Walking to Portofino

Portofino is one of the jewels in Italy’s crown. It’s on everyones list of places to visit…and rightly so!

The first time we visited Portofino, I was surprised at how tiny this famous town was. We had made the mistake of driving there, not realising that the road ended in a car park and once it was full, there was no where to go. Cars were backed up for miles! Portofino, tourists and cars do not go together!

We were a bit smarter on our next visit, taking the boat from Santa Marherita Ligure to Portofino! It was far more relaxing to sit back and enjoy the views of this beautiful part of the Ligurian coast.

Staying in Santa Margherita Ligure offers you another option…walking! This walk to Portofino is one of my favourite walks in Italy.

It’s not long….an hour at the most and very easy except for a small section where you are have to walk on the road.


From Santa Margherita, the walk takes you along the waterfront, past the small fishing and pleasure boats moored at the water’s edge, past the town’s bustling fish markets and on towards the busy marina where yachties congregate.

Santa Margherita Ligure, Italy

The view from our hotel in Santa Margherita Ligure!


The marina jetty offers beautiful views back over  Santa Margherita Ligure.  There’s also some fabulous little bars here to return to after your walk.

Looking back to Santa Margherita Ligure

Santa Margherita Ligure


A decision needs to be made here. You can either follow the road around to Portofino or  you can take the path through the trees. I find the best solution is to walk one way and return the other!

If you want to take the path through the trees, look for the sign ‘Pedonale per Portofino‘ which will show you the way.

'Pedonale per Portofino' marks the way


Let’s head along the road! The views are fabulous…..

Beach Cabanas at Santa Margherita Ligure, Italy

Beach cabanas near the Hotel Miramare


Portofino, Italy

The beach club at Paraggi


Villa near Portofino

A private villa!


Portofino villa

Yet another villa with stunning views


Look up and you will see the Hotel Splendido looking out over the bay. This is the place to stay in Portofino. The Hotel Splendido Mare offers rooms on the piazza in the centre of Portofino but for me, the views from the Hotel Splendido can’t be beaten. On your return trip, this is the place to stop and enjoy the million dollar view from the balcony whilst sipping a peach bellini


The Hotel Splendido in Portofino

The Hotel Splendido overlooks the bay.


Just around the corner, Positano comes into view. Ochre toned houses line the water’s edge hiding the main piazza and small boats lay idly waiting for some one to take them out for a sail.


Portofino is all about lifestyle! Shop till you drop at any number of beautiful shops that line the piazza and then pull up a chair in one of the many bars or restaurants and watch the people coming and going from the myriad of boats moored in the harbour. On any given day they range from the smallest row boat to the largest mega yacht. This is, after all, the playground of the rich and famous!



After lunch, don’t miss walking out to Castello Brown, the 16th century castle built to defend the town. Now a museum, it is the gardens that you’re interested in, for here you will be rewarded with that fabulous picture perfect, postcard view of Portofino that you have dreamt of taking since you saw your first photos of Portofino!



Do you visit a place for the walks they offer?




This post is part of Travel Photo Thursday at Budget Travelers Sandbox. Don’t forget to pop over and see the other contributions.


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48 Responses to Walking to Portofino

  1. Leigh September 27, 2012 at 12:52 pm #

    Your photos actually remind me of Bellagio. It sounds like a similar lifestyle too – shop, drink coffee, then wine, admire views and unbelievable villas. I really can’t get over those villas and I wonder who lives there.
    I’d heard about the traffic so I don’t think I’d ever bring a car. The walk sounds great.

    • [email protected] September 27, 2012 at 2:15 pm #

      The villas would certainly fit into the Bellagio, Lake Como surrounds very easily Leigh! Bellagio is a bigger town than Portofino which is why a lot of people stay nearby in Santa Margherita Ligure but the lifestyle is very similar. Very relaxing!

  2. Debra Kolkka September 27, 2012 at 3:11 pm #

    I have done this walk a few times. You are correct, it is the best way to see this gorgeous place…..a most beautiful part of the world.

    • [email protected] September 27, 2012 at 5:56 pm #

      It’s a great walk isn’t it Debra. I’d love to be able to see inside one of the magnificent villas

  3. Muza-chan September 27, 2012 at 4:49 pm #

    Beautiful photos 🙂 I wish to visit someday too…

    • [email protected] September 27, 2012 at 6:02 pm #

      Thank you. I hope you visit this part of Italy one day. It’s beautiful!

