Portofino, a small harbor town in the Italian Riviera known for its high-end shopping and luxury hotels, is located about 132 miles (213 km) northwest of Florence. Because there is no train station in Portofino (you need to get off in Santa Margherita Ligure and either take a ferry or bus to the town) traveling by car, either with a private transfer or by renting a car, is the ideal way to get there from Florence.
If you want to make the most of your Ligurian adventure and prefer private transfers, you could start your explorations by taking a quick one hour train ride (or hiring a driver to take you) from Florence to Pisa, and then beginning a tour of Liguria with this 13-day itinerary that takes you from Cinque Terre up the coast to Portofino and beyond.
By Private Transfer
Duration: 3 hours, more with stops
Hiring a private driver for your journey from Tuscany to Liguria is your best option if you want a relaxing way to experience the beauty of the two regions while traveling to Portofino. The center of Portofino is a small port-side village where cars are not allowed, and not having to worry about a car once you arrive can be a plus.
If you don't have much luggage, another option would be to have the driver take you to the port in Santa Margherita Ligure and then take a ferry for a 15-minute ride down the coast. Or, you can arrange a private boat ride by working with one of our local specialists.
By Rental Car
Duration: 3 hours, more with stops
If Portofino isn't your final destination in Liguria, then you may want to consider renting a car and making the scenic drive from Tuscany to the coast yourself. It is possible to rent an automatic transmission car in Italy, but manuals are more prevalent and will be less expensive to rent. You’ll also want to factor in the cost of gas (prices are by liters, not gallons) for your road trip.
If you are staying in the center of Portofino, you'll want to ask your hotel about parking since you likely won't be able to bring the car directly to the hotel. Some of the larger resorts in the hills above Portofino are more likely to have parking available.
If you feel like making a few stops along the way, you might find it hard to decide where to go. In Tuscany, you could visit the Medieval walled city of Lucca, or opt to see the Leaning Tower in Pisa. If you time your stop in Lucca around lunch two great restaurants worth considering are Buca di Sant'Antonio and Ristorante Cantine Bernardini Lucca.
As you reach the coast, you could explore the Cinque Terre, or even take a longer detour to see the five villages, with this 8-day hiking itinerary. Further along the coast, the fishing towns of Sestri Levante and Camogli will have fewer crowds with an authentic taste of Ligurian life.
By Train and Ferry/Bus:
Duration: 4 hours, depending on season and frequency of buses and ferries
Traveling by train can be an option to get to Portofino but it will require a transfer to either a bus or ferry. While both run year-round, you'll find that the timetables change and services are less frequent outside of summer months when much of Liguria closes down. From Santa Maria Novella station, you can catch a train to Santa Margherita Liguria station on Trenitalia, the Italian National Railway system, with a transfer in Pisa.
Once in Santa Margherita Liguria, you can make your way to the harbor for the pleasant 15-minute ferry ride to Portofino. Or catch a bus from Piazza Vittorio Veneto near the port, to travel through the winding roads that lead to Portofino, which also takes about 15 minutes. The trains from Florence to Santa Marghertia run about every hour until early evening.