There are plenty of things to do in La Spezia, Liguria’s second largest city after the capital, Genoa. It’s an easy travel if you’re coming from the Ligurian capital or Tuscany’s Florence and Pisa on a train.
La Spezia is a port city that caters to various shipping businesses. From being the chief Italian naval base and arsenal to a military, cargo, and container port, and with shipyards as well as machine, oil, and metal industries – it is, indeed, one of the busiest commercial port areas in the country. Major cruise ships take the port of La Spezia as one of their Mediterranean stopovers.
Various interesting places to visit and explore await you in this beautiful northwest Italian city – from historical buildings to stunning scenery.
However, just like Savona, La Spezia is sadly considered just a mere gateway to the more famous Ligurian attractions such as the Cinque Terre. The city itself should be explored before you head to these famous coastal towns. Why, you could spend a few days and not run out of things to do in La Spezia!
Weather condition in La Spezia is often unpredictable due to its location. It can be a very hot, humid summer or a very cold, chilly winter. Be ready but still have fun anyway.
Did you know? Giancarlo Gianini, one of Italy's most famous actors, was born in La Spezia on August 1, 1942.
As already mentioned, La Spezia is the gateway to Cinque Terre. So you don’t need to be out of route to enjoy your trip. We recommend starting your exploration of the area at La Spezia.
10 Best Things To Do In La Spezia, Italy
Either you take the railways, buses, or the trolleybus system, or just simply walk around, here are the 10 best things to do in La Spezia, Italy.
1. Hop from one museum to another
One of the very best things to do in La Spezia is visiting museums. They will provide you the feeling that you’ve traveled not only the place but back in La Spezia’s colorful past.
Here we’ve picked the top museums in the city you should not miss.
• Technical Naval Museum
Located at Arsenale Militare Marittimo di La Spezia, in Viale Giovanni Amendola, the Technical Naval Museum consists of huge exhibit areas.
The Polene Hall which is made up of wooden decorations placed on boats way back the 15th century. The Underwater System Hall showcases submarines and torpedoes as well as weapons from way back the 19th century. The Marconi Hall is where you can find the world’s largest original radio equipment collection. While at the Artillery Hall, you can find 18th- to 19th-century cannon, guns, and rifles.
• Amedeo Lia Museum
This 17th-century art museum in the old Minimite convent at Via del Prione displays art collection of Amedeo Lia from antiquity to the 18th century. These include sculptures, miniatures, and paintings from all over Europe.
You can spend an hour or so exploring the museum and every minute of it will be worth it.
• Museo del Sigillo
Still along Via del Prione, this interesting seal museum is found in a neo-medieval building named Pallazina delle Arti.
If you’re into seals and iconography, Museo del Sigillo or the Museum of the Seal is a perfect place to visit in La Spezia. The museum showcases thousands of seal-related stuff from the 4th century BC to the 20th century.
2. Watch a show at Teatro Civico
Theater lover or not, you would not want to miss experiencing this openable dome found in Piazza Mentana.
This 19th-century neo-classical building is a gorgeous theater of architectural value, with various seasonal theatrical programs.
Teatrico Civico also hosts the well-known International Jazz Festival.
3. Visit some of La Spezia’s churches
Whether you are a devout Roman Catholic or just a regular tourist, visiting the beautiful churches should be in your list of things to do in La Spezia.
The Church of Santa Maria Assunta, situated at Piazza Giulio, was first built in the 13th century and rebuilt after a World War II bombing. Here you can find famous religious art collections by artists from the Renaissance era, Andrea della Robbia and Giovanni Battista Casoni.
Chiesa di Nostra Signora della Salute (the Church of Our Lady of Health) is near La Spezia’s railway station so if you go by train, this 19th-century Baroque style structure won’t be hard to find.
