Sure, Santa Margherita Ligure has the sparkling ocean, emerald green vistas and elegant promenade, but it’s also a gateway to Mount Portofino Natural Park, one of the Ligurian coast’s most important, protected natural areas. A maze of mountainous hiking trails, explore the area’s rugged, Mediterranean shrublands, silver olive groves and picturesque villages with regular peeks at the ocean. Here’s three to set you off on the right track. 

Route 1: Star trek

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Cool off with a swim in Paraggi bay

Santa Margherita Ligure to Portofino
Difficulty rating: Easy 

Less than 10km south, celebrity haunt Portofino is a great trekking destination. While there’s a beautiful – and busy – pedestrian coastal route, hikers should head inland, starting with a steep climb from Montebello. From there, follow the “red-cross” trail uphill to Cappella delle Gave that passes pretty chapels and rustic farmyards, then the red dotted trail to the turquoise bay of Paraggi, and onwards to Portofino just over 90 minutes later. A good workout that doesn’t overexert, it also offers glimpses of some seriously glitzy hillside villas.

Route 2: A holy hike

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The stunning Abbey of San Fruttuoso is well worth the step count

Santa Margherita Ligure to San Fruttuoso
Difficult rating: Medium

For a more challenging walk, head to the secluded coves of the medieval Abbey of San Fruttuoso, which can only be accessed by sea or on foot. Taking around two and a half hours, and reaching altitudes of 300 metres, the tough, mountainous track tackles thick Mediterranean scrub and steep, rocky cliff paths, as well as leading through cute stone villages to end in an idyllic turquoise bay.

Route 3: The scenic route

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Looking out over the Ligurian Sea from Portofino Natural Park / Photo: Adobe

Ruta di Camogli to Santa Margherita Ligure
Difficult rating: Medium 

If you fancy a longer, yet more comfortable hike filled with Instagram-worthy views, then try the route from Ruta di Camogli to Santa Margherita Ligure. One of the main access points to Portofino Natural Park, you can easily get to Ruta by bus. Follow the red square trail towards Pietre Strette, enjoying the wild, coastal landscape as you go, and from there, head to the tiny hamlets of Olmi and Nozarego until, three-four hours later, finishing back in SML.

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