Portofino is one of the most famous destinations worldwide for travellers.
Many people visiting Italy come to Portofino and the surrounding area and you may be thinking about it too. In this case, here are our recommendations about where to stay in and around Portofino.
The village of Portofino is located in a small, natural harbour surrounded by Mount Portofino and its lush woods, an ideal location for hiking lovers. Geographically speaking it’s a very isolated village.
Let’s go through all the pros and cons of staying in Portofino vs in the nearby towns.
If you choose to stay right in Portofino you will enjoy the uniqueness of this fairytale like town and spend most of your time here, relaxing on the Piazzetta while sipping a drink at one of the many bars, shopping – or window shopping – in the various and famous boutiques, and eating typical Ligurian food such as fresh seafood from the local fishermen in one of the tiny restaurants on the harbour.
All of this always enjoying the beautiful view of the sea and the colourful village.
Picking an accommodation in Portofino means that this is the main destination of your trip and you don’t plan to move around too much.
This is because Portofino is at the end of the road that connects all the towns of the area, plus there is no railway station or highway exit here. It’s the perfect place to arrive and forget about cars and transportation in general – except for boats of course!
By the way, how about a private boat tour in the Portofino gulf?
Also, you should consider that Portofino has just a few – mostly luxury – hotels which tend to be highly requested during high season (April-September), maybe not giving a sense of exclusivity, then they close during the winter.
Santa Margherita Ligure
The closest town to Portofino is Santa Margherita Ligure.
This is also where the nearest train station is, and where ferries leave to Portofino. Santa Margherita Ligure is larger than Portofino but still a small town, very colourful and fancy.
Everyone has to go through Santa Margherita Ligure in order to reach Portofino which is just a few kilometres away – a wonderful walk of about one hour or just a few minutes driving or by bus.
Being a larger town Santa Margherita Ligure offers a wide choice of hotels and accommodations in general.
Apart from the “Italian Riviera style” hotels on the coastline, here you can also choose hidden away gems, more affordable options, perhaps without a sea view but very much enjoyable nevertheless.
Santa Margherita Ligure also features some uphill areas which can only be reached by car, but if you are planning to drive on your trip, then you can stay in San Lorenzo della Costa or Nozarego and have a rural feel, wonderful sea views and a nice breeze even on the hottest summer days.
Camogli is a beautiful “Cinque Terre style” town, with colourful houses and an extensive beach, not far from Portofino.
There is a train station however in order to reach Portofino – where trains don’t stop and there is no train station – the easiest and most beautiful way is by ferry, via San Fruttuoso, or by private boat.
Here you also have a variety of accommodations and you can choose to stay in a hotel, a bed & breakfast or even a villa.
The fishermen still live and work here and you can see their boats in the small harbour, while walking to the lighthouse enjoying the authentic Ligurian atmosphere of the village.
Rapallo is also a very good choice for your accommodation if you’re planning to visit Portofino.
This is the largest town in the area, with its city-like services such as a highway exit, a well-served passenger train station, several stores and a 24-7 supermarket.
The promenade on the sea is really nice, with its castle, restaurants and bars, and beautiful views of the Portofino promontory.
Accommodations in Rapallo vary from 5-star luxury hotels to hostels so finding the perfect solution here is really easy as it’s just a matter of personal taste.
From Rapallo there are also ferries to Santa Margherita Ligure and Portofino, therefore here is another perfect location if you prefer to visit Portofino in one day as many people do, and other places in the area during the rest of your stay.
Sestri Levante is right in between Portofino and Cinque Terre so it’s a convenient choice if you plan to visit both.
We recommend moving by train, ferry or private driver, as parking in Portofino and Cinque Terre can be challenging during high season. It won’t take more than half an hour in either direction.
This colourful, small city has a young vibe and is probably the most popular destination for nightlife in the area.
Sestri Levante features two wonderful bays called “Baia del Silenzio” (Bay of Silence) and “Baia delle Favole” (Bay of Fairy Tales) and is therefore also known as “the city of the two bays”.
Staying in Portofino is definitely a great option if this is the main focus of your trip, or if you are looking for a unique place to celebrate a special occasion in style.
If you’re interested in a longer stay to explore the whole area though – from Camogli to Cinque Terre – we suggest you to consider the above mentioned locations too in order to find the solution that suits you best.