Holidays in the Portofino area

Explore the natural beauty of Liguria's Portofino Coast in the summer sunshine

The Ligurian towns near Portofino are an exciting mix of glamour and wealth, and down-to-earth, rustic charm; from the ‘dolce vita’ of Portofino itself, to Rapallo, popular with holidaying Italian families. Walking in the Portofino National Park reminds you that there's still a lot of rural land around these picture-perfect towns, just a stone's throw from the coast. Exploring on foot is a great way to get to know the real Liguria, where farmers still work on the land and old farm houses stand strong in the middle of the countryside.

Sea-view walking

One of our favourite parts of walking in the Portofino area is looking down on the 'C' shaped harbours that are so characteristic of the area. The bright white yachts lining the harbour always look smart bobbing about on the water. From above, the multi-coloured buildings stand out against the lapis lazuli sea. See if you can spot any fisherman bringing in their catch. 

The easy going walk from Rapallo to Santa Margherita Ligure (that can be extended out to Portofino for the full 8km route) is popular with everyone, from families to joggers, thanks to its flat pathway and great views. Called ‘The Red Carpet’ walk, after a Hollywood PR stunt, the route travels along beautiful coastline, sandy beaches and past huge villas.

Fantastic public transport network

Trains run up and down the coast linking the towns with the city of Genoa and the beautiful Cinque Terre, which is a bit further down the coast. From Rapallo it's easy to hop on the train to other nearby towns, all of which have gorgeous sea views and tucked away beaches. From Santa Margherita you can easily hop over into Portofino on the bus, the journey takes about 30 minutes and you can buy your tickets in the local tabaccheria.

Summer vibes: buzzing cafés and restaurants

While Portofino became the stamping ground of the rich and famous in the 1950s, there's a more local side to the Italian Riviera waiting for you to discover it. There's a really communal feel in towns like Rapallo and Santa Margherita. Rapallo in particular is full of restaurants and delis where you can sit on plastic chairs and grab a quick pasta salad for lunch. We love the down to earth restaurants, where you'll find Italian families eating together and enjoying themselves late into the evening. It really is buzzing!

Sightseeing & activities in and around Portofino

Take a day trip to Portofino and stroll through alleyways between pastel-painted houses, window shop in designer boutiques and check out the fishing boats in La Piazzetta. There’s also plenty to discover just outside of the old fishing village so make sure you make the most of it! Head over to Castello Brown, the 15th-century castle on a nearby peninsula, for the best views of Portofino; rent a kayak and explore the coastline; or take a boat to Abbey San Fruttuoso, only accessible by water or on foot, and discover the sunken statue of Christ.

Why book a summer holiday in the Portofino area with Inghams?

At Inghams, we do walking holidays differently. With no fixed itinerary, you have more time in your destination and the freedom to walk as much or as little as you like, discovering some of the Portofino area's best walking routes and activities at your own pace.

With over 85 years of outdoor travel experience, our holiday packages to the Portofino area include flights, transfers, and accommodation, so you can relax and leave the small details to us. Our experts can help you choose the best holiday for you, and our team in resort can give you the inside scoop on how to spend your time away with us.

Added value

Save an extra £75 per person on holidays departing in Jul, Aug, Sep 2024 (book by end of May, discount automatically applied)

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Walking in and around the Portofino area

On an Inghams walking holiday, you have the freedom to explore the area at your own pace. Each day, a new adventure, with as much or as little walking as you like.

Why we love walking in the Portofino area

Walking in the Portofino Natural Park will give you a taste of the area from a different perspective. A greener and more agricultural part of the coast behind the seaside towns. From strolling along the seaside promenade to walking through farmland and over hills, there’s walking for all types of walkers. If you’re looking for some more challenging walks then all you need to do is hop on a boat up the coast to the Cinque Terre area, where you’ll find all manner of steep ascents and incredible coastal trails.

Getting around the Portofino area

Buses

The bus network is great and hopping on a bus is an affordable way of getting around the area. In Santa Margherita, you can hop on a bus direct to Portofino which takes about 20–30 minutes. This is a great option for a day trip. If you change buses in Santa Margherita you can also get from Rapallo to Portofino with little difficulty.