  4. Nancie September 27, 2012 at 5:13 pm #

    I could get used the lifestyle, and would definitely enjoy the walk. I wonder if any of the villa owners are ever looking for housesitters?:)

    • [email protected] September 27, 2012 at 6:03 pm #

      That’s a great idea Nancie, housesitting in one of the villas would be fabulous! You could make this your daily walk!!

  5. jan September 27, 2012 at 5:18 pm #

    Hi Jenny, Love your taking us on this walk. We walked the five villages of the Cinque Terra. I see the resemblance in the buildings.

    • [email protected] September 27, 2012 at 6:05 pm #

      It’s a much easier walk than the Cinque Terre walk Jan! we usually stay in Santa Margherita when we visit the Cinque terre as there’s so much to do from here.

      • jan October 8, 2012 at 1:38 pm #

        Looks like a beautiful place to stay. We stayed at La Spezia and visited both cinque terra and Portofino from there.

        • jan October 8, 2012 at 1:40 pm #

          Sorry I meant portovenere not Portofino!

  6. Turkey's For Life September 27, 2012 at 7:12 pm #

    Wow, it looks so petty there. Arriving by boat and walking around certainly sounds a lot more relaxing than queuing in traffic in the car! 🙂

    • [email protected] September 27, 2012 at 11:31 pm #

      It really is a beautiful area Julia. It’s great to see the coastline from the boat but it’s fun to walk there as well. Anything beats the car!

  7. Josie September 27, 2012 at 8:14 pm #

    Love this post! Your photos are so inviting.
    Conrad and I walk everywhere and so love the whole idea you put forth here. Just plain perfect. Thanks!

    • [email protected] September 27, 2012 at 9:00 pm #

      Thanks Josie. We try to walk whenever we can especially as we are food lovers as well and it certainly helps keep the kilos at bay! This would be a perfect area for a house sit- it’s a stunning area and there’s so much to do! Thank you for visiting.

      • Josie September 27, 2012 at 9:49 pm #

        Oh, I totally agree. Portofino WOULD be a great area for house sitting. Ever since having a short assignment in Tuscany two years ago, we have longed to go back. That’s what’s so great about house sitting — you get to really explore an area in depth.
        And the food! Yeah, you’re right to love the food and I sooooo know what you mean about keeping the kilos at bay — haha! (The only thing I love about kilos is that I weigh under 100! Somehow makes me feel lighter!)

        • [email protected] September 27, 2012 at 11:16 pm #

          I’m actually thinking of looking into housesitting next year but I think my long list of places I want to visit may curtail this. Portofino would be on the list though Piemonte might just forge ahead because of our love for the food of this region. Dreaming….!!

  8. Jackie Smith September 27, 2012 at 9:55 pm #

    For as long as we are able, we continue to view the places we visit on foot. Loved the stroll you provided today through such a picture-perfect setting. You are activating my travel juices. . .

    • [email protected] September 27, 2012 at 11:10 pm #

      Thanks Jackie. We walk whenever we can. As I mentioned in an earlier reply, it’s also great for letting us indulge in the local food specialties as much as we do! Are you heading to Italy on this trip?

  9. Aleah | SolitaryWanderer.com September 27, 2012 at 10:05 pm #

    Very nice indeed, especially the harbor! I can understand why a lot of people would want to go there. If I were going there, I’d certainly use your post as a guide. 🙂

    • [email protected] September 27, 2012 at 11:07 pm #

      Thanks Aleah. It’s a beautiful place to visit. I hope you get to visit one day.

  10. Vera Marie Badertscher September 27, 2012 at 11:13 pm #

    A real, ooh, ahh place, huh? And you’re right about that last shot being a familiar postcard shot!

    • [email protected] September 28, 2012 at 11:00 am #

      Yes Vera, Portofino does make you utter those words. It’s very pretty and worthy of the postcard image it has!

  11. Debbie Beardsley @ European Travelista September 28, 2012 at 1:30 am #

    Stunning pictures! This is the way I would love to visit Portorfino. Thanks for enticing me to visit the coastal area in Italy 🙂

    • [email protected] September 28, 2012 at 10:56 am #

      Thanks Debbie. This coastline has many gorgeous towns to visit, some not as well known as the Cinque Terre towns, but stunning in their own right. I like to stay at Santa margherita Ligure so I can visit them all.

