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Portofino From Milan (Detailed guide on a self-guided day trip from Milan to Portofino)

Portofino From Milan. View of Portofino

Portofino is a colourful and beautiful Italian village located on the wonderful Ligurian coasts of Italy. It is one of the most picturesque villages in Italy and is often referred to as one of the most romantic places in Italy. The village of Portofino is elegantly settled on the peninsula where colourful houses are lined along the coasts overlooking the tiny harbour thus forming a picture-perfect frame.

Portofino is an exotic Italian holiday destination and a prominent one among the world’s jet sets. Therefore, it is full of world-class hotels, private yachts floating around the harbour and luxury cars. Portofino is also featured in popular Hollywood films like Wolf of Wall Street.

Portofino is around 170 km from Milan, however, still, a comfortable day trip to Portofino from Milan is possible, thanks to the fine network and frequencies of trains to Portofino from Milan. This article is focused on a perfect self-guided day trip to Portofino from Milan including how to reach Portofino, what to expect in Portofino, where to eat in Portofino and what to see in Portofino including Portofino Village, beautiful San Frittuoso, Chiesa di San Giorgio, Castello Brown and Faro di Portofino.


Let's start our day trip to Portofino from Milan!

How to reach Portofino from Milan?

Portofino From Milan. Tran station for Portofino

Portofino can be easily reached from Milan by train and car.

By train (from Milan to Santa Margarita Ligure-Portofino): 

For a day trip to Portofino from Milan, try to leave as early as possible to have more time to explore Portofino.  The direct trains depart to Portofino (S. Margherita Ligure-Portofino) at 6.10 AM, 7.25 AM, 8.05 AM from the Milano Centrale train station, 8.21 AM from Milano Rogoredo train station and 8.22 AM from Milano Porta Garibaldi train station.

For a day trip to Portofino from Milan, it is recommended to catch one of these trains from Milan central station: 7.25 AM, 8.05 AM which will drop you to S. Margherita Ligure-Portofino at around 10 AM.

From S. Margherita Ligure-Portofino, you need to catch a shuttle bus number 782 to Portofino which takes around 15 to 20 Minutes to reach. You can buy a return bus ticket at the ticket store at the exit of the train station.

Pro tip:  Portofino is 5 KM away from S. Margherita Ligure and the bus goes through the scenic coastal route. To get the best views, it is recommended to get down at the bus stop Castello Paraggi and then walk towards Portofino. It is a 2-kilometre-long scenic coastal route with numerous viewpoints. (NOTE: The route is too narrow to pass 2 vehicles, therefore be cautious while walking)

By Car: 

Portofino can be easily reached from Milan by car through the route A7. Portofino is around 170 km from Milan and the journey will take around 2 hours and 45 minutes. However, if you are a new driver or even a new driver in Italy, it is recommended not to drive especially the final patch between Santa Margarita Ligure to Portofino where the road is too narrow to pass 2 vehicles.

A paid car park is available at the entrance of Portofino at Piazza Martiri della Liberta which costs around 5.5 Euros per Hour. Otherwise, you can also park your car in Santa Margarita Ligure and reach Portofino by bus.

Guided Day trips to Portofino from Milan:

If you don’t wish to have a self-guided day trip to Portofino from Milan, then you can also choose guided day trips to Portofino from Milan operated by private tour agencies. During the guided tour, you don’t have to worry about anything, everything will be taken care of by tour agencies including your transport in the private shared vehicle and a well-planned itinerary accompanied by a knowledgeable guide.  

Private transport to Portofino from Milan Malpensa Airport:

If you are visiting Portofino from Milan Malpensa Airport, then you can also book provide transfer from the Airport to Portofino.

Explore the Harbour of Portofino (Piazza Martiri dell’Olivetta)

Portofino From Milan. View of Portofino Harbour

The bus will drop you at the bus stop at Piazza della Liberta in Portofino. You need to walk towards the harbour of Portofino called Piazza Martiri dell’Olivetta. The route passes through the boutique shops and colourful buildings. As soon as you reach the harbour, you will surely take out your camera to capture the picture-perfect frame of colourful buildings overlooking the sea. The colourful floating boats and luxury yachts steal the show. 

