Last updated on April 3, 2024 by Stefano Ferro, founder of MEL365, following extensive travelling in Italian Riviera

Where to stay in Portofino | 5 Best Areas & Hotels

This is the most luxurious and glamorous village you can find on the Italian Riviera and understanding where to stay in Portofino, especially if your budget is not unlimited may be confusing.

The Harbour Area is my favourite place however it comes at a price, a very high price. There are other options and in this guide I compared them all, providing also my favourite hotels and accommodations.

But let’s start straight away with a map and an easy table with all the pros and cons of each choice.

Maps of the best areas to stay in Portofino

Where to stay in Portofino – Key Points

AreaHotel/TypeBest ForProsConsAverage CostRestaurantsGood for Families with Kids
Harbour AreaClara’s HouseClassic charmCentral location, iconic architecture, waterfront settingExpensive rates, crowds/noise, expensive parking$$$$-$$$$$GreatYes
End of Town & Via del FondacoEight Hotel Portofino & Dream FlexyrentValue for moneySlightly more affordable, near the parking garage, trail proximityFarther from the harbour, less charming, expensive parking$$$-$$$$$Go to the HarbourYes
Santa Margherita LigureApartment with terraceFamiliesMore affordable, beach access, transit linksFarther from Portofino, touristy$$$GoodExcellent
RapalloHotel Mignon PostaBudgetVery affordable, beach access, easy transitFarther from Portofino, lacks village charm$-$$GoodYes
Portofino Natural ParkTrekking in paradise B&BNature & hikingIncredible scenery, peaceful setting, outdoor activitiesFar from Portofino$$NoneLimited to bigger kids
Comparing the best options for a stay in Portofino
The lovely pastel colour houses of Portofino
The lovely pastel colour houses of Portofino

My 3 best hotels in Portofino and nearby

The two areas of Portofino to find your accommodation

Harbour Area – Best for classic charm

Pros

  • central location,
  • iconic architecture,
  • waterfront setting

Cons

  • expensive rates,
  • crowds/noise,
  • expensive parking 

If you’re visiting Portofino for the first time, there’s no more charming home base than the colourful bunch of hotels and vacation rentals around the tiny harbour.  This is the heart of the town, so photogenic, with yachts coming and going, and the special ones staying overnight (mooring fee is over $3,000/night!)

I actually spent a few hours anchored here on a sailing trip a few years ago and I had such great fun seeing the contrast between our “small” sailing boat (50 foot or 15m long) and the pretentious yachts (at least 150 foot, or 50m). We had our light lunch and disappeared off for the dive down to the Christ of the Abyss, close to the San Fruttuoso Abbey. What a day!

Walking from the mooring area to the heart of the Portofino Village
Walking from the mooring area to the heart of the Portofino Village

One of the major perks of staying this centrally is the utmost convenience. You’re steps from the frequent bus and ferry connections taking you over to Santa Margherita Ligure’s train station in a matter of minutes. No need to stress over driving or parking a car!

Plus, resting your head in the harbour puts you at the epicentre of Portofino’s undeniable old-world charm. You’ll be surrounded by that iconic architecture of pastel-hued buildings with green shutters overlooking the quiet bay. 

That said, this is definitely the priciest part of Portofino, and probably the most expensive area in the entire Italian Riviera thanks to the premium real estate and amazing views. You’re also right in the centre of the action, for better or worse. Expect lively crowds filling the alfresco dining scenes well into the evening, especially in peak season, June to August, bringing plenty of energy but also noise.

Speaking of which, parking is extremely limited around Portofino if you hire a vehicle in Italy. There is a parking space on the upper side of town but expect to pay over 50Euro/day.

My Tip: Park in Rapallo and take a ferry from there. Besides costing much less, the boat trip is going to be so romantic, almost as beautiful as the trip through the unique towns of the Cinque Terre.

Here are 2 great accommodations overlooking the sea

Royal ($$$$): 1BR apartment with an exceptional location with stunning sea views. Fully equipped kitchen, modern amenities.

