Portofino: luxury and VIPs … in the middle of the national park !

portofino liguria holiday


A little fishermen village which is famous for being one of the favourite holiday destinations of celebrities. Everybody has been here, from Liz Taylor, Jackie Kennedy or John Wayne to Madonna, Bill Gates, Kate Moss and Leonardo DiCaprio.

How to reach Portofino?

Portofino is located on the very tip of the Portofino Peninsula and can be reached by the SP 227 (provincial road), from Santa Margherita Ligure. The road is very beautiful with a rocky coast and fantastic views of the Ligurian shore. On a clear day, you can see even the peninsula of Punta Corone of the Cinque Terre. The distance between Santa Margherita Ligure and Portofino is just 5 km so it can be done in various ways.

on foot – which I definitely recommend, because it is really the most comfortable way to reach Portofino. There is a sidewalk all way long and when sidewalk ends you find a trial which leads you to the town centre. You can stop whenever you want and take all the pictures you want. You can also stop at one of the small, public beaches and swim in the crystal clear water (the whole area of Portofino is a nature reserve so the water and nature are really amazing).

by bus – line 82 – the bus stop is located in the front of the train station in Santa Margherita Ligure. The ticket costs € 1.80 and the journey takes about 15 minutes. The bus runs every 20 minutes from 6.15 am to 10.00 pm (during the summer season to 00.45 am). It is a cheap and quite fast way to reach the town but it is not very comfortable. If you take a trip it with a big group of tourists (as I did once) then it will be VERY tight inside.

by car – a mean of transport which is chosen by the majority of the tourists who want to see Portofino. But be careful! There is only one parking space (which costs 5.50 €/h) and the whole town is closed to the traffic. So if you want to visit the town without spending a fortune for the parking place, I recommend you other types of transport πŸ˜‰

by ferry – there are many tourists who take numerous ferries in Liguria. Almost every town in Liguria has its own port where you can take a ferry and reach Portofino or any other interesting tourist destinations in Liguria.

These are several companies, that provide ferry transport:

– from Recco, Camogli (The Paradiso Bay): http://www.golfoparadiso.it/php/index.php

– from Santa Margherita Ligure, Rapallo, Chiavari, Lavagna, Sestri Levante (The Tigullio Bay): http://traghettiportofino.it

– from Genoa: http://www.battellierigenova.it

No matter how you have reached Portofino, now you can enjoy and explore places that were appreciated by the most famous people. You will find here the most expensive and famous fashion boutiques, mega yachts moored in the port and ( it is not excluded) …. some VIP strolling in the centre … πŸ˜‰

Things to do & see:

Museo del Parco museum portofino liguria

address: via Pier Umberto I

Opening hours :

June – November 10.00 am -1.00 pm and 3.00 pm- 7.00 pm

Entry: € 5.00

It is a sculptures museum of local and other Italian artists (Pomodoro, Messina, Marrai, Costa and other artists of contemporary art). The sculptures are various sizes and made of different materials. For example, at the entrance hangs a 1:1 rhino sculpture.

From the main square (Piazza Martiri dell’Olivietta) you can get into the via alla Penisola that leads you to … another square πŸ™‚ That’s where the San Giorgio church is placed (open for tourists). Definitely, the square is worth seeing because it offers a wonderful view of Portofino (picture time !!!)

Then after the photos, I suggest getting back to the via alla Penisola. Now you can follow the signs to the Castello Brown (10 minutes walk with a small uphill and few steps) and then Faro (lighthouse, located just after Brown Castle, on the tip of the peninsula. The walk takes about 20/30 minutes each way).

Castello Brown (Brown Castle)


address: Via alla Penisola 13

Opening hours:

from 1st November to 31st March: 10.00 am – 5.00 pm

from 1st April to 31st October: 10.00 am – 7.00 pm

Entry: € 5

The first mention of the castle/fortress comes from the XIV century (but recently during archaeological works had been discovered the traces of a Roman tower defence from II / III ac). In the XVI century, it became the stronghold of the Republic of Genoa. During that period was extended to defend against pirate attacks which at that time had plagued the Ligurian Coast. Then during the era of Napoleon Bonaparte, the castle was a part of the French Empire. After its fall became a part of the Kingdom of Two Sicilies, and after that united Italy. In 1867 fortress was demilitarized and the same year was purchased by the English consul Sir Montague Yeats-Brown. He adapted it as a seat of a civil structure and stylish the interiors on a luxury residence. The last English owner of the castle was John Baber who gathered all the antique pieces of furniture in the castle that are present in the castle. In 1961 the castle was purchased by the municipality of Portofino.

Faro (Lighthouse)

After Castello Brown, you can go back to via alla Penisola and follow the path with the signs that lead to the lighthouse (Faro). You will have an opportunity to walk through the hidden in the reserve, luxury villas (actually, from the path you can see only its iron gates and video intercoms). You can enjoy the smell of the sea in peace and quiet (far away from the bustle of tourists and glitz of all sites luxury boutiques). The walk is pleasant at any time of a year.Β  After 20/30 minutes you will reach the lighthouse. White and tiny. From the square in the front of the lighthouse, you can admire a wonderful view of the open sea and the Ligurian shore. If you’re lucky enough you may see some dolphins !!! It is said that the name of the town comes from the Latin “Portus Delphini” the dolphins port.

After the lighthouse and a dose of nature and history, we can go back to the bustle, glitter and luxury of the main square πŸ˜‰

restaurant portofino

And now … something to eat?

In the centre, you will find a lot of restaurants where you can eat very, very well. Unless you have no limits and you can spend any amount of money on food you should check the menu list before entering any restaurant. In Portofino, everything costs more than anywhere else.

For example, I bought a small granita in the shop located in the main square (only small one, hoping it doesn’t cost much) which anywhere else would cost 1 € to max 2 € …. in Portofino costs 5 €.

So … be careful πŸ˜‰

Where to sleep in Portofino?

Eight Hotel Paraggi

It is a 5* hotel on the way to Portofino, located in a magnificent village of Paraggi. For me, it is the most magical place in the whole Liguria. Very chic but calm, surrounded by the sea and the forest of the National Park of Portofino. The hotel has a fantastic view of the bay of Paraggi it has a private beach and private balconies. It is located next to Carrione disco-club the most fashionable club of the whole Liguria so if you like to have some fun during the night, this is the place to stay. More info about Eight Hotel Paraggi here.

Gioiellino di Portofino Parc Bed & Breakfast

A small B&B in the heart of National Park of Portofino. The place seems to come from a dream … the views and the room are really amazing. Its a 20-25 minute walk from the harbour of Portofino, but if you don’t fancy the walk there is a shuttle service available. The perfect place for those who want to rest from crowds and noise. More about Gioiellino di Portofino Parc B&BΒ here.

Belmond Hotel Splendido

It is probably the most luxurious and the most famous hotel in Liguria. 5* hotel that is used by almost all VIP’s that visit Portofino. If you feel like a VIP for sure you should stay there;) More info about Belmondo Hotel Splendido here.


Well … even if everything costs more than normally Portofino will be an unforgettable experience !!! πŸ™‚

2 Replies to “Portofino: luxury and VIPs … in the middle of the national park !”

  1. Amazing and useful!

    1. That's Liguria! says: Reply

      Thank you Giacomo !!!

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