No trip to the Italian Riviera is complete without a day spent exploring the quintessentially glamorous, perfectly photogenic fishing village of Portofino. Nestled within its own petite peninsula, its location alone makes it exclusive – while its lush green hills, colourfully painted villas and line up of luxury super yachts simply seal the deal!
Knowing full well what we were getting ourselves into, we took a 50-minute ferry from Santa Margherita Ligure to experience the lap of Portofino luxury for ourselves. And it wasn’t long before we were playing the part FAR too well – swanning around like we’d been visitors for years, & seeking out all the seaside port’s spoils with a dangerous amount of ease.
Arriving just after midday, our first priority was securing our pick of waterfront restaurants (it was peak season) for a luxuriously long, well-lubricated lunch. We soon found the ideal setting at O’Magazin – right on the water’s edge – and settled in. The unashamed people-watching, villa lusting and beautiful boat admiring instantly began. That’s probably one of my favourite things about Portofino. The first item on your “to do” list should be to do absolutely nothing at all. Observing the village itself provides all the entertainment necessary!
Before we knew it, the food arrived. To match our surroundings, we’d opted for the classics. Buffalo mozzarella, tomato & green basil Caprese salad for G, salty prosciutto & sweet melon for me. To follow – mixed seafood (probably caught just hours earlier) – all washed down with a few refreshing glasses of perfectly chilled pinot grigio. Such bliss!
Two hours passed before we even considered moving a muscle. Finally, with our bellies full, and our minds at ease, we set off to explore. After browsing through as many high-end Portofino boutiques as our purses could stomach, we took to the hills – climbing the steep stone stairs in every direction to get as many different views of this heavenly little harbour as possible. When the grand tour was complete, we spent our final minutes with our feet dangled over the harbour’s edge – watching the passing parade as we waited for our ferry ride home. We couldn’t have scripted a more stunning afternoon.
All the delicious details below.
HOW TO GET THERE: The closest major airport to Portofino is the Christopher Columbus airport in Genoa. From there you can rent a car & drive for just over an hour. But the streets (like in most European towns) are narrow and windy -and should only be tackled by a confident driver! A FAR more relaxing option is taking a ferry ride along the stunning Ligurian coast. Ferries from the nearby town of Santa Margherita Ligure (where we were staying) take just 50 minutes. One final option (should you have the resources) is to sidle into the harbour on your very own personal yacht! You’ll feel entirely at home amongst the myriad of other boats that constantly dot the horizon.
MUST EAT: Lunch or dinner on the harbour’s edge is absolutely essential. We had originally planned to snag a table at Ristorante Puny – a Portofino institution we’d heard rave reviews about – but it was closed on the day of our visit. (As it turns out, Thursday’s are their day off!) We more than happily settled for our second (yet equally satisfying) choice – O’Magazin – which offered elegant Italian dishes in a setting that probably surpasses that of Da Puny. It totally won us over. My advice? Get there early – ask for a table right by the water, order as many slow-burn courses as possible, & enjoy all the Portofino glamour!
MUST DRINK: Wine. Wine. And Wine.
MUST DO: For the best views of Portofino and the surrounding ocean, take a walk up the paved pathways/stairs on either side of the port. Make sure to check out the charming Church of San Giorgio – a simple, yet beautiful Catholic church which I hear is home to many an Italian wedding. Once you’ve ticked off the key vantage points, spend the rest of the afternoon browsing the high-end fashion boutiques that Portofino has become famous for.
MUST STAY: We decided to visit Portofino just for the day. But if you do choose to stay for the night (or two), the Belmond Hotel Splendido sits high in the hills offering breathtaking views & the ultimate in Mediterranean luxury. I couldn’t imagine anything more appropriate!