
- Find on: Google Map
- Website: CAMeC
- Daily Hours: Tuesday -Sunday 11:00-18:00
- Admission: €5.00
Take In The Paintings at Amedeo Lia Civic Museum
If you’d like to get a glimpse of one of the most important art collections in Europe for artwork created between 1200-1400, head to the Amedeo Lia Civic Museum. Artworks are housed in the restored Convent of the Paolotti dating back to 1600.
Their are 13 exhibition rooms to choose from spanning two floors featuring artists like Titian, Tintoretto and Canaletto.
- Location: Via del Prione, 243, 19121 La Spezia
- Find on Google Maps
- Website: Amedeo Lia Civic Museum
- Daily Hours: Monday Closed. Tuesday-Sundays 10:00-18:00
- Admission: €8.00
Be-lavie Tip: If short of time, skip the museums and have a relaxed city break, strolling through the historic centre, incorporating cafes and architectural stops.
The Stairways of La Spezia
La Spezia is well know for its staircases from which there are great vistas out to the city scape. Their architecture is of a Liberty style and connect the upper parts of the city to the lower parts and waterfront area.
Around La Spezia there are panoramic points from which to admire the city that are also worth a visit to appreciate their liberty style architecture. Some of them are quite steep so be warned. A view staircases for your list:
- The Scalinata San Giorgio;
- The Lazzaro Spallanzani staircase.
- The Cernaia Staircase;
Tours in La Spezia
Check out this carefully curated tours of La Spezia that will help if you’re short on time.
Are there Beaches in La Spezia?
If it is a beach break you’re looking for then La Spezia isn’t really the beach destination. But you will find one lovely Liguarina beaches in the surrounding areas and not to far away either so you could use La Spezia as a great base.
Where are the Best Beaches in Liguria?
Distance from La Spezia: 11.6Km (driving time: 19 mins. and train time: 23 mins.
Beach type: A mix of wide beaches and small hidden bays.
Lerici beaches to choose from:
- Blue Bay – The most famous beach of Lerici and therefore the busiest, located between Punta Santa Teresa and Punta Galera and formerly referred to as Cala Chiappara.
- San Terenzo – Sandy beach located in the centre of town.
- Venus Azure – located halfway between Lerici and San Terenzo and circled by lush green hills iinfront of Tin and Palmaria Islands.
- Venere Azzurra – has been awarded a Blue Flag every year since 2000 and is also very popular with tourists and locals alike.
- San Georgio – this is a very small beach towards the town and also surrounded by a few other smaller beaches with pretty landscapes.
- Fiascherino – small narrow bay with a little beach where deck chairs can be hired. It’s a bit of a scramble to reach though.
- Treffiano – a small beach down a scary looking stairway overlooking the village.
Distance from la Spezia: 13Km (driving time: 22 mins. and train time: 40 mins
Beach type: Mostly pebble beaches with crystal blue waters.
Portovenere Beaches to Choose From
Beach type: Mostly pebble beaches with crystal blue waters.
- The Calata Doria Beach – is a very small stretch of sand located on the main square near the village’s Ferry Terminal. Not recommended to swim if its busy with boats -off season may be a better option.
- Arnelia Beach – located approximately 400 metres from the centre of Portovenere, This beach is a little harder to get to but worth the effort and the bonus is it faces Palmer Island,
- La Spiaggia libera dell’olivo– This is the most popular beach in Portovenere as its free and has the perfect location being nestled into the gulf. Great if its a slightly windy day as you’ll be protected too.
- Sporting Beach – This is more of a Lido style and typical to Ligurian style. You can hire parasols, chairs and also order food and drinks.
- Mirella Beach – This is another free beach which is also very popular with tourists and locals, so best to get here early.
Palmaria Island Beaches
How to get to Palmaria: Take the ferry from Portovenere to Terrazzo (total time should be about 22 minutes by walking and ferry)
Beach Type: Smaller beaches with pebbles and more of an island feel.
Palmaria Island Beaches to choose from
- Pozzale Beach (Calla del Pozalle) – is hailed as being amongst the line up of best beaches in Liguria. You’ll have to take a boat/small ferry, which can be found at La Spezia harbour as well as Portovenere. The beautiful limestone surround beach is outstanding with the typical bright hues of vegetation against it and the blue of the sea.
