Portofino is a small but stunning resort town that overlooks the Ligurian Sea in Italy’s north. The town is famous for its stunning harbour lined by terraced terracotta mansions, hotels, restaurants and cafés.
The town was established as a fishing village, but became a popular holiday destination for Europe’s rich and famous in the late 19th century. As a result, the shacks along the harbour have been replaced with opulent hotels and mansions, and tall, expensive yachts crowd out the small fishing vessels. The boutiques sell lavish cashmere, lingerie, sandals and other fashion accessories, most produced by local artisans in the surrounding towns.
The crystal blue waters around the town are protected, which has allowed the marine life to flourish. The locals will almost guarantee interactions with the local dolphin population on any cruise, snorkel or diving adventure. The fishing waters outside of the national park are brimming with fish, scampi, prawns and lobster – many of which feature prominently on the menus in Portofino’s renowned seafood restaurants.
As the waters around Portofino are quite shallow, many cruises to the region actually anchor in the bay off the coast of Santa Margherita, a town to the north. Cruise passengers are usually ferried from their ship to Portofino’s harbour on smaller vessels. The entire town of Portofino is easily accessible from the tender boat station in the harbour.
There are limited facilities for cruise passengers at the tender boat station on Portofino’s harbour.
Dedicated facilities at the tender boat station include:
- Personal ferry hire facilities.
The lack of immediate facilities is not a cause for concern as banks, ATMs, restaurants, cafés, a post office, a hospital and all other amenities are available within a short stroll of the tender boat station.
How To Get Around
Despite its popularity, Portofino is still quite a small town and is easily navigated on foot. In fact, it is just a five minute walk from one side of town to the other. Many travellers chose to hire mopeds if they wish to explore beyond the city limits. Small boats can be hired from the marina for tours of the bay. Taxis are available in the region; however, their use is discouraged due to excessive cost.
- It is a 1 minute journey to Piazza Martiri dell'Olivetta
- It is a 9 minute journey to Castello Brown.
- It is a 5 minute journey to Parraggi
- It is an 11 minute journey to Santa Margherita Ligure
- It is an 18 minute journey to Abbazia di San Fruttuoso.
- It is a 5 minute journey to Paraggi
- It is a 16 minute journey to Santa Margherita Ligure.
- Currency - The currency in Portofino is the euro (€). Coins appear in 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 cent denominations, as well as €2 and €1. Notes are available in €500, €200, €100, €50, €20, €10 and €5 denominations.
- Time Zone - Portofino uses Central European Time (CET), which is one hour ahead of Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). Daylight savings is in effect between March and October. Portofino is two hours ahead of UTC during this time.
- Weather - Portofino has a Mediterranean climate with hot, humid summers and warm winters. July is Portofino’s hottest month, with temperature reaching a maximum of 25 degrees Celsius. February is the coolest month, with temperatures dropping to 5 degrees Celsius.
- Abbazia di San Fruttuoso - This extraordinary Benedictine abbey was built into the rocks overlooking the harbour in San Fruttuoso, a small town to the west of Portofino. Like much of the ancient architecture in Italy, the building has been altered and repaired over generations. The original stone and dome abbey now also features Medieval and Romanesque flourishes. The charming grounds are home to a family of tortoises that are quite familiar with people and do not mind ‘posing’ for photographs. The original Christ of the Abyss – an impressive brass sculpture of Jesus Christ – is submerged in the waters near the abbey.
- Castello Brown - A short walk out of town on a high hill overlooking the harbour is Castello Brown, Portofino’s unusual castle-cum-fort. The original castle was converted into a fort in the 16th century and served as a strategic point in subsequent battles against the Venetians, Savoyards, Sardinians, Austrians and Napoleon’s army. The fort has since been sold back to the town and is now a popular museum, banquet space and wedding venue.
- Paraggi - To the north of Portogino lies Paraggi, a hotel and café lined sandy cove that is equally beautiful but much less crowded. The location is popular as it’s the only sand beach in the region, making it a perfect destination for bathers and sunbathers.