Ahhhh Portofino. Just the mere mention of this village on the Italian riviera conjures up images of old-world glamour and charm. Historically, Portofino has been an escape for the rich and famous, it’s definitely worth a visit if you’re in the area.
An afternoon spent in this charming fishing village is a lovely addition to a trip to the Cinque Terre, which is only an hour away.
How to get to Portofino
There are two options for getting to Portofino. You can take the bus (Bus #82) departing from Santa Margherita Ligure every 20 minutes). Alternatively, if the weather is warm, take the scenic route and arrive by boat from Santa Margherita or Rapello.
If arriving from the direction of the Cinque Terre, Santa Margherita Ligure is the closest train station.
My personal preference is to travel to Portofino by boat. It’s a short trip (around 25 minutes) from Santa Margherita and it goes without saying that it is far more fun to arrive anywhere by boat!. The boat will arrive in Portofino Marina and dock next to some of the most impressive superyachts you will ever see.
What to do in Portofino in an afternoon
- Take a stroll to the Lighthouse, and take in breathtaking views of the sea and glimpse the grand properties hiding behind ivy and fences. To quench your thirst: stop for a glass of wine at the café here.
- Visit Chiesa di San Giorgio. A small, but pretty church above the marina.
- Museo del Parco: a wonderful open-air sculpture park (The pink meerkats are my favourite). Look out for the Rhinoccerous to direct you to the entrance.
- Visit Castello Brown. Not the most Italian sounding of castles, Castello Brown was built in the 15th century is the highlight of any visit to Portofino. It’s lush gardens and tour of the castle itself is fantastic. At the top of the tower you’ll be treated to sweeping views of the marina.
If you have a little more time on your hands:
- Dive / Snorkel Christ of the Abyss. A bronze statue of Jesus Christ submerged 15m underwater in the bay of St Fruttoso, is seen as the protector of divers. Trips can be booked via DWS Diving
- Take a walk between Portofino Marina and St Fruttoso, through the Parco Naturale Regionale di Portofino. A fantastic walk that takes around 90 minutes.
- Visit the Abbey of St Fruttoso. St Fruttoso can only be reached by foot or by boat. Take a boat back to Portofino Marina. The trip follows the coastline of Parco Naturale Regionale di Portofino and is a stunning short trip.
Top Tips for visiting Portofino:
- Don’t forget your swimmers! If you fancy a dip, there are many tempting beaches nearby.
- If you do want to see the Christ of the Abyss…Book this in advance, these trips are very popular and book up quickly.
- During high season, it can be horrendously expensive. If you are stopping for lunch or a glass of vino, avoid places directly next to the Marina.
- To avoid crowds of tourists and paparazzi, late April / early May and September are ideal times to visit, it is quieter, and the weather is a little milder.