- Cala Fornace – a tiny picturesque beach located close to the Carla Fornace batteries, a military installation from the late 1800s.
- Spiaggia del Secco – closest to the Palazzata a Mare in Portovenere located on the main beach front, You can hire sun beds, parasols and there’s also a restaurant to stay well hydrated and fuelled.
Be-lavie Tip: If you have more than a day or 3 days in La Spezia, spend a day relaxing at some of the beaches on the Ligurian coast). Otherwise a half day is perfect for a little beach time combined with city sites.
The Beaches of Cinque Terre
Cinque Terre is easily accessible by train (as mentioned previously) so whilst spending your time there why not head to one of the many beaches. Here’s some inspiration…
Related Article: A Guide to the 5 Villages of Cinque Terre
Where To Stay in La Spezia
If you are lucky enough to be spending more than a day in La Spezia, it’s a great location to base yourself to discover the surrounding gulf of Liguria, with hotels and apartments being well priced and located to splash out on other areas of your trip like food and the adjacent towns.
NH La Spezia //Luxury
The NH La Spezia hotel is in the city centre, just in front of the harbour, so it’s ideally placed for boat trips to the spectacular Cinque Terre. The building itself dates back to 1959, and most rooms have a sea view.
There are 110 beautifully pointed rooms and the hotel is located 15 minutes from the train station and a few minutes walk to the historic centre of La Spezia. There is a gym and all that you’d expect from a luxury four star hotel.
A continental breakfast is served in the Del Golfo restaurant and there is also a bar and evening dining available.
- Location: Via XX Settembre, 2, 19124 La Spezia I +39 0187 739555
- Find on Google Maps:
- Website: NH La Spezia
- Price Range: €200-€300 per night
Boutique Hotel Novecento// Mid-range
This ten room bright pink facaded boutique hotel is located in the centre of La Spezia, with only a ten minute walk to the train station with direct links to Cinque Terre. It’s quirky and homely and they serve a great typical Italian sweet breakfast to start the day. The property was a former mill. The seafront and harbour are a ten minute walk from Hotel Novecento. The hotel has a beautiful outside and inside courtyard space and is the perfect small boutique hotel for a relaxed stay in La Spezia,
- Location: Vicolo dello Stagno, 7, 19121 La Spezia I +39 327 4057 2420
- Find on Google Maps:
- Website: Boutique Hotel Novecento
- Price Range: €120-150 per
A really great affordable options located close to the centre, within a ten minute walking distant to all the main spots and the train station and harbour. The ensuite rooms are clean, bright and this guest house offers on-site dining too.
- Location: Via Riccardo Migliari, 13, 19121 La Spezia l +39 348 810 4768
- Find on Google Maps
- Website: Real Rooms
- Price Range: €80-€120 per night
Find More La Spezia Hotels For Y0ur Travel Dates
What are the Benefits of staying in La Spezia over Cinque Terre, Pisa or Florence?
The obvious one is that La Spezia is not a major tourist city or hub and therefore prices for accommodation are reasonable, even for luxury accommodation and restaurants. Additionally the town is a little quieter and in a prime location to reach the major tourist attractions of Liguria and certain parts of Tuscany.
Where To Eat & Drink Like A Local in La Spezia Like A Local
There are so many places to eat and drink in La Spezia, which are loved by the tourists and locals alike. Here we’ll focus more on the ‘eating like the locals do’ eateries and bars, but first there are certain foods that are specific to Liguria which require a mention.
- Farinata – a simple Ligurian favourite consists of a crispy brown chickpea pancake cooked in a wood-fired oven.
- Focaccia – A fluffy flavour bread available in a range of flavours such as olive oil and seas salt or more elaborate toppings like rosemary, sun-dried tomatoes, and even creamy cheese.
- Panigacci – A traditional Ligurian pancake which is served with cured meats and rich cheeses.
- Cozze (Muscoli) – The Muscoli are cooked in a rich fragrant broth and aims to showcase the seafood available in the region.
- Vermentino Wine – A crisp, refreshing white wine with a delicate flavour consisting of citrus notes, perfect for pairing with the simple flavours of Liguria.
