Portofino is a small fishing village on the coast of the Tigullio Gulf, which flows into the Ligurian Sea. This quaint town is a part of the beautiful, romantic Liguria region.
It’s known for being a luxurious holiday destination for people all over the world! With plenty of shops that sell local artisan products, famous packed bars, and some of the best restaurants you’ve ever visited, it’s become quite a popular destination in the last several years.
If you’re planning a visit, get ready to fill your itinerary with some of these favorite things to do in Portofino!
As a local Italian, I always want to help you have a magnificent, authentic Italian experience. Better yet, I want you to live la bella vita, no matter where you visit in the country!
And that means that I’m always serious about providing you with my favorite things to do in Portofino, Lake Como, and elsewhere that are free from tourist traps. You won’t find those things here!
Instead, you’ll find ways to embrace the true Italian culture and vibes, from art, history, and architecture, to relaxation, romance, and passion.
Keep reading for my favorite 14 things to do in Portofino:
Can you call it a trip to Portofino if you don’t visit at least one beach? And if you’re going to visit one beach, why not make it the best beach in the area?
Imagine – sitting in a chaise lounge on Portofino’s most exclusive beach – Bagni Fiore. The same beach that the likes of Brigitte Bardot and Elizabeth Taylor once frequented! And better yet, Dior redesigned this beach location in 2022, making it an incredibly chic, high-end beach location.
Since Bagni Fiore is a part of the Natural Park of Portofino, boats aren’t allowed in the bay. That means you’ll have a peaceful, natural visit uninterrupted by large wakes or boat horns.
And if you’re looking for a little more adventure in your trip to this private beach, you can dip into the water for some snorkeling. The waters are teeming with natural marine life!
Want to experience one of the most popular Portofino hikes? Then head out from the town to San Fruttuoso Abbey, located in the Portofino Natural Park. It’s about 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) from the city itself.
Don’t worry! If you’re not up for the hike, then you can easily reach the abbey by boat.
You’ll experience the rich history that Italy is known for at this abbey. It’s nestled right on the seashore and surrounded by the lush foliage native to the Ligurian region. Explore the ancient building that was used by monks for centuries. Then, you can head down to the San Fruttuoso beach and soak in the sunshine and waves.
If you’re feeling extra adventurous (and if you have your diving certification), then discovering Christ of the Abyss in the sea is one of the most unique things to do in Portofino! It’s a bronze statue that was situated almost 50 feet underwater.
And if you want to see it, but don’t have your diving certification, don’t worry! Pick a clear, calm sea day and go snorkeling. You’ll be able to see it from the surface of the water.
Camogli, Italy is another Italian Riviera town close to Portofino. If you’re in the area for a few days, I recommend taking an excursion over to this gorgeously colored village!
Similar to Portofino, it’s made up of palazzi and houses nestled into the mountainside, just where the water meets the coastline.
Camogli isn’t a major tourist destination, so if you’re wanting to escape the crowds of Portofino or Cinque Terre, then this is the perfect place to visit!
I recommend going to the seaside promenade where you can see the town in all of its beauty. There are plenty of bars and seafront restaurants to choose from where you can experience the local cuisine and cooking.
If you want to experience Italian history, then visit Castello Dragone. But you should know that it’s only open from July to September! So if you’re looking to visit this spot, you’ll need to plan accordingly.
The Chiesa di Santa Maria Assunta is also a must-see in Camogli, Italy! It’s a small church that was built in the 12th century and has stood the test of time. Experience the gorgeous baroque architecture inside, complete with crystal chandeliers and marble walls.
If you want to connect with the epic landscape and nature of the Italian Riviera, then you may want to plan to hike the trails in Camogli. You can even walk from Portofino to Camogli! Just know, if you plan to do this, it’s a 7-mile hike. And it can take several hours. But the scenery along the way is well worth it! Plus, you can end the hike with lunch at one of the many seaside restaurants.
You can also hike from Camogli to San Fruttuoso Abbey. You can plan on a 4-mile hike for this trip!
Not too far from Portofino sits the major destination – Cinque Terre. It’s a charming line of 5 seaside villages that are clustered close together. These 5 villages are Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore.
Cinque Terre has even been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site!
Once in the area, one of the best things to do is simply walk from one town to the next. The walking trail between each one has some of the best views you’ve ever seen. You’ll see the crystal blue waters from the side of a mountain along with the colorful towns dotting the mountainside ahead of you.
Oh, and if you’re looking to sample the local cuisine, then visit Nessun Dorma in Manarola. They have a variety of pesto-tasting classes so you can experience the authentic Italian sauce, too.
