La Spezia is a port town, naval harbor, and ship-building center, and if you don’t want to go too far from your cruise ship, the charming main street, Via del Prione, is within walking distance of the cruise terminal. Sit in the sun at one of the many cafes or visit the Castle for the views. If you are feeling active, climb the steps to the 13th-century Castle, Castello di San Giorgio, from Via XX Settembre. If not, take the elevator up, located on Ascensore S. Giorgio.
And if you love art, there is a great little art gallery, Museo Amedeo Lia, full of interesting medieval and Renaissance art and manuscripts.
You must, however, have heard about the spectacular surrounding region, and we would encourage you to venture further afield. La Spezia is the gateway to some of the most beautiful landscapes of Italy, and getting out of the town is, we think, the best and most memorable way to spend your time here.
If you prefer to do things on your own, there is a tourist information office along the town’s main street where you can get help with local buses. Or head to the train station that is signposted. Remember, when buying train tickets in Italy, you must get them stamped at the machines before you board.
If, however, you are a planner, we recommend you research, plan, and book a shore excursion or a private tour before you leave home to make the most of the many stunning destinations in the region.
Top destinations for the best excursions from La Spezia cruise port
For tours and shore excursions from La Spezia cruise port, here are the top choices voted as the best experience by cruise travelers like you.
Perhaps the most famous attraction in the region, the Cinque Terre, is a string of five picturesque villages along the rugged coastline. Visitors can hike between the villages, take a guided boat tour, or relax on the beaches and enjoy the stunning scenery. Each of the five towns has its unique charm and character, and you can spend hours exploring the colorful streets and sampling the local cuisine.
Our favorite is a boat tour visiting Riomaggiore, Monterosso, and Vernazza. This way, you can see how stunning the coastline is from the water and get into these villages quickly without battling the crowds on the walking routes in and out of the towns. However, if you choose to visit by road, Manorola has stunning views and an excellent, authentic Italian restaurant, Nessum Dorma.
If you choose to visit by train, head to the train station in La Spezia, but buy train tickets before you leave home to avoid the queues at the station.
We recommend starting at the village furthest from La Spezia, Monterosso al Mare. It is also the only village with a beach strip so you can swim there.
Work your way back using the train to end up at the closest town to La Spezia, Riomaggiore, and climb up to the Castle for the most magnificent view of the town below to end your day before heading back to La Spezia and your cruise ship.
This charming fishing village is located just south of La Spezia and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Explore the town’s narrow streets and colorful houses, climb up to the Castello Doria for stunning views of the Gulf of Poets, or take a boat tour to the nearby islands of Palmaria, Tino, and Tinetto.
Remember to enjoy rustic Ligurian cuisine, and try the sweet apricot and honey Sciacchetrà dessert wine, a true tradition around Cinque Terre!
Gulf of Poets
The Gulf of Poets is a beautiful bay just south of La Spezia, known for its stunning scenery and literary history. The bay is named for the many poets and writers inspired by its beauty over the years, including Lord Byron and Percy Bysshe Shelley.
Visitors can take a boat tour of the bay, explore the charming fishing villages, and enjoy the stunning views of the surrounding hills and coastline.
Just 8 km southeast of La Spezia is the beautiful village of Lerici. Part of the Riviera di Levente, Lerici is a perfect way to unwind in the most picturesque and romantic setting on the coast. In the main square, Piazza Garibaldi, you’ll find plenty of shopping, cafes, and relaxing places to enjoy Italian coffee or gelato.
We recommend you take the opportunity to ride a boat to the neighboring small towns of San Terenzo, Fiascherino, and Tellaro. Colorful traditional cities perched on the edge of the ocean. And if you are looking for a fantastic beach, visit the broad sweep of Venus Azure, probably the best known in the area and within 30 minutes of La Spezia.
Florence is a 2-hour train journey from La Spezia central train station if you book the fast train (Frecciarossa). You have one change, often in Pisa.
The walk from the port to the train station takes about 20 minutes. If you arrive at the port earlier enough and there are taxis available, it will take less than 10 minutes to get a taxi from the port to the station. Expect to pay around 15 euros.
Be prepared for a long day as you will want to visit the most important sights in Florence, such as Michelangelo’s David at the Accademia Gallery, Botticelli’s most significant works of art at the Uffizi Gallery, the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Flower (better known as the Dumo), Piazzale Michelangelo neighborhood for the best views, and Vivoli Gelato, one of the best pastry and gelato shops in Italy (we think).
Plan your day well ahead and ensure the tour you pick includes skip-the-line tickets to the art museums.
A walk across the famous Ponte Vecchio is a must, and onto the beautiful gardens of Pitti Palace. There is so much to see and so many ways to spend your time in this fascinating Renaissance capital that you will want to visit again and spend more time here.
Tuscan wine-tasting experience - There is an abundance of excellent vineyards and wine-tasting experiences in Tuscany to choose from, for example, the wonderful Castello di Verrazzano in Chianti or the organic wine estate of Querceto di Castellina, or Querciabella in Greve Chianti-Classico vineyards.This region is, however, is located about 2.5 hours from your cruise terminal, so we do recommend booking a cruise ship excursion to ensure you make it back in time for your departure, or with a trusted supplier who can guarantee you are back in time.
The iconic Leaning Tower of Pisa is just a short train ride away from La Spezia and is a must-see attraction for many visitors to the region. Visitors can climb to the top of the tower for stunning views of the city or explore the other historic sites and charming streets of this Tuscan city.
It is easy to get the train from La Spezia to Pisa, and often a lot less expensive than booking a cruise ship excursion.
This beautiful Tuscan city, just a short train ride from La Spezia, Lucca, is known for its beautiful architecture, charming walkable streets, and delicious food.
Visitors can explore the city’s historic center, walk or cycle along the top of the city’s medieval walls, or sample the local cuisine at one of the many restaurants and cafes. It’s a perfect city for strolling, with plenty of green open spaces. If you are there towards the end of the day, watch out for Puccini concerts at San Giovanni.
Cooking classes the Italian way
Lucca is one of the best places to enjoy a cooking class and meet fellow cruise travelers with the same passion for Italian food. Alternatively, we can recommend Montese’s cooking experience in San Gimignano. This home has views over the beautiful Tuscan countryside. You’ll need transportation to reach them, so pre-book with a tour guide in a small group tour. There are usually around 14 or 15 guests in the group.
Plan and book the shore excursions from La Spezia cruise port that suits you best. And don't worry if you feel you miss out on something. That's a good reason to plan another trip back to Italy very soon.