  12. Sophie September 28, 2012 at 1:58 am #

    I haven’t been to Portofino yet. Looks gorgeous. And the walk sounds wonderful, too. perfect way to arrive in a picturesque place like this.

    • [email protected] September 28, 2012 at 10:59 am #

      Everyone should do this walk once Sophie, so they can appreciate the fabulous views. The boat trip is fun but seeing it from the land gives a very different perspective.

  13. jade September 28, 2012 at 4:36 am #

    Gorgeous photos! I would love to walk to Portofino and swim in the sea whenever I got hot! lovely!

    • [email protected] September 28, 2012 at 10:53 am #

      Thanks Jade. It’s a perfect walk for stopping and having a swim every now and again! A great idea for when it’s really hot!

  14. InsideJourneys September 28, 2012 at 8:24 am #

    Wow, Wow, Wow, what spectacular views there are here. I’d be crawling, not walking. And Portofino’s definitely on my list now!
    Thanks for this lovely journey, Jenny.

    • [email protected] September 28, 2012 at 10:51 am #

      The views are amazing Marcia. It certainly is a town that you should visit oneday.

  15. Margaret September 28, 2012 at 11:34 am #

    This looks so lovely! I definitely want to go to this part of Italy, and the walk you describe just makes me want to go more.

    • [email protected] September 29, 2012 at 12:17 pm #

      Thanks Margaret. It really is a stunning area and there’s so much to do. There are a lot more walks that you can do along the coast.

  16. Mary @ The World Is A Book September 28, 2012 at 12:14 pm #

    I love this virtual tour you gave us of Portofino. Beautiful pictures! I wouldn’t mind walking here for hours with gelato stops in between. I’ve always wanted to visit this part of Italy.

    • [email protected] September 28, 2012 at 1:53 pm #

      It’s a beautiful part of Italy to visit Mary and there’s a fabulous gelato spot in Santa Margherita Ligure!!I hope you do get to visit Portofino one day.

  17. Michele @ Malaysian Meanders September 28, 2012 at 3:56 pm #

    We visited Tokyo DisneySea, and the entrance there is supposed to look like Portofino. I be the real one is even better. Thanks for showing it to me. I can just imagine me strolling around, shopping and dining (as long as someone watches my kids for me).

    • [email protected] September 28, 2012 at 5:46 pm #

      How interesting Michele. I’ll have to look for a picture of the Tokyo Disney Sea. Nothing would beat the real one though!!I hope you get to see it one day!

  18. marina September 29, 2012 at 9:34 am #

    those private villas have a breathtaking view don’t they? if only…!

    • [email protected] September 29, 2012 at 12:19 pm #

      I know….if only…! A couple of people have mentioned housesitting Marina…an option!!I always wonder who lives there when I walk past!

  19. Johanna September 30, 2012 at 6:34 pm #

    Fabulous post and oh if only I could claim one of those lovely villas as a holiday home! Love the pictures … makes me yearn to go to Italy 🙂

    • [email protected] October 2, 2012 at 11:23 pm #

      What a holiday home it would be Jo! It’s a great part of Italy. I hope you get to visit soon!

  20. Garry June 25, 2013 at 6:03 pm #

    Lovely pictures. Thanks for sharing your experience with us. The beach club at Paraggi is great.

    • Jenny Freedman June 27, 2013 at 6:35 pm #

      We walked past Paraggi beach…it’s lovely but next time, I’m there, we’ll have to stop and enjoy it. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

  21. Lauren | JustinPlusLauren February 22, 2014 at 5:57 pm #

    What a beautiful place….I hope to someday visit here!

    • Jenny Freedman February 25, 2014 at 7:17 pm #

      It’s a fabulous city Lauren…definitely one of my favourites! I hope you do get to visit.

  22. Ian July 29, 2017 at 10:48 pm #

    Hi, Just returned from San Margerhita. To walk to Portafino just follow the Red carpet, takes about 1 hour. They have built a walkway adjacent to the road so there is no need to dodge the traffic. Route is flat apart from a section which takes you over a headland for about 10minutes.

    • Jenny Freedman August 6, 2017 at 11:15 am #

      Thanks Ian for updating me on the walk. A red carpet….wow! That will make the walk a lot easier. Dodging the traffic, especially on that sharp bend, was no fun! I’m hoping to get back there later in the year and will definitely do the walk again…just to walk the red carpeet!!

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