Your Guide To The Best of Italy – Santa Margherita & Portofino (Part 2)
Santa Margherita and Portofino
These gorgeous places that few people know about are what I like to call the “Amalfi coast cheaper and prettier alternative”.
2.1 Getting there
From Florence Santa Maria Novella station take a train to Genova that goes via Santa Margherita. The price varies depending on the times and the number of transfer you’re willing to make. In general with one transfer at Pisa or La Spezia, you’re looking at €30 for a single ticket but I paid just over €18 with a transfer at both Pisa and La Spezia. The journey duration varies but in most cases you’ll be looking at anything between 3 to 3.5 hours for a single journey (but it’s so much worth it). Once you finally get to Santa Margherita station, you’ll be pleased to know that it’s right in the center so you’ll definitely be able to walk to your Airbnb with no need to factor in any additional transfer costs.
Sleep in Santa Margherita and only do a daily trip to Portofino. It’s way too expensive to stay in Portofino. Now, this is probably the best tip I can give you on Santa Margherita, here it goes … if you can get an Airbnb on the hill. This is the one place you don’t want to be staying in the center. It’s busy and noisy because most people go around in motorcycles but most importantly, the view! The view from the top will stop your pulse for a second because it’s literally inexplicable. If you don’t see the view from the top of the hills, as if you’ve not seen Santa Margherita, honestly! And don’t worry Google maps will say you’ll have to walk for 40 min from the center of Santa Margherita to the top of the hill but that’s thankfully a lie because there’s a nice shortcut just on the right side of the train station (you’ll see a couple of bridges going over the train tracks, you gotta go on them and up). The places on the hill are not many and go quickly, so if you can’t get a place there, at least walk to the top and indulge in the views, especially towards sunset. But bear in mind that once you see those views, you might not wanna go back home 😀
2.3 Must do’s
Daily trip to Portofino
Portofino is a very small cute but also quite posh village just 5km away from Santa Margherita. It’s reachable by bus 82 which departs from Santa Margherita train station (its cheaper by €1 to get your ticket at the station rather than on the bus) and will take about 20min to reach Portofino. You can also get a ferry for €7 from the main port in Santa Margherita but my best advise (and what I did) is to walk to Portofino. I know you may think that’s crazy but trust me, the route to Portofino is so beautiful you’ll want to stop for a picture every 2 min. You might have heard of the famous red carpet (yes actual red carpet) that goes all the way from Santa Margherita to Portofino. It will nicely guide you all the way from the center of Santa Margheritaright to the middle of Portofino. Honestly do the walk on the way there, you’ll be a bit tired but it’s sooo so worth it and you’ll save up €1.50 on a single bus ticket as well! Win win 😀 On the way back you can get the ferry or the bus, whichever you fancy 🙂 I took the ferry and that was quite nice as I could take some pretty pictures but do note that it’s quite a quick ferry that takes about 10min so it’s not exactly a nice slow trip on the water (like I expected). I almost forgot … you can also rent a bike from Santa Margherita train station and cycle to Portofino and back.
If you’re travelling on a budget, I’d suggest not to plan to have a lunch in Portofino. It’s super expensive with only a few pricey restaurants and as far I could see there’s nowhere you can grab something quick to go so grab some snack before you go over 🙂
Go to the beach in Santa Margherita and Paraggi
You gotta go to the beach and most importantly you gotta try out both the beach in Santa Margherita and the one in Paraggi which you’ll see on the way to Portofino.
The sea is extremely clean, so clean you’ll be swimming with the fish. It’s amazing! If you prefer a stone beach, Santa Margherita is your place to lie down and sunbathe but if you’re a sand beach person, you’ll fall in love with the beach in Paraggi. Both beaches have free zones, i.e. you can just lay down your towel and enjoy. But you might have to think about getting a beach umbrella because these will cost you if you want to rent them out. I personally just went for a few hours on both beaches and with some good sun cream on, I didn’t burn at all 🙂 Paraggi is about 4km away from Santa Margherita and yes I know it’s far but again, it’s well worth it! You’ll see on the way to Portofino 😛
Get active and try some (cheap) water activities
When you go to Paraggi, just 5min up the road there is an outdoor center called Outdoor Portofino that offers kayak, surfing, wind snorkeling and stand up paddle boarding. They do lessons and tours but you can just rent out any of them for just €10 per hour. Quite cheap right! So experiment with yourself, give something different a go. I did SUP and I loved it. I did fall a few times but that’s what made it so much fun so give it a go. To see what else the center offers check out their website at http://www.outdoorportofino.com/
Have some pizza from IL Delphino, Santa Margherita
Right in the center of Santa Margherita, the pizza that these guys make is probably the thinnest and largest I’ve ever had. It’s so yummy, I had to have some twice 😀 They don’t have a lot of tables where you can sit down and enjoy your treat but you can easily take it away. There might be a slight wait because a lot of people seem to have realized how good their pizza is but again, when it’s worth it, you wait and that’s ok 😛 So don’t pass by before giving it a try!
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