While Portofino is undoubtedly one of the most famous resort towns of the Italian Riviera, its neighbor Santa Margherita Ligure deserves no less attention.
Unlike Portofino, Santa Margherita Ligure has a train station, making it easier to access from elsewhere in Italy. That may make it slightly less exclusive, but the allure of Portofino is such that many people still move right past Santa Margherita Ligure in their quest for Portofino. There are some good reasons to stay in Santa Margherita Ligure, however.
Santa Margherita Ligure is a larger town, which means it has the ability to absorb tourists in a way smaller resort towns cannot. It has everything you could ask for from a town on the Italian Riviera – quaint cafes, abundant boutiques, pastel-painted buildings, and glorious views of the sea. There is a 16th century castle and a 17th-century church, among other historic buildings to visit.
Plenty of Italians still make Santa Margherita Ligure their holiday home, so it's nowhere near “off the beaten path,” but it's a lovely alternative to the often expensive and extremely crowded Portofino.
Santa Margherita Ligure has a train station, and you can reach it in about a half-hour from Genoa. A bus from Santa Margherita Ligure to Portofino takes only 15 minutes, and a boat takes even less time.