Portovenere, Italy: What to see in Liguria

Across the Ligurian Coast of Italy (Part 3 – Portovenere and La Spezia)

Report 19 . (About my trip in Northern Italy + Florence + Vienna and Prague). The beginning of the reports is HERE.

In the previous report, I told how I visited the towns of Portofino and Camoglie, located near Genoa, which you can read about – here – ” Along the Ligurian coast of Italy (Part 2.- Portofino and Camoglie).

The 12th day of the trip – July 22nd.

Early in the morning – July 22, I left Genoa by regional train (electric train) to relocate further south to the town of La Spezia, which is also in the Liguria region, but already on the border with Tuscany.

The train from Genoa to La Spezia was 1 hour and 10 minutes, and the ticket cost me 7 euros! I got off at the train station in La Spezia (pictured below) around 8 am.

-My hotel was across the street from the train station and it cost me 118 euros for 2 nights. To go down and up to the station you can take the free elevator, which is on the left side when you exit the station.

-So in such a 5-storey building was my hotel – Hotel Mary.

Since it was early – and there was no check-in, I left my belongings in the hotel luggage room and went out into town. My main goal for today was to see Portovenere.

Preparing for the trip I knew that I had to take bus number 11 to Portovenere. On the site “google maps” I identified the nearest bus stop, and 10 minutes later I was standing on it (see photo below).

-In 30 minutes the bus took me to Portovenere (pictured)

-Portovenere is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with over two thousand years of history. It was built on the site of a pagan temple of Venus and to this day boasts magnificent medieval temples and the mighty Doria Castle.

-Bus no. 11 takes you directly to the Portovenere promenade.

-You can get right at the bus stop with a map and the map of Portovenere but in general you can do without it, because all attractions are already visible from the quay and are located on a rock, which juts into the sea. So, to get lost will not work.

-In the town of Portovenere itself there are only about 4 thousand people living at the moment.

-I walked a hundred meters along the promenade from the bus stop to the ascent to the cape, where the church of St. Peter is located.

Following the Ligurian coast (Part 3 - Portovenere and La Spezia)

-The church of St. Peter was founded in 1196 (12th century), on the site of an early construction of the Etruscans – the Temple of Venus – from this ancient Etruscan temple and went the name of the town – Portovenere!

-From the church you can enjoy a splendid view of the Ligurian Sea and the coast – there, beyond the rock, you can see the famous park of Sincere Terre.

The statue of St. Peter is in the bottom photo.

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-The building was built in the Genoese architectural style – black and white stripes decorate the facade, arched windows and balconies that offer amazing views.

-From the church of St. Peter you can pass the remains of the fortress wall to go down to the sea, but to swim here is impossible – too sharp rocks and waves

-Bottom of the photo you can already see – on the mountain Doria Castle, to which I’ll start to climb soon.

-Bypassing the walls of the castle, I began to climb the opposite mountain from which was already opening a breathtaking view of St. Peter’s Church.

-This place was a favorite corner of Italy for Byron, Shelley, and Lawrence!

And this is what the cape looks like from the boat, if you take a walk – photo from the Internet (I did not go)

-In the Middle Ages, the cape of Portovenere belonged to the Fezzano family, one of the three families that govern the region where the Cinque Terre National Park is located. It was they who erected the church of St Peter, who was the patron saint of fishermen.

In 1113, all this Fezzano land was given to Genoa and the Genoese turned the cape into a reliably fortified town, enclosed by fortress walls. Only a small part of the city’s medieval fortifications has survived to this day.

-After walking through a small street with old houses and the remains of medieval fortifications, I climbed to the top.

-There is also the city cemetery of Portovenere.

-It was the home of the Doria family, one of Genoa’s most famous aristocratic families.

-The castle was built in the 12th century, and in 1458 it was extensively rebuilt, and is now as it was in the 15th century. Open from 10.30 to 17.30. The ticket is 5€.

-Going back you will see the second church of Portovenere, an important cathedral of the town, the church of St. Lawrence, founded by merchants from Genoa in 1098 (11th century) and is located on the place of a Roman temple dedicated to Jupiter. It has been restored several times and is therefore well preserved. Annually on August 17 there is the celebration of the White Madonna, patroness of Portovenere.

Inside the cathedral, which is small and divided by ancient columns into three naves

The photo shows the high altar of the cathedral.

On the right side of the main altar you can see the icon of Madonna Bianco (White Madonna).

The church evokes the spirit of the Middle Ages, as the inside has remained almost unchanged.

On the side walls of the church are paintings by Italian painters from the 17th century depicting the life of St. Lorenzo.

Entrance to the church is free and free of charge.

-Then I walked through the ancient streets down to the Portovenere promenade in the Bay of La Spezia.

-Long summer tunnels connect the main street of Portovenere, which is parallel to the shoreline, on a hill behind the houses.

