Portofino is a very lovely village and harbour on the coast near Rapallo and to the north-west of the Cinque Terre coastal region of picturesque villages. The town is set in an attractive natural inlet and surrounded by steep valley sides covered with olive trees.
This picture-postcard-perfect village is not easy to reach by car - the road to Portofino is slow, and parking tricky and expensive. The best way to reach the town is by boat from one of the other harbour towns in the region.
If you are arriving in Portofino by car be sure to park on the edge of the town - driving in the narrow streets around the harbour is both impractical and stressful!
The village itself is a traditional Italian fishing village, centred around its harbour and the streets behind, where you will find a great deal of buildings of character, many painted in the pastel colours popular in the Liguria region, and numerous picturesque views across the yacht-filled harbour.
You can also see the 16th century Church of Saint Martin in the village center.
Of course, being very scenic has a downside. Portofino has attracted the great and the good - and above all the wealthy - since the middle of the 20th century. It is sophisticated and elegant, busy and expensive, and a part of every 'guided tour' that passes along the coast of north-west Italy.
Posh shops and upmarket restaurants battle for your attention, but if you have limited funds be cautious about casually sitting down on the terrace of a restaurant for a couple of glasses of wine!
Many of the best known Italian brands such as Armani and Gucci have established boutiques here - start your shopping on Via Roma behind the harbour.
The restaurants around the harbour are very popular although if you are hoping to eat on a budget one of those in the old streets behind might offer better value for money. Regardless of your budget allow plenty of time for a casual promenade around the harbourside to enjoy the ambiance of the village!
After enjoying your explorations of Portofino harbour climb up the hill for a look at the Church of Saint George and the 16th century Castle Brown, and yet more splendid views from both the church and from the castle gardens (entrance charge payable). The path continues onwards to a lighthouse at the end of the headland.
Attractions close to Portofino
One local landmark close to here is the Abbey of Saint Fruttuoso, on the coast south of Portofino and best known for the large statue of Christ underwater just off the coast, placed to protect sailors from harm. San Fruttuoso can not be accessed by road so prepare yourself for an invigorating walk along the cliffs from Camogli or Portofino (or a scenic boat trip from Camogli if you prefer)!
Another abbey, this time to the north of Portofino and in a picturesque location on the coast, is the Abbazio di San Girolama which has wonderful formal gardens, a crypt and saracen tower and 16th century cloisters among its highlights. See www.cervara.it/en/ for visitor information.
Selected places to visit near Portofino, Italy
Santa Margherita Ligure (at 4 kilometres)
The charming resort of Santa Margherita Ligure is one of the most attractive along the Liguria coast.
Rapallo (at 6 kilometres)
Rapallo is a large and bustling resort also known for the cable car ride up the adjacent mountain.
See Rapallo guide.
Camogli (at 7 kilometres)
Camogli is a very pretty fishing village in Liguria on the edge of the Portofino Regional Natural Park.
See Camogli guide.
Chiavari (at 11 kilometres)
Chiavari is a well known beach resort that also has an interesting old town of narrow medieval lanes called carrugi.
See Chiavari guide.
See the Liguria guide for more travel ideas...