The Italian Riviera - Portofino, Santa Margherita, Rapallo

Updated: Sep 15



The Italian Riviera is located in the region of Liguria and is a narrow coastal strip that stretches along the Ligurian Sea from the Italian-French border in the north to the Tuscan border and Gulf of La Spezia in the south.


It's one of the most picturesque destinations in Italy that enchants with its breathtaking scenery, relaxing ambiance, mild climate, charming old fishing ports, colorful villages, delicious cuisine, pristine beaches and clear blue waters.


  • Some of the most popular places along the Italian Riviera include:


Ventimiglia, Sanremo, Alassio, Savona, Genoa, Portofino, Santa Margherita Ligure, Rapallo, Sestri Levante, and Cinque Terre.


Travelling along the Riviera is easy as there is a convenient railway line along the coast with stops at most of the places. You can also use bus or ferry services, and of course a car.

The nearest airport is Genoa's, though you can also land in Pisa or Florence and extend your journey by visiting these two beautiful and popular Italian cities, and then take a train or car and go to the Riviera.





  • Portofino is one of the most popular and charming towns on the Italian Riviera.


A fishing village in the past, nowadays Portofino is a famous, high-end resort that attracts many celebrities and people from the art spheres of life.


The place is best known for its picturesque harbor that hosts luxury yachts and fishing boats, and colorfully painted buildings lined along the shore.


The central part of the village is a small cobbled square that overlooks the harbor and is filled with highly-priced seafood restaurants and cafés. Luxury boutiques, upscale world brands and expensive luxury hotels are also well presented in the streets of Portofino.








To enjoy breathtaking panoramic views and to make stunning photos take the path uphill towards the Castello Brown, a 16th-century fortress and the beautiful Church of Saint George.







Castello Brown

The best way to get to Portofino is by water - taxi boat or ferry services.

There are regular ferry services from Santa Margherita and Rapallo and for the 15-20 min ride you can enjoy splendid seashore scenery and beauty.

Note that Portofino doesn't have a train station and the other option to get there is by road - car or bus, but as far as I know, the road is very slow and parking in Portofino can be difficult and expensive.








  • Santa Margherita Ligure is another beautiful town along the Italian Riviera.


It's located in the Gulf of Tigullio between Rapallo and Portofino, and about 30 km south from Genoa.


The place boasts a beautiful seafront promenade where you can take a long walk at leisurely pace and marvel at the beautiful pastel-colored houses and elegant villas on the hills.






In Santa Margherita you can dine at the plenty of restaurants and cafés or head to the beach and enjoy the view of the beautiful marina with fancy yachts and boats.


The main highlights worth seeing are the statues of Vittorio Emanuelle II and Christopher Columbus.





From Santa Margherita you may take a day trip to nearby destinations - the picturesque San Fruttuoso monastery, the resorts of Camogli and Rapallo, Genoa, and the Cinque Terre.

Ferries to Portofino and other destinations depart from Piazza Martiri della Liberta.






  • Heading further down to south towards Cinque Terre you will reach Rapallo.


Rapallo is the largest seaside resort on the Italian Riviera and is an excellent base for exploring the region. The town is well connected by public transport and it is served by a railway station.

You can also find and book moderately priced hotels here.


Like the other villages on the Italian Riviera, Rapallo is a scenic place with a beautiful marina home to opulent yachts, and a seaside promenade lined with palm trees that is ideal for your relaxing walks.


The colorful architecture will grab your attention with buildings being painted in attractive colors and elegant villas spread across the steep hillsides.


Plenty of cafés and excellent seafood restaurants will welcome you to spend a pleasant time and have a delicious meal.







The main attraction of Rapallo is the 16th-century Castello sul Mare (Castle-on-the-Sea). The small and beautiful castle on the sea was built in 1551 to guard against pirate attacks.



You may also take a stroll through the pedestrianized shopping streets in the historical center and see the Basilica of Sts. Gervasius and Protasius with its leaning bell tower.


Another great option to spend your time is to take the cable railway ( funivia ) from Piazza Solari to Montallegro and admire the breathtaking views of the gulf and hills.









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More photos of the Italian Riviera