Why we Love Camogli

Last updated 18th July 2019

Camogli is one of the most beautiful towns in the Liguarian region of Italy, and we fell in love with it the moment we stepped out of the station and looked over the side down towards the sea. The scenery was absolutely stunning.

Although Camogli is less well know than some of the other towns nearby like Portofino and Cinque Terre we feel it is the perfect holiday destination. It is in an excellent location for visiting other towns on the Riviera.

We found many more Italian families and locals here than tourists, which gives it a more authentic feel. In fact, It is a quieter and unspoiled version of the other coastal towns in the area.

On our first trip, we caught the train to Camogli from Sestri Levante where we were staying. The train stopped off at a few other pretty seaside towns along the Italian Riviera including Rapallo and Saint Margherita Ligure. The views of the sea and seaside towns as we hugged the coast were incredible.

Directly opposite Camogli train station are many steep steps leading through narrow walkways to the town. We decided to follow the road to the right to try to avoid the steps, although the hill was still relatively steep. Along the way were little shops. One shop window, in particular, caught our eye, a patisserie where we were tempted to try some of their sweet treats to eat later.

Further down, we also stopped off at Semmu Friti. This place is known for its fried seafood specialities that are served in a cone. It all looked so good that we ordered a sampler of a variety of fried fish including anchovies prawns and calamari and devoured it as we continued walking down the hill. It was so delicious.

Camogli is a beautiful seaside fishing town with a promenade that is lined with high historical buildings, colourful houses, bars, restaurants and lovely shops.  We browsed some of the shops which were selling handmade shoes, clothes, artwork, quirky souvenirs and jewellery.

There is a wide choice of restaurants on the waterfront, all of which have a fantastic view of the sea, Portofino Hill and the Church.  Many are very reasonably priced.

Rows of colourful houses all face the waterfront (so the fishermen could find their way back).  Some of the shuttered windows on the houses are real, and some, are paintings.  As strange as this seems it all started when taxes were based on the number of windows you had, so villagers closed the windows and painted them on instead.  Sometimes painting a cat perched on a window ledge.  We spent a while looking up and trying to spot the difference.

Wandering off the promenade behind the rows of houses, we came across colourful crooked alleyways leading up the hill. They are so narrow they are no more than an arms-length wide.

The name Camogli means housewife, as it was the village of the fishermen and it was where the women lived, waiting for their husbands to return.

A small church sits on the edge of the bay, behind which boats are moored in the pretty harbour.

The Harbour

Since fishing is still a livelihood here (there are more fishing boats than yachts in the harbour). Most fishing boats no larger than rowing boats. Along the quay, fishing nets are strewn on the ground and hung up on railings to dry.

The catch of the day is served at many of the restaurants with of course local dishes. We recommend you try the anchovies and clams with spaghetti. It was the best we’ve tasted.

We walked up to the old lighthouse which sits at the end of the harbour entrance just breathing in the sea air and looking back at the beautiful sight of the town, harbour and churches.

What with the colourful houses there was so much to take in we sat for approximately 45 minutes just looking and taking in all the surroundings. It was particularly enjoyable looking up at the tall pastel-coloured houses that climb up and back against the hillside picking out the different features on each.

It’s also a great place to sit and watch the boats come in and out, and the fisherman unloading their catches. A small ferry boat goes to neighbouring towns on the Riviera from here. They stop at San Fruttuoso, Punta Chiappa, Recco and Cinque Terra.

Camogli Beach

The beaches are not sand but smooth rocks. Not that it seemed to be putting anyone off as there were quite a few sunbathing on the beach. A pair of water shoes or waterproof sandals are a good idea.

You can sit on the small public beach although it does get very busy in the summer months and you would have to get there early to claim your spot.

There are several private beaches, which is the norm in Liguria and most parts of Italy. The beaches are partitioned off, and sun loungers, deck chairs, umbrellas, changing rooms, showers, toilets and a beach bar/restaurant is available for a small daily charge.

Focaccia in Camogli

The thing to eat in Camogli is Focaccia, which is a speciality of the area.

It has a rich, creamy cheese in between very thin sheets of flatbread. You can get various flavours, like fresh tomatoes and olives, cheese or San Fruttuoso style with anchovies or sage and onion, which is the most common one. In Camogli.

They are sold as a takeaway, and the Italians eat them from paper sitting on benches outside the shop on the beach or walking along eating it. Just as we Brits would eat our takeaway fish and chips at the seaside.

If you walk along the promenade, you’ll find a couple of bakeries selling it and of course we had to try it too. As they sell it by the slice, we grabbed a couple of slices and found a bench to sit and enjoy it. My mouth is watering now just thinking about it.

Must  try

Next time we must try the savoury pies which are made with artichokes, zucchini, onion and other fillings.

Also from the bakeries, you must try the sweet pastries with cream fillings flavoured with rum, Amaretto or Gianduia which are delicious.

You can try all the specialities Camogli has to offer on this traditional food tasting tour.

Camogli Fish Festival and Fishing Traditions

While strolling around, we noticed signs of the village’s centuries-old fishing traditions such as religious statues, ships in a bottle and various symbols made of seashells and embedded in the walls of the houses.

In the 17th century, Camogli was a prosperous fishing village, with the only Tonnara (tuna trap) along the Ligurian Coast.  Villagers received stocks of free tuna.

Turning off the promenade, we came across a massive iron frying pan weighing over 1500 kg displayed on the wall along with a plaque showing the history of the frying pans uses over the years.

The pan takes centre stage on the second week of May every year when the Sagre del Pesce (Italian Fish Frying Festival) takes place.

The two-day festival consists of a religious procession commemorating patron saints followed by a beach bonfire and fireworks.
More than three tons of fish is served up on the harbour-front which is donated by the fish co-operative.

