Without question, the Italian Riviera is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever had the pleasure of traveling to. As you may know, we stayed in Santa Margherita (which is a 10 minute drive from Portofino) for my friend Victoria’s wedding, but were able to explore a few of the surrounding towns as well. This guide will cover the best things to do in Portofino Italy and the 3 towns that we visited.
BEST THINGS TO DO IN PRORTOFINO ITALY
Portofino: Where To Eat
- Ristorante Puny: We enjoyed a lovely lunch in Portofino at Ristorante Puny. It’s right off the harbor so you can enjoy beautiful views of the boats and the town while you eat. Insider tip: order the pesto lasagne. It’s not on the menu and it’s absolutely amazing, we all agreed it was one of our favorite meals! We didn’t have an issue stopping for lunch without a reservation, but I would definitely recommend making a reservation for dinner.
- Belmond Hotel Splendido: If you’re looking for a spot for a special dinner or just to enjoy a drink with spectacular views, look no further than the Belmond Hotel Splendido. It’s definitely on the pricier side (drinks start at about 30 Euro) but everything was fantastic, from the drinks to the service to the wonderful atmosphere. We only went for an apertivo (if you like gin, I highly recommend trying the Oro Della Liguria signature cocktail!), but we had friends who went for dinner and raved about the food. I recommend making a reservation in advance.
Portofino: What To Do
- Shopping! Portofino has some really cute boutique shops, and it’s also home to Dior Portofino. If you’re in the market for a splurge-worthy souvenir, they have several items that you can only purchase from the Portofino store. We all went home with matching Dior Portofino friendship bracelets 😉
- Hike up to the Church of San Giorgio. While we didn’t have time to do this, I’ve heard this hike is beautiful. It’s a steep incline to the top, so keep that in mind when considering making the trip. Many of the famous photos and postcards of Portofino have been taken from the vantage point of this church – the views at the top are just breathtaking. If I go back to Portofino I definitely plan on doing this hike!
Santa Margherita: Where To Eat
- Reve Cafe: We went here for lunch one day and loved the atmosphere and the food! We sat outside in the courtyard which had little fairy lights strung across the top – I’m sure it looks so beautiful at night if you go for dinner. The bread was SO GOOD here, as well as the pesto gnocchi (I didn’t get the gnocchi but had major food envy). We didn’t have issues popping in for lunch, but I would make reservations for dinner.
- Il Patio: This is such a cute spot for dinner with a beautiful back courtyard. It’s most known for it’s pizza – I got the pesto pizza and it was to die for. I also had exceptionally good melon with prosciutto here, and we all raved over the focaccia. It was probably the best we had! I definitely recommend making a reservation.
- Langosteria Paraggi: This place is extra special to me because we went here on night one, so it was my first official meal in Italy! And WOW was it amazing. It’s a beach club by day, and restaurant / bar at night. Located right on the sea, the views are absolutely fantastic. Be sure to order the Sprit-Zen – It’s their take on the classic Aperol Sprtiz. Instead of soda, they use ginger beer and it’s so unexpectedly refreshing (I don’t like a traditional Aperol Sprtiz and I LOVED this). I also tried oysters for the first time here, and surprisingly I really liked them. For dinner, ask for the pesto linguine with langoustine tartar. It wasn’t on the menu, but it was my number one favorite meal of the entire trip. Order it and thank me later! We didn’t have reservations for dinner but arrived right at opening, so we were able to grab an early table. If you plan to eat at 8 or 9, I highly recommend a reservation.
Santa Margherita: What To Do
- Rent a beach chair at Hotel Helios for the day. It wouldn’t be a trip to Italy in the summer without a dip in the sea! We didn’t have reservations, so we weren’t able to get the prime beach chairs overlooking the water – but were able to secure 3 chairs and umbrellas by the pool. If you want sea views I would definitely suggest making a booking in advance. We paid about 120 Euro for 3 chairs and 2 umbrellas, which is a pretty standard rate for beach clubs in Europe. I would also recommend checking out Langosteria Paraggi (mentioned above). We only went for dinner, but the beach area looked beautiful!
- Hit the town for a night! One of the pre-wedding activities for Victoria’s wedding was club night (what a cool bride, amiright?!), and we went to Covo di Nord-Est. While I definitely felt like a bit of an old lady amongst all the 18 year old club goers, it was definitely a fun experience.
Santa Margherita: Wedding Venue Details
- I was so overwhelmed with the response I got from my Instagram stories of Victoria’s wedding – I don’t blame you guys at all, it was the most beautiful wedding imaginable! I thought I would share the details of the wedding location for those interested in looking into it for themselves. The ceremony was held at San Giacomo Church, and the reception was held at the stunning Villa Durazzo located right next door to the church. It was incredibly convenient to simply walk right from the ceremony at the church over to the cocktail hour at the villa. If you have any further questions about wedding details, feel free to reach out to me or Victoria herself!
Camogli: Where To Eat
- Bar Auriga: We went here for the wedding welcome drinks the night before the wedding, and it was an absolutely perfect night. The views from this restaurant are incredible – even coming just for a sunset apertivo would be worth the trip (it was one of the most incredible sunsets I’ve ever witnessed).
Camogli: What To Do
- Unfortunately we only went into Camogli for the welcome drinks, so I really didn’t get the chance to fully explore this town the way that I wanted to. But from what I saw, it was absolutely beautiful. It’s probably my favorite of the 3 towns purely based on appearance – the buildings were so colorful and the placement of them overlooking the water and boats was magical. It felt much less touristy than the neighboring Portofino, and seemed like a lovely place to wander around and shop or enjoy a gelato. There were also several beach clubs along the sea, so you could also come and rent a beach chair for the day!
Where to Stay
- We stayed in Santa Margherita because that’s where the wedding was located, but I definitely suggest looking into Portofino and Camogli as well. You can find some really cute Airbnb’s in all three towns, which is what we did.
- If you’re in the market for a splurge-worthy hotel, I highly recommend the Belmond Hotel Splendido in Portofino and the Imperiale Palace Hotel in Santa Margherita.
- We flew from London into the Genoa airport. You can also fly into Milan, but we chose Genoa as it’s a bit closer to Portofino. However, if you’re coming from the states you may find it easier to fly into Milan.
- We took a 45 minute taxi from the Genoa airport to Santa Margherita, but there are also public transportation options. We all had huge suitcases (#bloggerprobs) so chose to spend the extra money and take a taxi.
- Each of these towns are only about a 10 minute drive from each other. A taxi from Santa Margherita to Portofino will run you about 30 Euro. There is a bus, but for us the time saved by taking a taxi was worth the extra cost – especially if you’re splitting the fare amongst a few people!
- Take a boat! We went on a boat tour of Santa Margherita to Portofino to Camogli. This was part of the wedding activities, but I know there is a ferry that runs between the towns. It’s always an amazing perspective to see these lovely towns from the water.
- I feel like I say this in all of my travel guides, but be sure to have plenty of Euro on you. The taxi’s were all cash only, and some of the smaller cafes and restaurants were as well. It’s always a good idea to have local currency on you when traveling.
- I would suggest spending at least 3 nights here to be able to get the most out of your stay. That way you can spend a day exploring each town and not feel rushed.
I hope you find this Portofino travel guide helpful! As always, feel free to reach out to me directly if you have any questions.
Have you been to Italy before? If so, where? Share in a comment below!