what to see in portofino

What to see in Portofino: tips for a day tour in the sea village

When the weekend comes and some sun and warm temperatures appear, it is the moment to go somewhere outside the city. What about the sea? I live in a beautiful region, but there are mountains and lakes, with no sea at all. Liguria and the lovely Portofino are about two hours driving far from my city, so it is a chance to spend a day there. The place is amazing and when it is not raining the temperature is finally as it should be during Spring. Anyway, also if you live in another country and you want to visit Italy, this place must be on your list. Discover what to see in Portofino for your trip. I also prepared some advice about Where to sleep in Portofino: the best hotels.

For me, it’s a short daily trip, but it can be the same for travelers from other countries. Staying in North West of Italy it deserves a tour of the village. There are very nice attractions and the landscapes are wonderful. A small gulf is located in front of the main square from where to admire the sea. All around the center of the village, there are hills with beautiful nature. This destination is famous for luxury, but I can tell that this is nothing compared to the beauty of the place. You can just include it in the tour or stay there. It is plenty of lovely places all around. Plus it is quite close to the beautiful Genova and other lovely villages and towns.

What to see in Portofino

Portofino is a quite small village, but the colored houses are not the only attraction in the area. There is the Abbazia di San Fruttuoso rich in history and art. The religious building is one of the most representative of the area. You can see the Castello Brown from where to enjoy a beautiful view from the top of the village and surroundings. Let’s go step by step.

Piazza Martiri del Olivetta

When you get to the village you arrive by car or by bus. In the first case, you can leave the mean of transport in the parking at the entrance of the place. You have to pay for that. It worths. Then following Via Roma, you easily get into the small main square on the sea. Walking, on one side, the right one, you can see the Oratorio di Nostra Signora Assunta. It has a portal carved in slate, realized in 1555, and now it hosts art exhibitions. When you enter the square you find luxury boutiques, restaurants, and bars. I also recommend you to visit the ice cream shop. There is also the marina, full of amazing boats and yachts.

The village is generally expensive, but there are also budget places, so it depends on you. The place is famous especially for VIP, many international important people go to Portofino for some holidays. Maybe you can meet some of them while you are there.

Chiesa di San Martino

On the left side, you can see the Chiesa di S. Martino. It was built in the 11th century in the Romanesque style of Lombardy. Now it appears a bit different because in the 19th century they made some works to renovate it and to restore some parts. So it is more a mixed style.

Chiesa di San Giorgio

This church is very nice, but it counts also on a superb location from where to enjoy one of the best views over Portofino. Chiesa di San Giorgio conserves the relics of the saint. Walking from there you can reach also the castle.

what to see in portofino

Brown Castle

You can walk from the San Giorgio church or the marina downstairs. In both cases, you can arrive at Brown Castle. The construction was erected in the Medieval age. They made a lot of renovations in the 17th century and in 1870 it became a private residence. The first who lived there was Yeats Brown, the British consul in the Ligurian capital.

Now it is used as a museum and also to host events, like weddings, conventions, and so on. In the ground, you can admire the works of contemporary artists: Tomato, Messina Marrai, and Costa, plus others. They are part of the International Center for Outdoor Sculpture.

As you can see in my pictures, there is also a beautiful park with pergolas. Going around you can see roses and many other types of flowers. While you are there you enjoy also a marvelous panorama. If you walk a little bit more, you arrive at the Faro di Punta del Capo. The view is unique.

Inside it is possible to see the rooms with the original furniture and decorations. It is open for visits and sometimes is used for events. It tells the history of the village. If you go by walk from the central square you can have a beautiful walk in nature. The trail goes up offering a marvelous view of the gulf. 

Many museums and churches deserve a visit. But for those who want to swim, under the water, there is the statue of Jesus called Cristo degli abissi. Portofino can be the starting point to see all the villages on the coast close to Genua. A few beaches allow you to spend also a day under the sun. But I suggest exploring the attractions. It’s an important part of what to see in Portofino.

What to see in Portofino in a day

To be in the village and just to have a walk around the marina is already a good reason to visit Portofino. Meanwhile, I was there, after a trip in nature and some moments to admire the panorama from Brown Castle, I had lunch in front of the bay. I chose Ristorante Chuflay, part of the Belmond Splendido Mare Hotel located in the famous Piazzetta, in front of the bay.

There you can relax and enjoy the environment. In front of you, there are the sea and the boats. Around you colored houses and beautiful hills. If you love flowers spring is surely the best season. They are everywhere.


The restaurant is elegant and sophisticated, as a place like Portofino requires.  Chuflay offers a good menu with local and Italian recipes. All were served with style by a professional and kind staff. The dishes are very good and the setting is reminding to the typical Italian Dolce Vita when famous actors were meeting each other in the restaurant and they were having breaks in Portofino. The place is still one of the favorites of VIPs who are visiting the area. Also, international famous people are eating there.

Luxury is united to the tradition and the sobriety of the refined furniture. From the tables, you can see the life going on in the square and the yachts stopped in the marina. Also if there are many tourists around from that position it is possible to relax and to feel a very quiet atmosphere. In case you have more time to stay in Portofino or you want to spend all the weekend in the area, the Belmond Splendido Mare Hotel has amazing rooms with a great view. If you don’t need or want luxury, don’t worry. There are apartments, B&B, and many other hotels. Check them out here.

What to see in Portofino: tips about the place

I have already mentioned that it is a popular place, a favorite destination of VIP. So this means that most of the places are quite expensive. Not all, there are options for a budget holiday. It depends on your goal and your plans, but if you want to see more of the area, it is a good idea to stay a few days there. So take a look at the accommodations. Maybe you can make some exceptions to your budget trip.

What can you do in the village for a week? You can go around in that part of Liguria, by car, motorbike, or bus. Diving is a good activity, not only to enjoy the sea and see the fishes but also Roman ruins. Under the water, there are some statues and finds. Go to Punta Chiappa for that.

If you like history go on one of the beaches and take some boat trips, one of them can take you to the Abbazia of San Fruttuoso. Then visit Paraggi, the beach of VIP. You will like it and you will have fun.

Also hiking is a good idea. Portofino Park reserves a lot of space for that and you can search for some adventure. There is 80 km of trails connecting different villages, walking in a beautiful nature over the sea.

This is Italy, so food is important. I suggest you taste Lasagna with pesto, which is typical of this village. Then ask for Salsetta Portofino, to accompany pasta. It is an ancient recipe made with tomatoes and vegetables. If you go in the right period, search for Ciliegie Camogline, small and tasty cherries, and Mele Limonine, a local apple with a slightly sour taste. 

Conclusions: not only Liguria

I hope my trip can inspire you to visit the place. Know you know what to see in Portofino. If you like this post share it and inspire your friends too. Then I invite you to read the section dedicated to Italy on my blog. You find there my impressions, curiosities, culture, facts, tips, and much more. 

Comment below or use my contact form to share an experience or to ask something. I will be happy to help you with tips and hints to organize your journey.

Now it is time to start planning. I suggest you use the secrets from a travel agent to save money and to learn all the secrets to book cheap flights

Next to Portofino, there is Santa Margherita Ligure, another beautiful village with a fortress in front of the sea. You can see below some pictures.

Leave a Comment