Thinking of visiting Portofino, but not sure how to plan your time and what to do in one day in Portofino? Don’t worry, this guide will help you plan your perfect itinerary and discover the best things to do in Portofino.
Portofino greets you with elegance, luxury, and glamour. It is one of the most popular destinations in Italy and you will understand why as soon as you arrive.
Keep on reading to discover the best things to do in Portofino and other practical information to plan your itinerary for one day in Portofino.
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Things to know before visiting Portofino
The most popular tours in Portofino:
- 🚢 Spend a delightful morning getting to know Portofino on this walking and boat tour with round-trip ferry tickets
- 🛶 Paddle through secret creeks and admire picturesque caves on this kayaking tour
- 🤿 With this guided tour, you’ll slip into the clear water of Niasca to discover the underwater treasure around the sandy beach
- 🏞️ Escape the hustle and bustle of Milan on a full-day sightseeing tour of 3 gems of the Ligurian Coast including Portofino
- ⛰️ Go coasteering from Portofino to Paraggi Bay on a fun and safe sea, rock, and coastline exploration, observing the natural beauty with this tour
Is Portofino worth visiting?
The area of Portofino has been inhabited since the VIII century and it was known as the port of dolphins. Due to its privileged position and spectacular landscape, the town offers its visitors an intimate atmosphere.
It has been the house of luxury tourism in Liguria and one of the most popular destinations in Italy. Famous singers like Andrea Bocelli and Lana del Rey chose Portofino to promote their music. The popular Italian song “I found my love in Portofino” is also related to the town. Several Italian and American movies were filmed in Portofino.
Shopping in Portofino is another reason that attracts visitors. Some brands like Louis Vuitton, Balenciaga, and Dior have their boutiques here.
Overall, it’s a luxurious place that is accessible to anyone. Cute colorful houses, expensive shops, and fine restaurants are surrounded by nature and the Medditarian Sea. That’s a match made in heaven.
This is just the beginning of this article, but I’m sure I already convinced you that Portofino is worth visiting. So let’s see what are the best things to do in Portofino.
How long to stay and how to plan one day in Portofino?
The pearl of Tigullio is quite small so you can easily plan one day in Portofino and see all the relevant sights. In this guide, I will help you discover the best things to do in Portofino and how to optimize your time.
I believe that some of you could choose to exclude some of the activities, so you can see it even in a half day. On the other hand, you could also get carried away and spend a night in Portofino.
Please keep in mind that Portofino is considered an expensive destination, but there are a lot of free things to do in Portofino in case you are on a budget.
We will go through epic views, fancy restaurants, and picturesque churches and we will cover where to swim in Portofino.
How to arrive in Portofino?
Portofino can be reached in three different ways and we will discuss all of them, so you can find the most suitable one.
If you are coming by car, you should take the motorway exit at Rapallo and follow the directions to Santa Margherita. Once you arrive, you will find covered parking, but it gets filled up quickly, so I suggest you come early. Especially if you are visiting Portofino in summer. The parking costs 6 euros per hour pr 20 euros for the entire day.
If you are coming by public transport, you will need to take a train and get off at the train station Santa Margherita Ligure. Right outside the station, you will find a minibus that takes you to Portofino for 3 euros. You can buy the ticket inside the train station – look for a sign that says Tabacchi. Oh, and don’t forget to validate your ticket inside the bus.
You can also decide to walk from the train station to Portofino. The views are stunning, but it will take you 1 hour and a half.
If you are coming by boat, make sure you check the weather conditions. You can take a boat from Genova Port or Santa Margherita Ligure. If you choose to use the boat, Portofino will welcome you with unforgettable views. Ligurian Riviera is famous for dolphin watching, so you might be lucky.
A boat ticket from Genova costs 12 euros one way, or you can get a return ticket for 20 euros. A boat ticket from Santa Margherita is 8 euros and a return ticket is 14 euros.
The closest airports are in Genoa, Pisa, Milan, and Nice. From these airports, you can use the train or book a private transfer.
Where to stay in Portofino?
Portofino host two Belmod hotels and these are some of the best hotels in Italy. It is going to be a splurge, but it’s part of Portofino and a great way to live through the luxury that the town is famous for.
This hotel hosted many international celebrities like the Duke of Windsor, Winston Churchill, and more recently the famous influencer Chiara Ferragni. Splendido offers glorious rooms with the most epic views of Portofino.
Set among shops housed in colorful traditional buildings, this elegant seasonal hotel lies next to Portofino harbor. If you choose to stay in this hotel, you will be located in the main square of Portofino. It is a 5-star luxury hotel just like Splendido, however, prices are slightly lower.
If you are looking for mid-range or affordable accommodation, you will have to stay in some other towns nearby, like Santa Margherita Ligure for example.
Of course, there are some options, but the value doesn’t live up to the quality if you ask me. And don’t forget that you can visit Portofino in just one day, so maybe you don’t even need to book accommodation.
What to do in Portofino in one day?
