An Italian Seaside Town You've Probably Never Heard Of

The French Riviera gets plenty of press. But what feels a bit more unknown is the Italian side, often called the Ligurian coast. Here you'll find fewer tourists, affordable food and drink, and just-as-stunning vistas. Can we tell you an even bigger secret? The seaside town of Ospedaletti, located about an hour over the French border with a population of just over 3,000 people, is about as much of a hidden gem as you can get. 

Here's our official travel guide to Ospedaletti, Italy's best-kept secret.

Where to Stay in Ospedaletti

Courtesy of Anne Roderique-Jones

My husband and I wanted to see what it felt like to "live like a local" in Italy, so we rented a modest apartment for the month of July. We chose this town because it was the exact opposite of NYC: small, quiet, calm, and beachy. There aren't a lot of hotels here, but they have a handful of rentals. Ours was a one-bedroom that had been recently updated with a living room, a modern kitchen, air-conditioning, and a large and lovely balcony that overlooked the Mediterranean: and it was perfect. 

How to Get to Ospedaletti

Courtesy of Anne Roderique-Jones

Getting to Ospedaletti was a bit of a challenge if you don't have a car, but it's worth the effort (i.e., schlepping our suitcases on public transit). After a lot of back and forth on travel forums, we devised a plan. First, we flew directly from Newark to Nice on La Compagnie airlines. Upon landing, we took the AirTrain from the Nice airport to Grand Arenas. From there, a short walk to St. Augustin train station took us to Ventimiglia (another charming town along the coast), where we got a cab to our Airbnb. Alternatively, you can take the bus from Ventimiglia to save a few dollars. On our return trip, we took a car/taxi from our Airbnb directly to the airport (about $120), which shaved off at least one hour. 

What to Do In Ospedaletti

Courtesy of Anne Roderique-Jones

Ospedaletti is more of a resort town that gets busier in the summer months, especially in August; it's mostly filled with Italians and a handful of French visitors. The area is also popular with cyclists as the pista ciclabile (bike path) is an easy and scenic 24-kilometer (approx. 14.9 miles) trail running along the Italian Riviera, part of which is nicely shaded.

Courtesy of Anne Roderique-Jones

After just a few days in Ospedaletti, we settled into a routine: wake up with an espresso and pastry, walk or bike through the trail, swim in the clear and calm waters, have a panini sandwich, take meetings, and work. In the evenings, we'd hit up aperitivo hour (the best!) followed by a long and leisurely late dinner. 

What to Eat in Ospedaletti

Courtesy of Anne Roderique-Jones

For a town of just over 3,000, there are a lot of restaurants in Ospedaletti. A few of our favorites included Byblos for a splurgy dinner and their daytime beach club for a delicious seafood salad lunch; Bar Alba Trattoria for a lovely courtyard setting; L'Osteria for an incredible al fresco dinner with homemade ravioli; Alexandra for a great aperitivo, dinner with sea views, and delicious gelato; Baixaricò for pizza; and 1909 for an upscale meal in the town square. Each Wednesday, there's a market in town where you can buy fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, and even clothing and accessories. Also, don't miss the focaccia — the region is known for its traditional oven-baked bread cooked in flat sheet pans, flavored with olive oil and herbs. It's nearly impossible to eat a meal without a piece of it. 

Courtesy of Anne Roderique-Jones

So, go while you can — we're certain this place won't be a secret for long.

Want to take that trip for free — and score some valuable miles for your next excursion? Check out our top pick travel credit cards for the best welcome bonuses, perks, and plenty of cash back.

Find The Best Cruises
Find a cruise

Find the best deals!

Click on multiple sites to get the lowest prices

Click on multiple sites to get the lowest prices