Introducing Rapallo

Due to its excellent public transport connections, Rapallo is an ideal base for exploring the Italian Riviera.
It is not as expensive as other towns on the Riviera and is beautiful to walk around.
It is less touristy too and a place where the Italian families with their children and dogs holiday. Rarely do you see a Brit here.

It is a city that perfectly fuses history, art and beautiful natural scenery.

We arrived in Rapallo via train from Sestri Levante, a few stops along the train line just across the bay from Portofino.

Lungomare Vittorio Veneto (Seaside Promenade)

We loved Rapallo when we left the station and took our first walk along the palm tree-lined seafront promenade.
It’s a traditional red-brick promenade which skirts the semi-circular harbour.
Attractive and elegant buildings, hotels and plenty of restaurants and shops also line the promenade. The place was full of life (It was a bank holiday weekend), the sun was out, and the street musicians made it even more of an enjoyable experience.
It’s such a colourful town with the blue sea, the green mountain backdrop and the buildings painted terracotta, mustard and pink.
Rapallo has the modern marina at one end, home to many expensive, large yachts, the Christopher Columbus Monument and a tiny 16th-century castle.
The Lungomare comes alive at night when the Italians come out for passeggiata (a stroll) or to drink an aperitivo in a pavement cafe.
There is often entertainment – music of different types, stalls, etc. in the summer months.

Rapallo Castle

The castle is at the edge of Rapallo’s old town, jutting out of the sea. It was built to protect Rapallo from pirate invasions. Later, it became a prison but is now a venue that hosts art exhibitions. Unfortunately, it was not open when we visited, so we could only photograph it outside. It is lit at night in the summer, which looks very pretty.

Chiosco Della Musica (The Bandstand)

The attractive, early 20th-century bandstand (Chiosco Della Musica) in a small square just across from the waterfront is fascinating. Inside its domed roof, the ceiling is decorated with paintings of typical gods and goddesses of Italian myths and legends, all swirling around in a blue heaven.
Concerts often take place here in the evenings. The square is lined with cafes and restaurants where you can listen to music. The day we visited, some youngsters were practising their breakdancing inside it, so we stopped for a coffee to watch them.

Tourist Train in Rapallo

You can pick up the small tourist train just across the road from the bandstand. For only 3 euros each, we enjoyed a tour of Rapallo, which was well worth it and took us a reasonable distance around Rapallo.
We passed an impressive old bridge which dates back to early Roman times. The bridge itself is gated off, so you cannot cross. You can walk to either end via small alleys on each side. There is a historical marker on one end of the passage. It’s worth a quick stop to look.

Rapallo Beach

The coast is lined with lidos, private beaches with sunbeds and umbrellas you can rent for a fee. Just a little further out of town is a public beach, which is a small pebbly cove down some stairs.
The beaches are generally stone or rock rather than sand.

Rapallo’s Historical Centre

The historic pedestrian town centre with narrow cobble-stoned paths and beautifully painted old buildings is just behind the seafront promenade. There are lots of places to eat and a good assortment of shops. We just enjoyed exploring the cosy little squares and narrow alleys.

There is one gate remaining from the ancient walls, the Saline gate. It separates the historic centre from the seaside promenade.

As with many buildings on the Italian Riviera, a distinctive feature is the trampe-l’oeil or painted decorative details on buildings that trick the eye into thinking they are real. Arches, portals, balustrades, and brickwork are all fake. In the 18th century, when a tax based on the number of windows was introduced, some buildings began featuring artificial windows painted on the upper storeys.

Rapallo Market

A daily fruit and vegetable market is held in the centre, on -route to the station and buses.
The Thursday market sells everything you could want and runs the whole length of the boardwalk.

Rapallo Cable Car

About 500 metres inland from Rapallo station at Piazza Solari, you can catch the cable car and ride up to the Sanctuary of Montallegro. The shrine commemorates the apparition of Mary, the Mother of Jesus and the patron saint of Rapallo. It was built in 1558, and its marble facade was added in 1896. There are many paintings on the walls, mostly of miracles at sea.

The splendid ride uphill to Montallegro on the cable car (which opened in 1934) takes seven minutes to ascend 600 metres, with spectacular views of the Gulf of Tigullio and the hills.

