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The Italian Riviera & Portofino

9 days From £1,399 £1,299 per person
4.0 stars(225 reviews)

Discover picture-perfect colourful villages and laid-back seafront towns on one of the most beautiful stretches of Italy’s coastline

Save up to £150pp

Save up to £150pp on selected 2024 holidays, when you book by 29th February 2024.

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Mobility Rating 3

2024 Tour code: 24DMS

About the tour

Explore the delightful Italian Riviera from your base in Chiavari and view the colourful cliffside Cinque Terre villages on a cruise.

Relax as you sail to glitzy Portofino, a popular village set within a natural harbour, before uncovering San Fruttuoso abbey, located on a beach in a peaceful cove.

Delve into the history of Genoa, the former city republic that once ruled this stretch of coast, famed for its delicious pesto and connections to explorer Christopher Columbus.

Unforgettable Experiences

Uncover the colourful villages of the Cinque Terre
Uncover the colourful villages of the Cinque Terre
Experience these beautiful cliffside villages as you travel by rail to Riomaggiore before sailing to Vernazza and Monterosso, witnessing breathtaking views of these spectacular villages from the sea.
Enjoy a scenic cruise to gorgeous Portofino
Enjoy a scenic cruise to gorgeous Portofino
Take a boat ride to the pretty village, set in a picturesque natural harbour, that is regularly considered one of the most beautiful places in Italy.
Sail to serene San Fruttuoso
Sail to serene San Fruttuoso
Journey to the remarkable San Fruttuoso abbey that stands on a beach in a gorgeous cove that is only accessible by boat or on foot.
Discover the historic port city of Genoa
Discover the historic port city of Genoa
Visit the region’s largest and historically most important city, a place of remarkable architecture that was the former home of explorer Christopher Columbus.

What’s included


Day 1 - London to Grenoble

Your holiday begins as you meet your Tour Manager and fellow travellers at London St Pancras International, where you board the Eurostar service to Paris. In the French capital, you change trains and continue to Grenoble for one night.

Encircled by peaks, the 'Capital of the Alps' blends classical French glamour with beautiful nature as the winding Isère River meanders beneath the clifftop Bastille. Arriving in early evening, your hotel is just outside the station, and it is here that you enjoy your first dinner as a group tonight.

  • Dinner
Day 2 - Across the Alps to coastal Chiavari

After enjoying your first breakfast as a group in France, you board a comfortable coach for a scenic journey through the Alps to Turin. With stops enroute to admire the stunning scenery, you pass beautiful river valleys and alpine mountains as you cross into Italy.

In Turin, you continue your journey by rail. From Genoa, the route clings to the dramatic coast, disappearing through tunnels soon to reappear on serene marine views, traversing viaducts over colourful towns, all the while getting a tantalising taste of the wonders that await you on this beautiful stretch of coast. On arrival in Chiavari, you check into your hotel in the historic centre of this picturesque town. Ideally situated on the Italian Riviera, Chiavari's charming palm-lined promenade provides excellent views of the Ligurian Sea, while the inland hills are dotted with olive groves. You enjoy dinner at your hotel with the rest of your group this evening.

  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 3 - Free day to explore Chiavari

You can familiarise yourself with your new surroundings today as you have a full day at leisure. You could visit Chiavari's Cathedral of Our Lady dell'Orto. Built between 1613 and 1633, this magnificent cathedral houses many exquisite paintings, frescoes and other valuable artworks dating from the 17th and 18th centuries. Perhaps you would prefer to wander down to the beautiful harbour, framed by townhouses and filled with colourful fishing boats, where you'll find cafés offering excellent Italian cuisine. Another option is to relax on the beach or stroll through the historic centre's sheltered medieval streets.

If you would like to head further afield, Chiavari is located on the rail line that links the towns of the Italian Riviera. Camogli's pastel-coloured buildings of every hue from yellow to red overlook a bay and a harbour either side of a 12th-century church. A warren of narrow alleyways and broad, tunnelled arcades connect the harbourside to the beach. Camogli - the 'city of a thousand white sailing ships' - is an unspoilt delight, with large waterfront piazzas and a real sense of connection to the water.

