Lay of the Land
Portofino offers medieval architecture, botanical gardens and a variety of scenic hiking paths through the promontory’s protected nature reserve, and its location makes day trips to Cinque Terre, Pisa and Lucca convenient for those with more time. Boasting bursts of color, lush vegetation, fantastic regional cuisine and a delicate balance of charm and grandeur, Portofino makes for a treasured summer stop on any Italian vacation.
The main port towns on the Ligurian Portofino peninsula (of which the port of Portofino is the star) vary, though each is well worth a visit. While the best hotels are in Portofino, a few nearby villages make for fun day trips and have exceptional restaurants worth traveling for:
Camogli: The most northwest port on the peninsula is the quaint fishing village of Camogli. A relaxing and family friendly town by the sea lined with colorful houses, Camogli offers a few lovely beach clubs, like the Cenobio Dei Dogi restaurant and beach club and picturesque hiking paths throughout the peninsula’s protected park.
San Rocco: Set at the top of the promontory and surrounded by lush greenery, San Rocco offers sweeping views over the sea and surrounding landscape that characterize Portofino, making it ideal for trekking the various paths between Portofino’s towns. Visitors can descend on foot from San Rocco to Punta Chiappa for some swimming, or to San Fruttuoso, set in a small, protected marine bay and only accessible by hiking-trail or boat, to see the Abbey of San Fruttuoso built into the Cliffside. The statue of Christ of the Abyss, placed in the sea in 1954 as a symbol of peace and protection remains a well-known diving attraction to this day. Guests looking for something less active can enjoy the vistas from above over an aperitivo.
Santa Margherita Ligure: The larger town of Santa Margherita Ligure offers a local Italian Riviera flair. The fish market and marina are an exciting way to experience local culture and cuisine, while a day on the beach or a stroll along the shops and restaurants that line the harbor make for a leisurely afternoon in town.
Portofino: Known as ‘the Pearl of the Mediterranean, the port of Portofino is the glamorous sibling of the peninsula’s surrounding towns. Set in a charming pedestrian piazzetta lined with fabulous restaurants and high-end shops, Portofino’s colorful botanical gardens, lavish private homes and exemplary medieval architecture lining the coast are a few of the many reasons why it is one of Italy’s most enchanting villages. The beauty of the port’s natural environment is surpassed only by the sexiness of the crowd it attracts. Artists, aristocrats and sophisticates from around the world come to shop, dine and people watch as luxury yachts bob at anchor in the harbor. Whether enjoying an espresso at an outdoor café, divulging in the best examples of traditional Ligurian cuisine at a local restaurant, strolling the intimate narrow streets in the port, spending a day at sea or simply relaxing by the saltwater pool at the elegant Hotel Splendido, your time in Portofino is sure not to disappoint.
For those making their first stop in Portofino, flights to nearby airports are frequent. Direct flights from the US are available to Milan Malpensa (2-hour drive from Portofino) and Pisa (1.5-hour drive). Connecting flights and trains to Genoa will bring you closest to the town, with a 45-minute drive to Portofino to follow.