The Best Things to Do in Portofino Italy in a Day


Portofino Boat Sign, things to do in Portofio

Last Updated on January 17, 2024 by Rikki

I’m excited to share my adventures at the seaside gem of Portofino on the Italian Riviera.

Have you ever wondered what the best things to do in Portofino Italy are? This picturesque Italian village offers more than just spectacular views, it is brimming with culture, cuisine, and rich history.

In this guide, I will share an itinerary that will help you maximize the best things to do in Portofino Italy in a day, providing you with an insider’s perspective on the must-see sights, hidden gems, and authentic culinary delights that define this Ligurian paradise.

This article is a must-read for anyone planning a visit to Portofino who wants to experience the best things the town has to offer in a single day.

We chose to rent a car for a month in Italy, which was excellent for exploring the Italian Riviera and other regions, providing us with the freedom to travel at our own pace, the convenience to reach off-the-beaten-path locations, and the flexibility to change our itinerary as needed.

Ride to Portofino & the Coastal Splendor

As we drove along the mesmerizing Italian Riviera coastline passing by stunning estate homes and taking in the breathtaking views we marveled at its beauty whilst witnessing the relaxed Italian life unfolding right before our eyes.

The Ligurian province boasts three coastal beauties: Rapallo, Santa Margherita Ligure, and the famous Portofino.

Beautiful picture of the beautiful colorful Portofino bay

The scenic ride to Portofino was nothing short of spectacular with the coastal road treating us to mesmerizing views at every turn. Undoubtedly one of the best things to do in Portofino Italy.

It’s a journey that’s truly unforgettable. We drove the captivating winding roads, each turn revealing more beauty than the last, showcasing the splendor of the Italian coastal landscape. 

The buildings seamlessly blend with the sea, leaving us in awe and creating a stunning panorama that leaves you speechless. No wonder Italy is so highly praised—the people, the countryside, the food… not to mention the pizza—it’s all truly breathtaking.

Everything about it is just so stunning. Finally arriving in Portofino I couldn’t wait to find the best things to do in Portofino Italy as I marveled at the sheer beauty of this amazing place. Oh, what a sight it was!

Be sure to view the video below to capture every breathtaking moment of this unforgettable journey…

Arriving in Portofino: Start Your Journey

Arriving in Portofino is the beginning of an unforgettable journey. Close to the buzzing metropolis of Genoa, this charming fishing village on the Ligurian coast is easily accessible from other parts of Northern Italy.

Whether you take a scenic ferry from Santa Margherita Ligure or a comfortable bus ride from Rapallo, the journey itself is easily included in one of the best things to do in Portofino Italy to start your day trip.

The picturesque views of the Tigullio Gulf and the Mediterranean Sea on your way are the perfect prelude to the blue waters and colorful terraces that await you in Portofino.

Picturesque Fishing Village to Refined Resort

There are so many things to do in Portofino Italy and the Portofino Harbor is a picturesque must.

Once a tranquil fishing village, it gained popularity in the early 20th century as an exclusive resort for Europe’s wealthiest.

Portofino quickly became a popular resort destination for Europe’s elite, who built their summer retreats here. Today, many of these retreats have been transformed into fashionable boutique hotels, adding to the village’s charm. 

During the 1950s, Portofino’s popularity skyrocketed, becoming the summer center for the world’s upper class. Superyachts lined the harbor, and champagne-fueled parties at glamorous nightclubs and restaurants lasted until the early morning hours. 

Portofino Champagne Parties

However, a shift occurred in the mid-1990s, and the billionaires and their super yachts moved their parties to the then-quiet and unknown village of Saint-Tropez, France leaving Portofino in a different league.

Since then, Portofino has evolved into a place of refined elegance and sophistication, becoming the epitome of class among the popular spots along the Riviera. Many of the noble families’ summer retreats have been transformed preserving the charm and elegance of the past.

Piazza Martiri dell’Olivetta: Heart of Portofino

Portofino Harbor Bay, Italy,

Once you arrive in Portofino, head to the charming Piazza Martiri dell’Olivetta, Portofino’s main square and heart. It’s undeniably one of the most beautiful harbors in the world, offering a delightful experience both day and night.

Sit at one of the many cafes here and soak in the ambiance of this quaint square. Piazza Martiri, bustling with locals and tourists, is surrounded by bright Ligurian houses, luxury boutiques selling high-end brands, and traditional trattorias. It is undoubtedly one of the quality things to do in Portofino Italy and a great place to taste the local atmosphere.

You’ll find an array of boutique shops, ice cream parlors, cafes, and restaurants to explore. And of course, taking plenty of pictures and selfies is a favorite pastime for tourists, capturing the essence of this picturesque destination.

