Deciding where to stay in Portofino is not as easy as it sounds. That said, the Italian seaside resort is straight out of a fairy tale. You simply can’t go wrong! Portofino has some of the best hotels in the country. Thus, you’ll find the one that’s right for you.
We’ve spent quite some time in the area and love it. In fact, we’ve visited Portofino in winter too. Of course, we didn’t bathe in its crystal blue waters. However, there are so many things to do in Portofino that we had a blast. Evidently, summer is the high season.
Nature and architecture blend perfectly in Portofino. Lovely buildings line the seafront. Tall green hills provide the perfect backdrop. A winding road connects coves and beaches. You can walk for hours admiring nature, enjoy your favorite cocktail, eat delicious food, and mingle with the locals. We are sure you will have a great time!
The Best Areas to Stay in Portofino and the Surroundings
The best place to stay in Portofino is the town. We are talking about the fishing port on the bay just before the peninsula. You will recognize the area from the lovely pastel-colored villas that line the seafront. The star of Portofino is the Martiri dell’ Olivetta square. You will gravitate towards the plaza.
Begin your walk on the Marconi quay next to the sea, where the coastguard is. From there, walk to Martiri plaza. The Divo Martino Church from the 12th Century presides over the plaza. Its exterior is simple and elegant, while the interior is lavish. Cross the plaza and visit the small Our Lady of Assumption chapel.
Keep walking to the Park Museum, an open-air gallery with glorious views. The stairs to the lighthouse begin nearby. It takes you to St. George Castle. The San Giorgio Church and viewing platform are in front. You will then pass by the cemetery and reach Brown Castle from 1557. Keep walking, and you will get to the lighthouse.
We Recommend These Hotels in Portofino Town:
Our favorite hotel in Portofino is the Albergo Nazionale. The cute building is directly on the port! Thus, you can walk everywhere, including the beach. It’s a simple hotel with warm service. We loved the views from our junior suite and the complimentary breakfast. The hotel operates the onsite pizzeria!
Splendido Mare, A Belmond Hotel
Belmond has two luxury hotels in Portofino, Italy. The Splendido Mare is on Martiri Plaza. Thus, the glorious views of the bay. The luxurious property is all about class and comfort. Besides, you can use the facilities of its bigger sister, Belmond Splendido. Book the junior suite. It has a fabulous balcony.
Close to the Town
You will go through a lush green park before you get to Portofino town. The Portofino Regional Park is a protected area next to the sea that offers breathtaking views. Not only that, but the park is perfect for hiking and cycling. You can walk for hours on a marked path!
Begin your walk at the Terrazza Punta Caieca viewing point. The views from here will take your breath away! From here, go up the hill and walk to St. Anthony of Niasca, an old monastery turned into a lovely rest top where you can eat and drink. It’s a short walk from here to San Sebastian chapel to enjoy killer views.
You can continue your walk all the way to the Vessinaro Reserve. It is not that hard, and you can walk at your own pace. The whole point is to enjoy this piece of heaven. Fortunately, not many people walk here, so you’ll enjoy nature to the max.
We Recommend These Hotels close to the Town:
Splendido, A Belmond Hotel
One of the best luxury hotels in Italy, the Splendido Belmond Portofino is a dream come true. The original monastery is from the 16th Century. It fell into oblivion until 1902 when an Italian aristocrat opened the hotel. It’s been a Belmond since the 90s. Even if you don’t stay here, stop for a dinner or a drink.
We stayed once at the Piccolo and loved it! The 23-room luxury property faces Cannone Cove and is within walking distance to the town. The hotel is full of gardens and splendid terraces to relax and enjoy epic views. All of the plush rooms are big and have views. This is the best hotel in Portofino for couples.
We discovered Paraggi beach one summer, and now we visit every time we are in the area. The little cove is some 2 miles (3 km) from Santa Margherita and 1 mile (1.6 km) from Portofino Town. Therefore you can walk to both places in no time. The Portofino Bus stops here too.
The beach on Paraggi is tiny and mostly rocky. The water is crystal blue, and you can see loads of fish. However, the public part is sandy. Private clubs and fancy restaurants have taken over the beach. Though expensive, the beach is one of the nicest in the area.
From the bay, walk half a mile (1 km) north to the Cervara Abbey. The Abbey is from 1361 and has the most splendid gardens in Portofino. It opens every 1st and 3rd Sunday from October to March. Groups of 30 can book and tour it privately. On your way there, check out Villa Bonomi.
We Recommend These Hotels by the Paraggi Beach:
Hotel Argentina is great value for money. You can walk to Portofino in no time. The hotel is less than one minute from the sandy beach. However, the rooms face a garden. It’s a spotless family-owned hotel with impeccable service. You won’t get a better deal than here.