Note: Since Portofino is getting overcrowded by tourists, the Commune or Municipality of Portofino has imposed a Euro 275 fine for people stopping to take photos at the designated areas at the harbour specifically the square and the platforms around the harbour. Nevertheless, you can take a quick photograph and move ahead but you are not allowed to stop for a long time.  

Take all the time you need to explore the harbour and then head towards the ferry terminal to catch the ferry to San Fruttuoso.  The ferry terminal is located at the end of the Harbour.

Ferry from Portofino to San Fruttuoso

Portofino From Milan. Ferry boat

Following is a typical schedule for ferries between Portofino and San Fruttuoso:-

Summer timetable (from May to September):

During the summer period, the ferry runs every hour starting from 10.30 AM to 5.30 PM from Portofino to San Fruttuoso and 11.30 AM to 5.30 PM from San Fruttuoso to Portofino.

Autumn and Spring timetable (October to November and Mid-March to April):

During Autumn months, the ferry runs every hour starting from 10.30 AM to 3.30 PM from Portofino to San Fruttuoso and 11.30 AM to 4.30 PM from San Fruttuoso to Portofino.

Winter timetable (December to February or Mid-March):

It is important to note that the ferry to San Fruttuoso is closed during the winter period (from December to February or mid-March) with few exceptions during the holiday period. During the winter holiday period from December 26 to January 6, the ferry departs once a day between Portofino and San Fruttuoso.

The ferry timetables usually change every year, therefore, before planning a day trip to Portofino from Milan, always Check the latest timetable of the ferry and plan your schedule.

Note: During bad weather, the ferries can get cancelled at the last moment.  Therefore, always check the weather before visiting Portofino from Milan.

Fare: In the year 2024, the ferry costs 15 Euros per adult for the round trip from Portofino to San Fruttuoso.  Children up to 5 years old and pets can travel for free.

 Explore San Fruttuoso:

Portofino From Milan. View of San Fruttuoso

San Fruttuoso is the best and must-visit place for your day trip to Portofino from Milan. San Fruttuoso is a unique place hidden between the mountains with no road connectivity and therefore can only be reached by Ferry boats or by hiking through the national park.  San Fruttuoso is a tiny fishing village with very few houses and home to the beautiful Romanesque abbey of San Fruttuoso, a wonderful pebbled beach and submerged statue of Christ of Abyss. This tiny and quiet village is hidden between the lush green Mount Portofino overlooking the beautiful blue sea. The abbey of San Fruttuoso located at the beach forms a beautiful picture-perfect frame.

Due to the very silent setting of the area where the only sound you hear is birds and sea, the Abbey of San Fruttuoso was initially built as a meditation or monastic complex in the 10th century by Greek monks. Later, in the 13th century, the ownership of the complex was taken over by the Doria Family who later transformed the complex several times. In 1562, the transformation was completed and the shape of the Abbey we see today was formed. The Abbey was owned by the Doria Family until 1983 when they donated the Abbey to the FAI (FAI is a non-profit organisation that works to preserve the historic heritage of Italy). Today the Abbey is open for the public to visit. 

Portofino From Milan. Boats in San Fruttuoso

Just a few meters from the beach in the waters, you will find the submerged statue of Christ at a depth of 15 meters in the sea. To see it clearly, you will need to dive in the water. Nevertheless, you can see the statue while floating in the small boats that take you to the waters above the statue. They have a lens attached to the boat so that you can have sight of the statue from the boat, it is not clear, but if you want to see it, then why not? The small boats usually charge around 5 to 10 euros per person.

If you want to swim, the beach of San Fruttuoso is one of the best in Italy, or you can simply lay down and soak in the sun amidst the soothing melody of mother nature. In fact, it will be an interesting thing to do during your day trip to Portofino from Milan. Remember to carry swimwear and towels with you.

After you explore San Fruttuoso, head back to the ferry terminal to catch the return ferry to Portofino. Ferries depart to Portofino once every hour, therefore, plan your time in San Fruttuoso accordingly.

Pro Tip: San Fruttuoso has very few restaurants and they are comparatively expensive. Therefore, it's better to have your lunch in Portofino instead of San Fruttuoso.

Where to eat in Portofino:

As soon as you have arrived in Portofino from San Fruttuoso, you must be already hungry. Portofino has many options to eat amidst the views of the harbour and most of them specialise in seafood. The restaurant Trattoria Tripoli is the most recommended one if you wish to eat at the harbour. They serve a variety of delicious Italian cuisines specialising in seafood.

