Portovenere, Liguria: What to see and do in a day

Porto Venere, a picturesque corner of the world that embraces you with its unique charm, is a perfect example of a destination that combines natural beauty and history. Located in the Italian region Liguria, this resort boasts dreamy landscapes, narrow cobblestone streets, and impressive medieval architecture.

When you enter Porto Venere, you are greeted by the colorful houses, typical of the area, that line the sea, creating a lively and photogenic picture. The Basilica of St. Peter, perched on a rocky promontory, offers a spectacular view of the Mediterranean Sea. No wonder this place has been a source of inspiration for poets such as Lord Byron.


Where Portovenere is located

Portovenere is a picturesque town located in the Liguria region of northwestern Italy. It is located on the coast of the Gulf of Poets, in the southeastern part of Liguria, on the border with Tuscany. The town is about 11 kilometers south of La Spezia, a larger city and the main access point for those wishing to visit Portovenere.

How to reach Portovenere from Milan

The journey from Milan to Porto Venere is a pleasant experience, a journey that takes you from the heart of the urban agglomeration to the idyllic tranquility and beauty of the Ligurian coast.

By car: The most direct way to get from Milan to Porto Venere is by car, which takes about 2 hours and 30 minutes and covers a distance of about 200 kilometers. The main road is the A7 highway towards Genoa, followed by the A12 highway towards Livorno and then the SS1 Aurelia towards La Spezia and Porto Venere.

By Train: Another option is to travel by train. Although there is no direct connection between Milan and Porto Venere, you can take a train from Milan to La Spezia. From there, you can continue by bus or cab to Porto Venere. The train journey takes about 3 hours, depending on connections, while it takes about 30 minutes by bus from La Spezia to Porto Venere.

Boating: If you are in another town on the Italian Riviera, such as Cinque Terre or Lerici, you can take a boat to Portovenere. It is a pleasant way to travel and enjoy the scenery.

How to get to Portovenere and where to park

Especially in the high season, I do not recommend using a car to reach Portovenere, both because of the winding and busy roads and the hard-to-find and rather expensive parking lots.

Therefore, my advice is to arrive in La Spezia, park your car in a free parking lot and then get off at Portovenere by bus. The trip takes about 30 minutes.

Where to park in Portovenere:

  1. Public Parking: There are several public parking lots in Portovenere. The largest and most convenient is the parking lot at the entrance to the town, called “Il Pozzale.” This is a good option as the town center is largely pedestrian friendly.
  2. Private parking: Some hotels and accommodations offer parking, but it is advisable to check availability and costs in advance.
  3. Street parking: Although options are limited and often busy, it is possible to find parking on streets near the city center.

Whichever route you choose, traveling from Milan to Porto Venere is an opportunity to unplug from the fast pace of urban life and reconnect with nature, history and the unspoiled beauty of Italy.

What to do and see in a day. Here are 10 things to see in Porto Venere

  1. Sea Palace
  2. Porta del Borgo and the historic center
  3. St. Peter’s Church
  4. Byron’s Cave
  5. Church of St. Lawrence
  6. Doria Castle
  7. Windmills
  8. Portovenere Beaches
  9. Palmaria Island
  10. Island tours

Where to eat in Portovenere

In addition to its architectural beauty and natural landscapes, Porto Venere is also a culinary paradise. Here you can enjoy fresh seafood, authentic pesto and other delicacies of Ligurian cuisine. It is the ideal place to indulge in a romantic dinner by the sea as the sun sets behind the islands of Palmaria, Tino, and Tinetto.

There are many restaurants in the village of Portovenere that offer mainly seafood cuisine; among the most famous are Trattoria della Marina, overlooking Calata Doria, and La Chiglia, facing Olivo beach.

For those who want to taste street food, I recommend La Bottega del Fritto in Bastreri Square and the centrally located Via Capellini, where you can also find flatbreads.

Porto Venere, although less well-known than the nearby Cinque Terre, has a special charm and offers a quieter and more authentic experience. It is a dream destination for those who wish to reconnect with the simple beauty of life, stroll through alleys steeped in history, and feel the rhythm of an authentic Italian town.

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