The Cathedral of Christ the King, also known as the La Spezia Cathedral, is located at the Piazzale Papa Giovanni XXIII. It is one of the most curious structures you can find in Liguria. Built between 1956 and 1975, this uniquely circle-shaped church was designed this way because the circle is a figure that’s said to unite God’s people with Christ. The Cathedral of Christ the King features a crypt and a bishops’ cemetery.
4. Stroll between two well-known streets
Visitors will enjoy walking along what used to be La Spezia’s old town, between these two well-known streets – Corso Cavour and Via del Prione.
These streets cater to tourists who prefer window shopping or shopping spree. It is the city’s shopping center, like a one-stop shop, so you can find a variety of stuff here.
5. Explore La Spezia’s waterfront
Exploring this area is a must when in La Spezia. The city’s waterfront is a great place for relaxation even on sunny afternoons. Shadows of tall palm trees along your path make sure you do not get toasted by the sun.
La Spezia’s public gardens, Parco Giardini Pubblici, are also at the waterfront. The park features a botanical public garden with various kinds of botanical plants. As the area turns urban, the greener these gardens become.
The park is a nice place for walking around. You can as well see Garibaldi’s monument inside. Giuseppe Garibaldi was a famous Italian general who helped in the unification of Italy. The Molo Garibaldi is where cruise ships dock and tourists can enjoy great views from the wharf.
From Parco Giardini Pubblici, cross the Thaon di Revel Bridge to Porto Mirabello to see marvelous views of the whole city and the Gulf of La Spezia (Bay of Poets) itself.
6. Climb up San Giorgio Castle and explore the Ubaldo Formentini Civic Museum
Castello di San Giorgio or St. George/San Giorgio Castle is a hilltop castle that originated from a watchtower of the first castle built on the site in the 13th century. Only the base portion of said watchtower is left today.
From up the castle, visitors can enjoy fantastic views of the town and the port area.
Another reason to visit San Giorgio Castle is the Ubaldo Formentini Civic Museum which has been housed there since 1873. This museum is where some zoological collections and archeological findings are kept, including statue-menhirs – carved stones of human figures from the Bronze Age.
7. Get close to nature at the Porto Venere Natural Park
The best way to reach Porto Venere Natural Park from La Spezia is by boat. This island reserve used to be a fort back in the 19th century and you can still see its remains when you visit the island.
With good hiking trails, jaw-dropping views, village restaurants, and a couple of hostels, this is one of the most underrated attractions in Liguria. Do not miss it when you’re in La Spezia!
8. Go island-hopping in the Bay of Poets
The Gulf of La Spezia, also called the Bay of Poets or the Gulf of Poets, is right in the middle of La Spezia. Two of La Spezia Province’s best tourist resorts, Lerici and Porto Venere, are found at the gulf’s extremities.
The Bay of Poets was named after the poets who have praised its beauty and lived there, including Lord Byron and Percy Bysshe Shelley. Shelley even died in the gulf when his boat Don Juan capsized during a storm.
The Lerici Islands in the gulf include Palmaria, Tino, and Tinetto. Must-visit attractions on these islands are the Palmaria Island’s Azzurra grotto, Tino Island’s old lighthouse which is one of the very few of its kind that remain in Europe, and Tinetto’s Madonna Stella Maris statue.
9. Explore the Village of Biassa
The village of Biassa, part of the municipality of La Spezia, is perched on the hills some 1,500 feet above sea level. This location affords one with spectacular views of La Spezia and its pretty harbor.
You will love the gorgeous terra cotta rooftops with the lush forest surrounding the village.
While there, don’t miss pesto and the lemon liquor called limoncello, which are both from the region. Biassa’s pizza is also to die for!
10. Visit a food market
You can’t go around La Spezia with an empty stomach, so why not binge on the city’s cuisine?
Visiting a food market is a must in La Spezia. The Market Square in the Piazza Camillo Cavour serves some really great Ligurian food.
The food market in Via Girabaldi is famous for serving fresh foods – from fruits and vegetables to fish and cheese, and many others. So delve in!