What to see in Portofino


Portofino is a charming coastal village in Italy that portrays a feeling of romance and luxury. It is a very popular destination, particularly for those who arrive in enormous and opulent yachts and of course cruise ships. The region has been a playground for the rich and famous since the 19th century. Sir Rex Harrison visited Portofino for his holidays and loved it so much he built a villa, named San Genesio after the patron saint of actors.


With its fantastic location on the Mediterranean, the summers are dry and warm with temperatures hovering around 30°C. For the winter months the temperature rarely goes lower than 10°C.


The harbour of Portofino is small and shallow. It is a typical marina and fishing port. Cruise ships cannot dock in port and instead will drop anchor in the bay. Reaching the shore is done via a tender boat. It is a brief walk from the port to the centre of Portofino. The town is highly favoured by hikers as there are many well-kept footpaths that lead to every area in the town.


Abbazia di San Fruttuoso

Constructed by Benedictine monks, the Abbazia di San Fruttuoso is a medieval era stronghold that fiercely protected the small fishing village. It can be reached via a 20-minute boat ride. Today, the abbey is a popular attraction and holds many art and history exhibitions. The abbey also contains the tombs of the Doria Pamphilj family, a prominent family of nobles that resided in Portofino some centuries ago.

San Fruttuoso Portofino

Castello Brown

For those with a deep passion for history, the best place to head to is Castello Brown. It sits towering above Portofino’s harbour. The castle was restored in the 16th century and has maintained its original appearance. Visitors are greeted with an enormous array of medieval relics once inside.

Castello Brown Portofino

Museo del Parco

On the hillside above the port, the museum is an open-air sculpture park that sits amongst stunningly beautiful gardens filled to the brim with a variety of flora. It houses the largest collections of outdoor Italian monumental sculptures by more than 100 contemporary artists. The grounds were commissioned by a Baron and it was initially part of the Castle located above it.

Punta Portofino Lighthouse

If seeking that perfect photo opportunity, the Punta Portofino lighthouse is yet another good choice. The lighthouse can be reached by a 15-minute walk from the port. The views from here are truly memorable.

Punta Portofino Lighthouse - Image courtesy of flickr user Aloa

Taking in the sun

Since Portofino has a lot more sun than rain, spend some time at Paraggi Beach. This contains a small sliver of sand that is located just outside of the town. Many locals come here in the summertime to cool down in its crystal waters. There is also a nearby cove to explore that is teeming with aquatic life.

Other things to note

See one of the most impressive views with the number 82 local bus running along narrow coastal roads towards Santa Margherita Ligure.

St. George’s Day is one of the most popular holidays in Portofino. It is celebrated in the San Giorgio church. The church is prominently located on a cliff overlooking the sea and within it are trinkets and relics from the Holy Land. Many historians claim that the objects were brought back during the Crusades.


Designer stores selling luxury clothes for example Gucci and Prada as well as local markets are popular places for cruise passengers to visit before they set off to the next port of call. There are also many vendors selling the town’s speciality of antiques and furniture.

On many Mediterranean cruise itineraries the ports of call in Italy tend to be Civitavecchia (Rome), Livorno (Pisa and Florence) and Naples. It is great to see that many cruise lines are making visits to the smaller ports too.

The following cruise lines visiting Portofino in 2015 include Hapag Lloyd, Oceania Cruises, P & O, Princess, Regent Seven Seas, SeaDream Yacht Club and Silversea.

Written by Veronica Shine