Ferry

There’s a useful ferry network from Rapallo where you can hop on a boat to Santa Margherita or Portofino. You can even head towards the Cinque Terre, stopping at Sestri Levante on the way, all the way down to Monterosso al Mare and Portovenere.

You can see ferry timetables and prices on the Portofino ferry website. Up to date pricings and timetables will be released in the Spring.

Trains

There’s a train line running along the coast, so there are easy direct connections from most of our resorts to nearby towns such as Camogli, Zoagli and Bogliasco. You can even get to Liguria’s capital city Genova in just under 30 minutes!

Our Favourite Walks in and Around the Portofino area

San Fruttuoso Abbey

Look at walking from Camogli to San Fruttuoso Abbey which is between Camogli and Portofino. Built between the 10th and 13th Centuries it’s an example of Romanesque architecture, nestled in a little bay next to the sea, and surrounded by lush woodland and a rocky coast. We’d recommend following the easy path to San Fruttuoso, up to the sanctuary of San Rocco and around Monte di Portofino. There are signposts along the route so make sure you’re following the easy route, which will take you through woodland paths. The alternative route is only recommended for expert hikers. There are lots of ascents some descents throughout this walk, so make sure you take lots of water with you! At the end you can hop on the ferry back to Camogli. Fun Fact: There’s giant statue of Christ which lives 17 metres underwater in the Bay of San Fruttuoso, a popular attraction for scuba divers, for more information about this statue, head to the ‘Things To Do’ tab.

  • Grade: Moderate-Challenging
  • Distance: 7km 
  • Walking time: approx. 2.5 hours
  • Terrain: paved paths, roads, steep cliff paths, steep woodland paths
  • Useful Information: if setting off from Camogli, you can get to Camogli by train from Santa Margherita (5 mins direct) and Rapallo (8 mins direct)

Camogli – Portofino – Santa Margherita

Towards Camogli’s carabinieri (police) barracks and up to the church of San Rocco. You’ll then set off along the Via Crucis which eventually brings you to a wooded area and then on to Portofino where you’ll get those incredible panoramas of Portofino harbour and the sea.  The path into Portofino is on a cliffside so make sure you stay alert as you walk along it. The last leg of the walk back to Santa Margherita isn’t too strenuous, following ‘the path of kisses’ through some lush greenery and onto Paraggi. From Paraggi, you can then follow the seafront, a straightforward and well-trodden path, with fantastic coastal views.

  • Grade: Moderate-Challenging
  • Distance: 16km 
  • Walking time: approx. 6 hours
  • Terrain: paved paths, roads, cliff paths, woodland paths
  • Useful Information: Get to Camogli by train from Santa Margherita (5 mins direct) and Rapallo (8 mins direct).

Santa Margherita – Portofino

Starting in Santa Margherita’s Piazza V. Veneto walk along a coastal route and over the old roman bridge that connects Portofino and Santa Margherita, with elevated sea views. You’ll pass by Santa Margherita’s port famously previously home to the yacht princess Diana was photographed on (before it was destroyed in the storms of 2018), the local fish market and gardens.

You’ll pass over a footbridge which means will lead you to the beautiful Paraggi Bay and links you to the pedestrianised path from Paraggi to Portofino. This path will eventually lead you to the Portofino’s iconic harbour! Either walk back or hop on the bus directly back to Santa Margherita which takes about 20-30 minutes.

  • Grade: Easy-Moderate
  • Distance: 5km
  • Walking time: approx. 1.5 hours
  • Terrain: paved paths, roads, cliff paths, woodland paths
  • Ascent/Descent: 130 metres
Useful Information & Guidelines

Recommended equipment

Suitable walking shoes with good grip, appropriate clothing, rain jacket, sun cream, sun glasses, rucksack, at least a litre of water, a re-usable water bottle and a snack. You may find walking poles useful.

Walking Guidelines

The coast, cliffs and natural parks are a natural paradise, with lots to explore and discover. To help them stay that way, and remain enjoyable and safe places for everyone, we recommend following our little list of do's and don'ts:

  • Plan your route well and don't overestimate yourself
  • Check the weather forecast
  • Tell someone where you're planning to walk and what time you're expecting to be back
  • Take all the recommended equipment
    • Make a note of emergency numbers:
      Italian Emergency Services: 112
  • Don't leave the marked trails without a guide
  • Let nature stay wild by not picking wild flowers (it's illegal in some places) or getting close to/making contact with wild animals
  • Always leave gates as you found them and don't climb over fences
  • Leave no trace

Check out our Responsible Walking insider guide if you want more tips for your summer walking holiday.