Alternatively, the attractive nearby town of Rapallo has plenty of attractions. You could take the cable car up Montallegro for spectacular views across the town and sea, while the restaurants and bars of the harbour area teem with life. You are free to enjoy dinner by yourself today, so you could watch the world go by over a glass of local wine or sample Ligurian food, including the famous 'buridda' seafood stew that originates from this region.

  • Breakfast
Day 4 - Cruising the beautiful Cinque Terre villages

Today is a highlight of your holiday as you explore three of the colourful Cinque Terre villages. Riomaggiore, the southernmost of these stunning villages, is your first destination. Tall, multi-coloured buildings sweep down a steep hill to a small harbour overlooking the bay. High above the village are stepped terraces of olive groves and vines. There is free time to explore the car-free streets and piazzas before heading to the ferry for a boat to the next location. You get to experience the beauty of Riomaggiore from the sea as you sail to Vernazza, passing Manarola and the clifftop Corniglia on the way.

You disembark at Vernazza's waterfront piazza to stroll around a lovely town of cobbled streets lined by quaint cafes where you could grab a spot of lunch. With free time to yourselves, wandering the narrow side streets (which the Genoese call 'caruggi') is the best way to experience this traditional and pretty fishing village.

Larger than its near neighbours, your final port of call is Monterosso, where a spacious piazza leads to bustling streets alive with restaurants and bars. You have time to explore this town known for its lemon trees and sandy beach, before returning to Chiavari by rail and enjoying dinner at your hotel.

  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 5 - Sailing to shimmering Portofino

You take a scenic cruise to picture-perfect Portofino today, regarded as one of the most beautiful places on the Mediterranean. This old fishing village is set in a secluded natural harbour of small fishing boats and impressive yachts. Here, you can find buildings painted terracotta, peach and yellow, and many restaurants, bars and gelaterias. You have free time over lunch to explore this graceful town overlooked by Castello Brown and two churches, including the striped façade of the Romanesque Chiesa del Divo Martino.

Afterwards, you sail around the headland to San Fruttuoso. This gorgeous cove is only accessible by foot or boat and is dominated by a 10th-century Benedictine abbey that sits on the small pebble beach. The complex also contains 12th-century cloisters and many religious relics. Submerged in the bay is the underwater statue of 'Christ in the Abyss', which is said to protect local sailors in the surrounding waters. You have free time in San Fruttuoso before returning to Chiavari, where you have dinner at the hotel.

If weather conditions mean the boat can't land at San Fruttuoso, you'll land at Santa Margherita instead, a tranquil, picture-perfect village bursting with old-fashioned Italian charm.

  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 6 - Discovering the Riviera at your own pace

A free day today gives you an opportunity to explore the beautiful Italian Riviera independently. You may wish to catch the train back to the Cinque Terre towns of Manarola and Corniglia. Facing each other across a bay, these villages have very differing characters. Manarola is famed for its sweet wine Sciacchetrà, while its colourful buildings drape over the cliff and through a winding valley. Corniglia is the only one of the five villages to not have access from the sea and sits high on a rocky outcrop. From the station, it can be reached via nearly 400 steps, although a small bus does run occasionally.

You could also visit Sestri Levante, a laid-back coastal town sat between two bays. Its charming old town brims with colourful buildings and Baroque palazzos. The Bay of Fairytales is named for Hans Christian Andersen who once lived in Sestri. With its port, beaches and shops, this is the liveliest part of town. On the other side of the old town is the Bay of Silence, also known as Portobello. This is considered one of the best sandy beaches in Italy and is a wonderful spot for a stroll or to relax watching the small boats bobbing gently in the harbour. For dinner tonight, you could opt for one of the town's excellent restaurants and look to sample the simple anchovy dish of 'bagnun' which reportedly hails from Sestri Levante.

