The Insider’s Guide to Portofino

Portofino’s charming piazza, high-end shopping and dining, and natural splendor result in a memorable Italian vacation spot that caters to travelers who want to unwind and enjoy the finer things in life.

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The Italian Riviera is dotted with beautiful seaside towns, but perhaps none as lovely as Portofino. The harbor locale, known for its colorful pastel buildings, Old World allure and famous visitors, is a popular summer destination for good reason. Its charming piazza, high-end shopping and dining, and natural splendor result in a memorable vacation spot that caters to travelers who want to unwind and enjoy the finer things in life. Like so many Italian Riviera locations, Portofino isn’t the easiest place to get to, but it’s accessible from the airports in Genoa and Milan, and the Santa Margherita Ligure–Portofino train station is just about three miles from the main town.

Located on the Ligurian Sea, Portofino is adjacent to several other Mediterranean coastal towns, including Paraggi, Rapallo and Santa Margherita Ligure. Visitors can also combine a getaway to Portofino with a day trip exploration of Cinque Terre, found to the south, or to Lake Como, a short drive north. Ferries and private boats connect many of the local destinations during the summer months, and the area welcomes hikers, golfers and cyclists. Although Portofino itself is small, travelers can find a lot to see and eat in the fishing town and in the surrounding Ligurian coast region, including kayaking, wine tasting and shopping. Whether you want to relax on a private beach, explore the rugged coastline or indulge in the best Italian food, here is your complete travel guide to Portofino. 

Where to Stay

Belmond Splendido Mare

  • Via Roma, 2, 16034 Portofino GE, Italy

Belmond’s opulent Splendido Mare is one of Portofino’s top hotels, a haven for jet-setters and Hollywood A-listers. Located in the heart of town, it features only 14 rooms and suites, giving it an intimate, guest house vibe and ensuring a high level of service. It’s a sister property to the larger Belmond Hotel Splendido, located in the Portofino hills, and guests at both hotels have access to the Dior spa, saltwater swimming pool and restaurants. Splendido Mare’s eatery, DaV Mare, showcases Italian cuisine in a casual fine dining setting alongside the harbor. Guests can also take advantage of the free shuttle between the hotel and Bagni Fiore beach in nearby Paraggi. Book the top-floor Ava Gardner Suite for the best amenities and beautiful views of Portofino. 

Belmond Splendido Mare's Gardner Suite. MATTIA AQUILA

Grand Hotel Bristol Resort and Spa

  • Via Aurelia Orientale, 369, 16035 Rapallo GE, Italy

Many of the hotels right in Portofino are small and lack high-end offerings, but the adjacent town of Rapallo welcomes many luxury travelers to the historic Grand Hotel Bristol Resort and Spa. The grand dame hotel, home to the expansive Erre Spa, embraces holiday indulgence with an outdoor pool and the private Marina di Bardi Beach Club, which makes its debut this May. The rooms and suites are contemporary, with memorable views of the sea and coast (opt for a Panoramic Suite for the best scenery), and guests can expect personable, discerning service. There are several restaurants and bars, including poolside pizzeria the Flamingo and rooftop fine dining spot Le Cupole.

Grand Hotel Bristol Resort and Spa. Grand Hotel

Eight Hotel Portofino

  • Via Milite Ignoto, 30, 16038 Santa Margherita Ligure GE, Italy

Italian brand Eight Hotels has a centrally-situated property in Portofino, a short walk from the main piazza. It’s chic and intimate, with rooms and suites that are more about comfort than they are about views. The vibe is relaxed, although guests can expect amenities like butler service, an outdoor Jacuzzi, and its own Porsche electric charging station. The hotel has a charming sister property in Paraggi (this one has the best views) and guests of both can enjoy the private beach club in Paraggi Bay.

Eight Hotel Portofino. Eight Hotel

Grand Hotel Miramare

  • Via del Fondaco, 11, 16034 Portofino GE, Italy

Located in nearby Santa Margherita Ligure, Grand Hotel Miramare is a good option for travelers who want the full resort experience without the crowds of Portofino. The seaside hotel has 72 modern rooms and suites, with historic flourishes and the option for a sea view. There’s a saltwater pool, an expansive garden, a private beach and the e’Spa’ce spa. Guests can dine at several on-site restaurants, from fine dining to poolside, and the chic Bar Le Colonne is perfect for an aperitif. Intrepid visitors can walk to Portofino alongside the coast in less than an hour, although there are also direct buses or taxis.

Grand Hotel Miramare. Grand Hotel Miramare

What to Do

Piazza Martiri dell'Olivetta

Portofino’s scenic main square is the hub of the action. It connects to the town’s vibrant harbor, and many of the best restaurants and cafes offer outdoor seating with water views. It’s perfect for an aperitif or a coffee, or to take advantage of the many shopping options. Portofino is known for its designer boutiques, from Dolce & Gabbana and Dior to Louis Vuitton and Brunello Cucinelli, and there are also several independent brands with stores that sell high-end goods, like cashmere and jewelry. Visitors and locals tend to gather in the piazza when the sun comes out (which is often), and it’s a great place to sit and watch the comings and goings. Don’t forget to stop for a scoop of gelato at one of the local gelaterias.

