Among the many pearls that Liguria offers, Portovenere is by far one of the most popular.
Located in the Gulf of Poets, a short distance from La Spezia and Tuscany, this picturesque fishing village attracts thousands of tourists all year round, also thanks to its position, in close contact with the famous Cinque Terre.
Its exciting views and dazzling scenery have attracted, over the centuries, artists such as Montale, Wagner and Lord Byron, who chose it as a destination for their stays.
Its beauties, its position, its colors, the ancient churches, the picturesque islands and the numerous caves, have earned it the recognition of Unesco World Heritage Site ..
It is said that the name derives from a temple dedicated to the goddess Venus Ericina, which was located exactly in the place where the church of San Pietro stands today.
It is a jewel to be discovered and admired, the perfect destination in any season of the year, here’s what to see in Portovenere, where to eat and what to do in the evening !

What to see in Portovenere

1 – Church of San Pietro
Photo by Luca Casartelli. With black and white bands , and the business card with which Portovenere presents itself to those coming by ferry from Riomaggiore.

Perched on a spur overlooking the sea, is made up of two buildings: one in Romanesque style, ancient and the other Gothic, more recent. It was built in 1198 on the remains of an old pagan temple, which gave the town its name: Portus Veneris.

Small, bare and very simple , the church of San Pietro fascinates precisely for its linearity. The entrance is on the left side.
Do not miss the loggia located just outside the church; from the windows the view is breathtaking!
The church and the “Christian temple” mentioned by Eugenio Montale in a poem dedicated to Porto Venere.

  • How to get there: via Via Calata Doria: about 700 meters, 5 minutes on foot – Get directions
  • Hours: 9: 30-12: 30/16: 00-18: 00, closed on Mondays
  • Ticket cost: € 2.00

2 – Palazzata a Mare
By land or by sea, and the first thing you see as soon as you arrive in the village.
A long wall of tall and narrow houses , leaning against each other and painted in pastel tones, overlooking the sea.
Color, history and tradition. All in a single glimpse. The tones of Liguria and its main characteristics are all represented in this palette that never tires the visitor’s eye.
The incredible skyline of Portovenere , the one that appears in all the photos and that is reproduced on all kinds of souvenirs.

To make a beautiful photograph, we recommend that you go to the Aldo Moro promenade and immediately turn right, ending up on the pier. This is the perfect vantage point!

  • How to get there: from Portovenere terminus 200 meters on foot following Via Calata Doria – Get directions
  • Hours: always accessible
  • Ticket cost: free

3 – Porta del Borgo and historical center
Photo of Zuffe. The historic center develops parallel to the seafront . The ancient access, which has remained intact since the 12th century, is represented by the so-called Porta del Borgo.
Crossing the door you find yourself in front of the typical Ligurian urban scenario made up of narrow rather steep alleys , the so-called caruggi, where the rays of the sun penetrate only partially because they are covered by the tall houses leaning against each other, in pastel tones. .
Here, the beauty is walking aimlessly , getting lost in the alleys and being surprised by delightful squares that suddenly peep out. But the historic center is also the hub of the town’s commercial lifeIn fact, there are numerous souvenir shops, artisan shops, bars, focaccerie, fry shops and so on.
Without forgetting the picturesque views that you will encounter every time you turn your gaze!

  • How to get there: you can get there on foot via the steep stairways that start from Via Calata Doria, or by passing through the Porta del Borgo – Get directions
  • Hours: always accessible
  • Ticket cost: free

4 – Church of San Lorenzo
Photo by Davide Papalini. One of the two main churches in the country. The Church of San Lorenzo was built by the Genoese in 1130 in a dominant position over the town.
In Romanesque style, it has three naves, with large arches supported by columns of local black stone. It was remodeled and rebuilt several times following fires and enemy attacks.
Inside you can admire interesting works including the painting of the White Madonna, protector of the village , who saved the town from the plague. According to legend, this miraculous painting arrived in Portovenere directly from the sea, inside a well-sealed tree trunk.
The Church is also called the Sanctuary of the White Madonna.

  • How to get there: In the old town of Portovenere, just before going up to the castle – Get directions
  • Hours: accessible during the hours of the Holy Mass
  • Ticket cost: free

5 – Castello Doria
Photo by Davide Papalini. It stands on a rocky hill and was built by the Genoese around 1500.
Placed above everything, it dominates the town and the sea and represents one of the most powerful and majestic military buildings that the Republic of Genoa built in eastern Liguria.
Its defensive importance is still clear today in observing its profile that stands out from afar, arriving in Portovenere.
The extraordinary position is the added value for every visitor who, once reached the destination, can enjoy a wonderful view.
During the uphill walk to reach it, you will come across the remains of some watchtowers, in the past used as windmills.

