Known as the Italian Riviera, Liguria boasts over 200 miles (321 km) of Mediterranean coastline, famously dotted with colorful villages and seaside resorts. The central capital of Genoa is just 250 miles (402 km) as the crow flies from Rome, and the region’s small size makes it easy to get around and explore. The main rail hub of La Spezia lies at the southern border, with Genoa halfway up the coast.
The train is the best way to reach the region from Rome, with Trenitalia’s high-speed Frecce service heading north through Lazio and Tuscany, before arriving at La Spezia in about 3 hours and Genoa in about 4. Direct flights from Rome reach Genoa in a little over an hour, but travel time to and from the airports makes this option less efficient than the train.
The journey by rental car takes about 5 hours and provides the opportunity for sightseeing and stopovers in Tuscany. Once in Liguria, it’s best to park or return cars in Genoa or La Spezia and continue by train—roads are narrow, winding, and congested towards the coast.
If the budget allows for private transport, this affords all the perks of driving with none of the hassle, but the distance from Rome means it’s an expensive choice. The slowest option is by bus, which while cheap, takes over 6 hours and is only marginally less expensive than the train.
Duration: 3 hours
The train is the easiest, most straightforward way to make the journey, with over 40 departures from Rome to Genoa daily. Trenitalia’s high-speed Frecce line is the fastest, most direct choice, leaving Rome’s Termini station and stopping in Florence and Pisa before reaching the region’s rail hub of La Spezia’s Centrale station in about 3 hours.
From La Spezia, continue north for another hour to Genoa’s Piazza Principe station, or change trains to the slower Regionale line to explore the most popular southern stretch of the coast. This route winds along the Riviera, connecting the villages of the Cinque Terre (which also has its own dedicated Cinque Terre Express Regionale line from La Spezia) and continuing to Levanto, Rapallo, Santa Margherita Ligure, Camogli, and eventually Genoa. Stations in most of the towns and resorts are central and make it possible to visit the area’s highlights entirely by rail and foot.
If your destination is the quieter northern coast, trains run from Genoa towards Savona, Alassio, Imperia, San Remo, Ventimiglia, and the French border.
Both Genoa and La Spezia have multiple train stations, so make sure to choose La Spezia Centrale or Genoa Piazza Principe as your destination; both are walkable from the centers. Frecce trains can be booked online in advance, which is recommended when traveling on weekends and holidays. Regionale tickets are good for 75 minutes or up to 30 km, allowing travelers to visit several villages in one journey.
Duration: 65 minutes
It’s possible to book a quick flight from Rome's Fiumicino (FCO) airport into Genoa’s Cristoforo Colombo (GOA), but no budget airlines serve this route, so tickets can be pricey. With the addition of the travel to and from the airports (both are a 30-minute train or taxi rides from the center) as well as wait times and luggage claim, flying ends up taking almost as long as the train but with far more steps.
By Rental Car or Private Transfer
Duration: 5 hours
The drive from Rome to Genoa takes about 5 hours by car. Traffic in Rome and along the Italian Riviera can be intense, so the train is a better choice for most. Picking up a rental car from Rome’s Fiumicino airport or a location in the north of the city can help to avoid the worst of the city driving. Once out of Rome, the route to the Ligurian border is straightforward: following the A1/E35 autostrada heading north, skirting Florence, turning west and continuing on the A11 towards Genoa. However, you can also consider heading into Florence to break up the drive. After a walk around to stretch your legs you might want to stop at Restaurant Il Vezzo for lunch!
The journey is scenic and allows for stops throughout Tuscany to break up the trip. Once into Liguria, however, it’s best to ditch the car and travel by train or bus: most of the popular villages and resorts are reached via winding, narrow roads that become extremely congested in high season.
Private transport companies offer transfers from Rome to multiple destinations along the riviera, and if budget allows, offer an excellent way to enjoy the drive’s scenery in comfort.
Duration: 6 hours
The bus is the slowest and cheapest way to reach Liguria from Rome. Flixbus offers direct routes that leave Rome’s Tiburtina station and arrive at Genoa’s Fanti d’Italia/Principe station in about 6 hours. The station is central and convenient, a 5-minute walk from the Piazza Principe train station.
Once on the Italian Riviera, buses connect most larger cities and some towns, but the train is the quicker choice for transport along the coast. The exceptions are a few popular destinations only reachable by bus or ferry—most notably Portofino and Portovenere, which connect with Santa Margherita Ligure and Rapallo via the ATP bus line.