Located in the Liguria region in the province of La Spezia lies the beautiful Cinque Terre. Set amongst some of the most spectacular coasts in the world, these five charming fishing villages can take anyone’s breath away in a heartbeat.
Like the name insinuates, Cinque Terre consists of five villages, from South to North, Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso al Mare.
It is for sure an iconic Italian destination where pastel colored houses built on hilltops will invite you to dream!
So if you have been to Italy but haven’t visited this fairy tale land, here is our itinerary for five unforgettable days in Cinque Terre.
The closest airports are in Genoa, Pisa and Florence (where our trip started). Once you reach any of these destinations, the easiest way to not only reach but also travel between the villages is BY TRAIN. A train line that runs along Italy's west coast connects all five villages with Genoa, Pisa and Rome.
DAY 1: RIOMAGGIORE
This cute little town is normally the first of the Cinque Terre you’ll meet when travelling north from La Spezia. It is in fact the first stop for many Cinque Terre visitors. The sunsets here are best appreciated from the sea, and it’s definitely one of the Cinque Terre’s most romantic views.
OUR TIP: grab yourself a pizza and a wine and enjoy a nice picnic in the harbour when the sun goes down.
DAY 2: MANAROLA
This beautiful gem is the second smallest of the Cinque Terre towns. It is surrounded by vineyards and offers spectacular views especially from the iconic restaurant Nessun Dorma’s terrace.
OUR TIP: lunch at Nessun Dorma is a must! Affordable prices, AMAZING food, and a killer view!
DAY 3: CORNIGLIA – BOAT TRIP
Unlike the other Cinque Terre towns, Corniglia is not directly adjacent to the sea and the train doesn’t stop at the center so this makes this town the least visited of the five.
We were itching for a new experience so we decided to book a boat trip with Getaway Boat Tours, a family owned business located in the Riomaggiore Marina, and enjoy the villages from a different perspective.
If you are up for a boat adventure, we recommend you book the trip in advance given the demand in high season.
Click HERE to book a tour
DAY 4: VERNAZZA
This beauty is the fourth town heading north, has zero car traffic, and remains one of the truest fishing villages on the Italian Riviera. A lot of tourists consider this town one of the most picturesque ones of the five due to its maze of stairs and tiny terraces, with big blue sea views popping at every turn.
OUR TIP: the hike from Vernazza to Monterosso is a must! It leads to the famous viewpoint the town is famous for.
DAY 5: MONTEROSSO AL MARE
This is the fifth and last Cinque Terre town, and the only one with a proper stretch of beach.
The actual town is not as picturesque as the others but the view of the green and orange umbrellas on the beach is quite iconic.
OUR TIP: if you want to score a sun bed, GO EARLY! And when we say early we mean 8am early as Italians already reserve most of the beds for the whole season.
ALSO, make sure to grab a bite at Bar Focacceria Antonio, just across from the beach. It has the best tartinas and focaccias you’ll ever taste! (Via Fegina, 124, 19016 Monterosso al Mare SP)
WHEN TO VISIT
The best time to visit Cinque Terre is probably between September and October when summertime tourists have gone home and cooler temperatures arrive.
In saying this, we visited in mid to late August and both weather and places to explore were great! During wintertime it gets a lot colder and most amenities and shops close for the season.
Also, most visitors make day trips to Cinque Terre, so the best times to explore these towns are before 9.00 am and after 4:30pm.
WHERE TO STAY
Let’s start with the fact that accommodation in Cinque Terre is expensive, but you will find many different options depending on your taste and budget.
An affordable alternative is to stay in La Spezia; bigger city equals more options hence better prices.
But if you want to experience the true Cinque Terre lifestyle like we did, we highly recommend you to stay in any of the five villages.
The most popular towns to stay are Riomaggiore and Monterosso, with a nice variety of Airbnbs and hotels to choose from. We chose Riomaggiore as our base, it is indeed one of the bigger villages and the views of its harbor is to die for.
GETTING FROM A TO B
We cannot stress this more: trains are the easiest way to get to and around the Cinque Terre, running between La Spezia and Levanto and stopping at each village. You can also connect on to Genoa, Pisa, Rome and beyond. It only takes about five minutes to travel from one village to the next.
The good-value Cinque Terre Card covers all train travel between Levanto and La Spezia, as well as hiking fees!
Although all the villages can be reached by car, the narrow, winding cliff-edge roads and deep pockets to pay for parking will drive you mad! . If you’re travelling with a car, leaving it in nearby La Spezia is the best move – there are secure parking facilities at the train station.
Click HERE for more information on trains
Click HERE to book tickets in advance
If you are still wondering how to pronounce Cinque Terre correctly, here’s some help: chin-kwe-te-rre , with a rolled 'r' sound. You’re welcome!
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