The peninsula of Portofino is a beautiful gem on the Italian Riviera coastline. This part of Liguria is a perfect weekend retreat for nature lovers and it offers great alternatives for hiking in stunning landscapes.
Compared to the national park of Cinque Terre, which is located only 50 km south-east, the peninsula and national park of Portofino is equally beautiful but much more quiet and peaceful. Especially during high season Cinque Terre can be severely overcrowded, which has led to a situation where annual visitor restrictions are considered. More about that in my blog post “Cinque Terre is Best in the Spring”.
Admittedly, the village of Portofino is also a famous attraction, particularly among wealthy tourists. Here you’ll find many high-end boutiques and expensive seafood restaurants and the harbor is lined with super-yachts. Everything is expensive in Portofino and I recommend you find accommodation elsewhere, for example in Camogli.
Camogli is located on the west side of the Portofino peninsula and it’s a lot more down to earth compared to Portofino. The houses are painted with bright colors and the picturesque harbor area is filled with nice restaurants and bars. Originally the bright colors had a practical purpose, because they allowed fishermen to easily spot their homes from the sea.
It’s possible to hike from Camogli to Portofino along the coastline during one day. The terrain is hilly and along the route you’ll have many sharp ascents and steep downhills.
First milestone will be the village of San Rocco, which rises 221 meters above sea level. From there you’ll descend to Punta Chiappa, which is located on the south-west tip of the peninsula. The 180° view is stunning and it's no surprise that Punta Chiappa has been important from a military perspective. Here you’ll find an old artillery installation called the Batteria di Punta Chiappa.
Between Punta Chiappa and Portofino lies a beautiful bay with turquoise-colored water. This charming place is called San Fruttuoso and there you’ll find a beach, a few restaurants and an old Catholic abbey. It’s a good spot for taking a break and filling up your water bottles.
Be aware that there are two alternative paths from Punta Chiappa to San Fruttuoso. The path along the coastline is the harder one, where you occasionally have to get across tricky places while hanging on to a chain. Should you lose your grip you’d face a long and deadly fall down on the cliffs. From San Fruttuoso to Portofino the trek is much easier.
For accommodation I can recommend a place called Stella Maris, which is situated right next to Punta Chiappa. It’s an old hotel built on ancient monastery ruins, but equipped with most of the typical hotel comforts. Prices are affordable and there’s even an atmospheric restaurant, which serves traditional Ligurian fish dishes.
The view from the hotel terrace is unbelievable and you can witness some amazing sunsets. You reach the hotel by walking (1 - 1.5 h) from the Camogli train station, but if you have heavy luggage the connection ferry from Camogli harbor is a better and much faster choice.