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  • 83 rooms
Grand Hotel Bristol, ERRE SPA Indoor Pool

Grand Hotel Bristol Spa Resort stands out on Rapallo's coastline. It's a stunning Art Nouveau building with incredible outside areas and views of the Ligurian Riviera from all around. We love the pool that looks out over the Portofino Promontory. The rooftop a la carte restaurant is a must-try and you can't miss aperitivo in the bar at sunset.

  • from£985pp
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With a wonderful waterfront location in Rapallo on the Portofino Coast, enjoy the infinity pools, sun beds and private beach club at the luxurious Hotel Excelsior Palace.

  • from£839pp
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The Hotel Regina Elena is a family-run hotel and a great base for visiting the surrounding area. The centre of Santa Margherita is just a short walk away and Portofino can be reached by a pleasant coastal walk. This is a charming spot with lots of facilities including a fab rooftop pool with panoramic views.

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Hall D

Hotel Jolanda offers stylish accommodation. The seafront and the station is just a short walk away from the hotel, making it a great base for exploring Liguria.

  • from£970pp
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Beach location in Liguria

The Hotel Miramare & Spa is located on the stunning Bay of Silence, which has one of Liguria's best beaches. Inside, it has contemporary rooms, a wine bar and lounge with large, sea view windows. For a romantic summer evening, book a table at the hotel's restaurant. It features in the Michelin guide and has delicious gourmet food.

Things To Do

Great for art lovers

In true Italian fashion, Portofino's a fantastic place to visit if you're an art lover. Walk up to the church of St Giorgio and check out the doors! They're reminiscent of Ghiberti's Gates of Paradise in Florence with several panels depicting various biblical scenes. The artist, Lorenzo Cascio, also has a gallery in Portofino full of his Ancient Greek inspired artworks. While you're in Portofino check out the international outdoor sculpture centre which displays sculptures from about fifty contemporary artists in an outdoor area overlooking the harbour.

Comforting local food

Focaccia e Formaggio is the ultimate comfort food; toasted focaccia with melted cheese in the middle. They sell it in pretty much every bakery in the area. The best one we've had comes from a little town called Sori; hop on a train and go in search of it! The gelato is also fantastic (unsurprisingly), and it tastes even better eating it whilst looking out over the sparkling blue sea.

Visit towns in the Portofino area 

From Rapallo you can get a direct train to towns like Bogliasco, Sori and Zoagli. These towns are all hidden gems and full of locals. The beach in Bogliasco is very popular in the summer, set beneath rocky walls it's the ideal un-spoilt area to enjoy on a summer's day. Make sure you also check out the ancient Roman bridge, it's the perfect spot for an Instagram moment!

Go in search of the statue of Christ of the Abyss

If you’re a keen diver, go in search of the Christ of the Abyss underwater statue in the Cove of San Fruttuoso. This eight foot tall bronze statue lives 17 metres under the Mediterranean sea and is a popular attraction for scuba-divers. Created by Guido Galetti in the 50’s, there are two more copies, one in Grenada and one in Key Largo, Florida. It was significantly placed exactly where Duilio Marcante, the first Italian man to use SCUBA gear died in 1947 and is dedicated to him. The stature shows Christ raising his arms as a symbol of peace.

Good to know

Walking trails: 80km of walking trails and easy access to other valleys and mountains in the Dolomites

Terrain: Varied terrain from hilly terrain, to farmland and seaside promenades

Best time to go: May-June and September-October. In early or late season temperatures will be cooler for walking and exploring but July and August are beautifully sunny and hot, ideal for coastal holidays

Best for: all walking abilities, nature, sightseeing, activities, food & drink

Fly into: Pisa (approx. 2 hours)

Fly from: Gatwick, Heathrow, Manchester, Luton, Bristol

Transfer time: approx. 1 hour 30 mins by private transfer

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