Portofino: what to see and what to do

Romance Yacht Charter Cinque Terre and Liguria

All you need to know about the charming town of the Italian Riviera

Portofino is a charming village situated on the eastern stretch of the Italian Riviera coastline. Its pastel-colored houses are lined up around a sheltered bay that is surrounded by steep green hills covered in lush vegetation. Portofino is endlessly photogenic! It is no surprise that Portofino has inspired many books and films.  Disney even recreated a classic Mediterranean fishing village style based on Portofino in the Portofino Bay Hotel in Orlando.


Portofino Glamour

The reputation of Portofino as a hot spot for the rich and famous is legendary. It first became popular among the jet set in the 1950’s and 60’s when celebrities such as Elizabeth Taylor, Brigitte Bardot, Ingrid Bergman, Frank Sinatra, and many others discovered this little gem on the Italian coast. Strolling around the narrow streets of the village that are lined with exclusive boutiques and luxury shops you might spot a celebrity or two.


How to get to Portofino

The nearest airport is Genoa Cristoforo Colombo Airport, about 45km west of Portofino. The closest train station is Santa Margherita Ligure-Portofino. From there a bus will take you to Portofino. It's a scenic drive by car, but in the busy summer months, you most likely get stuck in traffic.

If you’re staying on the Ligurian coast, a great way to visit Portofino and enjoy views of the coastline is by ferry. There are regular ferry services to Portofino from Rapallo, Sestri Levante, Cinque Terre and Portovenere.


The Piazzetta and the harbor

The perfect way to experience Portofino and breath in its atmosphere is by taking a drink or seafood meal in one of the outdoor cafes and restaurants on the Piazzetta. The small cobbled square in the heart of the village overlooks the harbor, from where you can enjoy the view over the sea and the boats. If budget is not an issue, we suggest staying in one of the wonderful hotels like the Belmond Splendido.

Church of San Giorgio and Castello Brown 

From the harbor walk up the steps to the Church of San Giorgio for a beautiful view over the bay and the colorful village and, on the other side, on the wild coast. After a short walk further up the hill, you find Castello Brown, a 16th-century castle located high above the harbor. The former defensive building is now a museum house used for art exhibitions, weddings, and events.

For an even better view take the path that leads among the trees and luxury villas to the lighthouse located on the very edge of the coast. There is a lovely cafe where you can have a glass of wine and a snack before heading back to the village.



Take a boat tour to explore the Ligurian coast

In the harbor of Portofino, you can rent various types of boats. You can venture out on the sea alone or accompanied by a sailor to admire the rugged coastline and deep blue water. The tours can be planned according to your wishes varying from an hour to a full day. Book a tour with a private guide to make the most out of a day trip. Combine a guided visit to the historic town of Genoa with a boat tour and an excursion to Portofino.


Hiking and watersports

Portofino also has many activities to offer for a more active vacation. Explore the beautiful shoreline by kayak, go snorkeling or take a scuba diving class. Several hiking paths take you to the most breathtaking panoramas in the surroundings of Portofino. Like an excursion up to Monte di Portofino for example. The local tourist information office provides a map.