The small fishing village of Portofino, right on the Italian Riviera, is a devastatingly beautiful travel destination—that writers and historians have long celebrated—and frolicked in. Portofino’s spectacular scenery ranges from the hair-raising—to the calm and tranquil. The picturesque scenes at almost every turn will make one experience alternating ranges of emotions in intense, nerve-tingling gushes. A visit to this seaside paradise is undoubtedly rewarding, if not downright therapeutic.

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Yet while Portofino, one of the prettiest destinations in Italy—is worth every dime and nickel, Portofino itself is a little pricey, especially in the main part of town. Here’s why.

Why Is Portofino An Expensive Travel Destination?

For some perspective, an Espresso coffee in Rome goes for about a dollar. In many places, one can get it for less. On the other hand, Espresso coffee at an average Portofino restaurant will go for about 3-4 dollars. That’s almost three times. And it’s not just coffee. Gelato, one of Italy’s most sought-after culinary offerings—will follow that trend. As will croissants. They’ll cost about twice the country’s average. Well, someone may say these are snacks. Full meals may be cheap in Portofino, and hence a tad gentler on the wallet. The truth is, restaurant prices in Portofino are just as expensive. Lunch at a Portofino restaurant for a solo traveler will go for about $50. Of course, in the central square, What Italians call Piazzetta, one may even pay more. It boils down to the type of restaurant, the menu or food pick—and the location. At the La Terrazza, a dinner consisting of Piedmont beef rib, sprinkled with Bearnaise Sauce, taken together with grilled Belgian endive and some pieces of sweet potato, will go for €70.

And it’s not just the food. For those seeking accommodation in Portofino, the least that one can work with is about $50 per night. In many cases, hotel prices in Portofino will range from $80 to $120. Yet even in this price range, competition is stiff and prices tend to respond by moving upwards, especially in summer. At the Hotel Piccolo Portofino, one of the most affordable hotels in the town, accommodation for a night is about $50, of course, depending on the room and the season.

And when it comes to parking a car in Portofino, the problem is not just about the cost. Let’s just say finding a parking space in Portofino is—for lack of a better word—difficult. One can go round in endless circles, and still miss space. Or, even if one gets space, paying €5.5 per hour as a parking fee in Piazza Della Libertà, one of only two parking areas within the attractive city, is not many people’s idea of affordability. The truth is, the city of Portofino is a nightmare when it comes to both the availability and affordability of parking spaces. This is because authorities discourage the use of cars. In the heart of the city, cars aren’t even allowed.

Still, there’s a way to take in the charm of this wonderland, without breaking the bank. Here’s how to do it.

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Best Places To Stay In While On A Visit To Portofino

Of course, Portofino is relatively small. A packed hour or two—is all one may need to take a look at the popular attractions. However, Portofino is not just about natural or historical attractions to be seen or explored, but a memorable experience to savor. And for this, pitching tent somewhere slightly out of the city— may not only be more convenient, but also more affordable. And as we’ve seen, most hotels in Portofino are expensive. This is because most of them are luxury hotels that cater to the Kourtney Kardashians and Sienna Millers of the celebrity world. Travelers should therefore consider alternative locations from which to access Portofino easily. One of these is Santa Margherita Ligure. Of all the surrounding cities, this charming little town is the closest to Portofino, and home to the nearest train station. Interestingly, Santa Margherita Ligure is a transit town to Portofino, and hence, for those headed there, a must-pass. Unlike Portofino, Santa Margherita Ligure has many hotels in the $50-$100 price range. Even if some of these hotels may not have the alluring sea-views of the Portofino seaside resorts and villas, they are just as enjoyable.

  • What Is The Distance From Portofino To Santa Margherita Ligure? The distance from Portofino to Santa Margherita Ligure is 4.3 miles and takes about 19 minutes by car.

San Lorenzo Della Costa, a 21-minute drive to Portofino—in the outskirts of the larger Santa Margherita Ligure area—is also a dream retreat. This small village has almost the same charming feel as Portofino and is even more laid-back and slow-paced. It’s a fine area from which to explore Portofino. The village of Nozarego, also within Santa Margherita Ligure, is just as good.

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Aside from Santa Margherita Ligure, the seaside town of Camogli, about 8.5 miles from Portofino on the northwestern side—is an attractive stay-over. From Camogli, one can find his way to Portofino by either train or ferry. There’s a broad variety of accommodation options at Camogli which will cater to every taste and pocket. There’s also Rapallo, the largest town in the area—and Sestri Levante, which sits between Portofino and Cinque Terre. For accommodation facilities, both these towns will rarely disappoint.

From whichever base or angle, Portofino is still worth a visit. The limited luxury hotels within it—should never hinder what should otherwise be a fairy-tale experience.