Cinque Terre HighlightsItaly
The Cinque Terre has to be one of my TOP destinations in the world. Located on the northern Italian Riviera coastline, it’s five seaside picturesque villages are a sight to be seen. Cinque Terre means “five lands” so I hope to give you some insight into each of the five villages.
How to get there?
The Cinque Terre happens to be in quite a remote location so it can be difficult in planning how to get there. My top tip would be arriving by train. Although most villages can be accessed by car, you will need nerves of steel to navigate your way through the winding roads that lead into each village! Arriving by sea is also an option with ferries running from Genoa, Portofino and Porto Venere from Easter to September.
Now there are also a couple of ways to get around the Cinque Terre itself. A very popular activity to do while in the area is to hike. There are multiple trails, for all fitness levels, that will take you on picturesque walks to and from each village. If hiking isn’t your thing, not to worry, just jump on the local train. A train line connects all five villages and the schedule is quite regular so you can visit each village as much as your heart desires!
I recommend purchasing a Cinque Terre Card which will include several services such as shuttle buses, ferries, trains and usage of the hiking trails. You can pick these up at any Cinque Terre train station where you can also get maps and any other information needed.
If you intend to stay for a few days, it’s best to base yourself in one of these five villages (as below) or in one of the surrounding towns like La Spezia or Levanto. Both of these surrounding cities are much bigger in size than any of the five villages so accommodation is slightly cheaper and easier to find, but if you are after a more authentic Cinque Terre stay, there is accommodation available in each village, but just be warned you may have to carry/drag your luggage up and down very steep hills and staircases as there is very little vehicle access within each village.
Monterosso al Mare
There are two parts to Monterosso al Mare, beach front and village and each side is connected through a tunnel. The beach side of Monterosso has it’s very own waterfront promenade which hosts many cafe, restaurants, bars and of course, gelato shops. Ideal location to stay if you are wanting to reside in the Cinque Terre as it has the best vehicle access out of all the five villages, which translates to not having to walk far with your luggage! It’s also the only town which has a beach with sun-chair and umbrella facilities and is the flattest of the five villages which I believe makes it a more comfortable stay.
The village side of Monterosso, hosts plenty of accommodation options, quaint shops and of course a huge variety of breakfast lunch and dinner options! The cobblestone streets are filled with cafes and restaurants so the hardest decision is picking which one to dine at!
Probably my favourite of the five villages for it’s pure beauty. The best spot to capture this incredible village is along hike path #2 from Monterosso to Vernazza. It is the most picturesque village by far and well worth the steep climb!
TIP: If you don’t want to do the entire hike from Monterosso to Vernazza (which is a VERY steep 2 hour hike), just access the hike path from Vernazza and make your way up the hill from there. If there is one spot to make use of the hiking trail, this is the place to do it!
Vernazza hosts a natural harbour, the Santa Margherita di Antiochia Church and plenty of colourful restaurants and shops to visit. The perfect place to grab some lunch or dinner and soak in the beauty that it has to offer. Corniglia
Perched 100m high on the rocky mountains, Cornigila is the only village out of the five to not be directly adjacent to the sea. Again, rich in restaurant choices, Corniglia is also my favourite place to grab some bruschetta which to this day, is still the best I have ever eaten! And speaking of food, if you are a fan of pesto, you are in the right place! The Cinque Terre is known as the “home of pesto” and you can be served almost anything with pesto on it, from pizza, pasta, gnocchi or focaccia and my personal favourite, lasagna – it’s absolutely divine. Corniglia hosts plenty of places to grab some of this local delicacy and there are many shops within the village that sell it by the jar so you can save some for later.
TIP: if you are not a fan of walking up the 380 steps from the train station to the village centre, there is a shuttle bus that you can jump on that will drive you up the steep climb!
Surrounded by grapevines, Manarola is famously known for it’s sweet Sciacchetrà wine, so needless to say it’s wine bars are some of the best in the area. Manarola is by far the most romantic village with it’s waterfront promenade which is lined with the locals fishing boats and vessels. In the daylight, the bright colours of the village perched in the mountain are a sight to be seen and by night the town sparkles. You can get that money shot of this picturesque village by walking along the path for a few hundred meters in the Corniglia direction.
Riomaggiore is the largest of the five villages and also known at the unofficial capital of the Cinque Terre. It’s pastel coloured buildings are best appreciated from the small harbour or better yet, from the sea. This village is situated in a small valley and is the most southern village of the five Cinque Terre. It’s a popular starting point if you are planning to hike and aptly named Via dell’Amore (the Love Walk) due to the incredible views.This trail will get you to Manarola in around 20 minutes so it is easiest of the walks by far and is a popular spot to enjoy a casual stroll along the coastline.
TIP: Head down to the harbour, grab some gelato and find a spot on the rock formations to watch an incredible sunset along the Italian Riviera.
So I think the photo’s speak for themselves when I say that this place is magical and you can now probably see why this is one of my top destinations in the world!
If you have any tips for this region that you would like to share, please comment below!