Local Restaurants Serving Traditional Ligurian Food & Drink
Situated In the centre of La Spezia, La Pia has a wood fired oven and is famed for its Farinata and Focaccia. The atmosphere here is warm and welcoming and typical to the region.
A self-service fresh seafood restaurant with a casual atmosphere. The frittura, a deep-fried mix of fish and seafood comes highly recommended as does the cozze.
This is where you head for the Panigacci or Italian pancake and ask for the local wine too for a very typical Italian experience.
Friggitoria Pane e Tulipani
This place specialises in frittura mista, a mixed fried fish dish and is one of the favourites in the town for seafood lovers.
Location: Via del Prione, 274, 19122 La Spezia I Tel: +39 0187 732639 I Google Map I Opening Hours: Monday-Sunday 11:00-20:00 I Price Range: €€
This cool bar in La Spezia is perfect after a day of sightseeing to relax in with a drink. They have live music in the evenings which can be enjoyed sipping on an aperitif or two. They also do great coffee and the atmosphere is fantastic. If you’re peckish you can grab some street food from the outdoor vendors and enjoy with your drinks either indoors or outdoors.
Food Tours in La Spezia
If you’re a fan of local food and drink, these will help you discover the foodie delights in the area.
The Best Day Trips From La Spezia
Here are some of the best day trips from La Spezia that incorporate the surrounding Ligurian towns, beaches and also destinations in Tuscany, especially if you have more time to play with.
Cinque Terre – Small Group Tours
Cinque Terre – Private Tours
Other Day Tours
La Spezia One, Two and Three Day Itineraries
Option 1 : One Day in La Spezia Itinerary
- Walk Along the Costantino Morin Promenade.
- Cross The Thaon di Revel Bridge.
- Stroll Through La Spezia Public Gardens & Monument of Giuseppe Garibaldi.
- Visit The Naval Technical Museum.
- Stop for a coffee and a sweet treat at one of the many cafes you’ll stroll past.
- Take a wander along Via Del Prione & Corso Cavour.
- San Giorgio Castle.
- Have lunch at La Pia and try the traditional Farinata.
- Get your art fix at CAMeC (Centre of Modern and Contemporary Art).
- Take in the paintings at Amedeo Lia Civic museum (skip if short of time).
- The stairways of La Spezia.
- If time allows have a drink at Pin and grab a Panigacci from the street food stalls.
Here are some options if you’r lucky enough to have more than a day in la Spezia
Option 2: Two days in La Spezia
Day 1 as Option 1
Add a day trip to Cinque Terre (See related Cinque Terre article for inspiration).
Option 3: Three Days in La Spezia
Day 1 as Option 1
Day 2 as Option 2
Day 3: Check out the beaches in the area in Lerici, Portovenere or Palmaria Island.
Is La Spezia Worth Visiting?
This guide illustrates that La Spezia may be a small town but it’s packed full of history culture and great food and the bonus is so many places can be accessed from here. La Spezia is a must visit, understated gem in Liguria.
La Spezia Round-Up
One day in La Spezia is perfect if you want a relaxed city break itinerary, visiting all the main historic points of interest and getting a good orientation for this small town. You’ll even be able to get an introduction to the city flavours. It’s location means there are plenty of day trips you can take via boat or train to visit Ligurian villages such as Cinque Terre or beach destinations. It is also possible that with only one day in La Spezia you can take in the main city sights (skip museums etc) and have each afternoon relaxing at one of the beaches or make an express trip to Cinque Terre. The beauty of La Spezia is that, it is an arch to for many other destinations and so well placed to explore the towns of Liguria which sometime are missed and overlooked for the more well known spots and city’s of Tuscany and further a field.
La Spezia Google Map
How to use this map: click on the image to reveal the link to our fully detailed Google Map with all the points of interest covered in this article. There is also a legend included for convenience.
La Spezia: Related Articles
- A Guide to the 5 Villages of Cinque Terre
- More Italy Inspiration from Be-lavie including Florence and Tuscany
If you’d like to visit La Spezia as part of a cruise
- Booking a first-time cruise with a specialist agent
- Ultimate first-time cruise guide with tips and know before you go
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