An old fashioned honeymoon: Portofino

This post is from the series about our honeymoon in October and November 2015. You can read more about it here.

Portofino probably sit’s on everyone’s list of places to visit before they die. Sitting on the Italian Riviera, this playground of the rich and famous is one of the most photogenic places I have been, close Oia on to Santorini in it’s beautiful simplicity. With such a photogenic setting in a natural bay and with such a pretty waterfront, it’s almost impossible to get a bad picture of Portofino.

The colours of the sea, the trees and the buildings were so much brighter and so much more vivid than I managed to capture with my phone. They came through in a couple of the pictures but just add a lot more brightness in when looking at them.

I think what drew me and what probably draws many other visitors to Portofino is the spectacular setting.The village draped on a hill-side, the pretty pastel coloured buildings, the little fishing boats gently bobbing in the water, the promontory with the Castello Brown, the church of Chiesa San Giorgio and beautiful pathway. The whole place looks like a postcard, a screensaver brought to life. Suffice to say I really like, really love how Portofino looks.

Portofino from Castello Brown

Portofino from Castello Brown

We took the passenger ferry from Rapallo, where we were staying for our Italian riviera honeymoon. The ferry runs up and down the Ligurian coast from Rapallo North to Santa Margherita Liguria & Portofino, and South to the Cinque Terra.

Santa Margherita Liguria from the sea

Santa Margherita Liguria from the sea

You can get to Portofino by bus from Rapallo, via Santa Margherita Liguria (where the train stops as well) but you’d really miss out on seeing the beautiful coastline between there and Rapallo.

Between Rapallo and Portofino

Between Rapallo and Portofino

You would also miss seeing views like this from the water as you approach Portofino, and I do think it is one of the best views you’ll get of the town.

View of Portofino from the boat

View of Portofino from the boat

If you’re visiting Portofino for a day trip or staying here, be prepared as it’s quite expensive. Portofino is known as a playground for the rich and famous and from the moment you approach the town you can see that. Between colourful fishing boats are the odd very expensive looking yacht or two.

Yachts and fishing boats

Yachts and fishing boats

You also have to be prepared to part with quite a bit for lunch and any ice creams or drinks you have, but you’re paying to be in a really beautiful place. We visited in late October and the small town was pretty full of tourists so I can only imaging how busy Portofino is in the summer.

As soon as you get get off the boat you’ll start seeing designer brands and specialist jewelry outlets nestled in alcoves and little shops, which once would have served fishermen and their families.

The Church of St Michael Portofino

The Church of St Michael Portofino

Portofino walks

You can wander around the town in less than an hour, apart from the main square by the water and a church just behind, The Church of St Michael, there really isn’t too much to see. Even the church gets in on the pastel colour act with an exterior of yellows and greys. It all feels very mediterranean.

If you turn left as you get off the Portofino ferry and head away from the town you can walk around the promontory, see the Castello Brown, please rename the brown castle to something much more suitable and less boring sounding!

Church of St George Portofino

Church of St George Portofino

Walk up high above the harbour and you’ll pass the Church of St George (well worth a look inside) where there are fantastic views back down over the town.

View from Portofino to Rapallo

View from Portofino to Rapallo

Carry on walking around the promontory and you can get great snaps like this one above and see back over to Rapallo. There is a network of paths which wind around this part of Portofino, up and down the hill and through lush trees and vegetation. It was a really lovely walk, not too steep or hard to do. We passed a few houses out here as well. If I ever become a millionair I might just buy a place here, overlooking the glistening, gorgeously deep blue waters.

Romance in Portofino

Romance in Portofino

Walking up and down those paths builds up a good appetite so it was time for a pricey lunch. Check out my post on the Foods of Liguria. As I said earlier Portofino isn’t a cheap place to visit and if you stop for lunch at one of the harbourside restaurants with a lovely view, which I recommend you do, be prepared to part with the better part of €100 for two main courses and a glass of house wine each. We certainly broke the budget that day but it’s worth it when you might never go back there.

After lunch we didn’t have too much time before the last ferry back to Rapallo. In truth that was okay as there isn’t a terribly large amount to see, unless you want to go designer dress shopping. I really like these two pictures of us in Portofino by the harbour and one of the churches.

The happy couple in Portofino

The happy couple in Portofino

And as we were leaving I took this shot looking back over towards Rapallo.

A final snap as we we're leaving

A final snap as we we’re leaving

And because I like it, here’s a picture of me with Portofino in the background.

Me in Portofino

Me in Portofino

Portofino really is a picture perfect little town, but I’m glad we stayed in Rapallo. It is just a lovely and refined but with more to see and do, easier transport links and dare I say it, better places to eat. Portofino is a jewel on the Italian Riviera but Rapallo will always have my heart.


Russell BowesReview text and photos By Russell Bowes Find me on Google Plus, catch up and message me on Twitter and see more great pictures on Flickr and Instagram. Pin with me on Pintrest.

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