  • Breakfast
Day 7 - Tour of historic Genoa

Today you take the train to Liguria's capital, Genoa. An enjoyable journey along the riviera coast with the sea never far from view gets your group straight to the heart of this ancient port, one of Italy's great cities.

The group joins a knowledgeable guide for a walking tour of the old town that includes the Doge's Palace, an impressive Renaissance building built in 1298, and explains why Genoa has earned the nickname 'La Superba'. As the former home of explorer Christopher Columbus, Genoa has always looked towards the sea for its wealth and influence, and the city now contains a treasure trove of history, art and grand palaces. After your tour, you have free time to admire the city's fine museums and galleries, the magnificent cathedral, ancient churches and impressive harbour.

You return to Chiavari in the evening, where you group enjoys your final dinner together on the Italian Riviera.

  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 8 - From the Italian to the French Riviera

You leave Chiavari and the Italian Riviera this morning by train, the route of which takes you all the way round the arch of the Ligurian Sea to Ventimiglia. The route is rarely far from the sea and passes pretty seaside towns along the way.

From Ventimiglia, you continue by coach into France, and make your way to the Côte d'Azur resort of St-Raphaël, where you check in to your hotel overlooking the marina and have a three-course dinner.

  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 9 - Homeward bound

Leaving St-Raphaël in the morning, you board the train and journey through France, saying goodbye to the coast on the way to Paris. Transferring to the Eurostar in the French capital for the final leg of your journey, you can look back on your time among the jaw-dropping villages and towns of the Italian Riviera, the glistening sea and laid-back charm of that serene region.

Arriving back at London St Pancras International in the evening, you bid farewell to your Tour Manager and fellow travelling companions, knowing that the unforgettable experiences you enjoyed on the adventure will remain.

  • Breakfast

Additional information

Departure times

Provisional departure and return times, where available, can be found together with dates and prices by clicking on the 'Prices & Availability' button. We will write to you around 10 weeks before your departure date with the precise meeting times for your tour group.

Mobility information

Due to the nature of our tours they are generally unsuitable for those with restricted mobility. If you’d like to discuss any particular holiday with us in this respect, then please don’t hesitate to call us.


Hotel Monte Rosa

Hotel Monte Rosa, Chiavari

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Stella del Mare, Chiavari

Stella del Mare, Chiavari

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4.0 stars4.0 / 5 · 225 reviews

  1. 5 stars
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  5. 1 star


5 stars

Submitted 06 Nov 2023

As with all our previous holidays with Rail Discoveries, the tour was well planned and executed, even in the face of appalling rain and train strikes. Very efficient and courteous Tour Manager ('Rob') as well as good formal tour guides on 2 days.

Collected by Trustpilot

Margaret Stevens Clary

5 stars

Submitted 03 Nov 2023

Very enjoyable trip Our first with rail discoveries. Very well planned and organised by Elizabeth our guide. Interesting places to visit and Interesting encounters We would recommend R.D and hope to go with them again.

Collected by Trustpilot

Anthony Blane

5 stars

Submitted 02 Nov 2023

Delightful location and hotel in Chiavari, excellent organisation, especially good value

Collected by Trustpilot

Andrew Hauser

5 stars

Submitted 31 Oct 2023

Good value. Varied activities. You can be as active or inactive as you feel. We did lots of walking, others strolled around the picturesque villages. The hotels were good and well located

Collected by Trustpilot

Geraldine Mulcahy

5 stars

Submitted 30 Oct 2023

It was a fantastic trip. The group were superb. Travel times were a bit long some days and the weather altered some of the itinerary. The hotels were excellent especially the Monto Rosa in Chiavari where food and staff could not be better. This was our first trip with Rail Discoveries and won’t be our last.

Collected by Trustpilot

J Brant

5 stars

Submitted 30 Oct 2023

Very good itinery, hotels, travel. Very enjoyable, can recommend. Value for money.

Collected by Trustpilot

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