Lunch in Portofino: Ligurian Cuisine at its Finest

Lunch at Portofino harbor is undoubtedly one of the best things to do in Portofino Italy

With a few glasses of wine and a merry mood, we soaked in the sheer beauty of the captivating village. Italy charms everyone with its people, countryside, and delicious food – everything is simply breathtaking. 

One of my favorite moments of the day in Portofino is lunchtime and as simple as it may seem enjoying the local cuisine is definitely one of the fun things to do in Portofino Italy. Our next step was to do exactly that… savor lunch and take in a cappuccino and some dessert, sitting back and fully immersing ourselves in the good Italian life. 

Enjoy the best of Ligurian cuisine, including their famous mixed seafood, at one of the many quality restaurants in Portofino. From Pesto Pasta to Focaccia, the eateries here will provide you with an authentic and gastronomic journey through the region’s culinary traditions.

Paraggi Beach & Christ of the Abyss: The Diving Paradise

Paraggi Beach is another one of the wonderful things to do in Portofino Italy

If you find yourself with spare time and are looking for even more things to do in Portofino Italy, I highly recommend heading to Paraggi Beach.  It’s a stunning beach just a short distance from Portofino.

Take a boat to Paraggi, a nearby beach known for its clear water and vibrant marine life, or simply walk towards Santa Margherita, and after a short while, you’ll reach the beautiful bay at Paraggi.

Trust me, you can’t miss it. There’s even a parking lot behind the beach, making it convenient for you to park and take the time to soak up the sun and dip your toes in the azure waters.

The bay houses, and the famous bronze statue of Christ of the Abyss, a symbol of protection for all divers are some of the region’s many things to do in Portofino Italy. Whether you are an experienced diver or a snorkeling enthusiast, Paraggi is a must-visit.

San Giorgio Church & Manarola Fortress

Things to do in Portofino, the Church of San Georgio

One of the things to do in Portofino Italy and a do-not-miss is the chance to visit the Church of San Giorgio. It is a small Catholic church built in 1154. It sits in an elevated position, offering panoramic views of the Marina di Portofino. 

Unfortunately, the ancient Brown Castle, which once stood together with the bastion, no longer has visible parts. Despite this, it is one of the interesting things to do in Portofino Italy.

You can still explore the remnants of the 12th-century Fortress of Manarola, which has managed to retain its historical charm. Additionally, the Fortress of Manarola still retains some well-preserved sections, providing a glimpse into the past. If you have a chance, make sure to visit this historical gem. 

Lighthouse and San Martino: Overlooking the Sea

The Lighthouse in Portofino view from the sea.

Next on the itinerary of the best things to do in Portofino Italy in a day is a hike up to the Portofino Lighthouse, situated on the promontory of Portofino. From the top, enjoy panoramic views of the Azure Mediterranean and the picturesque village below.

Nearby, the Church of San Martino is another symbol of Portofino worth a visit. Perched atop a hill, this sacred place offers another breathtaking view of Portofino Bay.

Portofino Natural Regional Park: For the Nature Lovers

A trip to Portofino wouldn’t be complete without exploring the Portofino Natural Regional Park. The park, part of the Portofino promontory, has several hiking trails, each one leading to a unique and scenic location.

Whether it’s the bronze statue of Christ of the Abyss in San Fruttuoso, or the historic Castello Brown overlooking the sea, the park is a haven for nature and history lovers alike.

Piazzetta and Via Roma: Luxury Shopping at its Best

Shopping in Portofino showing beautiful store front

After you visit the park, stroll down to the small square known as Piazzetta and the bustling Via Roma.

Here, you can shop at boutiques of luxury brands, admire the original furniture of the quaint local shops, and even buy some famous Ligurian Pesto to take back home. Shopping in the center of Portofino is one of the best things to do for fashion enthusiasts.

Visit San Fruttuoso Abbey: Travel Back in Time

A short boat ride from Portofino will take you to the Abbey of San Fruttuoso, tucked away in a bay close to Portofino.

Amongst all the things to do in Portofino Italy is visit San Fruttuoso Abbey

This Benedictine abbey, with its medieval architecture and tranquil beach, is worth a visit. Don’t miss the chance to relax on the San Fruttuoso beach, a perfect place to unwind while overlooking the clear blue water of the Mediterranean.

Stay in Portofino: Best Hotels For a Day’s End

Hotel in Portofino with wrought iron balcony

Even though this guide is about all the wonderful things to do in Portofino Italy for a day, I highly recommend staying overnight.

Several splendid hotels in Portofino offer comfortable accommodations with stunning views of Portofino Bay. The experience of waking up to the view of this picturesque fishing village is an experience of a lifetime.

There are Many Things to do in Portofino Italy

Last but not least, and a very important aspect of the many things to do in Portofino Italy, is to immerse yourself in the local culture.

Wander the narrow alleys, visit the local markets, or simply watch the world go by from the terrace of a café. I can assure you that experiencing Portofino in this simple, yet profound way, is one of the best things to do.

