Oh yes, the Italian Riviera. Dotted with adorable fishing villages and incredible hiking trails, the Ligurian Sea offers bucket list travel experiences. Two of the most hyped: Cinque Terre and Portofino. One of my to-dos for the summer was to hike the area again. Since my (not-so) little brother, Fratello Kevino, is stationed outside Verona in the Army we decided to hit the coast for a bro / sis hiking weekend. Left-left-left-right-left!
We base camped it in Rapallo – a perfect location for hitting the Cinque Terre and Portofino. Primarily due to its close proximity to Portofino, which is not serviced by train. Portofino is an amazing sight. Everything you’ve heard? It’s true. Everything you’ve seen? It’s better.
Walking to Portofino
Distance: 4 miles each way from Rapallo. Terrain: Primarily along the boardwalk with some short stretches in the street. Difficulty: Low The walk from Rapallo runs along the coastline through Santa Margherita Ligure. When you get into Parco Naturale Regionale Portofino you get some minor climbs along a more trail-like walkway. From there, you head down into the ancient fishing village of Portofino. I’ve seen varied numbers on the distances, but my Garmin read as follows:
- Rapallo to Santa Margherita: 0 to 1.5 miles
- Santa Margherita to Portofino: 1.5 to 4 miles
You can train it to either Rapallo or Santa Margherita, then hoof it to Portofino based on your desired walking distance.
To Portofino By Train + Bus
Take a train to Santa Margherita (find schedules and fares on Trenitalia.com), then take Bus #8. We saw the bus running along the coastline with stops at various places. Just be warned: they are packed.
To Portofino by Ferry
You have some options on the ferry system in terms of departure locations, including Genoa, Santa Margherita, and Rapallo. Our plan had been to hike it in, then ferry back to mix it up. But, the walk was so relaxed we opted to do that roundtrip. Rapallo / Santa Margherita Ferry: Runs March to October with limited frequency outside of peak times. Find fares and schedules at Servizio Marittimo Del Tigullio. Genoa Ferry: Runs April to September with daily routes in July and August only. Golfo Paradiso services Portofino with their green line, click for schedule and fares.
Things to do in Portofino
Fratello Kevino and I spent about 45 minutes ooh’ing and ahh’ing over the views upon arrival. To the north of the marina we found a viewing point to climb up for pics.
Then, we ventured around to find lunch. It’s a really small village packed with tourists, so the food is pretty spendy. We ventured off the waterfront in hopes of finding something more reasonably priced, but came up nil. We realized it was going to be 15 to 25 euros a course – even paninos were like 8 euros! We picked a place and tried to sit down, “no, cucina closed.” Okay, on to the next place, “no, cucina closed.” What? It’s only 2:15 p.m.! We finally found a bar in the marina who was happy to serve us pizza. And, it was delish! The westerners in us got excited at seeing a Bloody Mary on the menu. At 12 euros each they had to be good, right!? Yeah, no. Tasted like straight tomato juice to me. Lots of shopping opportunities abound and many restaurants are situated on the waterfront. You can get drinks all day, but it seems most places close the kitchen around 2 p.m. After a nice afternoon we walked back to Rapallo, making a couple stops in Santa Margherita to check out the scene, including some sweet water polo action. Definitely recommend Portofino for a day trip. And, the walk – two very enthusiastic thumbs up! Ciao ciao! V-dawg OUT.