Monterosso Al Mare - Cinque Terre - Italië

During our journey through Tuscany, a visit to Cinque Terre was a must. This idyllic destination on the Ligurian coast was high on our list to explore. Cinque Terre comprises five colorful fishing villages perched on steep cliffs. The picturesque villages are surrounded by mountains and offer breathtaking views of the surrounding nature. It’s no surprise that this beautiful destination attracts approximately 2.5 million visitors from around the world each year!


These five picturesque villages were founded during the Middle Ages by local residents seeking protection against coastal invaders. It didn’t take long for these colorful villages to evolve into significant trading hubs, renowned for the production and trade of olive oil, wine, and fish. In 1997, Cinque Terre and its surrounding landscape were added to the UNESCO World Heritage List.

The Five Villages

The villages of Cinque Terre are relatively close to each other along the coastline of the Italian region of Liguria. While these five villages share some similarities, each has its unique characteristics and is worth exploring. From north to south, the five villages, Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore, are connected by hiking trails and railways.

With all that fear, it’s much easier to stay at home in our comfort
zones than to break out and travel.

Monterosso al Mare

Monterosso Al Mare - Cinque Terre - Italië

Monterosso al Mare was the first village we visited. The train from La Spezia initially arrived in Riomaggiore, but since we aimed to avoid the crowds as much as possible, we stayed on board until we reached the northernmost village. Most tourists tended to disembark at the southernmost villages. Monterosso al Mare is the largest village in Cinque Terre, renowned for its expansive sandy beach. If you’re in the mood for a relaxing day at the beach, this is the place to be! This village is also a good choice for overnight stays, as it offers the widest range of hotels, guesthouses, and accommodations. From Monterosso al Mare, you can embark on a beautiful coastal walk to the next village, Vernazza. Despite having a beautiful beach, we personally found Monterosso al Mare less charming than the other villages.


Vernazza - Cinque Terra - Italië

The next village we visited was Vernazza. This village is often regarded by many as the most beautiful village in Cinque Terre. It boasts a lovely harbor where you can sit by the water and gaze at the colorful houses of Vernazza. In the center, you’ll find charming narrow alleyways to wander through. Like Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza also has a sandy beach, although it’s relatively small. For a full beach day, it’s better to head to Monterosso al Mare.

There are numerous cafes and terraces where you can relax. Keep in mind that Vernazza is one of the most popular villages in Cinque Terre, so it can get quite crowded. During our visit, we saw queues at various terraces as people waited for a table. Above the beachfront, you’ll find Castello Doria, a castle built on a rocky hill in the 11th century. The tower of the castle served as a lookout point to protect the village from pirate attacks. From the castle, you can enjoy a splendid view of Vernazza.


Corniglia - Cinque Terre - Italië

The next village we explored is Corniglia, which is the smallest of Cinque Terre’s villages. Corniglia is situated higher than the other villages and is not directly on the coast. Additionally, the train does not stop in the center; the train station is located slightly outside the village. Visitors arriving by train have the option to take a shuttle bus or climb 380 steps via a staircase to reach Corniglia. Since we visited the village on a scorching day, we opted for the bus. Corniglia was notably quieter than the other villages, as many tourists tend to skip it due to its less direct access. Nevertheless, Corniglia is popular among hikers for its access to beautiful hiking trails with stunning views.


Manarola - Cinque Terra - Italië

One of our favorite villages in Cinque Terre is Manarola. Similar to the other villages, you’ll find picturesque colored houses and charming narrow streets to wander through. The village also features a small harbor with various boats. Unlike the first two villages, Manarola doesn’t have a beach. However, this doesn’t deter visitors from swimming. During our visit, we saw several people taking a refreshing dip from the rocky shores off the coast—a great idea at a temperature of 28°C!

This village also boasts beautiful viewpoints. From the terrace of the restaurant Nessun Dorma, you can enjoy a stunning view of the village’s harbor. Keep in mind that it can get very crowded here. We planned to visit the restaurant in May 2023 but found ourselves waiting in a long line. After a while, we discovered that you needed to reserve in advance via an app. We had been waiting in line for nothing! Since the average waiting time on the app was around two hours, we decided to move on. Fortunately, we could still appreciate the breathtaking views on the way to the restaurant. 

Between Manarola and Riomaggiore, you’ll find the Via dell’Amore, the most famous hiking trail and the most romantic part of Cinque Terre’s coastline. The trail is only 1 kilometer long and relatively flat. Don’t forget to stop regularly during your walk to capture beautiful photos.