And of course, one of the best ways to see Cinque Terre is by boat. I suggest booking a boat tour at sunset so you can enjoy the last rays of the golden light as they touch the colorful town above you!
Speaking of boat tours! That’s all-around one of the best things to do in Portofino. Because of its proximity to the water and because it’s a historic fishing village, it only makes sense to embrace the culture of the area.
So, why not take a boat around the sea? And not just any boat. Instead, opt for a traditional gozzo boat. These are small boats intended for privacy between you and whoever you’re traveling with.
With a gozzo boat tour in Portofino, you’ll have a captain who knows the waters. And you and your partner can enjoy the sights and sounds of being on the sea! To make it extra special and romantic, pack a picnic from one of the local restaurants in the area.
One of the best parts of exploring a new destination is soaking up the hustle and bustle of the city! And the main piazza of Portofino is the place to do it.
Before dinner, and after a day either out on the water or even just walking through the city, sit at one of the restaurants on the main piazza and enjoy an aperitivo. You’ll truly be living la bella vita like a local Italian this way, as you people watch and take in all that the vibrant city has to offer.
Right in the center of Portofino bay sits the dominating and historic Castello Brown. It’s a reminder of the incredible ancient history that lives in Italy!
This castle is a must-see on your list of things to do in Portofino. It dates back to the Middle Ages, and yet is still standing for you to walk the halls.
Ready for one of the most popular Portofino hikes to be rewarded with one of the best views of the location? Then you’ll want to add the Portofino lighthouse to your list!
It’s reachable only by hiking, so be prepared for the walk. But just know that it is well worth it. The hike itself is stunning, and it’s only made better by the view of the ocean and the mountains once you reach the lighthouse.
Once you’re there, you can enjoy an aperitivo at the cocktail bar located at the site! Then, take in the views again on the way back to the city.
Portofino is a well-known destination. So finding the hidden gems is a must while you’re here! To escape the crowds, slip away to this hidden beach – Spiaggia dell’Olivetta.
It’s an incredibly small beach, but it’s not widely known. So you’re sure to find some peace in this location.
However, it’s not a beach to lie out and soak up the sun rays on the sand. This beach is so tiny that there are not many places to sit! Instead, visit here if you’re looking for some adventure on the water.
It’s a fantastic place to go snorkeling or even paddling via kayak or stand-up paddle board.
With so much walking and exploring, you’re bound to want a portion of a day to relax and soak in the views of Portofino, instead of “go, go, going.”
If that’s the case, then plan for another aperitivo at Hotel Splendido. This luxury resort is the perfect romantic location for your itinerary. It hosted the likes of Grace Kelly and even Walt Disney back in the day. And you can sit right where they once sat as you enjoy an authentic aperitivo!
Ready for another day of adventure? Then you’ll want to take the ferry from Portofino to Santa Margherita Ligure.
This is another popular seaside town close by! It has the quintessential seaside promenade lined with palm trees and plenty of historic sights to see. I recommend visiting Villa Durazzo to see some gorgeous, classic art from the 17th and 18th centuries. You’ll also get to walk through the lush gardens on the property.
If you’re looking for more ways to get out and explore the area and connect with nature, then you’ll want to make your way over to Punta Chiappa!
On the western part of the peninsula, you’ll find Punta Chiappa. It’s a magical location filled with views of the serene blue waters of the gulf and the mountains of the Italian Riviera.
Take the Portofino ferry over to the area. Once there, you can spend the day swimming in the water and follow it up by eating at one of the local seafood restaurants. Don’t forget to explore the charming church – San Nicolo di Capodimonte.
Portofino is filled with nature to explore via the many hiking trails. Much of the northern coastal area is even protected by the Promontory of Portofino, which is also known as the Portofino park.
In no time at all, you can go from the hustle of the city to the calm, peaceful forests. And from there, you can go straight to the mountainsides overlooking the sea!
Finally, after all of these busy days filled with the best things to do in Portofino, this is the perfect way to end each one.
The city is home to so many incredible places to eat and experience the local Italian cuisine. Because it’s historically a fishing village, you can expect a lot of fresh seafood on just about any menu.
And true to Italian heritage, get ready for some of the best pasta you’ve ever tasted. Be sure to try it alla Portofino. That way, it will come with pesto and tomatoes – an authentic local flavor!
Curious about the best places to eat in Portofino? Don’t worry – I have an entire guide to help you!
Portofino is a popular destination for a reason. From the incredible blue waters to the charm of the colorful city nestled into the mountainside, it draws people from all over the world.
And if you’re thinking of planning a visit to the area, you’ll want to know what to expect and how to prepare your itinerary. Now you have a list of my favorite things to do in Portofino as a local, so bookmark this and come back to it as you plan!