Hiking to San Fruttuoso: The Perfect Day on the Italian Riviera

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Our favourite day trip on the Italian Riviera is the hike from Camogli to San Fruttuoso in the Portofino Regional Park. The day includes pretty seaside villages, a forest hike, good food, a swim in the turquoise sea of an isolated bay, an ancient abbey, and a ferry ride along the beautiful Ligurian coastline. It doesn’t get much better than this. 


Our perfect day began with the 8.16am train ride from Rapallo to the fishing village Camogli, just nine minutes away. It’s an easy walk from the train station down to the waterfront where we ate slices of focaccia in the warm morning light overlooking the harbour of pastel coloured villas and fishing boats.

Camogli, Italy
Camogli, Italy
Camogli beach, Italy

Camogli is much smaller than Rapallo and Santa Margherita with a quieter, laid-back vibe. The pebbly beach is a more pleasant place to relax as there’s no busy road running along the seafront like there is in the larger towns. We’d like to have had more time to explore this cute village, but we wanted to start our hike before it got too hot.

San Rocco

From the seafront, we could see our next destination—the church of San Rocco perched disturbingly high above the cliffs on the wooded peninsula. At least we knew what direction to head, so we followed the harbour road until we reached a parking lot and police station where there are signs for the trail to San Rocco. The trail marker is two red dots and a red ring—at San Rocco, those two trails will divide for alternative routes to San Fruttuoso.

We hiked for 30 minutes up many steps to San Rocco Church. Here we found views back down to Camogli, a cafe for an espresso boost, and a water tap at the start of the trails to refill your bottle.

The view from San Rocco, Camogli on the way to San Fruttuoso
The view from San Rocco

The Trail to San Fruttuoso

From San Rocco, the trail divides and there are two options to get to San Fruttuoso. The coastal trail via the Batterie with its World War II bunkers has the best views but is harder and only recommended for expert hikers. It includes a section where you have to use chains to navigate the slippery rocks above steep drop-offs. This trail is supposed to take 2.5 hours from San Rocco (although some people report longer) and the trail marker is two red dots. 

We were scared off by some horror stories of that trail and took the easier inland trail through Pietre Strette. The trail is marked by a red ring and is well-marked and easy to follow. It’s supposed to take two hours from San Rocco, but the entire hike from Camogli to San Fruttuoso (including a break at San Rocco) took us two hours. We found it quite easy (the steepest bit is up to San Rocco) and in hindsight probably would have been fine on the coastal trail.

Our hike took us through chestnut and olive groves and pine forest and was a mix of ups and downs until we reached the middle of the peninsula and cut down towards San Fruttuoso. From there it’s 50 minutes downhill all the way along many switchbacks. The trail is rocky, so decent shoes are needed.

Hiking from Camogli to San Fruttuoso
Simon and our friend Dunstan on the trail
Hiking from Camogli to San Fruttuoso
Most of the trail is through forest
Hiking from Camogli to San Fruttuoso
There are occasional sea views

San Fruttuoso

Arriving in San Fruttuoso is such a treat. The hamlet consists of a few restaurants, a 10th-century Benedictine monastery of golden stone, and a 16th-century watchtower that overlook the small pebble beach and vibrant turquoise sea. With the dramatic mountain backdrop, it feels secluded and far from the real world, despite the crowds on the beach.

San Fruttuoso monastery, Italy
Our first look at San Fruttuoso
The remote abbey and beach of San Fruttuoso is one of the highlights of the Italian Riviera in Liguria. The hike from Camogli to San Fruttuoso and the ferry back to Rapallo was the perfect day trip. Click through to read all about it.

We enjoyed the view as we ate a tasty pesto lasagne lunch with local white wine at Da Giovanni and then hit the beach. You can rent sunbeds and umbrellas or half the beach is free. Floating in the clear water looking back at the abbey and the mountain we’d descended was a special experience. You can also visit the monastery

Pesto lasagne lunch with a view at Da Giovanni, San Fruttuoso
Pesto lasagne with a view at Da Giovanni
San Fruttuoso beach
San Fruttuoso beach

The Ferry Back to Rapallo 

The only way to leave San Fruttuoso is on foot—back to Camogli or on to Portofino—or by ferry. When we were there in mid-September, the last ferry was at 3.30pm, even though the online schedule said 5.30pm, so it’s best to get an early start. More ferries are scheduled on weekends and in peak season (check the SMT schedule).  You could also take the ferry back to Camogli (check the Golfo Paradiso schedule). Bear in mind that the ferries do get cancelled if the sea is rough. We called them before our hike to check they were running so we wouldn’t be forced to hike out as well.

The ferry journey to Rapallo (€11, 30 minutes) was the perfect ending to a perfect day trip. The coastline is spectacular, and we were able to get the best views of Portofino, Santa Margherita Ligure, and Rapallo from the sea.

Leaving San Fruttuoso by ferry
Leaving San Fruttuoso
The other side of Portofino from the ferry
The other side of Portofino from the ferry

Camogli to San Fruttuoso Hike Map

For a more detailed map, see Portofino Trek

San Fruttuoso is one of the most special places on the Italian Riviera, and I highly recommend you visit, even if you take the ferry rather than hiking in. Nothing beats the feeling of having earned your lunch and swim after a hike, though, so if you can hike it’s well worth it. It really was the perfect day.

Looking for a gorgeous hike on the Italian Riviera? Here's all you need to know about San Fruttuoso. #hikingeurope #europe #italy #italyhiking #italianriviera #italytravel

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The remote abbey and beach of San Fruttuoso is one of the highlights of the Italian Riviera in Liguria. The hike from Camogli to San Fruttuoso and the ferry back to Rapallo was the perfect day trip.


  1. Took the inland route.
    Met my wife who came by ferry from Comogli.
    Had a swim
    Also had the pesto pasta ( twice ).
    Ferry back to Comogli.
    A perfect day.
    During a later trip to Italy I highly recommended the hike to friends.
    They at that stage were travelling separately .
    Unfortunately it did not occur to me to warn them of the difficulties of the coastal route.
    They are usually carry out their own research.
    They got to San Fruttuoso eventually, but they probably still harbour a grudge.

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  2. I wish I had read this post before we did the coastal work from San Rocco to San Fruttuoso. I have done big walks before (e.g. NZ great walks) but was absolutely petrified when I had to use the chains, and absolutely no warning that there are sections like this on the walk. There are several sections where you are holding on to a chain while you rock climb, each more scary than the last :-(. I was in tears by the end of it. I was walking with my partner and teenage daughter – they coped well, but honestly, it is scary having a cliff drop underneath you while you are moving feet along a cliff face while holding a chain. Absolutely terrifying – and there should be sign at the beginning of the track warning people. I saw a couple of families hiking with small children and even babies in a backpack, who had to turn back once they got to the sections of the track with the chains.

    But – it is a very beautiful part of Italy – so sounds like taking the inland track is the way to go.

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  3. I am a seasoned hiker, albeit a quite old one, and I would not recommend the coastal side of the two trails; for me it was scary. The hike down to San Fruttuoso and out (three times) is one of my favorite experiences in Italy, having traveled to different parts of Italy every year since forever ago. Enjoy the many chestnuts along the way! It’s important to check the ferry schedule and to respect all signs, etc.
    I promise you: The memory of this hike will remain with you, with every aspect of your being.

    Reply ↓

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