A Travel Price Comparison for Italy Portofino vs. Lake Garda for Families, Couples, Food, and Nightlife

Should you visit Portofino or Lake Garda?

Which is cheaper to visit? Which is more expensive for vacation?

Should I visit Portofino or Lake Garda? This is a common question asked by many travelers. By figuring out which city has activities that align with your interests along with knowing which is more affordable, you'll understand where you can get more bang for your buck. So, let's dive into the details and the data, which all comes from actual travelers.

Portofino

Portofino is a glamorous, picturesque, and breathtaking seaside village. It offers plenty of small town charm along with sights and activities, too. It's considered by many to be an absolutely beautiful destination, too. It also has a unique and quaint vibe that attracts lots of visitors. Visitors also love the beaches, hiking, and shopping.

Lake Garda

Lake Garda is a scenic, playful, and fun lake. The beauty of this spot is also one of the main reasons why visitors come. And you can't forget about the shopping, museums, and nightlife.

Portofino and Lake Garda: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Active nightlife
  • Nice resorts
  • Popular beach
  • Scenic old town
  • Good for hiking
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Small town charm
  • Impressive beauty
  • Quaint atmosphere
Things to Consider
  • Less museums and historical sights
  • Less family-friendly
  • Less popular with backpackers
  • Public transit not as usable
Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Popular beach
  • Good for hiking
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Good public transit
  • Impressive beauty


Is there more to do in Portofino or Lake Garda?

Visitors will usually find more to do in Portofino than Lake Garda, as it offers more sights, attractions, and activities. Portofino is better known for its resorts, historical sights, shopping, small town charm, impressive beauty, and quaint atmosphere, while Lake Garda is more popular for its museums and beaches. Portofino is more touristy than Lake Garda and is popular for its picturesque harbor, high end shopping, strikingly blue waters, and popularity with superyachts. Also, Portofino is famous for its scenic harbor. Lake Garda is well known for its beautiful setting, charming towns, and fun amusement parks.

its scenic harbor
Its scenic harbor

How is Portofino different from Lake Garda?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

Let's take a look at the differences and similarities between Lake Garda and Portofino. Then, you can decide for yourself which place is better for your next trip.

Are the Museums and Historical Sights Better in Portofino or Lake Garda?

Portofino
Lake Garda

Lake Garda is a popular place for its sights and museums. However, Portofino is a mediocre seaside village for its museums and history.

Lake Garda offers a variety of museums and landmarks to choose from. While most people come for the natural beauty, there are also great castles that you can explore. Castello Scaligeri, Grotte di Catullo, and Castello Scaligero.

While most people don't head to Portofino specifically for the museums and attractions, it does offer a few options. The village is mostly about soaking up the atmosphere, but you can also visit sights such as Sun Church of St. George and Cervara Abbey.


Is the Food Better in Portofino or Lake Garda? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Portofino
Lake Garda

Dining out at restaurants in both Portofino and Lake Garda can be an enjoyable experience.

Eating is part of the travel experience when you visit Portofino. Located by the sea, you'll enjoy tons of great seafood here. Make sure you try the mussels, swordfish, and salt cod.

Lake Garda has a number of nationally recognized food spots and restaurants. You'll find many great local restaurants in the area. Most make use of local ingredients such as olive oil, lemons, wine, and fish. Pasta and risotto are both popular throughout the area as well.

Is Portofino or Lake Garda Better for Nightlife?

Portofino
Lake Garda

Evening events are high quality in both Portofino and Lake Garda.

Portofino has plenty to do after the sun goes down. Most of the nightlife is found around Piazzetta (Oliveri Square) and Molo Umberto I. Happy hours (aperitivo) start around 5pm or 6pm and then as the evening continues, the party often moves to Paraggi Beach.

Lake Garda has a lively atmosphere and nightlife is popular here. You'll find clubs and bars in various towns that make for a great nightlife scene. You'll even find beach parties and fireworks shows during the most popular times of the year.

Is Portofino or Lake Garda Better for Resorts?

Portofino
Lake Garda

Portofino is terrific for its luxury resorts. However, Lake Garda is not a resort destination.

For the ultimate resort vacation, Portofino is a great choice. Known for it's exclusive luxury, there are a number of high end resorts in the area. Popular options include Splendido, Sublimis Boutique Hotel, and Grand Hotel Miramare.

Lake Garda is not a resort destination.


Is Portofino or Lake Garda Better for Beaches?

Portofino
Lake Garda

Lake Garda is notable for the beache. Also, Portofino is not as famous, but is still a good seaside village to visit for the beach.

