Due to its attractive geographical position and the proximity of the major Italian cities and tourist destinations such as Genoa, Florence, Lucca, Pisa, and Cinque Terre, La Spezia is a vital cruise port and the main naval port in Italy. Tucked in the Gulf of La Spezia, the city is capital of La Spezia province, and a second-largest city in the Liguria region (after Genoa), an important getaway to Liguria and Tuscany.
The cruise terminal is located around 3 km from the historic center of the city, and the cruise ships usually dock at Molo Garibaldi. The city center can be reached on foot (around 30 minutes walking distance), via shuttle bus (free shuttle buses are normally provided by port authorities), or a taxi. When in La Spezia, to go to Florence, Lucca, Pisa or Cinque Terre you can either book a shore excursion with your cruise line, or access these places via train – La Spezia centrale, the central railway station, located 4 km or a 15-minute drive from the cruise terminal. Keep in mind that trains can be overcrowded and not always on time, so you should plan your trip accordingly and ahead of time.
However, if you decide to stay in La Spezia, there is a wide variety of things you can do. The city has a rich history, and many historical monuments, museums, and castles can be found relatively near your cruise terminal. Castello San Giorgio, one of the iconic historical landmarks, is located around 3.5 km (a 10-minute drive) from the cruise terminal, in the heart of the old town. Erected on a hilltop offering breathtaking views of the city and the surrounding mountains, the first castle was built in the 13th century by Niccolò Fieschi, but was eventually destroyed and replaced by a new fortification in the 14th century.
Nowadays, it is possible to visit the castle along with the archaeological museum, with an interesting collection of ancient artifacts, sculptures, and exhibits.
The highlight of the visit is the fantastic view from the castle’s terrace – you can see the surrounding mountains, shoreline, and the whole city of La Spezia.
Another landmark of the city is the Cathedral of Christ the King (Cattedrale di Cristo Re), located around 2.5 km from Molo Garibaldi cruise ships dock. It is a modernly designated Cathedral dating from 1975, built in an innovative circular form, very eye-catching and one-of-a-kind in Italy.
However, if you are more into traditional, medieval churches, you can visit the abbey church of Our Lady of the Assumption (Santa Maria Assunta), 3.5 km far away from the cruise terminal. It dates back to the 13th century and boasts an impressive collection of artwork.
While in La Spezia, you can also explore the beautiful parks lined with the city’s marina: Parco Salvador Allende, or Giardini Pubblici, featuring the Monument of Giuseppe Garibaldi, the symbol of the city and one of the most beautiful monuments in Liguria.
You can also go shopping or enjoy authentic Italian food in one of the numerous restaurants and cafes in one of the city’s main streets – Via del Prione. Possibilities are endless, and everyone can find their way to enjoy this gorgeous city! However, if you decide to visit Cinque Terre, feel free to check out the article: LA SPEZIA GUIDE, THINGS TO DO, SHORE EXCURSIONS