I’ve never visited a more charming and picturesque location as Portofino. This once fishing village turned celebrity and tourism hot spot is home to just 493 people, making it a hard place to find a hotel. My parents and I stayed in Santa Margherita Ligure, a great seaside town only 3 miles away. Getting to Portofino was half of the fun; we came in by foot, by bus, and by boat. Portofino is a destination all in itself, but is conveniently close to Cinque Terre, and the French Riviera.
Day 1: Walking to Portofino
Walking to Portofino is free, and allows you stop anywhere along the way. It also gives you the option of hiking over a hill on a trail for the last half of the hike. The downside is that the road is narrow, and caution has to be used.
I stopped in Parragi for a dip in the Mediterranean at Bagni Fiore, where I paid about $20 Euros for a towel, showers, service, and a lounge chair. In my opinion, its totally worth the money to have the perfect set up and snacking accessibility at your fingertips. I only stayed for a few hours because there was so much more that I wanted to experience!
The hue of the water here is a perfect shade of teal, making for postcard worthy views everywhere you look. Local men swim in their underwear, and older ladies ride Italian mopeds. Locals offer up free rides to young ladies, but I wouldn’t suggest this…
We enjoyed lunch at Ristorante Ö Magazín; the perfect place to sit along the harbor with a glass of wine, followed by a gelato (or two). After lunch we explored the hillside, and hiked up to Castello Brown, a fortress built in the 1500’s, which offers the best view of the harbor below.
Villas with cypress trees and terraced gardens are sprinkled throughout the hillside, and there is no doubt that living here would be anything shy of extraordinary.
Day 2: Taking the Ferry
For about $10 Euros round trip, we boarded the passenger ferry from Santa Margarita Liguere (shown above) to Portofino and enjoyed the view from the sea for the 15 minute duration of the trip. We passed by cruise ships, and yachts of all proportions, including The World. Boats of all sizes were moored in the beautiful marina, where getting one of the 14 berths costs upward of $3,000/night. The good news is that you don’t have to be rich to enjoy Portofino! The people are friendly, and the service is warm.
We splurged for lunch at the hillside jewel of Portofino, Hotel Splendido, which offers luxurious accommodations with a unique hilltop view of the bay. The infinity pool and relaxing terraces make this the ultimate Portofino getaway, but if you are not able to stay here, at least stop for lunch and try the home made pasta with pesto, a local staple.
Day Three: Taking the Bus
You may want to leave it to the Italians to drive into Portofino…the one road in is not for the faint of heart! With only enough room for only one car (or moped) at at time, the local drivers give a friendly honk to let others know their presence. Like the ferry, the bus also takes only 15 minutes, and drops you off right in town. The $4 Euro round trip cost is cheap, and feels like a bit of a thrill ride.
Portofino can be as relaxed or as adventurous as you like. The day can be spent swimming, sitting, meandering, visiting cathedrals, dining, or shopping at stylish boutiques or high end fashion houses. Fresh seafood is brought off the boats, and artist can be found painting images of the local scenery.
I’m so grateful that I was able to tag along with my parents, and enjoy the beautiful Italian Riviera. If you are planning a trip to Italy, I would highly recommend a stop in Portofino.
~A Sweet Only Review