Lake Garda is considered a top beach destination. Despite there being no ocean, there are many great swimming beaches in the area. Many have sand and great places to relax. There's also plenty of watersports to choose from.

Many people head to Portofino to enjoy the beach. Like much of the Italian coast, the beaches in the area are dramatic and beautiful. They're also rocky and pebbly and can get a bit crowded during the summer months.

Is Portofino or Lake Garda Better for its Old Town?

Portofino
Lake Garda

Portofino is an excellent place to visit for its old town. However, Lake Garda does not have a historic old town.

Many visitors explore the old town while visiting Portofino. Despite evolving into a famous resort town, Portofino still holds on to its fishing village charm.

Lake Garda does not have a historic old town.

Is Portofino or Lake Garda Better for Hiking?

Portofino
Lake Garda

If you're looking to go hiking, Portofino and Lake Garda both have high quality trails.

Portofino is a popular spot for hiking. There are many beautiful hikes and treks along the coastline that pass by scenic landscapes and breathtaking views.

Many visitors explore the nearby hiking trails while visiting Lake Garda. There are many great walking and hiking trails in the area that take you through the natural beauty, connect the charming towns, and offer spectacular viewpoints.


Is the Shopping Better in Portofino or Lake Garda?

Portofino
Lake Garda

Portofino is an excellent place to visit for its shopping opportunities. Also, Lake Garda is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for its shopping areas.

Portofino is well-known for its shopping. The quaint cobblestone streets are lined with high end boutiques that target the opulent jet-setter crowd that frequents Portofino. Much of the shopping is around Martiri dell'Olivetta Square.

Many visitors go to Lake Garda to go shopping. Many villages around the lake are great for shopping. You'll find clothing stores, jewelry shops, and souvenir vendors with something for everyone.

Is Portofino or Lake Garda Better for Families?

Portofino
Lake Garda

Lake Garda is an unbeatable place for its family-friendly activities. However, Portofino is a mediocre seaside village for its kid-friendly activities.

As it has a large number of activities for kids, Lake Garda is a very family-friendly destination. The nearby amusement parks, including Gardaland, make this a popular destination for families. The area also has many places to swim, trails to explore, and castles to experience. Kids and adults alike will love this amazing kid-friendly area.

Portofino is not always a place people visit with their families. The town has a picturesque setting and some beautiful pebbly beaches. It's fun for kids to run around the town, explore by kayak, or play in the waters edge.

Is Portofino or Lake Garda Better for Couples?

Portofino
Lake Garda

Portofino is terrific for its romantic activities. Also, Lake Garda is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for couples.

Portofino makes for a terrific place to visit as a couple. Set beautifully against the ocean's edge, this famous Italian town makes for a truly romantic holiday. Ogle the mega yachts in the harbor and then wander the charming streets while you soak in the atmosphere.

Couples visit Lake Garda frequently as it offers plenty of romantic activities. You'll find a lot of families in the area because of the amusement parks, but that doesn't mean that this isn't a romantic and beautiful spot for couples. There are many charming towns to explore and scenic viewpoints to check out. There are also excellent romantic restaurants that you should try.


Is Portofino or Lake Garda Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

Portofino
Lake Garda

Lake Garda is a popular place for backpackers. However, Portofino is a mediocre seaside village for backpackers and budget travelers.

Plenty of budget travelers visit Lake Garda. There are a few good hostels around the lake that are affordable and fun. The area also see enough backpackers to keep the atmosphere fun and social.

Portofino is a challenging destination for budget travelers and backpackers due to the higher prices. Known for it's high prices, the town isn't particularly popular with the backpacker crowd. It is possible to stay outside of town and head in for a day trip.

Is Portofino or Lake Garda Better for Public Transit? Which Is Easier to Get Around Without a Car?

Portofino
Lake Garda

Lake Garda is notable for its public transit. However, Portofino is a mediocre seaside village for times when you don't have a car.

Public transit in Lake Garda can get you to some places easily. There are ferries, buses, and trains in the area.

Public transit is mostly limited in Portofino. The closet train stations are Santa Margherita Ligure and Camogli. You can catch a bus from the Santa Margherita train station. There are also some ferry options.

Is Portofino or Lake Garda a more walkable city?

Portofino
Lake Garda

Portofino is terrific for its high level of walkability. Also, Lake Garda is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for its ease of walking around.

It's very easy to get around on foot in Portofino. It's easy to walk around the village and then explore the countryside on one of the nearby trails.

Lake Garda is a very walkable destination. There are walking trails that connect the villages around the lake and this how many people choose to get around.


