Genoa to Portofino: Guide to the Perfect 3 Village Day Trip

Genoa to Portofino: Guide to the Perfect 3 Village Day Trip | almostginger.com

If you’re staying in Genoa for a decent length of time, taking a day trip from Genoa to Portofino might be something you’re considering. It’s only a short distance down the coast and is a good opportunity to see more of those famously picturesque Ligurian coastal towns.

Some tourists might prefer to head even further down the coast and nail Cinque Terre in a day, and that’s totally cool too. But for others, Portofino is a much more manageable, stress-free day trip. And you have the option of stopping off at one or two more coastal towns along the way.

I visited Genoa in August this year and stayed for a whole week. So, I had time for a day trip from Genoa to Portofino and another to Cinque Terre. Both day trips featured beautiful coastal towns and other positives and negatives. You really can’t go wrong with either.

Here’s all the information you’ll need to take an enjoyable day trip from Genoa to Portofino on a boat cruise.

Day Trip from Genoa to Portofino

Genoa to Portofino: Guide to the Perfect 3 Village Day Trip | Genoa Day Trip | Day trip to Portofino to Genoa | Visit Portofino | Genoa to Camogli, San Fruttuoso, Portofino | almostginger.com

Take a boat cruise

The best way to take a day trip from Genoa to Portofino is by hopping on a day cruise.  Portofino is a bit of a pain to get to as it doesn’t exactly have a train station. And I would imagine driving in Italy is only for tourists with a death wish. Or at least a parking/driving ticket wish. Plus, via boat, you can see all the coastal towns that you can’t see inland.

To check out the timetables and routes before you go, check out the tour company, Golfo Paradiso’s website. Which I recommend doing if you’re travelling in the offseason as boats only depart on certain days March-September.

If you’re travelling in the peak season (July and August), like we did, head to the Tourist Office on Via Garibaldi the first day of your trip for a timetable. But you should be okay because boats depart every day except Monday. 

Genoa to Portofino: Guide to the Perfect 3 Village Day Trip | almostginger.com

Where the boat departs

The boats depart from Porto Antico, the port on the far west side of the Genoa Harbour. You want to keep close to the edge and walk passed Eataly until you see a ticket booth with a flag that says, Golfo Paradiso. The boats are docked right next to the ticket booth so that’s easy. The Tourist Office should also give you directions, but it’s not hard to find.

Genoa to Portofino: Guide to the Perfect 3 Village Day Trip | almostginger.com

Tickets and prices

Boats depart at 9:00, and try and get there as early as you can, no later than 8:30. Granted, we went in peak season so the line was super long. It might not be as busy off-peak but I still say get there as easy as possible.

Check your timetable brochure for prices, but it was €24 return each when we visited Portofino. I know, it’s a little steep. Travelling by boat is definitely not the cheapest option.

The Tourist Office told us that we should head to the ticket office the day before as the boat may be full. But once we got to the ticket office, they told us you can only buy tickets on the day. So that’s something to know about in advance!

It makes sense to not sell tickets before the day because the cruises are weather permitting. So, you don’t want to buy tickets ages in advance only for them to cancel the boat trip. You don’t get your money back! 


Top tip: If you want to take photographs of the coast as you sail by, on the way from Genoa to Portofino sit facing the back of the boat on the right-hand side (left if you have to face forwards). It’s always better to sit facing the back as you’ll see more. And if you are facing the back, the right will be closest to land. And hopefully, no people will ruin your photographs.

Of course, on the way back from Portofino to Genoa, you still want to face the back but it will be the left-hand side this time!


Genoa to Portofino: Guide to the Perfect 3 Village Day Trip | almostginger.com

Travelling by Train

If the boat prices aren’t worth the views and you’re not bothered about stopping off at other towns along the way, you can travel from Genoa to Portofino by train and then catch a bus. Take a train from Genoa Brignole train station to S.Margherita Ligure Portofino and then take the N. 82 bus 20 minutes to Portofino. The train timetable will be easy to look up but it will be the bus that’s a pain.

When I tried to travel by bus around Genoa, it was only when I tried to hop on a bus I realised I needed a bus ticket before I boarded. A quick google search told me I could only buy bus tickets in newsagents and ‘other places.’ But I looked around and there were no newsagents or shops near my bus stop so… where was I supposed to buy my ticket?!

I guess you might be able to buy bus tickets at the train station, but I really wouldn’t know. It seems stupidly complicated.

Genoa to Portofino: Guide to the Perfect 3 Village Day Trip | almostginger.com

First Stop: Camogli

What the heck is a Camogli?! Is it a type of pasta? You’d be forgiven for thinking so, but no.

See, on the boat cruises from Genoa to Portofino, you have the option of stopping off in a couple of other places before you dock in Portofino for the day. This makes so much sense because, when I was researching Portofino, I was surprised by how small it is and there aren’t tonnes of things to do. And considering Portofino is an expensive town, you couldn’t spend a day eating your way around the cafes and gelaterias without forking out hundreds of euros.

