Portofino Marina with view of the Piazzetta

Genoa Cruise Port to Portofino: DIY Shore Excursion Guide

Searched “Genoa to Portofino Ferry Timetable” and landed here? Sorry to disappoint but there’s no public ferry. Genoa cruise port guide – DIY Guide to Palaces, Piazzas & Pesto!

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Genoa Cruise Port to Portofino: Is a DIY Excursion Easy? ๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜Ž Do-able but needs Hustle

The day trip from Genoa Cruise Port to Portofino is definitely within reach for DIY adventurers. If your ship is scheduled to dock in Genoa for at least 10-12 hours, then you’ll have plenty of time to savour the charm of Portofino. Here’s why it’s doable:

  • Easy Access To Train Station: A short stroll from the port leads you to the main train station (Genoa Piazza Principe), your gateway to the Ligurian coast.
  • Regular Train Schedule: Regular train service connects Genoa (directly from Genoa Principe or indirectly from Genoa Nervi) with Santa Margherita Ligure, your jumping-off point for Portofino. Don’t fancy the train, then your best option is a private boat from Genoa to Portofino.
  • Multiple Options to Portofino: Choose a quick ferry ride, hop on a local bus, or even embark on a scenic coastal walk to reach Portofino.

Most ships dock early, so if you’re an early riser, you can be in Portofino by mid-morning, leaving ample time to explore,enjoy a leisurely lunch, and soak in the stunning scenery before heading back. So, set your alarm, pack your camera, and get ready for an unforgettable day trip!

Genoa Cruise Port Essentials: All You Need to Know

MSC Musica docked in Genoa cruise port, Italy
Image by Mirko Bozzato from Pixabay

Genoa Cruise Port Address: Ponte Dei Mille or Ponte Andrea Doria, 1, 16126 Genova GE, Italy โ€“ Note there are two cruise terminals – these are marked in my Genoa map below ๐Ÿ‘‡

  • Currency: Euros
  • Language: Italian
  • Official websites: Visit Genoa is the official tourism agency. Stazioni Maritime Genova runs the cruise terminals. TrenItalia’s English website is great for looking up train timetables.
  • Recommended Transport App: I would recommend using Citymapper to navigate the metro & bus routes within Genoa. Once in Portofino or Santa Margherita Ligure, use Google Maps but both towns are tidy and difficult to get lost in.
  • eSIM for roaming in Italy: For a great data connection without the huge roaming fees, use an eSim data pack from Airalo. I always recommend having a smartphone with a valid plan when youโ€™re at port touring independently. Get US$3 off your first eSIM data pack from Airalo when you use ROXANN1666 when you sign up or apply it at checkout
  • My Genoa Cruise Port Map: ๐Ÿ‘‡ Click on the upper right hand corner to see a bigger version. If the map is not loading, click here to see it directly on Google Maps.

How Far is Portofino from Genoa Cruise Port?

Portofino Harbour with views of the marina and piazetta
Image by Corine Veen from Pixabay

While Genoa and Portofino may seem like close neighbours on a map, the journey itself is a bit more nuanced. As the crow flies, the distance is about 20 miles (32 km). However, the road winds along the picturesque Ligurian coastline, adding some mileage and travel time.

  • By Train: The most common and scenic route involves a train ride from Genoa Piazza Principe Station to Santa Margherita Ligure (about 45-60 minutes), followed by a ferry ride to Portofino (15 minutes).
  • By Boat: There is no ferry service running between Genoa port and Portofino. If the train/ferry combo is too much for you, the best bet is a private boat return transfer for about โ‚ฌ25 each. The boat ride will be about 90 minutes each way.
  • By Car: If you’re opting for a private transfer, expect the drive to take roughly 45 minutes to an hour, depending on traffic.

By Boat: Genoa Cruise Port to Portofino

If you want a scenic no-hassle return boat transfers to Portofino, then you’ll need to go via private boat, as there’s no direct public ferries. Boats leave from Ponte Spinola, near the Aquarium – see my map above marked “Portofino Boat Transfers” ๐Ÿ‘†

How to Get to Ponte Spinola: From Genoa Cruise Port, follow instructions on my map to walk to “Principemetro station (not the main train station). Catch two stops on the metro to “San Giorgio” metro station. Ponte Spinola is a stone’s throw away from San Giorgio metro station. Single metro tickets are โ‚ฌ2 – get them at the ticket machines.

By Train & Ferry: Genoa Cruise Port to Portofino

Unfortunately, there’s no train station in Portofino but there is a regular ferry running back and forth from Santa Margherita Ligure.

1. Train from Genova Piazza Principe Station

  • Walk to Station from Cruise Terminal: If your ship is docked at Ponte Dei Mille, the walk takes about 15 minutes. If your ship is docked further at Ponte Andrea Doria, the walk will take about 20 minutes. See my Genoa cruise port map above ๐Ÿ‘†
  • Timetables: Use TrenItalia’s website to check train times. There’s at least hourly trains during the week, with more frequent services during peak times
    • Genoa is listed as “Genova Piazza Principle” and you’re heading to “Santa Margherita Ligure – Portofino
  • Journey Time: Regional services typically take 45-60 minutes, depending on time of day.
  • Tickets: One-way tickets for regional services are โ‚ฌ4.50. Intercity services tickets will vary and be more expensive, though it won’t necessarily get you there faster.

Insider Tip: Don’t see a train time that works? Then search for trains starting in “Genova Nervi” – a regional train station about 20-25 minutes away from Genoa Piazza Principle station.

