South of the Italian city of Genoa, Portofino is one of Northern Italy’s most beautiful spots to visit. Although relatively small, it’s totally picturesque and charming and there are heaps of the best things to do in Portofino that are dotted all across the shoreline.
We totally love travelling in Italy and Portofino is one gem you won’t want to miss. It’s the perfect place for a day trip in Italy, or a little longer if you’re travelling around the north coast and mountains. If it’s the latter, you’ll be able to include spots like; Lake Como, Cinque Terre or cities like Milan, too.
Now, one thing to note, Portofino can be quite a bit more expensive than other places in Italy to visit. That being said, you can lower costs (and still get great weather) if you visit in late spring or early Autumn. This way, you’ll benefit from less demand for accommodation and tours and keep costs a little lower.
So, to help you get the most out of your trip to Portofino, I wanted to share some fabulous little spots that I think you’ll love.
Have the best time in Italy!
1.) Portofino Harbour (Marina di Portofino)
If you’re arriving in Portofino by boat, it’s likely your first port of call will be Marina di Portofino. This is the harbour area of the town and a hive of activity, especially in the summer months.
After arriving at either the tender port or marina where your boat will dock, head straight down the coastline and explore the wider Portofino Harbour area.
Actually, talking of sailing, if you’re travelling from Genoa, book this brilliant Portofino boat tour that’ll take you to all the spots in and around Portofino itself. It’s such a great way to get to Portofino and makes the trip so much less stressful, especially if you don’t want to drive on winding roads.
Just be sure to book the Portofino boat tour in advance. Places fill up very fast at peak times.
For one of the best gelatos in all of Northern Italy, head over to Gelateria Gepi Portofino. Yes, it’s quite a bit higher in price (compared to other areas in Italy) but, if I’m honest, most things are in Portofino. Still, the gelato is totally worth it.
Hankering for homemade pizza? Head over to Pizzeria El Portico. still family-owned and run, their anchovy pizza is everything!
2.) Abbey of San Fruttuoso
Just down the coast from Portofino itself, the Abbey of San Fruttuoso is well worth visiting. Best reached by boat, or hiking, visiting the Abbey of San Fruttuoso is one of the best things to do in Portofino if you’re based in the area of travelling to Portofino for a day trip.
If you arrive by boat, you’ll hop off at ‘Battelli Turistici’ which is where all the visitor boats dock. From here, it’s a few minutes stroll directly to the abbey itself. With over 1,000 years of history, be sure to head inside the abbey and check out the museum, too.
Though, as I mentioned before, this area can get very busy. So, head across early in the morning if you want to avoid some of the crowds.
3.) Kayak in Portofino
If you want to take to the water, book this fabulous Portofino kayak tour that’s so much fun. Suitable for most abilities, it’s a relatively easy place to kayak and well worth exploring the coastline and tiny little coves with the qualified guide.
Just remember, as with most tours, plans can change if winds pick up. Always have a back up plan just in case.
4.) Beach of San Fruttuoso
Now, fitting in on the beach at San Fruttuoso is totally easy when you’ve already visited the abbey. It’s more or less the same area, so make sure you pack your swimsuit for your trip.
Take a little dip in the small cove (which is totally refreshing on a hot summer day). Oh, and make sure to either pack some snorkelling gear to see all the fish that call this come home.
Afterwards, head to La Cantina for some of their yummy seafood. Their seabass was so delicious. It’s a little bit of a walk from the main boat area but it’s so worth it.
5.) Paraggi Beach
Just to the east of Portofino is the gorgeous little bay of Paraggi. Yes, it’s small and can get ‘cosy’ when lots of people visit but it’s still one of our favourite beaches around Portofino.
Not only that, there’s some parking close by (see here on Google Maps). This makes it a great spot to visit if you’re already driving and struggling with parking around Portofino itself. The latter is very hard, by the way.
Plus, you can easily book this snorkelling tour around Paraggi Bay. It’s one of the best things to do in Portofino if you want to explore the wildlife around the shoreline.
For a bite to eat, grab a beachfront table at Eight Restaurant. Their homemade pasta is so tasty and rich.
6.) Castello Brown
Fancy a little bit of a ramble when in Portofino. Take a wander up to Castle Brown, just on the hill overlooking the region. Trust me, it’s one of the best things to do in Portofino if you want to stretch your legs.
The castle itself dates back almost 500 years and is well worth climbing the stairs and heading to the viewpoint to see the wider region. You see, the walk is just as gorgeous as the castle itself.
Spend around two hours exploring and walking around this headland and make sure to stop off at the church of Saint Giorgio. It’s beautiful.
7.) Santa Margherita Ligure
Perched just shy of Portofino itself, Santa Margherita Ligure is one town that’s well worth visiting if you’re not heading back to Genoa straight away.
Once here, make sure to stop at the, almost, 400-year-old Villa Durazzo. The building is gorgeous and the walks around the park are just beautiful to see. Though, don’t expect huge amounts of grand furniture inside – the rooms are a little more sparse.
For a yummy lunch, head to Ristorante Antonio for their grilled calamari and baked catch of the day. So good.
8.) Piazza Martiri dell’Olivetta
In some ways, all the little areas of Portofino blend into one when you’re on the ground. You see, it’s such a small place that it’ll only take you a few minutes to go from one part to another.
So, when I say visiting Piazza Martiri dell’Olivetta is one of the best things to do in Portofino, you’ll quickly realise it’s right by the harbour and you’ll already have walked through the piazza itself.
All around the piazza are little shops, cafes and luxury retailers. It’s the perfect little spot to stroll.
9.) Divo Martino Church
If it’s history you’re after, make sure to stop by the striped church of Chiesa del Divo Martino (Divo Martino Church). It’s been around for centuries and you can still head inside to this day.
Getting peckish? Reserve a table at Trattoria Concordia that’s away from the waterfront itself. It’s such a cosy little restaurant and the food was one of our favourites in all of Portofino. Just be sure to try their homemade pesto. Yum!
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