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-There is also a small pier on the waterfront from which you can get Ferries to places like Lerici, La Spezia, Cinque Terre.

-From here you can also take a boat trip to see the town from the sea, the beautiful isle of Palmaria and the famous caves of the Azzurra where Byron liked to live. The tour lasts 40 minutes – the price of 10 euros.

-But time was short for me as always – too bad!

-I took bus no. 11 again (pictured below- its stop in Portovenere) and drove back to La Spezia

-And now a little about La Spezia itself – it’s one of the district centers of Liguria – the administrative center of the province, which is also called La Spezia. Traditionally, it’s considered the eastern tip of the Ligurian Riviera.

-The population of La Spezia is almost one hundred thousand people. It is one of the largest commercial and military bases in Italy, and is situated in the Bay of La Spezia of the same name.

-I chose La Spezia as my base – for two days – to explore the area around the city, especially Pisa, Cinque Terre and Portovenere. But two days is definitely not enough – now I would allocate at least 4 days!

There’s a lot to see in La Spezia as well – there are large medieval cathedrals (pictured below), but I only wandered around La Spezia in the evening and at snatches when I returned to it from my trips. La Spezia is quite an ancient city – it was home to a tribe of Ligurs that was conquered by Rome in the 2nd century B.C.

-The cathedral of La Spezia-let’s go inside.

Frescoes inside, both on the walls and on the dome.

-The city is compact and the streets are lined with oranges and no one is plucking them (see photo below).

-There is a large medieval castle of St. George – 13th century, but I did not have time and energy to get to him.

-But this day my journey was not over, I had to leave from La Spezia to visit the famous corner of the Ligurian Riviera – its pearl – National Park Cinque Terre, which consists of 5 medieval villages, which miraculously attached to the rocks, but about this in the final report on the Ligurian coast, as you can read here – “Along the Ligurian coast of Italy. (Part 4. – National Park Cinque Terre)”.

A series of materials “Independent travel in the North of Italy + Florence + Vienna + Prague.

Liguriaguide – Tourist Guide to Italy

Liguria is a region of Italy in the northwest of the country, washed by the Ligurian Sea. The administrative center is the city of Genoa. The most popular resorts are San Remo, Portofino, Portovenere, Santa Margherita Ligure, among others.

The region is also famous for its popular tourist spot, the Cinque Terre National Park, and its picturesque rocky coastline.

Portovenere 2022: how to reach, where to stay and what to see


Jump to section:

  • How to get to Portovenere
  • Where to stay in Portovenere
  • What to see in Portovenere
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How to get to Portovenere

Portovenere is a small fishermen’s town on the Ligurian Sea, very close to the port city of La Spezia and the Cinque Terre National Park. Along with the five villages of Cinque Terre, Portovenere is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, thanks to the unique monuments of history preserved here and is considered a popular tourist destination for visits and sightseeing.

You can reach Portovenere from Genoa or Milan with direct flights from Russia. There is no direct railway connection between these cities and Portovenere, which is most often used by tourists to travel around Liguria, so a train can only take you to the nearest towns to Portovenere, La Spezia or one of the villages of Cinque Terre, then you must change to a local bus or take a cab. Portovenere is just south of the Cinque Terre National Park, so it is often included in the itinerary of the park.



How to get to Portovenere from Genoa

The distance between the administrative center of Liguria, Genoa, and Portovenere is about 115 km. The two cities are connected by the highway A12/E80. In order to get to Portovenere from Genoa, you have to go first to La Spezia or to one of the villages of Cinque Terre (the nearest village to Portovenere is Corniglia). From Genoa to La Spezia and to the towns of Cinque Terre there are regional trains from Genoa Brignoli station. Travel time to La Spezia will be from 50 minutes to 1 hour 20 minutes, to Cinque Terre – from 1 hour 50 minutes to 2 hours 20 minutes.

Trains on this route run throughout the day. You can check the schedule and buy train tickets from Genoa either at the ticket offices of the railway station or on the railway service Raileurope . In the summertime you can also take a boat trip to explore the Ligurian coast by water. Sightseeing boats leave from the port of Genoa.

From La Spezia or the towns of Cinque Terre, you can get directly to Portovenere by city bus or by cab. The bus is cheaper and you can get tickets in advance from Tabakeria booths. The journey time is about 30 minutes from La Spezia and 40 minutes from Cinque Terre.


Irene Grassi/Portovenere

How to get to Portovenere from Milan

From Milan, you can get to Portovenere in a similar way: take the train to La Spezia or Cinque Terre, change to a bus or cab and get directly to Portovenere. Travel time from Milan to La Spezia by train is 3 to 4 hours, to Cinque Terre 3 to 3.5 hours. Check the train timetable and buy tickets from Milan either at the train station ticket offices or on the rail service Raileurope . Then take another 30 minutes by bus or cab to Portovenere.

