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When you set foot upon the Italian Riviera, you’ll quickly discover that there are myriad things to do in Portofino, possibly the most famous village in this exquisitely beautiful corner of Italy.

Explore historic sites like Castello Brown, offering panoramic views of the harbor, or unwind at one of La Piazzetta’s sunny cafés. Shop for designer clothing and admire the gleaming yachts.

In and near Portofino, you’ll always be entertained. Explore the Ligurian Sea by kayak for secluded coves and stunning vistas, and when you’re done, indulge in local cuisine at a waterfront restaurant, where fresh seafood reigns supreme.

Hike to Castello Brown

View of Castello Brown atop a hill

Castello Brown

One of the most popular things to do in Portofino is hiking up to Castello Brown. Various trails from town lead to this Italian castle, including a path starting near the Church of San Giorgio, which then winds through lush Mediterranean greenery as you gain elevation.

At Castello Brown, a former defensive fortress, appreciate the splendid views of the harbor and coastline before you explore this ancient castle. There’s been a castle here for centuries, with the oldest surviving parts dating back to 1425.

The castle was transformed into a private residence in the late 19th century. It then became the property of the Municipality of Portofino in 1961. Each stone still whispers tales of centuries past, recounting the numerous naval battles witnessed by this enduring stronghold.

As you explore the gardens surrounding the castle, filled with colorful blooms and pathways, take a moment to soak up the atmosphere of your green hilltop surroundings before heading back into town.

Enjoy the Seaside Ambiance of La Piazzetta

Stroll La Piazzetta, one of the best things to do in Portofino

La Piazzetta

La Piazzetta, Portofino’s main square, acts as the vivacious heart of this beautiful Italian coastal town, humming with activity. Relax at a chic café here for a morning espresso or stop for a cool treat at a gelateria, savoring the delicious flavors while you relish the lively atmosphere.

From La Piazzetta, you can marvel at the colorful facades of the buildings and observe fishing vessels floating serenely in the harbor. Enjoy a leisurely walk along the waterfront promenade, close to the town’s shops and boutiques.

Whether people-watching from an outdoor eatery, browsing for souvenirs, or simply enjoying the beauty of your surroundings, La Piazzetta will offer you a slice of quintessential Portofino life.

Relax at Paraggi Beach

Clear water of Paraggi Beach

Paraggi Beach

One of the best beaches near Portofino, Paraggi is where you should venture if you want to be surrounded by crystal-clear waters and lush greenery.

Take a dip in the cobalt waters, perfect for swimming and snorkeling, or chill out on the sandy shore or a sun bed, the scent of pine trees in the air, to enjoy the Mediterranean sun.

From the beach, you can admire gorgeous views of the rocky coastline, all the more impressive if you rent a kayak and paddle around the tiny bay.

Visit the Church of San Giorgio

Yellow and white facade of Church of San Giorgio

Church of San Giorgio

The small and lovely Church of San Giorgio, with its sturdy construction and welcoming yellow façade, should make your list of things to do in Portofino.

This Romanesque church, overlooking the town’s waterfront, has been given shape by its simple yet elegant architecture inside, adorned with black and white checkered floors, white walls, and religious art.

Cliffside view of Church of San Giorgio

Church of San Giorgio

Built in 1154, this sacred space has seen centuries of history and religious devotion. From the church grounds, you can also revel in panoramic vistas of Portofino’s vibrant architecture and the glistening expanse of the Ligurian Sea.

Explore the Abbey of San Fruttuoso

Visit San Fruttuoso, one of the best things to do in Portofino

Abbey of San Fruttuoso

Burrowed away along the rugged coastline, just west of Portofino, lies the Abbey of San Fruttuoso, a beautiful spot imbued with history and scenic splendor.

Accessible solely by boat or hiking trail, the Abbey of San Fruttuoso will give you a feeling of seclusion and tranquility along with a hard-to-beat seaside locale.

Cloisters inside the Abbey of San Fruttuoso

Abbey of San Fruttuoso

This ancient abbey, brought to life by the Benedictines, dates back to the 10th century. When you arrive, you can admire its Romanesque architecture, as well as its beautiful cloister.

You’ll also get to learn more about the intriguing history of San Fruttuoso, which over the centuries has served as a monastery, a fortress, and even a pirates’ den. After your visit, you can relax on the pebbly beach here and go for a refreshing swim.

Kayak Around Portofino Bay

Clear waters of Portofino Bay

Portofino Bay

Take a kayaking tour around Portofino Bay, where each paddle stroke unveils awe-inspiring vistas and secret coves waiting to be explored.

As you drift along the clear blue waters, you’ll have the opportunity to investigate remote beaches, sea caves, and rocky cliffs, many of which are inaccessible by land.

While you’re out on the waves, be on the lookout for dolphins and seabirds, as well as colorful fish gliding beneath the surface of the sea.

Kayaking in Portofino Bay will offer you a unique perspective of the Italian Riviera’s beauty from the water. Whether you’re a novice or an expert kayaker, this peaceful bay will provide you with an ideal environment for paddling.

Read: Classic Cities and Towns in the Italian Riviera

Dine Along Portofino’s Scenic Waterfront

Stroll the waterfront, one of the best things to do in Portofino


Treat yourself to a culinary journey along the postcard-perfect waterfront of Portofino, where each dining experience unfolds in front of harbor vistas, with plenty of gastronomic delights ready to tantalize your taste buds as well.

You can wander over to destinations like Ristorante Puny, where you will be able to savor delectable seafood dishes close to the serene harbor waters.

Visit a cafe, one of the best things to do in Portofino

Cafe in Portofino

For a taste of traditional Ligurian cuisine, head to Taverna del Marinaio, where you can dine on the waterfront terrace and savor the flavors of this region of Italy in a relaxing setting.

