Getting to the Jewel of the Italian Riviera
Portofino is a picturesque fishing village on the Italian Riviera, renowned for its stunning harbor, designer boutiques, and glamorous yachts. The closest airport is in Genoa, about 30 miles away. The most scenic way to reach Portofino is by train, bus, or car to Santa Margherita Ligure, then taking a 15-minute ferry ride to Portofino’s harbor. Once in Portofino, the village is small enough to explore on foot.
Stay in Opulence at Belmond Hotel Splendido
For the ultimate Portofino experience, stay at the Belmond Hotel Splendido, a historic cliffside retreat overlooking the harbor. Opened in 1901, this luxury hotel epitomizes La Dolce Vita with its terraced gardens, infinity pool, and Michelin-starred restaurants. Many rooms offer balconies with panoramic views of the sea.
Soak in the Atmosphere at the Piazzetta
The heart of Portofino is the Piazzetta, a charming cobblestone square lined with cafés, restaurants, and high-end boutiques like Prada and Pucci. Sit at an outdoor table, order an Aperol spritz, and soak in the atmosphere. On weekends, local artisans set up stalls to sell crafts, olive oil, and other Ligurian specialties.
Take a Hike in the Regional Park of Portofino
Escape the glitz of Portofino by hiking the trails of the Regional Park of Portofino. An easy 30-minute walk leads to Castello Brown, a medieval castle with gardens overlooking the harbor. For more secluded beaches, hike 1.5 miles to Cala dell’Oro or 3 miles to Cala di Mitigliano, picturesque coves nestled in the pine forests.
Indulge at Puny, a Portofino Institution
For an authentic Portofino dining experience, make a reservation at Puny, a casual yet stylish restaurant in the harbor. Since the 1920s, Puny has been serving fresh-caught seafood, homemade pasta, and pesto—a Ligurian basil and pine nut sauce. Their signature dish is Trofie al pesto, hand-rolled pasta tossed in pesto with green beans and potatoes. Enjoy an evening stroll along the harbor after your meal.
Discover the Allure of the Italian Riviera
With its glamorous setting, upscale hotels, and Mediterranean charm, Portofino epitomizes the allure of the Italian Riviera. From the Piazzetta, stroll along the harbor to the Chiesa di San Giorgio, a 12th-century church with priceless works of art. Take a sunset boat tour to see Portofino from the water. As night falls, have an aperitivo at one of the cafés before dining at a harborfront restaurant like Delfino or Da I Gemelli. End the evening people watching in the Piazzetta, now bustling with activity.
A few days in Portofino allows you to experience the best of the Italian Riviera—the sea, culture, food, and dolce vita. While Portofino attracts the wealthy and well-heeled, it's natural beauty and slower pace of life provide an escape for any traveler. As you stroll the harbor and winding cobblestone paths, the cares of everyday life fade away.
Practical Information for Your Portofino Getaway
- The best time to visit Portofino is from April to June and September to October when the weather is pleasant and the crowds have dwindled. Summers can be very hot, and hotels charge peak season rates.
- Portofino is an easy day trip from Genoa, Santa Margherita Ligure, or the Cinque Terre, but staying overnight allows you to experience its charm after the daytrippers have left.
- Most shops and restaurants are open from 10 am to 7 pm. Many close for Riposo, an afternoon break, from 1 to 4 pm.
- There are no cars allowed in Portofino, so wear comfortable walking shoes. The paths and Piazzetta have uneven cobblestones.
- Bring a jacket, as it can be cool at night, even in summer. The sea breeze adds to the chill factor.
- Make dinner reservations in advance, especially if dining during peak season or on weekends. Restaurants fill up quickly.
- The best way to get around the Ligurian coast is by train or ferry. Driving and parking can be challenging, especially in summer.
- Don't miss a day trip to the Abbey of San Fruttuoso, a medieval abbey accessible only by boat or a 2-hour hike. It's one of the most scenic spots on the Portofino promontory.
Some additional details and tips for your Portofino getaway:
Italy uses the Euro. ATMs are available in Portofino, but many shops and restaurants only accept cash, so bring enough with you.
The best way to explore Portofino is on foot, as the village is pedestrian-only. However, the paths and Piazzetta have uneven cobblestones, so wear comfortable walking shoes with traction. Public buses connect Portofino to Santa Margherita Ligure and other nearby towns. Ferries and water taxis also provide connections along the coast.
Some excellent day trips from Portofino include:
- Cinque Terre: A scenic 1-hour train ride takes you to the picturesque Cinque Terre villages. Hike between the towns and enjoy pesto pasta.
- San Fruttuoso Abbey: Accessible only by boat or a 2-hour hike, this medieval abbey sits in a picturesque cove. It's one of the highlights of the Portofino promontory.
- Santa Margherita Ligure: This charming beach town is only a 15-minute bus ride from Portofino. Explore the port, gardens, and shops, or just relax on the beach.
The beaches in Portofino are small pebble beaches, not sand. Rent a sun lounger and umbrella to relax. Some recommended beaches include:
- Piazzetta Beach: Right in the harbor, this small beach offers convenient access to cafés and restaurants. It gets very crowded, so arrive early.
- Paraggi Beach: A 1-mile walk from Portofino, Paraggi Beach has scenic views, beach clubs, and more space. It's a popular spot for locals and visitors.
- Cala dell'Oro: A secluded cove with crystal-clear water, accessed by a 30-minute hike from Portofino. Quieter than the harbor beaches.
While Portofino is not known for its active nightlife, you can still enjoy an evening out:
- Piazzetta: Grab an aperitivo at one of the cafés, then dine al fresco at a harborfront restaurant. Soak in the lively atmosphere.
- Nighttime Stroll: Take an evening stroll along the harbor walkway or through the gardens of Castello Brown. The paths are lit up at night, with romantic views of the sea.
A perfect escape from the cares of the world, Portofino's stunning setting and slower pace of life embody the Mediterranean dream. Discover for yourself the charm of this Italian Riviera jewel.