Experience the beauty of Portofino, an exclusive seaside village, situated only an hour away from the Cinque Terre. This jewel of the Italian Riviera was the favorite of the rich and famous during its 1950s heyday. Portofino is today one of the most popular seaside resorts along the Riviera and a worthwhile half-day excursion.

portofino harbor portofino square portofino harbor

Portofino can be reached by ferry from Santa Margherita Ligure, Rapallo, Camogli, Cinque Terre and Genoa. The closest train station is in Santa Margherita Ligure, where there's a bus to Portofino from the station. In summer it's usually very crowded and driving and parking can be difficult.

The half-moon shaped harbor is filled with summer yachts and odd fishing boats and lined with outlets of Gucci, Pucci, Hermès and Louis Vuitton, seafood restaurants, cafes and luxury hotels.

Despite Portofino's small size there are several other attractions. Portofino's crystalline green waters are great for swimming, diving, and boating. There are also opportunities for hiking in the area.

Things to see:

• The medieval castle Castello Brown on the top of the hill with a charming view over the Gulf of Portofino and the harbour. The castle dating from the 16th century is surrounded by a Mediterranean garden featuring a wealth of flowers, rose-gardens and pergolas.

Museo del Parco, a terraced sculpture garden near the castle overlooking the harbour and filled with modern artworks, open June to September.

Church of San Giorgio lies almost in the centre of the promontory and was built during 12th century but rebuilt after the damages of the last war. A tombstone reminds that St. George's relics were brought by the Crusaders in the eleventh century.

Portofino Regional Park with a number of good hiking trails both along the coast and on inland routes, many offering spectacular views.

Abbey of San Fruttuoso built in the 11th century is situatedon the other side of the peninsula, reached from Portofino by a 2-hour walk or by boat. Under the water near San Fruttuoso is a huge bronze statue of Christ, Cristo degli Abissi, protector of sailors and divers.