So, we spent an hour in Camogli before hopping back on the cruise to the next stop. Boats generally depart from each of the stops every hour, but please listen to the announcements on the boat. And ask a staff member if you think you missed something important. Most speak pretty good English.

It’s actually a really lovely, pretty, coastal town. If you fancied a day sunning yourself on the beach or a dip in the sea, Camogli would be the perfect place. There were lots of bars and restaurants on the seafront so you could feasibly stay the whole day.

We only walked around for an hour, but it was worth the stop-off.

Genoa to Portofino: Guide to the Perfect 3 Village Day Trip | almostginger.com
Camogli

Genoa to Portofino: Guide to the Perfect 3 Village Day Trip | almostginger.com

Genoa to Portofino: Guide to the Perfect 3 Village Day Trip | almostginger.com

Genoa to Portofino: Guide to the Perfect 3 Village Day Trip | almostginger.com

Genoa to Portofino: Guide to the Perfect 3 Village Day Trip | almostginger.com

Genoa to Portofino: Guide to the Perfect 3 Village Day Trip | almostginger.com
En route from Camogli to San Fruttuoso…

Second Stop: San Fruttuoso

This tiny little place was next on the list of stops from Genoa to Portofino. I was interested in stopping off in San Fruttuoso because it was a filming location for the Colin Firth film Genova (2008).

In all honesty, if you don’t fancy stopping off in San Fruttuoso and want to get to Portofino earlier, then do it. It’s a tiny, tiny place with a rammed beach with a couple of restaurants/bars, an abbey and not really anywhere else to go. But I’m still glad we stopped there!

We visited San Fruttuoso’s Abbey (which was expensive to enter at €7 each) and it was okay if you’re interested in that kind of thing. You can see the church without buying a ticket so you might just want to do that. Again, the Abbey was a filming location so I was interested to see the whole thing.

Other than that, there’s not much else to visit. However, stopping off for an hour isn’t a long time anyway.


Please note: The boat leaving San Fruttuoso to Portofino may not leave the exact port you arrived at from Camogli. It is a separate area over the steps. It’s super important you listen closely to the announcements when you arrive in San Fruttuoso. If you are unsure, it’s worth asking at the desk (literally a person sat at a table on the port) where you need to go.

Yep, only my dad heard the announcement and because me, my mum, and my sister didn’t, we missed the boat and had to wait another hour.


Genoa to Portofino: Guide to the Perfect 3 Village Day Trip | almostginger.com

Genoa to Portofino: Guide to the Perfect 3 Village Day Trip | almostginger.com

Genoa to Portofino: Guide to the Perfect 3 Village Day Trip | almostginger.com

Genoa to Portofino: Guide to the Perfect 3 Village Day Trip | almostginger.com

Final Stop: Portofino

The whole reason you’re on this day trip from Genoa: to visit Portofino!

Portofino was a holiday hotspot for the British upper class in the 1940s and 1950s, just as the French Riviera was for the Hollywood elite at that time. British Expats built expensive vacation homes in Portofino and the actor Rex Harrison (from My Fair Lady (1965) moved to Portofino permanently. I’m sure the pretty landscape, harbour and warm climate had something to do with that decision.

Nowadays, since the celebrities scattered elsewhere, it’s overrun by tourists and it’s hella expensive. I’m talking €8 a bottle of beer expensive. Yeah, I know. Ex-pen-sive.

Genoa to Portofino: Guide to the Perfect 3 Village Day Trip | almostginger.com

What to Eat and Drink in Portofino (including Gelato!)

If you’ve got a few pennies tucked away for a nice meal, Ristorante O Magazin is the one I’d pick. The restaurant is right on the seafront and they utilise seasonal ingredients.

For a budget option, Pizzeria El Portico is just off the main square and is probably the most reasonably priced restaurant in Portofino.

I sampled the gelato from Bar Gelateria San Giorgio. It was €3.50 for a small cup and that was pretty nice. Price-wise, that’s only about €1.50 euro more than a small gelato in Genoa (though I think the ‘small’ sizes are bigger in Genoa). It’s got really bad reviews on TripAdvisor but I thought it served decent, authentic gelato and the price reflected the location. Some people got 3 scoops and had to pay €7 which is mad! But also, it’s Portofino sooo I don’t know what they expected. It’s just a really expensive place.

Genoa to Portofino: Guide to the Perfect 3 Village Day Trip | almostginger.com

Genoa to Portofino: Guide to the Perfect 3 Village Day Trip | almostginger.com

Genoa to Portofino: Guide to the Perfect 3 Village Day Trip | almostginger.com

Things to do in Portofino

There aren’t tonnes to do in Portofino if you don’t have a passion for expensive boutiques. There’s Castello Brown that you can walk up to for a nice vantage over the town, though the Castle itself, I think, is only open on weekends.

You can also walk towards the church of St Martin’s which is a really nice looking church, then follow the road around to the east side of Portofino for a nice walkway. And, there are of course a lot of tourist shops near the main harbour.