Riomaggiore - Cinque Terre - Italië

The southernmost village of Cinque Terre is Riomaggiore. Among the five villages, we found this one to be the most delightful. The village features a small harbor with many fishing boats. The houses are once again very colorful, and in the center, you’ll discover various shops and terraces. We had a wonderful meal at La Conchiglia, where we enjoyed a beautiful sunset with a view of Riomaggiore’s harbor.


There is plenty to do in Cinque Terre! Here are some activities to complete your journey in Cinque Terre:

Hiking: Explore the five villages, Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, and Monterosso al Mare, along the well-maintained hiking trails that connect them. The trails offer stunning views of the Mediterranean Sea, the surrounding hills, and the colorful houses of the different villages. Don’t forget the hiking route between Manarola and Riomaggiore, the Via dell’Amore. Remember to stop regularly during your hike to capture beautiful photos. Please note that you need to purchase a day pass for hiking to access the trails. Also, you should not wear flip-flops on the trails, so make sure to have proper hiking shoes.

Boat Trips: If you want to admire the landscape from a different perspective, take a boat trip along the Cinque Terre coastline. You can enjoy stunning views of the villages and the rugged coastline from the sea. There are various boat trips available that will take you along the five villages, allowing you to savor the magnificent vistas. You can also choose to rent a boat and explore the coastline at your own pace.

Beaches: If you want to relax for a while, there are two beaches in Cinque Terre where you can unwind. As mentioned earlier, these beaches can be found in Monterosso and Vernazza. Monterosso boasts a large sandy beach with umbrellas and lounge chairs available for rent. The beach in Vernazza is smaller but quieter.

Visit the Vineyards: The hills around Cinque Terre are dotted with vineyards. Visit one of the wineries in the area and sample local wines, including the famous Sciacchetrà. Many wineries also offer tours that showcase the wine-making and storage processes.

How to Visit Cinque Terre?

Cinque Terre is undoubtedly a must-see during your trip to Italy, but how can you reach these idyllic villages?

The train is likely the most popular and convenient way to travel to Cinque Terre. The five villages are connected by a railway line that runs from La Spezia to Levanto. You can purchase a day pass at the station, allowing you to travel between the different villages throughout the day. Trains run approximately every 10 minutes, and each journey takes around five minutes. We also used the day pass during our visit. This pass provides access to Cinque Terre’s hiking trails as well.

If you prefer traveling by car, there are several parking lots just outside the villages. However, be warned that parking is quite expensive, and the roads are narrow and winding. If you still wish to arrive by car, consider parking near the La Spezia train station and taking the train to Cinque Terre from there. The train ride takes about 10 minutes.

Ferries are also available. With a day pass, you can easily travel from one village to another using the Cinque Terre ferry. At the time of writing, a day pass costs approximately 39 euros. Check the website for current prices and schedules. Day passes can be obtained at the ports of Cinque Terre or through the aforementioned website.

If you choose to travel to Cinque Terre by plane, it’s best to fly to the airports of Pisa or Genoa. After arriving, you can then continue your journey by train, which takes only about an hour.

Where to Stay in Cinque Terre?

If you plan to stay in the beautiful Cinque Terre, be prepared for the fact that accommodations are often booked well in advance. While you can find various accommodations in the villages of Riomaggiore and Monterosso, expect to pay a substantial amount for a night’s stay. A more affordable option is to stay in the surrounding area, such as the city of La Spezia. And if you’re looking for the most budget-friendly option, there are several hostels in the region where you can stay at a reasonable price. But be sure to book in advance to secure your spot during your stay.

Click on this link for all accommodation options in Cinque Terre

Click on this link for accommodation options in La Spezia

So, when is the best time to visit this beautiful destination?

The climate and seasons play a significant role in planning your trip to Cinque Terre. Each season has its own charm and advantages and disadvantages. Spring and autumn are popular seasons because the weather is mild, and there are fewer tourists. However, there is a greater chance of bad weather. On the other hand, the summer months are very busy and hot but provide the opportunity to enjoy the beach and the sea. In winter, it can be a bit colder, but this season also has its charm, especially during the holidays. We visited Cinque Terre in May. Despite it being the pre-season, we found it quite crowded. For instance, it was not possible to find a seat on the trains.

How many days do I need to visit Cinque Terre?

It is possible to see all the villages in one day. If you start early and travel by train to the villages, you’ll have enough time to explore the different villages. However, if you also want to use the hiking trails, we recommend spending at least two days in Cinque Terre.

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