For even more information, also check out Is Portofino Worth Visiting? and Is Lake Garda Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Lake Garda or Portofino?

How long in Portofino or Lake Garda?

It's fun to spend time in either Portofino or Lake Garda. Generally, people tend to spend more time in Portofino due to the larger number of activities and things to do. Usually, 2-5 days is a good amount of time for Portofino, and 2-4 days is enough time in Lake Garda.

Families should spend more time in Lake Garda than Portofino. Because of the many family-friendly attractions and fun things to do for kids in Lake Garda, it's a great place to visit with the whole family.

Couples should spend more time in Portofino than Lake Garda. You'll find plenty of romantic sights and fun activities in Portofino that are great for a weekend getaway or a longer couple's trip.

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in Lake Garda than Portofino if your budget allows for it. With a larger number of budget-friendly sights, good nightlife, and active things to do, anyone traveling on a budget would have a good time in Lake Garda.


  • How many days in Portofino or Lake Garda? Ideal Length of Stay
    Portofino 2-5 
    Lake Garda 2-4

One day in Portofino or Lake Garda?

Portofino might be a small town, but there's plenty to do in the area. Anyone can find something fun to do here. Make sure you spend some time hiking while you're in the area. But since there are so many activities, you'll likely want to spend more than one day exploring.

You'll find shopping and museums around the lake of Lake Garda. Many visitors spend time at the beach while visiting the area. Since there is so much to do in the area, one day is probably not enough for all of it. It has many unique tourist attractions and fascinating things to do.

A weekend in Portofino or Lake Garda?

Even though Portofino is a small town, it has plenty of activities to choose from. Travelers enjoy the resorts in the area as well. It offers something for everyone. Many people spend a weekend here. In a weekend, you should have a good grasp of this seaside village.

You'll find museums and nightlife around the scenic destination of Lake Garda. Hikers are also drawn to this area. This is a popular place to visit for a weekend.A weekend should give you a good understanding of everything this lake has to offer. This lake offers a variety of activities to choose from.

Five days in Portofino or Lake Garda?

Portofino, a popular seaside village, is full of activities for travelers. This is a popular place to visit for five days. Hiking can easily take up a good amount of your time here, too. In five days, you should have a good grasp of this seaside village. Your budget might influence how long you stay.

Travelers enjoy the nightlife and food when visiting the energetic lake of Lake Garda. The length of your ideal trip is an individual decision. It's also a great beach destination, too. Five days is plenty of time to see everything, even with extra days to spare.


A week in Portofino or Lake Garda?

Portofino is a popular place that is full of things to see and experience. One week is plenty of time to see everything, even with extra days to spare. It has many unique tourist attractions and fascinating things to do.

Lake Garda is a popular choice for travelers. It's a great spot for a beach vacation. One week is usually plenty of time to spend here with extra days to spare. With this much time, visitors often visit nearby destinations or take day trips. It will give you the chance to have new experiences.


For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best Historical Tours in Italy, The Best 10-Day Tours in Italy, The Best One Week (7-Day) Tours in Italy, and The Best 2-Week Tours in Italy.


Which place is cheaper, Lake Garda or Portofino?

These are the overall average travel costs for the two destinations.

The average daily cost (per person) in Portofino is €326, while the average daily cost in Lake Garda is €166. These costs include accommodation (assuming double occupancy, so the traveler is sharing the room), food, transportation, and entertainment. While every person is different, these costs are an average of past travelers in each destination. What follows is a categorical breakdown of travel costs for Portofino and Lake Garda in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Portofino 190
    Lake Garda 84
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Portofino 380
    Lake Garda 168
Compare Hotels in Portofino and Lake Garda

Looking for a hotel in Portofino or Lake Garda? Prices vary by location, date, season, and the level of luxury. See below for options and compare which is best for your budget and travel style.

Hotels in Portofino


Hotels in Lake Garda


Kayak helps you find the best prices for hotels, flights, and rental cars for destinations around the world. Compare prices for multiple destinations when planning your next trip.


Our Analysis
We've analyzed the average and typical hotel prices based on guest reviews, star ratings, and hotel amenities here: Portofino Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Portofino 23
    Lake Garda 66

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Portofino

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Portofino:

  • Private Transfer from Portofino Cruise Port to Genoa city hotels: $50
  • Private Transfer from Portofino Cruise Port to Genoa Airport(GOA): $50
  • Private Transfer from Portofino Cruise Port to Florence hotels: $160
  • Private Transfer - Portofino Cruise Port to Florence Airport(FLR): $160
  • Portofino hotels to Genoa Airport (GOA) - Departure Private Transfer: $54
  • CAR 3 PAX TRANSFER TO AIRPORT MILANO MALPENSA: $979

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Lake Garda

Also for Lake Garda, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:

  • Verona Opera Arena: Transfer from Lake Garda & Opera Ticket: $130

Is it cheaper to fly into Portofino or Lake Garda?

