Best Things to Do in Portofino, Italy

WHAT TO DO IN PORTOFINO IN 1 DAY

Liguria is full of stunning places to visit, and one of them is Portofino. So whether you visit Portofino as a day trip from Cinque Terre or Genoa or happen to stay longer: Here are the best things to do in Portofino.

Probably one of the most Instagramable places in the world is Italy – which doesn’t come as a surprise as many villages are a treat for the eyes with their colorful houses lined up along the coasts or set on hills. And one of the most Instagrammable places in Italy is Portofino and one of the best day trips from Cinque Terre.

The fishing village is famous for its picture-perfect harbor and a popular hotspot for the rich and famous. It is located in Liguria, in the northeast of Italy. It makes a great day trip from either nearby Genoa, Liguria’s capital, or the world-famous Cinque Terre.

This quick guide will help you plan your day trip to Portofino – find out how to get there, what to do and see, and more travel tips.

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TRAVEL TIPS FOR ONE DAY IN PORTOFINO

Whether you stay one day in Portofino or longer: these travel tips can help you plan your itinerary.

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How to Get To Portofino

Portofino lies southeast of Genoa and is easily accessible from Santa Margherita (5km), Genoa (40km), or Cinque Terre (75km).

By train/bus/boat:

  • The closest train station is in Santa Margherita.
  • From Santa Margherita train station, you either take a boat (a roundtrip ticket for the boat is 12€) or the bus (a roundtrip ticket is around 5€).
  • Both, the bus and boat tour, take about 15-20 minutes.

On foot:

  • You can also walk from Santa Margherita if you are fit and want to soak in the views.
  • The hike there is not flat, though, so wear appropriate shoes (it takes around one hour to walk).

By car:

  • You could drive to Piazza della Libertà, 13/A, 16034 Portofino and park your car in a covered pay car park and walk for about 5 minutes to the heart of Portofino. Portofino itself is car-free.
  • It is not recommended to drive because of the narrow streets and few parking options – rather take the bus or boat.

Arriving via boat is the more scenic way. So, if you do not get seasick, opt for this.

Portofino Harbor approahing by boat, a good day trip from CInque Terre
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How to Get Around Portofino

I was a bit disappointed by how small Portofino actually is. It really is a tiny place – not comparable with villages like Portovenere. However, this also means that you can get around easily on foot. Just wear comfortable shoes to discover the village at your own speed.

Where to Stay in Portofino

In case you want to stay overnight in Portofino, you can choose from several hotels. Be warned, accommodation prices are very high, and there are not many (so booking in early, especially during peak-season travel, is probably the best idea).

  • Luxury hotel in Portofino: If you want to stay in a luxury hotel in Portofino, this 5star hotel might be the best choice – check out Belmond Hotel Splendido
  • Looking for an affordable place to stay in Portofino? Let me know when you find something – because there basically is not budget accommodation. See yourself and check out all hotels and rates here.

Portofino colorful harbor
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Read More: Things to Know Before Visiting Italy for the First Time

AMAZING THINGS TO DO IN PORTOFINO

Portofino is small, like really small, with only 400 inhabitants. The actual list of attractions and activities is not long. However, I have compiled this list with the best things to do in Portofino.

Check out the Harbor and the Piazzetta

The colorful harbor, with its brightly painted houses, represents the Italian Riviera at its best. 

Portofino resting at the harbor
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Several cafes and restaurants lined up along the harbor and the Piazetta. It gets lively and busy on warmer days.

And as it is a destination for the rich, it is also the place where I had the most expensive cappuccino in Italy. I know, 4€ is the regular price in many European cities with a lot of tourists, but in Italy, it is a lot since cappuccino is normally one of the cheapest drinks you can have here. Normally, it is around 1,50-2,50€ only – but the view is well worth it.

You also have a lovely view of Castello Brown from the piazza.

Hike to Castello Brown

The castle sits on top of a hill overlooking the Gulf of Portofino, the harbor, and the colorful houses. One of the best things to do is hike up and enjoy the gardens for an entry fee of about 5€. 

Portofino Castle seen from boat
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Church of San Giorgio – Chiesa di San Giorgio

On your way to Castello Brown, keep an eye out for the Church of San Giorgio. It is an uphill hike, but it takes only about 15 minutes or so and is well worth it. The church itself is nice but not spectacular.

Portofino seen from above
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Portofino view to the other side
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  • This view from the church was free, and for those of you who really dislike hiking, this is a nice alternative to Castello Brown. 

Stroll the Streets

If you stand at the harbor and turn right, instead of left, towards the castle, you will find some little, narrow streets that you can stroll through and discover. With one day in Portofino, you should have enough time to do so.

Portofino, colorful streets, strolling these streets is one top thing to do
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Chiesa di San Martino

One of the first buildings you will probably spot is the Chiesa di San Martino, which is lovely to look at from the outside but actually even quite impressive on the inside. 

Portofino church, one of the main tourist attractions in Portofino
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It is a Catholic Church – not very surprising in Italy – that probably dates back to the 12th century and the oldest.

  • You can see the bell tower from far. It is small, but make sure to check it out, and there are no entrance fees or so (which is nothing unheard of for churches in main tourist places in Italy).

Rest and Chill

There are not many places where you can chill and rest better than in Portofino – so, add plan some time to rest before you continue your trip.

It is quite busy in the summer months, but if you come early in the day (or leave later), it gets quiet, and you can even relax a bit.

Portofino Sqaure with colorful houses
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The harbor section is probably too busy to swim in (especially in the summer with all the yachts and frequent boats coming and going). However, it is a nice place to sit down, work on your tan, and enjoy the Italian way of life!

You can do the above-mentioned experiences in a couple of hours  – considering that you will need some time to get to Portofino, you might not have time to do much more. However, if you arrive early, do the top things quickly, or stay 2 days in Portofino, you will have time to add the other fun activity to your Portofino itinerary.

Go Diving

If you are a diver, you can search for the Christ of the Abyss, a submerged bronze statue of Jesus Christ located between Camogli and Portofino.

Cristo degli abissi, Abyss Christ in San Fruttuoso, Portofino one of the best things to do
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Though I am totally not into diving, it is a popular activity in Portofino, so I felt like adding it to this list about the best things to do and see in Portofino.

Portofino is a beautiful village along the Ligurian coast. Personally, I would probably have gotten bored if I had stayed there for more than one day (I loved Santa Margherita, though). So, I would recommend visiting for only a day, or even half a day – and so it makes a great day trip from Genoa or Cinque Terre. 

Portofino how to get there
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