You can also get to Portovenere from Milan or Genoa by renting a car. This option is suitable for those who have an international driver’s license. Rent a car in Milan is extremely developed and car rental offices can be found not only in all areas of the city, but also at the airport of arrival. Car rentals in Genoa are no less developed, and similar to Milan, rental offices are open both in the city center and at the airport of arrival.

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You can book the necessary class of car in advance at Rentalcars , Discover Cars , Autoeurope and other services. During the vacation season early booking will allow you to choose the best value for money option, because Genoa and Milan are popular tourist destinations.

Where to stay in Portovenere

Most hotels in Portovenere are either apartment hotels or bed and breakfasts, which is why most hotels in Portovenere do not have stars. There are no chain hotels in the town, most accommodation is family-run hotels and hotels for a small number of guests.

Grand Hotel Portovenere, 4 *: This four-star hotel Portovenere is located in the historic center on the seafront and has a terrace with sea views. The hotel offers its guests access to a private beach. Paid private parking is available nearby. Wi-Fi is free of charge in the entire hotel. There is a bar and a restaurant on the first floor of the hotel. For more information on availability and prices for specific dates, please go to Booking.com.

Affittacamere L’Oblò, 4*: This guest house offers cozy rooms, free wi-fi, luggage storage, and ticketing services. In single and double rooms you can find everything you need: TV, safe, hairdryer, minibar, wireless Internet. The rooms have a view of the city sights. For more information about availability and prices for specific dates of stay at the hotel, please visit Booking.com .

Residence I Gabbiani, 3*: These apartments are located within walking distance from the beach. The city center is 1,5 km from Residence I Gabbiani. There are stores and restaurants nearby. Free Wi-Fi and free parking are available. Rooms are divided into studios and apartments. The balconies of the rooms offer sea views. For more information on availability and prices for specific dates, please visit Booking.com.

Hotel Della Baia 3*: the hotel is located in De La Grazia Bay. The hotel has a restaurant and a bar. Guests can stay in single, double, triple or quadruple rooms. The type of food offered is breakfast or half board (included in the room rate). Some rooms have a view of the sea. Wi-Fi is available throughout the hotel free of charge. Public parking is available nearby for a fee. Luggage storage services are available at the front desk. For more information on availability and prices for specific dates, go to Booking.com .

Residence Le Terrazze 3*: this aparthotel is located on the seafront and overlooks the Bay of Poets. It offers a bar, an outdoor pool and a private beach. You can stay in double, triple rooms or apartments. Breakfast is an optional extra charge. Wi-Fi is available throughout the hotel free of charge. Private on-site parking is available for an additional fee. The beach has umbrellas, sun loungers and towels are available. For more information about availability and rates for specific dates, visit Booking.com .

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What to see in Portovenere

Portovenere has a number of notable historic monuments, including the city gate, several churches and an ancient medieval castle. Apart from trips to the historic sites and the promenade along the coast, Portovenere offers a non-trivial activity, namely a tour of its islands, either on foot or by boat, surrounded by water caves.

Historical attractions of Portovenere

Once in Portovenere, its central historic street Capellini is a must-see. The street starts from the ancient gate and the tower of the town (dating back to the 12th century) and continues through the old houses with cobbled lanes. The place is considered colorful and filled with the spirit of history. In the center of the town the ancient church of St. Lorenzo (also built in the 12th century) has been preserved. Despite its “advanced” years, the church has managed to retain its medieval authenticity, and its appearance has remained virtually unchanged.



The central point of interest in Portovenere is Doria Castle, built in the 13th century and owned by the family of the same name. The castle is located on a hill and is open to the public. It offers the best views of the sea and the town at the foot of the castle, so all guidebooks strongly recommend not to miss it.

The church of San Pietro is some distance from the center of Portovenere, romantically rising on a promontory above the sea. Its construction dates from the end of the 12th century, but despite its age, the church is perfectly preserved and is now open to tourists.


ho visto nina volare / Portovenere

A walk to the islands

The islands belonging to Portovenere are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and can be explored from the water as well as through hiking trails. Boat excursions are held regularly in the summer from Portovenere harbor. Such excursions include a walk to all three islands, as well as a tour of the grottoes of the largest island, Palmeria.

To walk around Palmeria on foot, you can use the ferry, which will take you to the island in a few minutes. The most popular trail, lasting 2.5 hours, includes a visit to the village of Pozzale and Terrizzo, an external inspection of the fort and fortress of the island (closed to the public). The Palmeria hiking trail is famous for its landscapes and mesmerizing views of the sea and Portovenere.


ho visto nina volare/grottes of Palmeria

We’ll be happy to answer your questions in the comments!

Going on a trip to Italy, do not forget to take out a travel insurance policy, which is compulsory at the stage of obtaining a tourist visa. The insurance policy can be taken out yourself, without leaving home. There are special services for this purpose, such as Tripinsurance, Cherehapa, and others. You can purchase the policy online, and then print it out on an ordinary printer.

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