Clara’s House ($$$$): 2BR apartment (up to 4 people) perched in a stunning location with breathtaking sea and city views. Clean, comfortable, and well-equipped.

A drone view of the Portofino Bay
A drone view of Portofino Bay with Via del Fondaco going up north for a couple of hundred metres

End of Town & Via del Fondaco – Value for money

Pros

  • slightly more affordable,
  • near the parking garage,
  • trail proximity

Cons

  • farther from the harbour,
  • less charming,
  • expensive parking 

While the harbour area gets all the glory, you can possibly save some money by booking your accommodation just one or two hundred metres from the water, towards Piazza della Libertà and Via del Fondaco, where you will find a string of hotel and rental options.

This part of town is much less busy with people walking around, but it’s also the end of the road with access to the parking garage which means more cars around and in this respect not as charming as the harbour area. This side of town has more of a residential vibe lacking the same classic Ligurian fishing village aesthetic.

Interestingly enough, you will find almost at the end of Via del Fondaco the famous Eight Hotel Portofino, one of the best 5-star accommodations in the Italian Riviera, with a spectacular boutique interior design and a lovely hidden garden with SPA, certainly a great hotel to spend one or two nights with your partner.

Another perk is the immediate access to some of the area’s loveliest scenic walking trails. Several picturesque pathways depart right from Via del Fondaco, winding through olive groves and forests to reach panoramic viewpoints over the coast. It’s the perfect way to escape the harbour crowds for a tranquil seaside ramble.

The Eight Hotel Portofino offers a few parking spots. Besides that, you will have no other option than the main parking space which is expensive and small.

Here are 3 great accommodations in the area

Eight Hotel Portofino ($$$$$): One of the best boutique luxury hotels in the Italian Riviera. Elegant, warmly decorated rooms with contemporary furnishings. Outdoor hot tub, sauna, and Turkish bath. Shuttle service to a private beach.

Dream Flexyrent ($$$-$$$$): 1BR apartment with well-equipped rooms and modern comforts. Free WiFi, kitchen, and laundry facilities. Unfortunately, no air conditioning

La Casa della Nicco ($$$): Probably the cheapest accommodation in Portofino but do not expect too much

Santa Margherita Ligure, just 20 minutes from Portofino
Santa Margherita Ligure, just 20 minutes from Portofino

Santa Margherita Ligure – A great option for families

Pros

  • more affordable,
  • beach access,
  • transit links

Cons

  • farther from Portofino,
  • more touristed

If your dream Portofino escape includes a little more breathing room plus amenities like a proper beach, then considering a family-friendly home base in neighbouring Santa Margherita Ligure could be the way to go.

While it may lack Portofino’s fishing village ambience, Santa Margherita more than makes up for it with a wider array of accommodations at more budget-friendly prices. From larger resort hotels to apartment rentals, you’ll find plenty of options suiting different travel styles and group sizes.

A major draw is the town’s convenient transit connections. The train station here provides easy access to the rest of the Italian Riviera, including Genova and its lovely neighbourhoods, while frequent buses and ferries make the trip to Portofino a total breeze (just a 20-minute hop). No need to deal with cramped parking or pricey lots!

Families in particular may prefer Santa Margherita’s more ample offerings compared to tiny Portofino. You’ve got a proper stretch of sandy beach, parks, and a historical downtown area with pedestrianized shopping streets. There’s more space to spread out and plenty of kid-friendly dining options.

The tradeoff is that you don’t get that postcard-perfect vibe that Portofino has. Santa Margherita has more of a proper small city feel, with residential neighbourhoods extending farther inland from the harbour area.

Santa Margherita is also very busy with tourism, especially in peak season, between July and August but also on June and September weekends. If Portofino tends to be much quieter towards the end of the day, once most of the day-trippers leave, Santa keeps being busy all day around.