In the festival’s first year six small pans were used for the cooking. It soon became apparent that they would need something much bigger as it was taking too long to feed the vast crowds.

Camogli Things to do

The Nightlife

There is not too much nightlife in Camogli although Il Barcollo and the Pub La Cage Aux Folles draws a lively, young crowd.

II Barcollo
Via Giuseppe Garibaldi 92,
16032, Camogli

As well as being lively at night II Barcollo is an excellent place for a morning coffee. It faces the harbour so you can watch the tourists disembark from the ferry boats and later in the day watch the sunset. We enjoyed the gentle cool breeze we had here as the bar is situated on a corner.

Pub La Cage Aux Folles
Piazza Cristoforo Colombo 8,
Camogli, Italy

Lively bar with good music. Great for large groups. Aperitivo (nibbles platter) is served on the house until 9 pm.

Hiking Trails

Numerous trails are affording spectacular views for example, from Camogli to San Fruttuoso (a little over four miles), or Camogli to Portofino (7 miles)

Camogli is right near the Parco di Portofino, which is heaven if you are a lover of hiking and nature. There are hundreds of paths to try and endless amazing spots where you can enjoy the scenery.

Rent a boat

During the summer season, there are boat tours, ferries and kayaks for rent. You can find a list of the water activities and tours here (get my guide)

Tour famous nearby towns like Portofino, Rapallo and Santa Margherita Ligure and further south the Cinque Terre and Portovenere.

Ferries and excursions run by Golfo Paradiso head regularly to various spots along the Ligurian coast from Camogli’s harbour. The Servizio Marittimo del Tigullio connects the towns of Rapallo, Santa Margherita Ligure, Portofino and San Fruttuoso, and offers excursions to Cinque Terre and Portovenere.


Camogli is a popular area for divers, the Marine Reserve of Portofino stretches from Camogli to Portofino.

Monuments and museums

On a peninsula near the edge of town are the ruins of Castello Della Dragone (Dragon’s Castle), built in the 13th century to protect the village against pirates.

At the end of the Camogli beach, you’ll find the Church of Santa Maria Assunta, the yellow building that completes the postcard picture of the town. Dating to the 12th century, it features some lovely frescos and a Renaissance Alta piece.

Marine Museum
Via Gio Bono Ferrari,
42, 106032

A couple of interesting items here: a reproduction of a Camogli house, it’s port and sailboats inside a bottle, and part of a German torpedo that sent an English Steamship in World War 1.

Getting to Camogli

Camogli is located along the Ligurian coast, about a 2.5-hour drive from Milan and is on the main rail line between Genoa and La Spezia, although not all trains stop there.  Buses and boats also run there. It’s just over a half-hour train ride from Genoa. 1.15 min from the Cinque Terre region and 3 hours from Pisa.
Train times are on the Trenitalia website.

Getting around Camogli is best done on foot. Please note that there are lots of steep stairs to get from the hillside down to the town and the main beach.

Car Hire

There are so many amazing places to visit which sometimes we can’t get to with our motorhome, so we often hire a car for a few days to explore more.
We take out an annual car hire excess insurance with insure4carhire.
RentalCars.com is the company we use if hiring from a campsite but if we are flying into an airport we use Zest Car Hire which usually has the best deals but can only be picked up from an airport or hotel.

Best time to visit the Italian Riviera

With a generally mild climate, tourists take Italian Riviera holidays all year round.  Like other Italian Riviera towns, the high season in Camogli is from May to September.

Although Camogli tends to be less busy than other Italy beach towns, the best months to visit are April, May, late September and October.  This way. You’ll avoid the crowds and the hot summer weather and it’ll still be warm enough to go in the water.  Also, shops and restaurants that may close or reduce their hours in winter will be open during these months.

Further Info

If you are driving to Camogli, get there early as the car park is not big.

The shops close between 1 pm – 3-4 pm.

Weather in the summer months:  20 c – 30 c

Where to stay

Camogli camping

Fossa Lupara
Sestri Levente, Italy
GPS:  N44° 16’26”  E9° 25’ 22”

This Site is listed in the ACSI Discount Camping Book available here. This book is definitely worth getting for its discount card that you can use for out of season camping.

We love this campsite although a couple of years ago we pulled up outside and decided to come away and find another one as it didn’t seem to be in the best location. It was very near the toll booths on the motorway and there seemed to be a lot of concrete bridges and pillars around along with a builder’s merchant near the entrance.  Straight away we thought it wouldn’t be nice for getting anywhere by foot or cycle.

Daniel, the campsite owner, provides a taxi service into Sestri Levente or the station for just 4 euros each way and you just give him a call when you want to be picked up and he or one of his family pick you up.  You can walk into Sestri Levente but it is quite a long walk.  We cycled once but it was along a busy main road.

Hotels/Guest Houses

Soffio Di Mare Guest House

The Soffio Di Mare is a guest house in an excellent location.  It is just 30 yards from the beach in Camogli.  All rooms offer free Wi-fi and a private patio with parasol, table and chairs.

Each room includes a fridge, microwave, and tea/coffee-making facilities.

Parking and the train station is only 50 yards away.  Very welcoming and friendly hosts.

Hotel Cenobio Dei Dogi

This is a very beautiful 4-star hotel which comes highly recommend.  It has great sea-views from the restaurant.  Private beach, saltwater pool,  spacious air-conditioned rooms and free Wi-Fi. The hotel is independently owned and has been designed to have the feel of a private home by the sea.  The food is delicious and the staff friendly and helpful.  This is one of the best hotels in the town and where the King of Sweden once stayed.

Check out this and other accommodation in Camogli or the Italian Riveria at Booking.com, Lastminute.com, TripAdvisor.com

Photo Gallery

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