Falling in love with Portofino, my guide to the perfect Italian weekend

a guide to portofino

Portofino I think is one of my favourite places I have ever been to, in fact when I look back at the trip it all seems to good to be true. A blur of picture perfect views, crystal clear waters, exploring, eating….everything. I fell in love with everything Portofino was about, and I honestly felt like I was in a movie the whole time I was there. I am struggling to put into words just how perfect my trip and this place is. I don’t feel like this blog post will do it justice so I am not going to even try. What I am going to do is tell you how to plan your trip there so you can go experience the magic for yourself. Because trust me you just gottttaaaaa!!!

Portofino itself is a fishing village on the Italian Riveria coastline. This pictureque village looks like it’s straight out of a painting. The pastel houses, perfect harbour, cobbled streets, yachts lining the coast. Picture all that, but better and you have Portofino.

It was pretty easy to get to from London, you fly into Genoa and can either get a taxi from the airport or take a train into Santa Margherita Ligure which is a town near by Portofino and get a taxi from there which takes about 15/20 mins. Both pretty easy and painless journeys. The flight was also very speedy making it the perfect long weekend destination.

Now because of it’s beauty it has risen in popularity over the last few years and become a very sought after holiday destination. Understandably so…even the Italians love it for a weekend away. It pulls in the stylish Italian crowd trust me there will be great people watching in the evening, sit in the square drink aeperol spritz and take it all in.

Now due to it’s rise in popularity it has become a very popular tourist location. Each day there are a few ferries that come bearing a hell of a lot of tourists ready to explore the little town, which means in the day it’s heaving. Then early evening they all get back on the ferries and Portofino becomes a much quieter, more Italian village again. This is when you see the real Portofino, the stylish locals and beautiful Italian men, women and families come out for drinks and dinner and the place oozes with glamour and sophistication.

That said due to it’s busy touristy vibes in the day we decided to stay just outside Portofino so we could get away from the tourists in the day. We stayed in Hotel Argentina at Via Paraggi a Monte, it’s about a 15 minute walk outside Portofino and right by a beach. Which was perfect for us as there isn’t a beach in Portofino so it gave us the opportunity to relax at the beach and swim in the sea when we fancied it. The hotel was super basic and amazing value for Portofino (it’s not a cheap holiday destination) so this hotel allowed us to stay somewhere fairly cheap and enjoy all of Portofino and have access to a beach. Which suited us perfectly. The decor is old school and you get a basic breakfast in the morning but it had a Italian charm about it and I loved staying there. If you fancy somewhere a bit swanky around Portofino then the Belmond Hotel Splendido is ‘the’ place to stay right in the square. Yes it has great views but the prices are pretty high and for me I found the vibe a little formal. I would recommend staying in the Hotel Piccolo Portofino which was a perfect location just a little outside the main town and stunning views. Three hotels, different price ranges, totally different vibes but all would make for a wonderful trip.

Now it wouldn’t be a trip to Italy without eating an excessive amount of delicious food right! I can’t even describe to you just how good the food was here, oh my goodness. Like blow your mind kind of good. Pizza, pasta, seafood, gelato you name it. Now I wasn’t here on a ‘blogging’ work trip. I was here on a switch off relax, eat everything relax holiday kind of trip. So I didn’t take note of all the places we ate however I have a few gems I must share with you.

Eat Pizza at Pizzeria El Portico which is a tiny pizzeria just off the main square, it’s small and gets very busy on the weekends. But I ate the best pizza I have ever eaten here and would go back there in an instance. It’s well priced and full of locals and had the best vibes out of all the restaurants in Portofino. The quattro stagioni was mind blowing FYI.

Then obviously Gelato, because Italy durh, I recommend Gepi Portofino we had Gelato here twice and honestly was the best Gelato I have ever eaten. I got the dark chocolate and the pistachio and damnnnn.

Now although it’s a tiny fishing village Portofino actually has a huge amount of things and activities to do. A few must dos are:

  • Hire a boat and explore the coastline, there are a few companies around the port hiring boats out for a day or half a day. We decided to get one just us without a driver (we drove it ourselves) and it was the best decision. We explored the coast, dropped anchor and swam in the sea, sunbathed and lazed around and felt like we were in a novel. Best day of the trip, and pretty up there with one of my favourite memories/days ever. Go to Portofino, get a boat. You will not regret it.
  • There is a company called Outdoor Portofino where you can hire kayaks and paddleboards from a short walk from Portofino and this was a gem of a find. You don’t need to book in advance just turn up early on the day. We did both on different days, again an amazing way to explore the coast and beaches and the water is so clear and blue it will take your breathe away. Plus a good way to keep active and make room for more Pizza right?!
  • Portofino and the local area is really popular for walking and hiking. It’s right by a national park with so many walks and hiking trials. You can walk to the nearby towns and explore or take the slightly harder, hillier option. There is a hiking route behind Portofino up some very steep stairs to the national park, not for the faint hearted as the hike is intense but provides some amazing views! We got a picnic and hiked to the top and it was amazing…very sweaty but amazing.

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