Portofino what to see

Portofino: 5 things to see absolutely

Italian version 🇮🇹


✅ Before starting with the 5 Things to see absolutely in Portofino, here are some really interesting links about Portofino and Tigullio. Take a look! 😉

Welcome to Portofino, the most beautiful place in the world!

Before all, some very useful information, especially if you are planning to visit Portofino for the first time. 😉

You can reach Portofino very simply, taking the coastal road that starts from Santa Margherita Ligure. There are no free car parking spaces, but there is a municipal parking garage (the minimum rate is 5 euros per hour) and a small private car park.

In the summer (and weekends) it is very difficult to find a place to park, because the places fill up quickly.

View on Portofino – Photo by Tony Solinas, from the Gruppo Facebook

So, consider other methods of travel as well. There are buses leaving from Santa Margherita, battelli (boat ferries), you can rent bicycles or scooters, or you can opt for a nice walk.

Portofino is – notoriously – a very “expensive” place. Anyway, you can visit and appreciate it, even spending a few euros. 

✔ What we propose in this reading, is absolutely cheap! 

Here are the 5 things to see absolutely in Portofino 👇

1️⃣ The Piazzetta

Famous all over the world for its beauty, its charm and frequented by people (and VIPs) from all over the world, Piazzetta is the first obligatory stop.

Portofino, piazzetta di Portofino
Amazing Portofino by night! – Photo by Lolla Pensa from the Gruppo Facebook

You will find yourself in front of a unique spectacle, with its tall and colorful houses, facing in a semicircle on the square and on the quays of the marina.

You can walk around looking at the splendid shop windows, enjoy an ice cream or relax with a coffee, sitting like true VIPs, like in a Dolce Vita movie. 😇

Piazzetta di Portofino
Piazzetta by day – Photo by Dante Bergamini, from the Gruppo Facebook

You’ll immediately understand why the Piazzetta has been immortalized in so many films, soap operas and songs. Enjoy the moment! 🥂

2️⃣ The Brown Castle (Castello Brown)

The Castello Brown is located on the hill of Piazzetta and has a very long history.

Portofino, Castello Brown
Castello Brown – Photo by Cristina Beltramo, from the Gruppo Facebook

It was built in the late Middle Ages – 16th century – on the ruins of a Roman fortification, dating back to the second or third century AD. It once served as a military fortress to defend the village.

The Municipality of Portofino definitively bought the property in 1961, making it a venue for exhibitions, weddings and cultural and social activities.

One of the wonders of the Castle, is the Mediterranean garden. It’s composed by various species of flowers, including many rose plants, and wonderful pergolas.

Portofino, piazzetta
What a view from Castello Brown! Photo by Sara Cenacchi, from the Gruppo Facebook

From here, you can admire an incredible panorama, in front of our eyes.

Castello Brown can be reached via the Ascent to the Church of San Giorgio in the direction of the peninsula and the Lighthouse, with a 10 minutes easy walk. The entrance fee is 5 euros.

Castle opening hours:

  • from 15 March to 31 March: from 10 to 17
  • 1st April to 31st May and 1st September to 31st October: from 10am to 6pm
  • from 1st June to 31st August: from 10am to 7pm
  • November 1st to March 15th: Saturday and Sunday only, from 10am to 5pm

3️⃣ The Portofino Lighthouse

The Portofino lighthouse has been active since 1910 and is located at a height of 40 meters up on the sea.

With a range of 16 nautical miles, Portofino lighthouse, is still today a fundamental guide for sailors.

Portofino, Faro
Portofino lighthouse -Photo by Dante Massera, from the Gruppo Facebook

Located on the top of the homonymous Punta – reachable by continuing the route from Castello Brown – it ideally represents the border between the Tigullio Gulf and the neighboring Golfo Paradiso, on the eastern side. 

The Lighthouse has a guardian, but it cannot be visited. So, you might be thinking: why go up to see the Lighthouse, if you can’t visit it?

Portofino, Faro di Portofino
Arriving at the lighthouse – Photo by Paulo Jose da Silva, from the Gruppo Facebook

Very simple. For the absolutely unique and spectacular view from here. Plus, with a little luck, it’s the perfect spot for dolphin and (more rarely) whale sightings.

4️⃣ Portofino beach

First of all, a necessary premise. Portofino does not have a real beach, as almost all the other Ligurian cities.

▶ The Bay of Paraggi is – “in fact” – considered the beach of Portofino. Paraggi, is located on the road to Portofino, just 1.5 km before. You will not be confused. The beauty of Paraggi Bay will leave you breathless. In fact, it’s considered one of the most beautiful beaches in Italy.

Baia di Paraggi
Paraggi bay – photo by Alessandra Frumento, from our Gruppo Facebook

Here in Paraggi, there are various beach club and free access points, including a wonderful little “bay in the bay”, called Niasca .

Let’s go back to Portofino …

▶ A few hundred meters before entering in Portofino, there is a very small but suggestive bay, with a little free beach, called Spiaggia del Cannone.

Portofino, Baia del Cannone
Baia del Cannone – Photo by Marisa Saragni, from the Gruppo Facebook

It can be reached walking down a ladder, that starts at the side of the carriage road.

▶ Still in Portofino, continuing on foot along the path that connects the Church of San Giorgio to the lighthouse, you can reach a very small beach, called “spiaggia dell’Olivetta

Spiaggia dell'Olivetta, Portofino
Path to the Olivetta little beach – photo by Marisa Saragni, from the Gruppo Facebook

This place is sadly known to historical chronicles. In its waters, in December 1944, German soldiers massacred 21 partisans and a civilian, in retaliation. In the small bay, you can see a commemorative plaque, with the names of the fallen.

Furthermore, the Germans wanted to blow up the Borgo and raze it to the ground. If this didn’t happen, we must say THANKS to a very brave woman. Find the whole story here!

5️⃣ The churches

Last but not least, the churches in Portofino.

There are the Oratory of Santa Maria Assunta , the Church of San Martino  and the Church of San Giorgio, reachable by the same walk that leads to Castello Brown and the Lighthouse.

The church of San Giorgio, is located in a magnificent raised position with respect to the square, which dominates from above.
Originally, it was built during the 12th century on the remains of an older chapel. In the eighteenth century, important restorations were then carried out.

Chiesa di San Giorgio, Portofino
San Giorgio’s church – photo by Dante Bergamini, from the Gruppo Facebook

During the Second World War in Portofino, the church was completely destroyed during an air raid. The current structure was built only in 1950, faithfully respecting the original.

Inside are the remains of San Giorgio, patron saint of Portofino.

Portofino, San Giorgio, Falò di Portofino
San Giorgio’ s celebrations in Portofino – Photo di Santa Magazine, from the Gruppo Facebook

The parish church dedicated to San Martino is located in the oldest part of the village.

Inside, there are pictorial and sculptural works, such as the Annunciation of the eighteenth century, the canvas of the Madonna del Rosario, and a painting depicting the saints RoccoSebastiano and Pantaleo by a Ligurian painter of the sixteenth century.

Portofino, Chiesa del Divo Martino
Church of San Martino” – photo by Alessandro Montefiori, from the Gruppo Facebook

Externally the façade is quite simple with horizontal gray and yellow stripes, while inside it is full of frescoes and paintings.