Eight Hotel Paraggi
Eight Hotel Paraggi is the only hotel in Portofino you could call a beach resort. The hotel has its own beach with umbrellas and lounges. There’s also a pool. We loved chilling at the hotel’s bar directly on the beach. Pamper yourself and book a room with sea views and a Jacuzzi!
Santa Margherita Ligure
Santa Margherita is one of the best places to stay near Portofino. In fact, the town is an attraction in itself. Therefore, if you are staying in Portofino, take the bus or walk there and spend some time. Trains from Genoa arrive here, and the bus to Portofino departs from the seaside boulevard. Besides, the best hotels near Portofino are here.
Libera beach to the north is the best beach in the city. You can walk along the coast till you reach the Margherita Castle from the 16th Century. From there, go up the hill to Villa Durazzo from the 17th Century. Spend some time in the luscious gardens. Walk a bit to check Saint Giacomo Church, another place with gardens and views.
What we love about Santa Margherita is that it’s very authentic. The locals outnumber the tourists! Especially in the afternoon, when tourists leave. You can walk in the center at night and stop by your favorite restaurant or wine bar. The busiest street is Corso Matteotti, behind Santa Margherita Church.
We Recommend These Hotels in Santa Margherita Ligure:
Considering its location and class, Hotel Laurin is great value for money. The property is 3 minutes from the beach, next to the Capuchin Convent. It has a huge terrace with a pool and lounges facing the sea. In fact, most rooms have sea views! The quadruple rooms are perfect for friends and family.
Imperiale Palace Hotel
The best hotel in Santa Margherita is the Imperiale Palace. The 19th Century grand villa is perched on a hill facing the sea. It’s got its own private beach! The seawater pool under tall trees is stunning. You can exercise at the gym and then have cocktails at the bar. You’ll love it here!
Last year we spent a couple of weeks in Genoa and had a blast. The closest beach is San Nazaro, a pebbled beach on the coastal avenue leading south of the city towards Portofino. Roma and Lido di Genoa beaches are nearby. You can take bus 31 from Genoa Brignole station and get there in 15 minutes.
You can base yourself in Genoa and go on a day trip to Portofino, 25 miles (40 kilometers) south. You can stop in Rapallo just north of Santa Margherita. Explore the 16th Century fortress and the 10th Century Convent and spend some time on the beach. Though some people rave about the small beach, the one in Santa Margherita is better.
World famous Cinque Terre and its fabulous hotels are just 30 miles (50 kilometers) south of Portofino. The villages are as beautiful as the coastline. You’ve got 5 villages to visit. Though we think spending at least a night in Cinque Terre is a must, you can go on a day trip from Genoa and Portofino.
We Recommend These Hotels in the Region:
Bristol Palace Genoa
The best hotel in Genoa is the Bristol Palace. The belle époque property opened in 1905 and became the darling of the rich and famous. Damaged during the Second World War, it opened again in 2014. You get the best of both worlds: state-of-the-art facilities and class. If you are into historic luxury, stay here.
Hotel Porto Roca
Our favorite hotel in Cinque Terre is the Porto Roca, in Monterosso al Mare. The hotel is perched on a hill overlooking the sea. Thus the killer views. You won’t want to move from the infinity pool! Since the blue train starts here, you won’t have any trouble going to Portofino.
How Long to Stay in Portofino
The right answer is as many as you can! Portofino is one of the nicest towns on the Italian Rivera. Granted, it can get touristy but what were you expecting? Everybody loves it! Evidently, if you like the beach, you can stay as long as you like in summer.
However, we all have time constraints so you are probably wondering how many days are needed in Portofino to cover the basics. We believe you should at least spend one night. Though Portofino is not big, you have a lot to see. You will rush a bit, but you’ll cover all.
We recommend traveling to Portofino in the fall and winter. The weather is still good, and there are far fewer people. Not only that, prices go down sharply. We visited in December and had a great time. We didn’t bathe in the sea but enjoyed this wonderful town almost on our own. We’ve been to Malta, Santorini, Naples and other Mediterranean towns in winter and had a great time.
The best way of moving around Portofino is walking. The place is small and full of paths and hikes. You can walk from Santa Margherita to Portofino next to the sea in an hour. It’s an unforgettable experience. Take your time and don’t rush. The path is safe and clearly marked.
If you are driving, it’s best to park your car next to the town and walk. There is a public parking lot next to the town. That said, park in Santa Margherita. It’s easier and cheaper. From there, you can walk or take the bus to Portofino.
Bus 782 departs from Portofino every 15 minutes. It takes 15 minutes to reach the center of Santa Margherita. The journey is an attraction in itself, so be sure to grab a window seat. There are 14 stops along the way. You can hop on and off as you please.