Trains between Genoa Piazza Principle station and Genoa Nervi are frequent. Change at Genova Nervi for trains to Santa Margherita Ligure – Portofino station – it will take around 20-25 minutes. It won’t get you there a whole lot quicker but you’ll have a wider choice of train times.

2a. Ferry from S. Margherita Ligure to Portofino

  • Walk to Ferry Terminal: Once out of the train station, it’s a leisurely 10-minute stroll past the beach to the ferry terminal – see the route in my Portofino cruise port map below ๐Ÿ‘‡
  • Ferry Timetables: 2024 ferry timetables are here (PDF); services run hourly. This route is known as the “Line 1 ferry”.
  • Journey Time: 15 minutes
  • Tickets: โ‚ฌ9 one-way and โ‚ฌ16 return.

Just missed a ferry? Then buy your ferry ticket first and enjoy your time at S. Margherita Ligure – see my section below on what to see in S. Margherita Ligure.

My Portofino DIY Excursion Map: ๐Ÿ‘‡ Click on the upper right hand corner to see a bigger map. Use buttons on bottom left corner to zoom in and zoom out. If map is not loading, then click here to see it directly on Google Maps.

2b. (Alternative) Bus from S. Margherita Ligure to Portofino

Thankfully buses also run frequently between S. Margherita Ligure and Portofino. Bus route #782 runs approximately every 30 minutes.

  • Bus Timetables: See 2024 bus timetables to/fro Portofino here.
  • Bus Stop: It’s right outside Santa Margherita Ligure train station. If you’ve already walked down to the town centre, then the more convenient stop is at the big roundabout at the beach. There’s also a ticket booth at this location and I’d recommend that you purchase your ticket before getting onboard.
  • Tickets: A single ticket on #782 is โ‚ฌ5 – this is considered a special bus service and therefore not covered by the usual โ‚ฌ2 AMT transit tickets. The โ‚ฌ10 daily transit pass valid in the entire Genoa metropolitan area does include the #782 bus ride.
    • Cash only: Note that newsstands, tobacco shops and ticket booths will be cash only. If you don’t have ๐Ÿ’ถ on you, then register for the AMT app and buy via the app. In my view, it’s a bit fiddly, but it does allow you to pay via credit card, ApplePay and GooglePay
  • Tip: Catch it from outside the train station if you can, as the bus is often full by the time it gets to the next stop at the big roundabout.

2c. (Alternative) Walk from S. Margherita Ligure to Portofino

If that train journey from Genoa left you wanting to stretch your legs, then you can also walk from Santa Margherita Ligure to Portofino. The walk takes about an hour along a beautiful coastal path. Paraggi Bay and Niasca Bay are both nice beach areas that you can stop if you’d like. See my map above for the route.

But is this even feasible for a day-trip from Genoa? Yes, absolutely. But you’ve got to start early. Most cruise lines will dock in Genoa by 8am, for at least 10-12 hours. (This is because the cruise lines want to sell full-day excursions as well!).

If you disembark early, you’ll be at the train station before 9am and at S. Margherita Ligure train station by around 10am. The coastal walk will take you to Portofino by around 11am, leaving you a few hours to sightsee and have lunch at Portofino before returning via bus or ferry to S. Margherita Ligure and return train journey back to Genoa.

What to See & Do in Portofino

Piazzetta in Portofino, Liguria Italy
Image by carolinabaez260 from Pixabay

For a detailed guide, read my detailed Portofino DIY Excursion Guide but here are the highlights:

  • Soak in the Colorful Harbour: Admire the vibrant hues of the harborfront buildings and luxurious yachts.
  • Stroll the Piazzetta: People-watch and savor the ambiance in this iconic square.
  • Visit Castello Brown: Explore this historic castle for panoramic views of the village and coastline.
  • Relax on the Beach: Unwind on Paraggi Beach, a short walk from Portofino’s harbour
  • Shop for Souvenirs: Browse boutiques for unique jewelry, ceramics, and local crafts.

What to See & Do in S. Margherita Ligure

Santa Margherita Ligure Castle
Image by linda ferrante from Pixabay
  • Villa Durazzo: If you’ve only got time to see one thing in S. Margherita Ligure, I’d recommend seeing this.
    • Visit the Lush Gardens: It’s free to walk around the gardens. See the entrance marked on my map above. It is one of the notable gardens included in the list of “Great Italian Gardens” (“Grandi Giardini Italianiโ€). Open 9am to 7pm daily.
    • Visit Villa Durazzo: Admission is โ‚ฌ5.50 for adults, โ‚ฌ3 for kids 8-14. Open 9:30am to 1pm, then 2pm – 6pm during summer.
  • San Giacomo di Corte: Visit a charming church tucked away in the hills above the town.
  • Santa Margherita Ligure Castle: Discover a medieval fortress with a fascinating history but note that this is only typically open on Sundays.
  • Chiesa di Santa Margherita: Admire the ornate beauty of this 17th-century church.
  • Christopher Columbus Monument: Christopher Columbus was born in Genoa, so in case you missed seeing his statutes in Genoa, here’s one by the waterfront!

Featured Image by lastfabio from Pixabay

As you set sail for Portofino, camera in hand and heart full of wanderlust, may your day trip be filled with sunshine, laughter, and unforgettable memories. If this guide has helped you chart your course to this charming Italian Riviera gem, please share it with your fellow cruisers on your roll call groups. 

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