Loved by artists, celebrities and millionaires – Portofino is certainly one of the most gorgeous towns in Italy and upon seeing its beauty and colors in person, the reason of its popularity became as clear as water. The intimate bay, the architecture bathing in colors and traditional details, the views from a medieval castle on a hill, the nature’s play… Everything in Portofino creates an unique scenery that can’t just be replicated. Independently of whether Portofino is already on your bucket list or not, check out this travel guide and I assure you that you’ll be convinced enough to book a trip there as soon as possible. Without further ado, let’s spill all the tea on what to do in Portofino in a day.
Index of What to do in Portofino in a day | Portofino Travel Guide:
- About Portofino
- Where to stay near Portofino
- How to get to Portofino
- Portofino Yacht Marina
- Castello Brown
- Secret alleys
- What to eat & where
- Articles related to What to do in Portofino in a day | Portofino Travel Guide
Laying in the gorgeous northern region of Liguria, Portofino belongs to the metropolitan city of Genova. It’s situated 5 metres above the sea level. The town of Portofino is incredibly intimate – the population counts only around 380 citizens and its area equals 2,53 km square! It’s incredible how a town as tiny as that can conquer the hearts of so many people, isn’t it?
Where to stay near Portofino
Since Portofino is such a small town, there aren’t many places to stay precisely there and the ones that are available end up being extremely expensive. However, that isn’t a problem – on the contrary! If you choose to stay in one of the nearby towns accessible by boat, you can have an additional good time admiring the landscape from the sea. More about that in the next section, however, the towns you should consider for this to be possible are: Rapallo, Santa Margherita Ligure or San Fruttuoso (this last one, however, ceases water traffic in case of bad weather, so I’d rather suggest the first 2 to be sure).
I have personally chosen a hotel in Rapallo, Hotel Italia e Lido right by the coast, which offered wonderful views on its own and had the boat port just a few steps ahead.
How to get to Portofino
Like I mentioned before, it’s not only easy, but also fun to be getting to Portofino with the boat that can be taken from one of these towns: Rapallo, Santa Margherita Ligure and San Fruttuoso. The boats depart every full hour, however, there might be variations depending on the season that you choose for your visit. Logically, during the spring and summer season departures are always available as the boats sail more often, while visiting during the winter season might be a little troublesome (and not so picturesque, I might add). You can always check the current schedule HERE.
The prices on the other hand can be consulted HERE, as they depend on the starting and ending point.
💡 These boats are called “traghetto” or “battello” in Italian, in case you want to ask someone local for it.
Alternatively you can get to Portofino by car, but I wouldn’t really recommend driving there especially if you’re not an experienced driver, have a fear of heights or if you’ve never driven in Italy before. Some roads can be very tight, labyrinthish and very steep over the sea. Plus you can’t get to the Portofino centre by car anyway, meanwhile the boat takes you directly to the heart of the town.
Portofino Yacht Marina
Upon reaching Portofino you’ll find yourself in front of the Portofino Yacht Marina sign. Portofino Yacht Marina is an exclusive port where you can find a lot of luxury super yachts, as well as other boats docked. As I already mentioned before, Portofino is a very popular destinations among celebrities and millionaires and that often results in extreme super yachts worth several millions of dollars docked exactly in front of that sign. That is also where you can find a sculpture of a rhino, which is the symbol of the town.
The most popular landmark, serving at the same time as a spectacular viewpoint as well, is the Castello Brown, previously known also as Castello di San Giorgio – a medieval castle located high above the Portofino harbour. For a long time, Castello Brown was functioning as a military defence castle – ever since Roman times (4th century), up until the 19th century when peace fell upon the region. Afterwards it served as a private residence for sometime, then it has been reconstructed and now, upon being purchased by the City Council in 1961, it serves as a historic museum.
To get to the Castello Brown from the Yacht Marina, you need to climb a lot of stairs – so get ready for a pleasant outdoor exercise. However, if you ever find yourself wondering whether it’s worth it to climb up that much just for the sake of the castle and its viewpoint – I assure you, it is, as that’s the best way to see Portofino in the entirety of its beauty and excellence.
The entry to the castle costs 5 euro per person and you have to show your green pass – proof of vaccination or negative test – to enter, even only to the outside part.
As you cross to the castle’s balcony, you will find the magnificent panorama of the whole of Portofino, as well as the surrounding towns and the sea extending underneath the viewpoint. See it for yourself:
Check out the secret tight alleys
Even though Portofino is a tiny town, there are tons of secrets hidden in between its thin alleys and walls. Why don’t you attempt a little bit of exploring by loosing yourself in it for sometime? That’s how I found this gorgeous St. Martin’s church among others!
Get the italian ice cream (gelato)
There cannot be any Italian holiday without eating gelato, am I right? I obey these unspoken rules at all times, so I also got some myself. There is one Gelateria right in the middle of the main square of Portofino called “Gelateria Bar San Giorgio”. Getting a little resting time for your body and an ecstasy for your palate, you can sit on the centre bench and enjoy the views of the Marina and Castello Brown as you consume your ice cream.
What to eat in Portofino & where
Every italian region has their own special dishes that originate from there and that’s where they will taste the best. Liguria is no exception! If you want to taste the real Italian pesto, you can certainly do that in Portofino. I have put up a list of all the regions and their specialties in this post about Italian Dishes by Region (& how to make them at home), in case that’s something you want to check out! -> HERE <-
We have chosen to eat our lunch at Ristorante Lo Stella, right by the bay, that offered gorgeous views and exquisite food at an affordable price. However, one downside of the restaurant is that they don’t offer the house wine, which means that you have to buy it either by the glass or by the bottle. This can be a problem for some, as it ends up being more expensive that regular wine of the house many restaurants may offer.
I ate Spaghetti allo Scoglio, which is my typical go-to dish whenever I’m in Italy and by the sea. A real feast for seafood lovers!
Enjoy the views and the centre!
Portofino’s gorgeousness can be seen in every inch of the place, at every step you take in any direction. The main reason people visit it is for the views – it might not have extreme activities or a lot of landmarks to visit, yet it won’t disappoint your eyes and your aesthetic needs in anyway. A slow walk in the middle of the center while inhaling the scent of the sea at the marina, a closer look to the detailed painting on the small houses around it, and I’m sure you and your fellow travelers will end up being satisfied, refreshed and happy!
If you’re planning to visit Portofino or Italy in general and need some extra tips or have some questions, you can always send me a message on Instagram @milenacorleoneofficial! I always strive to reply to as many of your messages as I can and I love to connect with you guys! You can also find me on Pinterest @lenacorleone, Twitter @MilenaCorleone, Facebook @ShipMeThere, and if you love my content and want me to create more, you can Buy Me A Coffee to show your appreciation. 🙂 Let me know on social media whether you enjoyed this post and the others and share it with your friends! Have a wonderful day and bless you!
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What to do in Portofino in a day | Portofino Travel Guide
What to do in Portofino in a day | Portofino Travel Guide