  • How to get there: from the Church of San Lorenzo, walk up for 30 meters along Salita al Castello – Get directions
  • Hours: 10: 30-18: 30
  • Ticket cost: € 5.00

6 – Lord Byron’s Cave
A few meters from the Church of San Pietro opens the Arpaia cave , better known as the Lord Byron’s Cave, in honor and memory of the English artist who, in this very place, drew inspiration and meditation for his literary works.
An opening in the rock contains a white slab that reads as follows:
“This inspiring cave of Lord Byron recalls the immortal poet who brave swimmer braves the waves of the sea from Portovenere to Lerici”.

The staircase leading to the cave is immersed in a fabulous natural setting .
Leaving the cave, just on the left, there is a Junoesque statue that represents Mother Nature.

  • How to get there: 2 minutes walk from the Church of San Pietro (less than 100 meters) – Get directions
  • Hours: always accessible
  • Ticket cost: free

7 – Forte del Muzzerone
Photo by Budis Daniel. Imposing fortification built around 1876 on top of Mount Muzzerone.
With the original function of anti-naval battery, the building, perfectly intact, is still used today by the Navy for training . The building has an irregular plan, and is surrounded by the moat only on 2 sides and is built on a vertical overhang that reaches up to sea level.
To reach the Fort Muzzerone you have to go through a simple 40-minute trek which involves a short but steep climb, then you pass the deep Sella dei Derbi and climb up with ever wider panoramas to the small town of Campiglia.
The first part of the path takes place in an extremely suggestive environment, on the cliffs overlooking the sea that make up the tip of the Portovenere peninsula.

  • How to get there: path no. 1 starting from Piazza Bastreri – Get directions
  • Timetables: the path is always accessible but the fort cannot be visited
  • Ticket cost: free

8 – Shrine of Our Lady of Grace
Photo by Davide Papalini. It is a wonderful church surrounded by olive trees and with a breathtaking view of the sea .
In 1389 the monks of Monte Oliveto from the island of Tino settled in this area and began the construction of a convent surrounded by olive groves. The building was built on two floors and subsequently expanded to reach the maximum expansion of the seventeenth century. In this ancient monastery, adjacent to the church, it is possible to admire splendid fifteenth- century frescoes by the painter Nicolo Corso, accidentally rediscovered in the former refectory in 1902. The interior is in Gothic stylewith arched vaults. Above the altar the portrait of the Madonna delle Grazie dominates, but there are also other paintings and a copy of the Shroud.
The simple facade is reached via a beautiful staircase .

  • How to get there: Via Liberta in the hamlet of Le Grazie. From Portovenere Bus terminal n. 11 towards Scarciara Superiore; Varignano stop – Get directions
  • Hours: always accessible
  • Ticket cost: free

9 – Tour of the islands
Photo by William Domenichini. Exactly in front of the village there is a small archipelago and marine natural park made up of three islands also included by Unesco as a World Heritage Site. Palmaria
Island is the closest to the coast and can be easily reached with a small boat service that reaches its shores from the port of Portovenere after only a few minutes of crossing. Il Tino and military territory ; it can be visited only once a year on the occasion of the feast of San Venerio. The Tinetto is the size of a rock or a little more.
Very interesting is the boat excursion

which allows you to admire the nature, caves and rock formations of the archipelago.

  • How to get there: both boats and smaller boats leave from the port of Portovenere – Get directions
  • Hours: Every day, from April 1st to November 2nd. Ferry departure times: 12:00 and 15:00
  • Ticket cost: € 12.00

10 – Torre di Portovenere
Close to the ancient city walls and the promenade leading to the seafront, in the old part of the village, is the Torre di Porto Venere.
A sixteenth-century structure once used for military purposes and which offers a beautiful 360 ° view of the Gulf of Poets.
After a military past, the structure was used as a residential structure during the 19th century and today it has some rooms where you can stay.