Here are 2 great value apartments in Santa Margherita Ligure

Zona centrale ($$$): Perfectly located, exceptionally clean, and spacious 1BR apartment (up to 4 people) with equipped kitchen and reliable Wi-Fi.

Apartment with terrace ($$$): Superb location with a nice terrace. 2BR apartment with great amenities, including free WiFi and a kitchen.

View of Rapallo from the ferry to Portofino
View of Rapallo from the ferry to Portofino

Rapallo – Best for budget

Pros

  • very affordable,
  • beach access,
  • easy transit

Cons

  • farther from Portofino,
  • lacks village charm

Rapallo is the best option if you are travelling on a budget and it’s not just about cheaper accommodations but also more economical restaurants, cafes and supermarkets. 

While it may lack the glamour of Portofino you’ll find a pleasant mix of accommodations both in the historic centre and more modern residential areas.

A major perk of Rapallo is its great transit connections to the nearby attractions. Frequent trains and buses will take you to Portofino in around 40 minutes, while ferry boats offer a more scenic water route during peak seasons. Having these transit options avoids the hassle of parking headaches in Portofino.

Rapallo provides plenty of good dining, shopping, and nightlife possibilities, without Portofino’s premium pricing, but, must be said, that it lacks its glamour and scenic harbour.

In saying that, you’ve got a charming historic quarter with an ancient castle ruin plus a pretty harbourfront promenade area. While no showstopper, it has an understated local authenticity. Moreover, you will find also a nice beach, although pretty expensive (around 100 Euro for an umbrella and 2 sunbeds)

The main tradeoff here is undoubtedly the distance from Portofino’s postcard-perfect scenery. At around 30-40 minutes each way, staying in Rapallo requires a bit more effort to reach that iconic destination although transit is very easy.

You’re also sacrificing the classic Ligurian fishing village vibes, as Rapallo has more of a residential city aesthetic with some 1970s/80s era architecture mixed in.

Here are 2 great hotels

Hotel Mignon Posta ($): This fantastic value-for-money hotel with recently renovated rooms is located near the train and the sea. Wi-Fi connectivity could be improved.

Casa nel Golfo ($-$$): A cozy, stylish, and exceptionally clean room offering a fully equipped kitchen and convenient free private parking. Ideal if you are driving around Italy

The Portofino Natural Park on the back of the village
The Portofino Natural Park on the back of the village

Portofino Natural Park – Best for nature & hiking

Pros

  • incredible scenery,
  • peaceful setting,
  • outdoor activities

Cons

  • far from Portofino

This is the option I would suggest on a second trip in the area and if you are looking for a more unique stay in the Portofino Natural Park, which is the promontory going from Portofino Town inland to the Portofino Mountain Peak.

This is where you will find plenty of hiking trails with gorgeous views from Punta Chiappa to the Monastery of San Fruttuoso, down to Cervara and Portofino Town.

This area is reachable only on foot and there are no hotels around but just basic but comfortable mountain retreats (rifugio), right in the heart of the park’s stunning scenery with amazing views. 

While remote, this option provides the perfect home base for avid hikers and outdoorsy types. Portofino town is not going to be your main focus, yet you’re still just a 1 hour (or more) walk from Portofino’s iconic harbour when you need a dose of Dolce Vita.

Here are 2 great rifugi in the Portofino Natural Park

Eremo Rifugio ($$): Historic farm stay with modern rooms and local, delicious food. Peaceful experience close to nature.

Trekking in paradise B&B ($$): Breathtaking sea views from the Ligurian hills, very clean and stunning terrace.

Charming and romantic night lights of Portofino
The charming and romantic night lights of Portofino
Stefano Ferro - MEL365.com Founder and Editor

About the Author

Stefano is a seasoned travel expert and the visionary founder of MEL365.com, a leading travel website with traffic across 6 continents. With a rich background in the travel industry, Stefano spent four pivotal years at Amadeus Travel Distribution System, gaining invaluable insights into travel technologies and distribution.

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