After your delicious meal, it’s time to stroll again, head towards the Chiesa di San Giorgio (Or church of San Giorgio) to continue your day trip to Portofino from Milan.

Chiesa di San Giorgio

Portofino from Milan. Chiesa di San Giorgio

You will need to hike a little to reach the Chiesa di San Giorgio. Next to the ferry terminal, you will find stairs towards the right side, take the stairs and walk towards the Chiesa di San Giorgio. Follow the direction boards for the correct path to Chiesa di San Giorgio since the path intersects in two, one goes towards Castello Brown and one towards Chiesa. You will reach Chiesa di San Giorgio in around 15 Minutes.

Chiesa di San Giorgio is just a small church; however, you will get great views of the Portofino from one side and the gigantic sea from the other.  You can also visit the cemetery located just behind the church.

Take your souvenir pictures at the Chiesa and then head towards Castello Brown.

Castello Brown

Portofino from Milan. view of Castello Brown

From Chiesa di San Giorgio, follow the signboards heading towards Castello Brown or Al Faro. Castello Brown is located just a 5 to 10-minute walk away from Chiesa San Giorgio.

Castello Brown is a Middle Ages castle built by Genoese rulers to defend the region. Later it underwent many transformations in the era of Genoese rulers. In the year 1867, the English consul named Montague Brown took ownership of the castle who later built the picturesque terrace for his wedding ceremony. The castle remained in control of the Consul’s son after the death of the consul in 1905 who later sold it to the Baber family in year 1949. The Baber family used the castle as a Civil residence. Finally, in the year 1961, the castle was bought by the Municipality of Portofino. In the present day, the castle is open for visitors and also used for different public and private events.

The entrance to the castle costs 5 Euros per adult and is free for children under 12 years of age.

The terrace of castle brown offers the best views of Portofino. Take all the time you need to explore Castello Brown then head towards Faro di Portofino.

Faro di Portofino

Portofino from Milan. view of Faro di Portofino

Faro di Portofino will be our last destination during the day trip to Portofino from Milan. If you have time left after Castello brown, you can choose to visit Faro di Portofino which is a lighthouse located at the extreme end of the Peninsula. If you don’t have time left, then you can head back to the Portofino by skipping Faro di Portofino.

Faro di Portofino houses a restaurant and bar with a terrace that offers the most beautiful views of the sea from 3 sides. It’s a good location to have an aperitif with mesmerising views of the sea. On the way to Faro from Castello Brown, you will find multiple viewpoints which will surely make you take out your camera for pictures.

Faro di Portofino is around a 10-minute walk away from Castello Brown. Once you are done with your aperitif amidst the views, walk back to Portofino village which will take around 20 Minutes to reach.

Shopping in Portofino

We have visited the best of Portofino for a day trip to Portofino from Milan. Before going back to Milan, you can do your souvenir shopping in the boutique shops for clothing, accessories, souvenirs and crafts near the Portofino Harbour.

After the shopping, head back to the bus stop to catch the return bus to Santa Margherita Ligure.

Activities in Portofino:

Portofino from Milan. Kayaking in Portofino

If you don’t wish to follow a self-guided Itinerary given in this article for a day trip to Portofino from Milan, then you can also join any of the activities operated by private agencies in Portofino:-

Kayak Tour in Portofino 

1.5 to 2.5 hours of Kayaking experience in the sea accompanied by instructor. You will also have an option for Snorkelling during the Kayak tour.

 Snorkelling Tour

1-hour snorkelling tour in Paraggi Bay of Portofino accompanied by a professional instructor.

Portofino Walking tour:

If you want to learn about the maritime history of Portofino village then you can also join a private group walking tour in Portofino. The tour will last for around 1.5 hours.

Return journey to Milan from Portofino

By Trains:

In the evening hours, the trains from Margherita Ligure to Milan depart at 17.46, 18.07, 19.11 and 19.46. The last direct train departs at 19.46 from Portofino.

The train journey back to Milan from Margherita Ligure takes approximately 2 hours and 30 Minutes.

By Car:

Take the same route via A7 to head back to Milan from Portofino.  

We hope that you liked this article. Let us know in the comment section if you have any comments about exploring Portofino or any other places in Italy and Europe. We will be very happy to help you.

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