Going to the Italian Riviera? Check out Rapallo to enjoy the Ligurian Sea on the cheap and with less the crowds.
Don’t discount Rapallo, Italy just because it dos not receive the same fanfare of other Italian Riviera destinations like Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Portofino, and La Spezia. Rapallo’s chill nature makes it a lot more attractive to some travelers. It has fewer crowds, more space to enjoy the coastline, reasonably priced food, and lodging. Oh, and a pretty sweet place for an Italian Riviera run. Happy feet.
Where is Rapallo, Italy?
Located about 5 miles from Portofino and 45 minutes to an hour north of Cinque Terre (by train), the city offers a prime location for exploring the beautiful Italian Riviera. I even managed to get a direct train to Rapallo from Asti – not always an easy feat. Check Trenitalia for train times and fares around the area’s cities. Click for info on trekking from Rapallo to Portofino.
Where to stay in Rapallo
Fratello Kevino and I found an awesome little apartment on AirBnB for our brother / sister hiking weekend. At about 50 euros a night, it served as a perfect base camp for our exploits to Levanto, Cinque Terre, Santa Margherita, and Portofino. Our host Nicoletta picked us up from the train station – and it was only about a 7 minute walk! I inquired about a different weekend with a friend and Nicoletta referred me to another Rapallo apartment rental that looks equally fab.
Rapallo offers some great places to grub or just enjoy a beer on the boardwalk.
We found this Italian Riviera gem on our walk home from Portofino. First and foremost, we love places that cater to the locals. But, we were also feeling like we’d been cleaned out of euros due to the tourist area high prices (alas, don’t miss Portofino – SO worth the visit), so when we happened upon this very modest little place off the boardwalk (no sea view) we were all in. Then, we saw the menu: 12 euros for a bottle of house wine, 7 euros for mussels – oh, yeah. Score. P.S. – the wine was good. Double score.
We had a blast practicing our Italian with the owner. He brought us a plate of fried anchovies (nom!), and we noshed on mussels with fries – delish! In total, we spent about 40 euros – ha, that’s less than 1/2 of our total in Portofino.
Find it! Mare Blu San Michele di Pagana, 114, Rapallo.
Chinese: Ristorante Cinese Pechino
There aren’t a ton of good ethnic options in Italy. So, when we saw the Chinese (not a typo above, in Italiano “Chinese” is sans the “h”) sign on the boardwalk we were amped. C’mon, Chinese. Beer. Seafood. What more do you need?
We ordered a crap ton of food to rock it family-style (brother / sister hiking weekend y’all!) and a bottle of beer each. Yeah, um – we likely coulda split one beer. I barely made it mid-way through my pretty-much-a-40 bottle.
Find it! Lungomare V. Veneto, 32, 16035 Rapallo.
We nearly didn’t have room at our two-top for all the food:
Ristorante Zi Teresa
In honor of our favorite Aunt Teresa we had lunch one day at Zi Teresa. Fratello Kevino got the tourist menu with a gob of food and I had porcini and pancetta pasta. Good stuff!
Find it! Corso Italia, 33, 16035 Rapallo.
We loved Rapallo – a perfect Italian Riviera escape. It was relaxing and the locals smiled. I don’t see that in many places. But really, how do you not smile in a place that looks like this?
It’s worth the visit – and not just because you save money.
Read more on the Italian Riviera:
What are you favorite little-known cities when you travel?