1 Day in Portovenere, Cinque Terre

Although not officially included in Cinque Terre, Portovenere is often associated with this part of Liguria. So if you’re planning a visit to Cinque Terre, don’t miss the chance of spending 1 day in Portovenere. It’s worth a visit!

How to Spend 1 Day in Portovenere Cinque Terre

Since 1997 the town of Portovenere, together with the villages of Cinque Terre, has been part of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites for its beauty and magic. 

It is situated in the western tip of the Gulf of La Spezia, at the end of the jagged coastline typical of this part of Liguria. Portovenere is not only a town as it comprises three islands that you can reach by boat: Palmaria, Tino and Tinetto.

The name “Portovenere” probably comes from the ancient village of Portus Veneris, dating back to the 1st century BC. At that time, where the Church of St. Peter stands now, there was a temple dedicated to the fertility goddess Venus, to whom the name of the town was probably dedicated.

How to Spend 1 day in Portovenere

1. Where to Park in Portovenere

If you follow my 3-day itinerary in Cinque Terre, you should leave from the town of Corniglia, where you spent 2 nights.

Corniglia-Portovenere by car is around 1 hour. Consider that there are a lot of hairpin bends so, even if it’s just 35 km away, it might take some time.

In case you decide to opt for another town in Cinque Terre, keep in mind that Monterosso is the farthest as it’s up north and Riomaggiore the nearest to Portovenere.

Once arrived in Portovenere, park your car in one of the parkings along the street. You have three options.

P1: from via Olivo to the city center

> Check it out on the map here

Length: 400 m

Parking lots: 140

Distance from city center: up to 5 mins walking

Parking toll: € 3.00 / hr from 8 am to 9 pm (high season*), € 1.50/hr from 8 am to 7 pm (low season), free (from 9 pm to 8 am in high season and  from 7 pm to 8 am in low season). Max toll: € 5.00 in low season.

P2: from Arenella to the second side street on via Olivo

> Check it out on the map here

Length: 600 m

Parking lots: 170

Distance from city center: around 12 mins walking

Parking toll: € 2.50 / hr from 8 am to 9 pm (high season*), € 1.50/hr from 8 am to 7 pm (low season), free (from 9 pm to 8 am in high season and  from 7 pm to 8 am in low season). Max toll: € 25.00 in high season and € 5.00 in low season.

 

P3: the first part of “Strada Provinciale 530”, from Salita Cavo to Via Garibaldi

> Check it out on the map here

Length: 1.3 km

Parking lots: 200

Distance from city center: around 15 mins walking

Parking toll: € 2.00 / hr from 8 am to 9 pm (high season*), free (everyday from 9 pm to 8 am in high season and any time in low season)

*High season: from the first Saturday of March until the second last Sunday of October.

2. What to See in Portovenere

Start your visit from the 12th-century-old Porta del Borgo to access the city center and visit  the Romanesque St. Lawrence Church. Built in 1098 by the Genoese, it is thought to occupy the site of an ancient temple dedicated to Jupiter.

Then go ahead as far as the Church of Saint Peter. This is the symbol of Portovenere, a church that has elements of Palaeo-Christian churches, as the rectangular plan for example, and Romanesque features, such as the black and white stripes.

St Peter's Church, Portovenere
Church of St Peter - Portovenere

Outside the church, you can admire the waters where the famous Romantic poet Lord Byron intrepidly swam. In fact, he visited another great English poet, Percy B. Shelly, swimming from Portovenere to Lerici in 1822. This area is now called Byron’s Grotto, to remember the poet, but the cave has collapsed and now there’s only a small bay called Cala dell’Arpaia.

Around the area, for as little as € 5.00 you can visit Castle Doria, which housed the wealthy Genoese family of Doria.

 

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3-Day Itinerary in Cinque Terre

In the afternoon you can take a walk along the sea: you will encounter Arenella Beach first and then Olivo Beach. Or else, there are many other activities you can do around the area: take the boat to Palmaria island (around €12 round trip), discover the ancient ruins of Varignano Roman villa built for olive oil production (23 mins away from Arenella Beach), drive to Fezzano, a small town close to Portovenere, on your way back towards the highway.

What to See in Portovenere, Cinque Terre
Marina of Portovenere

3. What to eat in Portovenere

Aperitivo time

I had a glass of white wine at Bar Bistrot La Piazzetta. I took a Vermentino Ponente Ligure DOC 2018, a typical Ligurian wine, that came with some focaccia (of course!).

 

Lunch

For lunch I opted for some delicious Ligurian street food: Sgabeu (sort of fried focaccia) with pesto and stracchino cheese, Frisceu (fried cod) and Panissa at Anciua Porto.

–> Learn more about Sgabeu, Panissa and Focaccia here: “Cinque Terre Best Traditional Food”

What to Eat in Portovenere Cinque Terre
Vermentino DOC and focaccia

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