Portofino Square. Emily Zemler

Bagni Fiore

  • Via Paraggi a mare, 1, 16038 Paraggi GE, Italy

Because Portofino is set on a harbor, the town itself doesn’t have a good beach. But Paraggi, which is a quick walk or taxi ride away, boasts a row of private beach clubs that embrace luxury and exclusivity, where you can book loungers and umbrellas. Bagni Fiore, owned by Belmond, has previously hosted Dior pop-ups, and has been visited by Brigitte Bardot and Elizabeth Taylor over its storied life. It’s a tough invite if you’re not staying at one of Belmond’s nearby hotels, but worth it if you can swing it. There are also several beautiful public beaches in Santa Margherita Ligure.

Belmond Hotel Splendido, Portofino. Tyson Sadlo Belmond

Abbey of San Fruttuoso

  • Via S. Fruttuoso, 13, 16032 Camogli GE, Italy

Hop a boat from Portofino to the historic Abbey of San Fruttuoso, found in a secluded bay in the between Camogli and Portofino. It sits above a small beach, which is popular with visitors and locals alike during the summer months, and travelers can explore the Romanesque abbey’s rooms for a low ticket price. Guided tours are available for those who want the full experience, and the abbey, which is home to the tombs of members of Genoese Doria family, owns a traditional Ligurian house that can be rented for up to four people. Those who prefer getting in some steps can also hike between Portofino and San Fruttuoso Bay, which takes about two and a half hours. Otherwise, daily ferries and private boats run from Recco, Portofino, Santa Margherita Ligure, Rapallo, Sestri Levante, Lavagna, Chiavari and Genoa.

La Portofinese

  • Località Mulino del Gassetta, 16034 Portofino, Italy

La Portofinese is an eco-farm nestled high on the coastline above Portofino in the natural park. It’s home to bees, vineyards and a butterfly garden, and it welcomes visitors for picnics, cooking classes and wine tastings. The tours and experiences are private with advance reservations, and it’s a great way to taste the local wares without restaurant crowds. The company also helms Coppelli’s Osteria, a restaurant serving dishes with ingredients from the local area, and Portofino’s Lighthouse, which serves aperitivo and snacks.

Portofino. Belmond

Outdoor Portofino

  • Via Duca degli Abruzzi, 62, 16034 Portofino GE, Italy

Head into nature with Outdoor Portofino, a tour company that hosts kayaking, snorkeling, paddleboarding and hiking excursions. It’s a great way to be active and see the Portofino coast from the water, and visitors can even book sunset kayak and wine tasting tours for something extra special. If you prefer to go alone, Outdoor Portofino rents their kayaks, snorkeling equipment and paddleboard, which can be booked in advance.

Portofino. tom mannion 2019/Belmond

Where to Eat and Drink

Ristorante da I Gemelli

  • Calata Marconi, 7, 16034 Portofino GE, Italy

The seafood is impressively fresh at Da I Gemelli, a beloved, family-owned restaurant found directly on Portofino’s scenic harbor. Grab an outdoor table to immerse yourself in the buzzy area and to taste Italian dishes like spaghetti ai frutti di mare and pesce alla Genovese, which showcase local catch. The family owns a second restaurant across the piazza, Da I Gemelli al Molo, as well as Da I Gemelli Milano in Milan. Reservations can be made in advance and are recommended during the high season.

Ristorante da I Gemelli. Emily Zemler


  • Via Paraggi a mare, 1, 16038 Santa Margherita Ligure GE, Italy

Part of Bagni Fiore, Langosteria offers unparalleled views in an exclusive setting. Both the outdoor and indoor tables embrace the beachside locale and the menu focuses on fresh fish and seafood, from oysters to its signature scampi pasta. It’s a place to see and be seen, but the food is on point and the bar offerings include a discerning selection of Italian wines. A reservation is essential, especially during busier holiday periods, and it’s worth dining early to enjoy the Paraggi inlet with fewer people. 

Langosteria. TOMMYILAI

Cracco Portofino

  • Molo Umberto I, 9, 16034 Portofino GE, Italy

Found in the heart of Portofino, Cracco is led by chef Carlo Cracco, who embraces regional tradition with sophisticated flair. The restaurant opened in 2021 and has since attracted guests with its welcoming atmosphere and views of the yachts in the harbor. The wine cellar is equally impressive, boasting more than 800 labels from around the world. Visitors can also indulge in craft cocktails or bubbles on the restaurant’s scenic terrace. Reservations are available online and highly recommended.

DaV Mare

  • Piazza Martiri dell'Olivetta, 1, 16034 Portofino GE, Italy

DaV Mare, part of Belmond Splendido Mare, is helmed by chef Davide Galbiati, who combines inspiration from Lombardian and Ligurian cuisine to create contemporary, seasonal dishes. The food pairs with Ligurian wines and local seafood, particularly shellfish, is on display throughout the menu. The flavors are augmented by the trattoria di pesce’s charming terrace setting, which overlooks Portofino Piazzetta. Reserve a table in advance if you’re not staying at the hotel.

Ristorante Puny

  • Piazza Martiri dell'Olivetta, 5, 16034 Portofino GE, Italy

Celebrity-favorite Ristorante Puny sits directly in the center of Portofino’s main piazzetta, offering patio seating with unparalleled views. It’s the town’s most famous eatery, but the food is actually worthwhile. The family-owned spot is known for its pasta and its seafood (the pappardelle al Portofino, featuring a tomato and pesto sauce, is the must-order dish) and its notable guests, who have included everyone from the Kardashians and Jennifer Lopez to Magic Johnson and Jeff Bezos. Reservations can only be made over the phone, so have your concierge give them a call.

Ristorante Puny. GettyImages

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