Do you know what I would do? Grab a beer, coffee or gelato at a cafe/bar on the harbour and savour it for as long as possible and watch the world go by before going for a wander. Pidgins can be a problem so you don’t really want to eat food outdoors.

I’ve been quite negative on Portofino regarding the hoards of tourists and the prices. But actually, it is a really pretty place and worth visiting, along with Camogli and Sann Fruttuoso. And if you take a boat, you should have a nice, relaxing day trip from Genoa to Portofino and back again.

Genoa to Portofino: Guide to the Perfect 3 Village Day Trip | almostginger.com

Genoa to Portofino: Guide to the Perfect 3 Village Day Trip | almostginger.com

Genoa to Portofino: Guide to the Perfect 3 Village Day Trip | almostginger.com

Genoa to Portofino: Guide to the Perfect 3 Village Day Trip | almostginger.com

Getting back to Genoa from Portofino

The last boat on our cruise departed Portofino at 16:50, and if you didn’t get that you were screwed. The boat will then dock at some other towns along the way, but you will be dropped off in Porto Antico where you started. Check your timetable for up to date departure times, and of course, ask the boat staff once you dock in Portofino if you are unsure about pick up times.

Genoa to Portofino: Guide to the Perfect 3 Village Day Trip | almostginger.com

And that’s my guide to a day trip from Genoa to Portofino! If you have ANY questions at all, don’t hesitate to leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you ASAP. 


Read next: 

What to do in Genoa, Italy: Perfect 3 Day Itinerary


Genoa to Portofino: Guide to the Perfect 3 Village Day Trip | Genoa Day Trip | Day trip to Portofino to Genoa | Visit Portofino | Genoa to Camogli, San Fruttuoso, Portofino | almostginger.com

11 thoughts on “Genoa to Portofino: Guide to the Perfect 3 Village Day Trip

  1. Denise Delio says:

    I’m traveling to Genoa and need a place to stay for 4 of us that’s close to boat to go to portafino going to be there for 3 days then I need to know what train to take to go to Florence. My son will be studying at Florence university of the arts. I need help

    • Rebecca says:

      Hi Denise! I really want to help you more with your query but I’m not a travel agent and I don’t know Genoa well enough.
      However, I can tell you that the boat leaves from Porto Antico and you can find apartments in Genoa on Airbnb, TripAdvisor or Expedia, which is where we found ours.

      I also know that trains to Florence depart from Genova Piazza Principe and you can search for train timetables here: https://www.thetrainline.com/trains/italy
      Florence is a common destination from Genoa and you can find direct, InterCity (fast) trains.

      Hope that helps and have an amazing time in Italy! 🙂

  2. Kimberly says:

    Hi Rebecca,
    Im headed over to Genova in September. Only staying 4 nights so was wondering have any recommendations on how to spend the time wisely. I definitely want to travel to Portofino either by boat or train not sure which yet. Side question, are there public restrooms around or do you have to purchase something before being able to use them?
    Thank You,
    First time Solo Traveler!

    • Rebecca says:

      Hi Kimberly,

      Thank you so much for your comment! 4 nights should definitely be enough time to explore the city and take a day trip somewhere else, and Portofino is a fantastic choice. So, there are definitely pros and cons to both train and boat. Train would definitely be cheaper and would allow you to have more time in Portofino if that’s what you want. Though you can’t get a train right to Portofino, you’d need to take a bus too. Boat will be more expensive but you’ll be able to see the beautiful Italian towns in the cliffs from the coastline. And actually, I’m not sure if you’d want to spend all day in Portofino. It’s *extremely* expensive (10€ for a bottle of beer, for example) and also very, very small. Taking a boat will mean you can see a couple more beautiful towns. But that’s up to you! You can also just go straight to Portofino on the same boat. Portofino does have at least two public restrooms (one right on the harbour, there’re signs) but they both charge a small fee (as most Italian restrooms do in touristy places!) so make sure you have a few 50 cent/1 euro coins just in case!
      Ahh good for you for solo travelling! That’s so awesome and you’re going to love Genoa and Portofino. I also have a 3-day itinerary for Genoa on my blog. It’s a bit jam-packed but you don’t have to do all the Palazzos, activities, etc. Just click on the search icon in my menu bar and search ‘what to do in Genoa’ to find it! 🙂

      • Kimberly says:

        Thank you so much for your speedy reply! I appreciate all the advice, very helpful. I’ll be sure to have a look at that blog!
        Thank you immensely!

  3. Alpa says:

    Hi Lovely little blog – We are going there for the weekend and I will definitely use your tips on our Portofino trip. Thank you

    • Rebecca says:

      Aw thank you so much for your kind words! I hope you have a fantastic time and don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any more questions!

  4. mum most travelled says:

    Hi and thanks for the info, that was a brilliant read, just what I needed. heading there next month solo and so excited. Def boating.

    • Rebecca says:

      Ah I’m so pleased you liked it! Let me know if you have any further questions, I’m happy to help 🙂

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