Traveling to Portofino
Visiting Portofino is a a must on your Italy itinerary! This small Italian seaside city has long been a place for jetsetters who come to enjoy the stunning views of the Italian Riviera and life in general. Many people also visit Portofino for it’s beautiful pastel-colored houses, that has made the city but very recognizable and also highly shared on social media, adding to the exclusivity feel of the city.
Being located only an hour away from Genova airport, visiting Portofino is easy. The city is furthermore only about 3 hours from tourist magnets like Milan and Florence, making Portofino ideal as a detour on your trip to Northern Italy.
This was also the case for me, as my stop in Portofino was part of a longer road trip around Italy’s Northern Piedmont, which borders Liguria, where both Genova and Portofino is located.
The Scenic Route
Driving down to Genova from Piedmont you feel the change in scenery as the mountains and hills of Piedmont turns into ocean scenery. As soon as you get off the highway you hit Rapallo. From here you embark on a 30 minutes long drive, right along some of nature’s finest ocean views, that will take you all the way to Portofino.
The drive takes you through Santa Margherita Ligure and Paraggi just before you hit Portofino. The distance between the cities is short, but as the road is very narrow and it zig zags along the coast line you have no desire to speed up to get to Portofino. Just sit back and enjoy the ride and most certainly the view.
The Instagram Hot Spot
Have you ever wondered why it’s the same spot you see on Instagram photos from Portofino? Well visiting Portofino you realize how tiny this place is. Parking is not easy to find and the sheer amount of paint scratches on the ramp into the main parking garage reveals that many luxury cars really are too large to get around in there. This should serve as a reminder if you drive there yourself.
The harbor is really where you need to be in Portofino. It’s a stunning little harbor with a large number of little boats quietly rocking in the waves. Find one of the restaurants down by the water and you are set for a truly relaxing afternoon.
Don’t expect food the highest quality though, this is a touristy place for sure.
Staying outside of Portofino
The spontaneity of our trip to Portofino made us not able to find a room in Portofino itself. If you end up in that situation it is not a problem though, it just means you have to take a trip back the beautiful ocean road to either Paraggi or Santa Margherita Ligure. The latter of the two is the largest of the cities and naturally offers more options to stay. This was also where we ended up staying.
Rooftop views of your dreams
Portofino’s position as a jetsetter location makes for a lot of luxurious and high priced 5 star hotels. This however also affects the state of the lesser category hotels. On our trip we stayed at Hotel Albergo Minerva in Santa Margherita Ligure. A 3-star hotel with 5-star views is how I would categorize this hotel. The rooms are nice, and not in any way normal 3-star standard rooms. The real star of the hotel, however, is the rooftop terrace with a large jacuzzi on it. If you can find a spot up here you have a view that is hard to beat.
Visiting Portofino – Final thoughts
Portofino is a picture perfect destination, that is well worth doing a small detour on your Italy trip to visit. You will find some of the best swimming beaches of the region in the calm waters of the bay and splendid hiking paths for the more active vacation.
You might find it touristy, especially in the quality of the food, but that just gives you an opportunity to explore the restaurant-scene a bit more thoroughly.
The destination is very popular so you need to be a bit on the forefront with your booking. As long as you have a car it’s easy and recommendable to stay in nearby Santa Margherita Ligure or Paraggi.
For a stay where you want a splendid view but don’t want to go all in on the hotel, my hotel of Hotel Albergo Minerva is highly recommendable. If you are going all in, Eight Hotel Paraggi offers private hot tubs on the terrace in their suites and the hotel offers a private beach – how is that for a splendid stay?