Portofino is worth a visit, but you don’t have to stay there

The small fishing village of Portofino, located on the Italian Riviera, is a devastatingly beautiful travel destination – which writers and historians have long celebrated – and enjoyed. Portofino’s spectacular scenery ranges from breathtaking to peaceful and tranquil. The picturesque scenes at almost every turn will bring to life an alternation of emotions in intense and nervous spurts. A visit to this seaside paradise is undoubtedly rewarding, if not downright therapeutic.

Yet, while Portofino, one of the most beautiful destinations in Italy– worth every penny and nickel, Portofino itself is a bit pricey, especially in the main part of town. Here’s why.

UPDATED: 2022/12/01 11:22 EST BY AARON SPRAY

Airbnb is an option when staying in Portofino.

While accommodation in Portofino is generally expensive and it’s cheaper to visit on day trips, there are Airbnb options that should be affordable for most travelers – at least for one or two. nights. This article has been updated with Airbnb suggestions for those looking to bite the bullet and spend the night in the beautiful village.


How Portofino became fashionable for aristocrats.

Portofino is one of the great coastal attractions of northern Italy – along with the neighboring Cinque Terre. This article has been updated to provide some history and context on how Portofino grew from a forgotten fishing village to a fashionable resort town for Northern European aristocrats.

Why is Portofino an expensive travel destination?

For some perspective, an Espresso coffee in Rome costs around a dollar. In many places it can be obtained for less. On the other hand, Espresso coffee at an average restaurant in Portofino will cost around $3-4. That’s almost three times. And it’s not just coffee. Gelato, one of Italy’s most sought-after culinary offerings, will follow this trend. As for the croissants. They will cost about double the national average. Well, someone can say that they are snacks. Full meals can be cheap in Portofino, and therefore a bit easier on the wallet.

The truth is that restaurant prices in Portofino are just as expensive. Lunch at a restaurant in Portofino for a solo traveler will cost around $50. Of course, in the central square, what the Italians call Piazzetta, you can even pay more. It comes down to the type of restaurant, menu or food selection, and location. At La Terrazza, a dinner consisting of a rib of beef from Piedmont, drizzled with Béarnaise sauce, accompanied by grilled Belgian endives and a few pieces of sweet potato, will go for 70 €.

And it’s not just the food. For those looking for accommodation in Portofino, the minimum one can work with is around $50 per night. In many cases, hotel prices in Portofino will range from $80 to $120. Yet even in this price range, competition is fierce and prices tend to react upwards, especially in the summer. At Hotel Piccolo Portofino, one of the most affordable hotels in town, accommodation for one night is around $50of course, depending on the room and the season.

And when it comes to parking a car in Portofino, the issue isn’t just the cost. Let’s just say that finding a parking space in Portofino is, for lack of a better word, difficult. We can go around in circles endlessly and still run out of space. Or, even if we get space, pay €5.5 per hour as parking fees in Piazza Della Libertà, one of only two attractive parking areas in the city, is not many people’s idea of ​​affordability.

The truth is that the city of Portofino is a nightmare when it comes to both the the availability and affordability of parking spaces. This is because the authorities discourage the use of cars. In the heart of the city, cars are not even allowed.

However, there is a way to enjoy the charm of this wonderland, without breaking the bank. Here’s how.

Related: 10 etiquette tips to know before traveling to Italy

Best places to stay when visiting Portofino

Of course, Portofino is relatively small. A busy hour or two is all it takes to check out the popular attractions. However, Portofino is not just about natural or historical attractions to see or explore, but a memorable experience to savor. And for that, pitching a tent somewhere slightly outside the city can be not only more convenient, but also more affordable. And as we have seen, most hotels in Portofino are expensive. This is because most of them are luxury hotels that cater to Kourtney Kardashians and Sienna Millers of Celebrity.

Travelers should therefore consider alternative locations from which to easily access Portofino. One of them is Santa Margherita Ligure. Of all the surrounding towns, this charming little town is the closest to Portofino and has the nearest train station. Interestingly, Santa Margherita Ligure is a transit town to Portofino, and therefore, for those who go there, a must. Unlike Portofino, Santa Margherita Ligure has many hotels in the $50 to $100 range price scale. While some of these hotels may not have the sea views of the resorts and villas of Portofino, they are just as nice.

  • How far is Portofino from Santa Margherita Ligure? The distance between Portofino and Santa Margherita Ligure is 7 km and takes about 19 minutes by car.

San Lorenzo Della Costa, a 21 minute drive from Portofino on the outskirts of the larger Santa Margherita Ligure region, is also a dream retreat. This small village has almost the same charming atmosphere as Portofino and is even more laid back and slow paced. It is a beautiful area to explore Portofino. The village of Nozarego, also in Santa Margherita Ligure, is just as good.

Related: 10 things we wish we had known before visiting Italy

Besides Santa Margherita Ligure, the seaside town of Camogli, about 8.5 miles from Portofino on the northwest side, is an attractive place to stay. From Camogli one can find his way to Portofino by train or ferry. There is a wide variety of accommodation options in Camogli to suit all tastes and budgets. There is also Rapallo, the largest town in the region, and Sestri Levante, located between Portofino and Cinque Terre. For accommodation facilities, these two cities will rarely disappoint you.

Whatever the base or angle, Portofino is always worth a visit. The limited luxury hotels there should never get in the way of what should otherwise be a fairy tale experience.

Related: Are the Cinque Terre really the most beautiful Italian coastal region?

But if you want to stay in Portofino, consider booking an Airbnb

Perhaps surprisingly, there is quite a choice of accommodation options on Airbnb and some accommodations are not so expensive. Forget the very limited and overpriced hotels, Airbnbs is the way to go.

The cheapest listings are for rental apartments and start at around $145 per night and go up to around $650 per night for a more luxurious and spacious apartment with stunning sea views. Although these are the prices of December – the low season. Summer can be much more expensive. It is possible to get a penthouse with a roof for just over $600 a night in Portofino.

Airbnb offers fairly affordable accommodation options for Portofino

Still, it is possible to get an apartment (very small apartment) in high season for around $170 per night.

This means that it’s actually manageable to stay in Portofino – at least for a few nights. But accommodations in the tiny village are very limited and can easily sell out, so people are advised to plan well in advance to book an affordable Airbnb before they’re all gone. Day trips are nice, but staying overnight is even better.

Related: Have you heard of this country in Italy? (It’s not the Vatican)

Background to Portofino and how it became a top Italian destination

Portofino is located in the beautiful Italian region of Liguria – this is one of the regions where visitors can find the famous coastal towns of Cinque Terre (which are among the oldest villages in Italy) and much more.

Portofino was ordinarily a humble fishing village, but with a rich history. It is a magical place that deserves extraordinary attention. It is of archaeological importance and had a Roman seafaring village (called Portus Delphini). The village changed hands several times between 1200 and 1800 when it became part of the Republic of Genoa, Florence, the First French Empire, the Kingdom of Sardinia and the Kingdom of Italy.

Since the end of the 19th century, Portofino has been characterized by an influx of British and German visitors. It became an early destination for aristocratic tourists from Northern Europe who made the village fashionable. Over time, expats built expensive vacation homes, and tourism replaced fishing as the community’s main industry.

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