I can guarantee that you can see the entire Portofino in one day and still find time for some delicious food and swimming in the Mediterranean Sea. This is not going to be an overpacked itinerary. It might sound like a lot of places, but everything is nearby, and visiting won’t take a lot of your time.
The morning of your one-day itinerary in Portofino
Overview: Breakfast, Chiesa di San Giorgio, Terrazza San Giorgio, Castello Brown, the Lighthouse
Your day in Portofino should start in a sweet way to get the taste of Italian Dolce Vita. Caffè Excelsior, in the famous Piazzetta of Portofino, is a historical Italian cafe.
Celebrities like Greta Garbo, Humphrey Bogart, Clark Gable, and Ingrid Bergman choose Caffè Excelsior to indulge in the Italian sweet life. Enjoy your coffee and brioche in a sophisticated environment and let the staff take care of your needs.
After a nice breakfast, it’s time to start exploring the best places in Portofino. Walk up to the Church of San Giorgio to take a perfect photo. Check the view of the town and the sea. Behind the church, you can also visit the Cemetery of Portofino.
Not far from the San Giorgio Church is the Castello Brown, a castle from 1557 with a splendid view of Portofino Bay. One day in Portofino can’t be complete without visiting Castello Brown and snapping a picture from the terrace. Since people often rent the castle for private events, check their website to know the opening times.
After visiting the Brown Castle head to the lighthouse. It will take you approximately 10 minutes and it is a very easy path. At the end of the path, you will find the lighthouse and a bar.
The bar La Portofinese is a perfect place to relax and enjoy the view around you. This is the final point of Portofino and you will be surrounded by the sea. La Portofinese is not a real restaurant but you can have a nice aperitivo and try one of their stuffed Focaccia.
If you feel like you need a heavier lunch and you are wondering where to eat in Portofino, head back to the town and try Da i Gemelli al Molo. Da i Gemelli al Molo is probably my favorite restaurant in Portofino.
Their dishes are the meeting point between tradition and innovation. Trofie or trenette al pesto alla Portofino is one of the specialties of the house, but you should give a go to the delicious fresh fish from the Ligurian Sea, paired with some Ligurian white wine.
This is a safe hit on what to eat in Portofino. Everything is served with a lovely view of the town.
I strongly recommend you book a table to not wait for a table since this is one of the best restaurants in Portofino.
The afternoon of your one-day itinerary in Portofino
Ovierview: Chiesa del Divo Martino, Shopping, Gelato, Swim and relax
After a nice lunch, spoil yourself with ice cream at Gelateria Gepi. It is a real institution for ice cream in Liguria. Or you can try some delicious lemonades from local lemons. Another thing that you shouldn’t miss when visiting Portofino.
If you are not hungry, wander around the main square and get lost in shopping. It can be luxury brands or local souvenirs. The choice is yours.
Walk to the church of Divo Martino to take a nice photo of the facade and the interiors. The church has the typical Ligurian decoration with horizontal stripes, yellow and dark grey.
On the square of the church admire the Ligurian mosaic called Risseu.
One of the best things to do in Portofino is to swim in the blue waters of the Ligurian Sea. Walk to the beach of Paraggi and enjoy the sun and the beauty. You can choose a public beach for free or a private one offering all the comforts.
When the evening is coming, head back to the Piazzetta. On your way, you will find Baia Cannone – one of the best places in Portofino and a great photo spot for photography lovers. The colorful villas and the blue water make it picture-perfect.
The evening of your one-day itinerary in Portofino
Overview: aperitivo, dinner
When the sun goes down, the atmosphere is more relaxed in the town and it’s a perfect moment to get an aperitivo. One of the best things to do in Portofino is sipping a glass of wine in the Winterose Wine bar.
The place doesn’t have so many tables, but I consider this a pro more than a con, as the atmosphere is very private and romantic. Here you will find some exclusive wines and a careful selection of Italian specialties perfect for your aperitivo.
If you still feel in the mood for dinner and you are thinking of what to eat in Portofino you can try the new opening Cracco. Carlo Cracco is a starred chef who also runs a restaurant in Galleria Vittorio Emanuele in Milan and he offers a gourmet experience in Portofino.
A dinner for two won’t cost less than 500 euros and I recommend booking your table in advance if you want to try this experience.
If you are looking for a more affordable option, head back to lunch suggestions. I guess you either missed La Portofinese or Da i Gemelli al Molo, so now it’s your time to tick the other one off your bucket list.
Further reading for the best things to do in Portofino for one day
Or read about other popular regions of Italy
This is the end of your perfect one-day itinerary for Portofino. We covered all the best things to do in Portofino and some of the experiences that you shouldn’t miss. I’m sure that after following this itinerary, you will discover this luxurious Ligurian gem.
I would love to hear your thoughts, so if you have any feedback or additional tips, leave a comment below. Also, check out my Instagram for regular travel videos and travel inspiration. Or explore other destinations on this travel blog.