And if you’re north of Portofino, in Santa Margherita Ligure, Trattoria dei Pescatori will beckon you with its pleasant dockside setting, presenting you with a menu brimming with fresh Mediterranean flavors and seafood.

Trek to the Portofino Lighthouse

View of Portofino Lighthouse atop a cliff

Portofino Lighthouse

Journey to Faro di Portofino, a storied landmark perched atop a dramatic promontory, guiding ships through the rugged coastal terrain. From this elevated vantage point, you’ll be greeted by dramatic panoramas of the Ligurian Sea.

Built in 1917, the Portofino Lighthouse, painted in vibrant white and now fully powered by solar energy, will invite you to stroll along its scenic pathways, where Italian coastal landscapes await you at every turn.

You can hike from the town to the Faro di Portofino and enjoy a drink or snack at the lounge bar next to the lighthouse, offering you phenomenal maritime views.

Experience the Charm of Chiesa del Divino Martino

Gorgeous exterior of Chiesa del Divino Martino

Chiesa del Divino Martino

In Portofino, a simple yet rewarding activity is visiting the Chiesa del Divino Martino, conveniently located only a few blocks away from the water.

The striped façade, as well as the pretty interior are captivating to behold. This venerable church, dating back to the 12th century or thereabouts, serves as a testament to the town’s historical and spiritual heritage.

Interior of Chiesa del Divino Martino

Chiesa del Divino Martino Photo by Davide Papalini on Wikimedia Commons, licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

The church boasts a fascinating fusion of architecture and art, from its Romanesque exterior to its lovely interior, which features beautiful frescoes adorning the walls and ceilings.

Inside the church, elegant marble columns rise majestically from the floor, along with vaulted ceilings overhead, bestowing the church with an aura of grandeur not readily evident from the outside.

As you delve deeper into the church, you’ll note art on display depicting stories from biblical narratives and the lives of saints. Chiesa del Divino Martino truly is an idyllic sanctuary for grace and reflection during your stay in Portofino.

Snorkel in the Portofino Marine Reserve

Colorful corals in Portofino Marine Reserve

Portofino Marine Reserve

Embark on an enchanting journey beneath the waves in the Portofino Marine Reserve, a sanctuary brimming with marine life. Snorkeling and diving tours are available in town.

Established in 1999, this aquatic park stretches approximately nine miles along the Ligurian shore, encompassing 376 hectares of water. It embraces a variety of habitats, from cliffs to sandy sea beds, offering diverse marine ecosystems to explore.

Man snorkeling in Portofino Marine Reserve

Portofino Marine Reserve

You can venture into the crystalline depths here where you’ll be greeted by a kaleidoscope of marine life, from snapper to elusive octopuses. Watch in wonder as majestic groupers and glide gracefully through the azure expanses. In May and June, you can spot enormous sunfish here, too.

More than just an underwater marvel, the Portofino Marine Reserve serves as a beacon of conservation, helping preserve the Mediterranean’s natural wonders.

Take a Trip to Colorful Santa Margherita Ligure

Colorful waterfront of Santa Margherita Ligure

Santa Margherita Ligure

In Santa Margherita Ligure, a comune (municipality) between Portofino and Rapallo, you’ll come across a delightful seaside town packed with Mediterranean appeal.

Stroll along the palm-lined promenade, where pastel-colored buildings overlook the Ligurian Sea.

Exterior of Basilica di Santa Margherita

Basilica di Santa Margherita

While you’re in town, you can also stop by the baroque Basilica di Santa Margherita to enjoy its bell towers, frescoes, and sumptuous interior, all reflecting the municipality’s religious legacy.

You can also explore the baroque-themed San Giacomo di Corte Church while you’re in town. Afterward, indulge in Santa Margherita Ligure’s food scene, featuring fresh Ligurian seafood served daily in restaurants and trattorias.

Learn About Liguria at the Museo del Parco di Portofino

Lush landscape of Museo del Parco di Portofino

Museo del Parco di Portofino

If you’re on the prowl for things to do in Portofino, look no further than the Museo del Parco di Portofino, lush with greenery and idiosyncratic sculptures.

Museo del Parco di Portofino boasts terraces offering wondrous waterfront views, not to mention the park’s impressive collection of outdoor sculptures.

These diverse, large, and occasionally odd-looking sculptures adorn the garden’s pathways and alcoves, adding something of a surreal element to the natural surroundings and views.

Featuring abstract forms and lifelike figures, including humans and animals, each sculpture brings a touch of intrigue to this unique outdoor setting.

Explore the Villa Durazzo

Visit Villa Durazzo, one of the best things to do in Portofino

Villa Durazzo, Santa Margherita Ligure

Another must-visit near Portofino is the Gardens of Villa Durazzo, located in Santa Margherita Ligure. Here, you can marvel at methodically manicured landscapes adorned with exotic plants and fragrant blooms.

As you meander along winding paths that lead you through a tapestry of colors and textures, where tall trees provide shade and serenity, you’ll discover gazebos, a large pond, and fantastic terraces that offer broad views of the Ligurian coastline.

Colorful building in Villa Durazzo, Santa Margherita

Villa Durazzo, Santa Margherita Ligure

Initially tended to by local aristocratic families, the Italian gardens have now evolved into a sanctuary accessible to the public, characterized by botanical expertise and amazing panoramas.

While exploring, you’ll also encounter Villa Durazzo, a prestigious aristocratic estate. Take a guided tour of the villa to admire its ornate baroque architecture.

The Gardens of Villa Durazzo fuse history, culture, and natural splendor into a romantic destination in Italy that is worth exploring if you have the time.

Stroll waterfront, one of the best things to do in Portofino


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