  • How to get there: in the historic center, close to the ancient city walls and the promenade towards the seafront – Get directions
  • Hours: today it has become a private property as it has been transformed into a Bed & Breakfast

Portovenere itinerary in one day
Breakfast at the Zurich Bar (€ 3.50); take the climb to visit the symbols of Portovenere : the delightful little church of San Pietro overlooking the sea and then the Arpaia cave , better known as Lord Byron’s.
Take Via Mulini and in 200 meters you will reach the Doria Castle , a mighty fortification, today a beautiful panoramic point. Along the way you will encounter watchtowers, formerly used as windmills.
Eat a frying cone or a fish sandwich from Anciua (€ 7.00), stroll on the marina admiring the scenic Palazzata a Mare and, by 3.00 pm, embark for theboat tour of the islands that allows you to admire the nature, caves and rock formations of the small archipelago and marine natural park consisting of the three islands: Palmaria, Tino and Tinetto .
Upon returning, immerse yourself in the typical atmosphere of the historic center by crossing the Porta del Borgo. Visit the Church of San Lorenzo , also known as the Sanctuary of the White Madonna and then stroll through the alleys, admire the colorful facades of the tall and narrow houses and take a look at the little shops selling handicrafts.
Dinner at the Antica Osteria del Carugio (€ 40.00).

One day itinerary at a glance

  1. Breakfast at Bar Zürich
  2. Church of San Pietro (9: 30-12: 30 and 16: 00-18: 00, closed on Mondays, € 2.00)
  3. Grotta at Lord Byron
  4. Castello Doria (10: 30-18: 30, free)
  5. Lunch at Anciua
  6. Porticciolo
  7. Palazzata a Mare
  8. Tour of the islands (from 1 April to 2 November every day; ferry departure 12.00 and 15.00, € 12.00)
  9. Porta del Borgo and historic center
  10. Church of San Lorenzo (accessible during the hours of the Holy Mass)
  11. Dinner at Antica osteria del Carugio

Where to eat in Portovenere

  1. Le Bocche : restaurant overlooking the sea, a well-kept location that offers fish-based dishes served between rattan chairs and wooden tables.
    Average price per person: € 45.00
    Address and contacts: via Calata Doria, 102 (Get directions) / tel: 0187 790622
  2. Anciua : small but delightful place that offers an extensive list of sandwiches. The best are the “sea” sandwiches. The anchovy and mullet frittini are also excellent.
    Average price per person: € 5.00
    Address and contacts: via cappellini, 40 (Get directions) / tel: 331 7719605
  3. Antica osteria del Carugio : location with attention to the smallest details. High quality products and dishes revisited with the right balance
    Average price per person: € 40.00
    Address and contacts: via Capellini, 66 (Get directions) / tel: 0187 790617

What to do in the evening: nightlife areas and the best clubs
The nightlife is made up mostly of walks along the seafront, aperitifs and comings and goings between bars , wineries, breweries and a good ice cream to be enjoyed after a typical dinner. All concentrated mostly close to the sea.
If you want to spend an evening dancing you have to go mostly towards Santa Margherita Ligure or La Spezia; in high season, even in Portovenere itself you can go wild in the improvised discos on the beach that often organize theme nights.

  • Venus Bar Portovenere : magnificent venue located inside the Grand Hotel Portovenere but freely usable. Excellent aperitifs. They organize tasting events and jazz music evenings.
    Address: via Garibaldi, 5 (Get directions)
  • La Vigna di Nettuno : captivating location overlooking the harbor specialized in aperitifs.
    Address: piazza Darsena, 18 (Get directions) / Facebook page
  • Torre di Venere : lounge bar in a very suggestive location. Wide variety of long drinks, cocktails and exclusive mixes, prepared with fresh and first quality natural products.
    Address: piazza Lazzaro Spallanzani, 3 (Get directions) / Facebook page

Plan your stay in Portovenere: info and useful tips

  • How to get there: the car is not recommended due to parking problems. A valid alternative is to leave the car in La Spezia and take bus 11 / P which reaches Portovenere in about 30 minutes (€ 2.50), or by ferry the route from La Spezia is active from the end of March to the beginning of November (€ 6.00)
  • How to get around : a small town and almost all pedestrian; the best way to experience it and turn it on foot
  • Where to park: Portovenere Zona P1 car park, between the town and Arenella (€ 3.00 / 1h); Zone P2, between the Arenella and the second Olivo street (€ 2.50 / 1h); Zone P3, between Salita Cavo and Via Garibaldi (€ 2.00 / 1h). Alternatively, leave your vehicle in La Spezia and take bus 11 / P, you will arrive in 30 min
  • Where to sleep: Hotels and b & b from € 91.00 per room – see the offers
  • What to see in the surroundings : Cinque Terre, archaeological site of Varignano, Lerici, La Spezia
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