Going To Portofino? Better Stay in Santa Margherita Ligure....

I admit without much pleasure that Portofino is a must destination for anyone visiting Cinque Terre. My only pet peeve is that it has become so touristy and bling that I feel it has lost its charm...

In any case, staying in Santa Margherita Ligure, 4 KM away, was great. Less touristy, w/ plenty of great restaurants within walking distance, and a very beautiful, 1-hour, walk away from Portofino.

In fact, for that walk alone, it was definitely worth the stop-over... Plenty of beautiful vistas and spots to take a quick dip into the crystal clear blue sea.  Instead of taking 1 hour as we did, i would return and take a whole day by lingering here and there along the way.

We returned from Portofino by boat (each hour on the hour) and again had a lovely time admiring the many super yachts anchored in the bay.  

Besides, the area around Portofino is a country park, not only in the hills but also in the sea so that the scuba diving is absolutely world class.

In Portofino, we had a very nice lunch (and well priced, even though many people in other websites complained that restaurants there are generally over-priced) at Taverna del Marinaio directly 1 step away from the marina and made for a very nice vista.  In Santa Margherita Ligure, we went for Skipper directly on the harbour.  Excellent service and great local wine list.  The mussels were absolutely lip-smacking!  For wines, we went for anything made with the Pigato grape which was nicely refreshing with lovely fruity and flowery aromatics.  It reminded me of a cros between pinot grigio and gewurztraminer in some way.  Lovely.

We stayed @ Grand Hotel Miramare, 1 stone throw from the Mediterranean sea. Excellent service, very very comfortable rooms, old world charm, and lovely view over the bay. Highly recommended!