Prices for flights to both Lake Garda and Portofino change regularly based on dates and travel demand. We suggest you find the best prices for your next trip on Kayak, because you can compare the cost of flights across multiple airlines for your prefered dates.





Food
  • Food Meals for one day
    Portofino 118
    Lake Garda 42

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Portofino

Also, here are some specific examples of food and dining related activities in Portofino.

  • Portofino Boat and Walking Tour with Pesto Cooking & Lunch: $249

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Lake Garda

For Lake Garda, here are some samples of tours and activities related to meals and dining experiences:

  • 3 Hour Fresh Pasta and Tiramisù Private Cooking Class with Meal : $66
  • Valpolicella Wine and Food Tour: $76
  • Cusina - Cooking Class: Fresh Pasta with wine tasting: $87
  • Dining Experience at a local's Home in Cecina with Show Cooking: $93

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Portofino 27
    Lake Garda 30

Tours and Activities in Portofino

Some specific costs of activities, tours, and entrance tickets for Portofino are as follows:

  • 1-Hour Snorkeling Tour in Paraggi Bay, Portofino: $42
  • Easy Kayak Tour to Portofino with Optional Snorkeling: $53
  • Paddle Boarding Experience in Portofino: $54
  • Portofino Kayak Tour: $54
  • Portofino Private Walking Tour: $272
  • Portofino Stand Up Paddleboard Experience: $53
  • Portofino e San Fruttuoso Boat Experience: $109
  • Coasteering Tour: $75
  • Private Sunset Boat Tour with Aperitif of Ligurian goods: $489
  • Private Tour of Genoa and Portofino from Genoa: $725
  • Snorkel Tour in Paraggi Bay: $43
  • White Boat Tour Tigullio Portofino: $457

Tours and Activities in Lake Garda

For Lake Garda, here are a few prices for actual activities, tours, and tickets provided by various companies:

  • Gardaland SEA LIFE Aquarium: Open Date Entry Ticket: $9.78
  • Lake Garda Mini Cruise: Sirmione Peninsula: $13
  • Hotel Villa Cariola Pool Entry Ticket: $21
  • From San Felice del Benaco: Islands Boat Tour: $27
  • Sunset Tour in Sirmione : $27
  • Tour in the Winery and tasting: $32
  • Bardolino: Vineyard Tour with Wine, Olive Oil & Food Tasting: $38
  • Lazise: Beekeeping Farm Tour and Tasting Experience: $42
  • Beekeeping Farm Tour and Tasting Experience in Lazise: $43
  • Winery Tour and Tasting of Garda Wines in Lazise: $43
  • Guided Boat Cruise to Sirmione from Garda/Bardolino: $49
  • From Garda/Bardolino: 4-hour Guided Boat Cruise to Sirmione: $49

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Portofino 16
    Lake Garda 19

Sample the Local Flavors in Lake Garda

Also in Lake Garda, these are the prices for nightlife and alcohol related activities from various tour providers:

  • Bardolino: Wine tasting at Cantina Valetti: $26
  • Wine Tasting and Tour of Lugana Wines in Sirmione: $32
  • Wine Tasting with Local Food in Lazise Countryside: $32
  • Vineyards Tour and Wine Tasting: $42
  • Garda Hills Wine Tour and Tasting: $42
  • Wine Tasting in Historical Center of Lazise: $44
  • Art Experience with Food and Wine Tasting in Lazise: $55
  • E-Bike Tour and wine tasting in Lazise Countryside: $88
  • E-Bike Tour and Wine Tasting in Lazise: $88
  • Lazise: Bike Tour and Wine Tasting: $91
  • Castles boat tour with Bardolino wine tasting and nibbles: $99


When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Portofino and Lake Garda, we can see that Portofino is more expensive. And not only is Lake Garda much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to Lake Garda would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in Lake Garda and be able to afford a more luxurious travel style by staying in nicer hotels, eating at more expensive restaurants, taking tours, and experiencing more activities. The same level of travel in Portofino would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Portofino than you might in Lake Garda.

If you're trying to decide if either of these two destinations are within your price range, also see Is Portofino Expensive? and Is Lake Garda Expensive?.


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