Things to do in Portofino

things to do in portofino

Portofino is a tiny little town. You may have a very different notion, due to the level of fame it has acquired. It will surprise and charm you.

The first time I set my eyes upon it, it was after something of a pilgrimage. It was January 2012, and we had just moved to Liguria. I wasn’t yet tuned into the weather here and the wind was so strong on that winter day that there were moments where we just stood still and waited for the wind to stop resisting us. My two kids who were 6 and 9 at the time, were not happy about this adventure. It was a bonified windstorm and I was beginning to feel rather irresponsible for having taken them out on this hike, until suddenly the road ended, the wind died down, and Portofino appeared. It looked like a charm bracelet was lighting up the grey sky that day. Ruby red, pink, yellow ochre and pistachio-green houses all held hands together as they greeted and welcomed us. 

My children instantly forgave me for having towed them through the blustery way and we headed down the Church steps to land in the adorable little “Piazzetta of Portofino”. During Spring and Summer months, the backdrop changes, and Portofino bedazzles under blue skies and starry nights. On a sunny day, it would have been a 20 minute “dreamy” walk. But it is fitting that this is the way that my love affair with Portofino began. I am particularly fond of it in winter, when the summer crowds have subsided and it re-emerges for what it originally was – a tiny fishing village

Portofino has many “dresses”, and the only mistake you can make is to judge it rather than to experience it. Yes VIPs do flock to it, as so do star gazers, and selfy-takers, but one thing is for certain. Portofino simply cannot disappoint you. 

So how to experience the real Portofino? 

  • Sit in the piazzetta for a coffee or an aperitivo and let your eyes wander. There you will see a mix of the Portofino elites, the locals, and some of the best dressed travelers from every corner of the globe. At the outdoor cafes, neighbours meet up and talk across tables. Everyone knows everyone. After a couple of days in town, you will start to recognize the green grocer, restaurant owners, and even the municipal police who direct the traffic away from the “pedestrian only” town.  
  • For an amazing perspective of the town from up above, and the yachts down below, take the trail up from the main piazza, past Castello Brown to the Lighthouse Al Faro. Claudio Buralli is an award winning professional bartender, and he has a smile that will make you feel right at home. 
  • Learn more about the traditions and tastes of Portofino. La Portofinese, run by a Portofino family is more of a project than a business. Their mission is to give people a taste of the land where the local products come from. They will pick you up in the piazza and whirl you away into the nearby hills where you can taste their honey, their lemons, their basil pesto, tomatoes, beer, wine, and more.
  • Hop on a boat! This will undoubtedly be the most memorable moment of your stay in Portofino. I simply cannot recommend it highly enough. As you sail away from Portofino, you move through a pastel landscape, the water sparkling at your side. The prettiest view of Portofino is definitely from the water. 1Portofino will go out of their way to make this is an unforgettable tour for our guests. A swim in the bay of San Fruttuoso where you will find the Christ of the Abyss submerged off the coast will leave you breathless!

Best places to stay in Portofino

Over the past 12 years, I have created special friendships with the owners of the properties I manage in Portofino. The homes are a reflection of the owners love for and commitment to the borgo. If you are looking for something simple and chic, and right on the main piazza, “Portofino Be Chic” is the perfect perch from which to watch the action unfold below.

From the “Tower In Portofino”, you can literally walk out the door of the tower, head down the stairs to the beach of Olivetta, go for a swim and then walk back up to take a shower in the comfort of your own Home, which is a Tower in this case. In the evening, enjoy a nightcap on your terrace as you overlook the sea. You will be tucked in snuggly between the Brown Castle and the Dolce & Gabbana Villas.

For the ultimate Portofino experience, stay at our “Villa in Portofino. This family home is ideal for small reunions or to enjoy with a few friends. The house is on a 12 acre private park and is full of charm. You might find it very difficult to leave the property as it has every comfort. The private elevator will bring you down to the Piazza in just a few minutes if you can manage to tear yourself away.

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