Beat things to do in Portofino local farmer's market


What are the things to do in Portofino Italy?

Portofino offers a wide range of activities and attractions. Some of the best things to do in Portofino include visiting the picturesque lighthouse, exploring the abbey of San Fruttuoso, enjoying the stunning views from the terrace, and exploring the beautiful Cinque Terre.

Where is Portofino located?

Portofino is located in the region of Liguria, in northern Italy. It is situated on a promontory overlooking the Mediterranean Sea.

How can I get to Portofino?

You can reach Portofino by taking a day trip from Genoa or other nearby cities. It is also possible to arrive by boat, as Portofino has a small port that is often used by tourists.

What are the best places to visit in Portofino?

Some of the things to do in Portofino Italy include the Piazzetta, the fishing village of Camogli, the Castello Brown, and the famous bronze statue of Christ of the Abyss.

Where should I stay in Portofino?

Portofino offers a variety of accommodation options, from boutique hotels to luxury villas overlooking the sea.

Hotel room in Portofino overlooking grand view of the ocean from double louvered windows.

One popular choice is the Splendido, which is known for its stunning views and top-notch service. This is top on the list of things to do in Portofino Italy if you plan to stay for more than a day.

What are some free things to do in Portofino?

While Portofino is known for its luxury and high-end attractions, there are also some free things to do in the area. You can take a boat ride around the bay of Portofino, explore the regional park, or hike along the beautiful trails in the area.

What is the best time to visit Portofino?

The best time to visit Portofino is during the spring and autumn when the weather is mild and there are fewer tourists. However, the town can be visited throughout the year, as it has a unique charm in every season.

What are the best restaurants in Portofino?

Eating Pesto and Seafood are great things to do in Portofio Italy

Portofino is known for its excellent food and dining options. Some of the best restaurants in Portofino include those that serve traditional Ligurian dishes, such as pesto and seafood. It is recommended to try local specialties and enjoy the taste of the region.

To Sum Up, the Things to do in Portofino Italy

The key takeaways from your itinerary for things to do in Portofino Italy in a day:

– Start your journey by arriving in Portofino from either Santa Margherita or Rapallo.
– Visit Piazza Martiri dell’Olivetta, the main square and the heart of Portofino.
– Hike up to the Portofino Lighthouse and visit the nearby Church of San Martino for spectacular views.
– Explore the Portofino Natural Regional Park and its numerous hiking trails.
– Shop at the luxurious boutiques on Piazzetta and Via Roma.
– Take a boat or a leisurely walk to the San Fruttuoso Abbey and spend some time at the beach there.
– Dive or snorkel at Paraggi and see the bronze statue of Christ of the Abyss.
– Enjoy a Ligurian feast at one of the best restaurants in Portofino.
– Stay overnight at one of the best hotels in Portofino for an unforgettable view of the bay.
– Lastly on my list, one of the things to do in Portofino Italy is immerse yourself in the local culture and enjoy the simple pleasures of Portofino.

Travel Guide in hand

With this guide, you have everything at hand to enjoy the best things to do in Portofino Italy. You are ready to explore Portofino like a local and make the most of your day in this Italian gem. So, my fellow travel enthusiasts, make sure to add Portofino to your travel list.

Whether you’re strolling through the enchanting streets, indulging in delectable cuisine, or simply basking in the beauty of the coastal scenery, these Italian gems are sure to create cherished memories that will last a lifetime. Until next time, happy travels!  🙂

If you’d like to contact me to find out more about things to do in Portofino, Italy I would be happy to hear from you.

Portofino buildings - best things to do in Portofino


  1. Italy’s Official Tourism Website:
    • An authoritative resource on Italy’s tourism, offering information about all regions, including Liguria where Portofino is located.
  2. Parco Naturale Regionale di Portofino:
    • The official website of Portofino’s natural regional park, where you can find detailed information about hiking trails, nature, and local wildlife.
  3. Italian National Agency for Tourism (ENIT):
    • The national agency is responsible for promoting Italy as a tourism destination.
  4. Genoa’s Official Tourism Website:
    • Provides information on the nearest metropolis to Portofino, Genoa, including transportation information that may be helpful to visitors planning a trip to Portofino.
  5. Portofino Divers:
    • The official site of a local diving center provides details on diving spots, especially the famous Christ of the Abyss.
  6. Museo del Parco:
    • Website for the open-air museum in Portofino, featuring information on exhibits and events.
  7. Liguria Region’s Official Website:
    • This is the official site of the Liguria region, offering comprehensive information about the area, including Portofino.

Please note that these are authoritative resources about Portofino and the broader region of Liguria and are intended to offer additional information and insights.

Hi, I’m Rikki

I’m a passionate author and blogger, sharing my thoughts and experiences on life and travel.

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