The cable car leaves every half hour between 9.00 and 12.30 am and 2.00 – 5.00 pm (later in summer)

The marble facade of the church looks spectacular at night.

There are two hotels with restaurants open for both lunch and dinner. Several hiking trails start from Montallegro.

Click for more information on the Rapallo Cable Car.

Festivals and Events in Rapallo

The most important festival is 2nd July, the Festa dell” Apparizionne Della Vergine, celebrated in Montallegro above Rapallo. There is a procession from town up to the church.
The small theatre in the former Clarrise convent holds concerts and plays, and during summer, movies are shown outdoors in the town park by Villa Tigullio. Many small weekend festivals, outdoor markets, and concerts occur throughout the year. Sailing regattas are sometimes held, too.

Rapallo Nightlife


Cafe ZiPier
Via Avenaggi 17,
16035 Rapallo GE,
Facebook: Cafe ZiPier

Good food, good drinks and great friendly staff. Popular for its extensive selection of beers. Live music to rock and reggae. Lovely bar terrace with sea views.


Click to see larger images.

Where to stay in Rapallo

The Rapallo seafront and streets leading from it are lined with hotels, many built in the Liberty style, the Italian equivalent of Art Nouveau. They range from modest two-stars with homely atmospheres like Hotel Portofino to grand five-star hotels like the Excelsior Palace. Like other seaside towns in Italy, many hotels in Rapallo shut down from November to March.

Rapallo Hotels

Look for hotels with

Recommended hotels are Best Western Tigullio Royal and Hotel Miramare.


Fossa Lupara,
Sestri Levante,

GPS: N44°16’25” E9°25’21”

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

We love this campsite, although we pulled up outside a couple of years ago and decided to come away and find another one as it didn’t seem to be in the best location. It was near the toll booths on the motorway, and there were a lot of concrete bridges and pillars around, along with a builder’s merchant near the entrance. We decided to get somewhere by foot or cycle. However, we decided to try it again this year, and the actual Site inside is nice and cosy. The food in the restaurant is good. You can’t hear any road noise, and the owners are so friendly.

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

How to get to Rapallo

Rapallo is located in the region of Liguria on the Italian Riviera between Genova and the Cinque Terre.

The nearest airport to Rapallo is Genoa Cristoforo Colombo Airport (GOA/LIMJ). This airport is in Genoa, Italy and is 39 km from the centre of Rapallo.

Rapallo train station


The train station is situated in the old town of Rapallo.

Rapallo is about an hour on the train from Genova.

You can get a train from Milan to Rapallo, which can be booked online at

 Type Milan in the form field, and you’ll leave from Milano Centrale. An occasional intercity train goes directly to Rapallo, or you can change in Genova. You can buy an e-ticket without creating an account, and you usually have to tell the train conductor the PNR code of your booking.

Buy a ticket from the self-service machine (they have instructions in English) or the counter. You must remember to validate the ticket (get a time printed on it) in the machines on the platform before you board.

The regional trains are cheap. From Rapallo, you can quickly get to Santa Margherita Ligure (3 minutes away) and Camogli (8 minutes) by train. You can take the train to any of the five villages to get from Rapallo to the Cinque Terre.

It takes 40 minutes to walk from Rapallo to Santa Margherita Ligure along the coast. From there, it is just over an hour to Portofino. You can also get a bus to Portofino, but they are always packed.


You can take the bus although it will take a long time and could be more convenient with large luggage. You must take the airport bus (volabus) to the end of the line at Brignole Station. Then a bus from nearby Piazza Verde to Recco, then another bus to Rapallo.

rapallo ferry

The ferry is a scenic way to travel (although a bit more expensive) to Santa Margherita, Portofino, San Fruttuoso, and Cinque Terre.

From July through September, there are some ferries to Cinque Terre. See the Tigullio Ferry Schedule. The harbour also has a taxi boat service.

By Car

The distance from Genova airport to Rapallo is 38 mins (32.4 km) via A12/E80.

Car Hire

There are so many unique places to visit which sometimes we can’t get to with our motorhome or local transport, so we often hire a car for a few days to explore more.


 We take out an annual car hire excess insurance with insure4carhire. 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.

Tourist Information

The tourist information office is near the sea on Lungomare Vittorio Veneto.