Visitors and locals sip coffee outside waterfront cafés on the Piazza Martiri dell’Olivetta, known simply as the ‘Piazzetta’. The narrow streets winding up from the square are lined with high-end boutiques, galleries, a handful of gelaterias and a few souvenir shops.
The village is relatively sleepy, with not much more to do than wander its streets and lose a few hours people- and boat-watching. To stretch your legs, take a talk up to the 16th-century Castello Brown, which sits above the harbour. Formerly a fortress, the castle was converted into a conservative but comfortable villa in the 19th Century. Today, it houses a small museum and the views from the scenic terraced gardens are worth the visit alone. You’ll pass the unique Museo del Parco on your way up and can stop to take in the interesting sculptures. From the castle, continue to the lighthouse at the end of the peninsula and soak up magnificent views of the sea and surrounding coastline.
Follow the coastal road northeast and you’ll reach equally charming bays, inlets and villages, the seaside resort of Santa Margherita Ligure and the large town of Rapallo – all worthy of a day trip from Portofino. If your sea legs are up to it and you want a different perspective of the Italian Riviera, take the ferry or arrange a private boat for a more stylish transfer.
On the other side of the peninsula is the superbly situated San Fruttuoso Abbey. Built between the 10th and 13th Centuries, this incredible white-washed abbey is only reachable by boat or on foot. If you want to do the latter, we recommend heading off early to avoid the heat of the day and give yourself a couple of hours or more to reach the small cove in which the abbey sits. There’s a boat that will whisk you back to Portofino, or retrace your steps back towards the village following lunch at one of the cove’s restaurants.
Portofino is about an hour along the coast from one of Italy’s most famous national park, Cinque Terre. This UNESCO-listed park is one of the world’s ultimate hiking destinations due to its 74-mile network of trails, which take you along rugged cliff-sides and through the five coastal towns that give it its name. The routes range in difficulty and length – the longest, hardest and most famous is Sciacchetrail, which is just over 30 miles long.
There are only really two addresses that matter when it comes to accommodation in Portofino – Viale Baratta 16 and Salita Baratta 16. The glamorous Belmond Hotel Splendido and Belmond Hotel Splendido Mare are Portofino’s most famous and luxurious hotels. The former, which is housed in a former monastery and features on the prestigious Conde Nast Traveler Gold List, sits on the hillside overlooking the entrance to the small harbour; while the latter is located just a few steps from the water in the village itself.
The closest airport to Portofino is Genoa’s Christopher Columbus Airport, which is situated approximately 22 miles along the coast from the village. Simply contact one of our team and we can arrange everything you need to charter a private jet to Portofino.