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Similar to ports of call like Portofino and Cinque Terre, La Spezia, and others, Santa Margherita is a coastal Italian dream just waiting for you to explore. Admire its sloping hillsides and olive trees in the near distance. Watch as fishermen pull their catches straight from the Ligurian sea onto your plate. Less flashy than Portofino but no less glamorous, Santa Margherita is a can’t-miss destination that embodies everything that coastal Italy is loved for.
On Italy cruises, unique shore excursions make it easy to pick your perfect itinerary and maximize your time in port. You can also fly solo for the day if you want, drinking bellinis and eating pizza underneath an umbrella in the piazza.
History buffs looking to experience Italy’s historic and religious significance to the Catholic church will love an afternoon at the Basilica di Santa Margherita d'Antiochia, which was built in the Baroque style of the time. It’s an impressive, intimidating structure known for its ornate art features and pipe organ.
One of Italy’s most beautiful gulfs to visit is the Golfo di Tigullio, where the locals will often swim and enjoy good weather. It’s a quintessential Italy experience for its clear, cool waters and rocky landscape.
There are a wide variety of boating activities and private tours in this part of Italy. Enjoy a day out on the water underneath the sun, listening to music. You might take a dip in the water from the boat, or simply lay out and get a tan.
Can’t get enough of the celebrity sightings in Portofino, where the rich and famous often take vacations? It’s a short bus ride or taxi away to get to this vacationer’s haven, where you can enjoy sun, sea, and fresh pasta whenever you like.
Part of the charm of this part of Liguria is that there’s no shortage of swimming and diving opportunities for novices or experts. Dive to see the Christ of the Abyss in nearby San Rocco, or simply hang out at the spiaggetta del sole, a local beach.
No time in Italy is complete without indulging in a sweet treat. Local gelaterias come equipped with dozens of flavors made in house, ranging from dark chocolate to almond to nutella gelato.
Take a walk around Santa Margherita and you’ll find the standard fare you’ve come to expect with Italian food: freshly made pizzas, pasta, and rich desserts that truly satisfy. No matter what restaurant you choose, the seafood caught off the Ligurian coast can’t be beat. When it comes to drinks, don’t miss out on participating in the coffee culture here, where you stand at the bar and quickly sip your morning espresso. Before dinner, the aperitivo is an art form in Italy. Try a bellini or an Aperol spritz, then switch to a Ligurian wine for dinner.
On cruises to Santa Margherita, you’ll discover the rich history of the region of Liguria and the surrounding towns of Santa Rocco, Portofino, and Paraggi, even though you may not have time to explore all three. The municipality of Santa Margherita Ligure didn’t become a part of Italy officially until 1861 during the Unification of Italy. Before that, it was a Napoleonic territory. The area was relatively anonymous until the 1950s, when tourism to the region began to boom. Today, people are slowly discovering that Italy’s beautiful coast is more than Cinque Terre, and they’re exploring more off-the-beaten path destinations like Santa Margherita to gain a complete picture of Italy’s many regions and cultures.
The Santa Margherita cruise port is a tender port, and you’ll be tendered ashore via a smaller boat from your ship. The port is minimal, but it’s within walking distance to shops and cafes. There’s also a tourist information center in town. A bus system gets travelers to neighboring towns like Portofino, and taxis are usually available, too.
Getting around in Santa Margherita is pretty straightforward, and the town is walking distance from the pier. Getting to other towns in Italy, like Genoa or on to Cinque Terre, is a good option if you have more time, and there are train routes readily available. Car rentals are an option if you want to see the Italian coast at your own pace.
Unlike the slightly more upscale shopping experiences in Portofino, Santa Margherita offers a little more for the everyday person. Strolling the main piazza of town, you’ll come upon quaint shops and boutiques, some practical, some oriented towards tourists. If you’re not in a rush, you’ll find some Ligurian treasures.
You’ll use the Euro when you travel to Italy. Upon arrival at the Santa Margherita cruise port, you’ll likely come upon a couple of ATMs and currency exchanges on the way into the town. In Italy, most restaurants include a service charge in the bill, so you don’t have to worry about tipping. If there isn’t a service charge, you can leave behind a few euros for good measure. Leave a couple of euros as a tip for a taxi driver as well. Cash is recommended in the smaller towns in Italy, but many places take credit cards like Mastercard and Visa.