Santa Margherita (for Portofino) Cruises, Italy
- Get that postcard-perfect photo of Portofino from the hilltop castle. Castello Brown was snapped up by a British diplomat in the 19th century, so the Neo-Gothic interiors are impressive, too.
- Dive down to the Christ of the Abyss. This underwater statue of Jesus is submerged near the secluded San Fruttuoso Bay, which is overlooked by a Catholic abbey.
- Go shopping along Piazza Martiri dell’Olivetta. For a village with less than 500 residents, this place has the designer shops to rival Rome. Think Dior, Longchamp and Louis Vuitton.
SHORE EXCURSIONS View all excursions
Two of this region’s prettiest coastal towns are on the agenda today. You’ll start things off with a ferry ride over to Portofino, a multi-coloured hamlet that’s a popular holiday spot with celebrities and artists. When you disembark at the marina, your guide will point out some of the must-see sights. Then you’re free to go where you want. A good place to start’s the hilltop Castello Brown, a castle-turned-museum that was built in the 15th century. From up here you can see out over the entire town. Down near the marina, meanwhile, you can wander around high-end shops selling brands like Gucci. And go for a plate of traditionally made focaccia bread in one of the cafés. Afterwards, you’ll hop back on the boat and return to Santa Margherita. Again, you’ll have some free time to see and do what you want. The stand-out attraction here’s the ancient fortress. It was built in 1550 to protect the town from pirates. These days its observation tower serves up some of the best views around.
On this tour, you’ll head to the town of Rapallo for a wander around its top attractions. Your guide will take you on a drive down the coast and into the town centre. From here, you’ll hop on Rapallo’s cable car and head into the hills to see the Sanctuary of Montallegro, a giant church dedicated to Rapallo’s patron saint. Keep your eyes peeled on the way up – the views 600 feet above the colourful waterfront are hard to beat. The sanctuary at here for over 500 years, and you can take pictures of its golden interior. When you’re done, you’ll pop back down to the town centre, where you’ll have free time to explore at your own pace. There are a few historical sights you can stroll to. The 16th-century Castello di Rapallo used to protect the town from pirate attacks. And the Roman-era Church of St Gervasius dates back to 1118. Alternatively, you can shop for handmade pottery and Genoan pesto at the market.
Genoa used to be the richest city in the world, and the whole place is like a jewellery box packed with sightseeing gems. You’ll see a handful of them on this tour. After the hour-long drive from the port to the city centre, you’ll hit the streets for a guided walk. Keep your camera handy, because there’s something worth capturing around every corner, from the cosy cobbled streets in the old city quarter, to the colourful open-air fruit markets. Genoa’s the birthplace of Christopher Columbus, a world-famous explorer who discovered America, and you’ll stop to see his old house. Although it’s a reconstruction built in the 1800s, it sits on the ruins of the original, which was destroyed by French cannon fire in 1684. You’ll also pass the Bank of St George, one of the oldest public banks in the world. And don’t forget to take some photos of Porta Soprana, a remarkably well preserved, two-towered gateway built into the old city walls. After your sightseeing walk, you’ll have some time to venture off on your own. You can café-hop from piazza to piazza, or wander around the markets for authentic souvenirs.