Portofino is a fishing village on the Ligurian Riviera, completely immersed in the Mediterranean scrub. Its uniqueness lies in the colorful houses nestled one against the other. Expensive shops and luxury yachts docked at the pier suggest its exclusivity. However, you can discover this location in an eco-friendly way by choosing to visit off-season on a day trip, perhaps reaching it on foot from Camogli.
When to go to Portofino
I advise against the summer period, which is full of tourists. In spring or autumn, you can better appreciate the landscape, avoiding overtourism. Usually, the climate is mild, allowing you to fully enjoy the beauties of Portofino without the crowds of mass tourism.
What to see in a day in Portofino? There are really many things to see, so arrive early and start the day soon!
My day trip to this pearl of Liguria, during my vacation in the Cinque Terre, starts from Piazza Martiri dell’Olivetta.
This square is the main square of Portofino and is also its symbol. Here you can find several beautiful restaurants with local specialties and fashionable boutiques located among the typical fishermen’s houses. I note that the name Martiri dell’Olivetta refers to the killing of 22 partisans by the Nazis in 1944 near Castello Brown.
From the square, a few steps take you to the promenade with its luxurious boats. I sit on a bench and admire the sea, perhaps snacking on some chips.
I then continue to Castello Brown, which dominates the historic center. Its origin is thought to date back to the 15th century when it had a military function during the Republic of Genoa.
Later, after the Unification of Italy, the castle was purchased by Sir Brown, who turned it into a splendid noble residence and also created a wonderful garden. Currently, it is owned by the municipality, but the name has remained. The castle is open to visitors, and I recommend going to the terrace where the view is simply stunning!
It’s possible to walk through the garden and the interior where both original period furniture and furnishings are still visible. The ticket is 5 euros per person, at least it was when I visited a few years ago. For more information, click here.
Once out of the castle, walk another 500 meters, and you’ll reach the Portofino Lighthouse. I take this opportunity to eat the sandwich I brought from home.
The Church of San Giorgio
Well-refreshed, I head towards the Church of San Giorgio, which, being slightly elevated from the rest of the village, offers a unique view of the square in front.
The Romanesque-style church was built in 1154, although the discovery of a chapel of Lombard origin suggests it may be older.
During the war, the church was heavily bombed, and the last restoration dates back to 1950.
How to get to the church?
As mentioned, the church is located on a promontory, so you need to take a pedestrian road starting from the small square. Alternatively, you can take the staircase from Molo Umberto I, which I discourage as it is very steep.
Having only one day, I must optimize my visit, so my next stop is the Park Museum.
The Park Museum was established in the 1980s, and it houses sculptures by major international artists. I’ll mention a few just to give you an idea: Marrai, Pomodoro, and Messina.
But the beauty of this museum also lies in the park, as it covers about three hectares overlooking the sea. The entrance should be free, at least it was when I visited, but for more information, click here.
The Regional Park of Portofino
My last stop is the Regional Park of Portofino, a protected natural area of the Riviera del Levante that includes Portofino, Camogli, and Santa Margherita Ligure. Here you find Mediterranean vegetation of incomparable beauty and richness, with about 900 species of higher plants.
The fauna is also particularly rich and varied. The stag beetle, the largest European beetle, is present. Do you know the peculiarity of the Park? It has 80 kilometers of marked trails, a real paradise for those who love walking.
Note that these trails are walkable all year round, and you can choose the length based on your abilities. For more information, click here. For more information about what to see in Portofino, click here.
Original article written by Monica Palazzi
Cover photo by Canva Pro