Visiting the Cinque Terre will leave you breathless with its views of the sea, the paths between the rocks and train rides through paradisiacal landscapes!
The Cinqueterre have captured our hearts and those of UNESCO, so much so that they were included among the World Heritage Sites in 1997 for 'the harmonious interaction established between man and nature to create a landscape of exceptional quality'.
Cinqueterre are composed of the five seaside villages of Manarola, Riomaggiore, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso al Mare: all overlook the sea except Corniglia which is located at the top of a cliff 100 meters above sea level.
The colors of the seaside villages of the Cinqueterre are reflected in the crystalline waters of the Ligurian sea which, in turn, are a contrast to the harsh nature of the national park of the Cinqueterre rich in citrus groves, olive trees and vines, and many walking trails.
The signs of the violent floods of October 25, 2011 are mostly gone and all the countries are back to shine of the beauty that has always characterized them!
How to move around
Cinque Terre: how to get there and move
The Cinque Terre are easily reachable. The nearest airports are Genoa and Pisa. The main train stations are those of Genoa and La Spezia.
Getting around the Cinque Terre is very simple, especially if you plan to travel by train. The railway line that connects all the villages of the Cinque Terre with Genoa and La Spezia is very efficient and with convenient daily passes allows you to get on and off the train at will.
If you prefer to admire the show from the sea you can count on the boats that land every day in the villages. The departures are scheduled from La Spezia, Porto Venere, Portofino and Lerici.
Tip: to move from one village to another, use the train not only because it is cheaper but also because of the simple comfort and beauty of the landscapes. From any part of Italy you come, get off at La Spezia and from there take a regional train to visit one of the villages of Manarola, Riomaggiore, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso al Mare: the journey will take you through sheer cliffs and wonderful colors (especially recommended in spring when the Cinqueterre are lit with a thousand colors and the heat is not so strong that you cannot get out of the water!). Otherwise, even better, one of the many walking routes!
The Cinqueterre Card is a service card that allows the use of the services provided by the Cinque Terre National Park Authority.
There are two versions of the Cinqueterre Card:
- Cinque Terre Trekking Card
- Cinque Terre MS Card Train
With the purchase of the Cinque Terre Card you have the right to access the park, guided tours and transport, see in detail what each card includes, what options there are (adults, children, over 70, family, group, aggregates, affiliated accommodation facilities) and all useful information. Choose the right solution for you so you can save your mind while planning your stay and exploration in the Cinqueterre in a smart, convenient and stress-free way.
In addition, during the summer, there is also a ferry service that takes you from village to village (except for Corniglia which is located above) through the beautiful sea: a little expensive but very impressive!
How many days in Cinqueterre?
Basically in 3 days you should be able to visit all the villages as, many of them are small and easy to explore. But of course it really depends on the type of journey you are planning to live. If you want to spend some time at the beach and you want to relax as well, having some extra time is the best option to full immerse into these beauties with no stress and no need to franticly run from a place to another!
Monterosso al Mare
The westernmost of the five villages, overlooking the sea protected by a small artificial harbor and west of the ColledeiCappuccini, beyond which there is another dream beach in which to relax!
Here we find the largest number of beaches of the Cinqueterre thanks to the natural gulf that houses the village.
Put on a swimsuit, sunscreen and relax in this earthly paradise for a few hours, recharge your batteries after the trip and days lost between traffic and hectic pace of everyday life.In the evening, venture out to the old town among its thousand characteristic lanes and order a glass of wine in one of the many local restaurants in front of a plate of fish caught in the morning!
The following day walk the appropriate path on foot (if you do not want to resume the train ...) that in an hour (maximum an hour and a half!) Will take you to Vernazza through the beauty of nature!
This village was among those most affected by the flood of 2011 and it is not easy to forget the images of the river that crossed the streets of the village and then flow into the sea in front. After some time, thanks to the work of the inhabitants and the bodies in charge, Vernazza has once again become the rough diamond that has always been.
If the beach is relatively small, you could take advantage of it for a boat ride or for a visit to the Doria castle just a short distance away.
As we said, this village is not accessible through the sea as it overlooks a cliff: the advantage is that the view you can enjoy from here is really super! In addition, the streets of the village are truly unique and we suggest you to walk around eating one of the many fruit salads sold locally to refresh your day.
Those who leave for the Cinqueterre have only one reason: relax! The result, however, is that your eyes will be full of amazement and charm of wonderful places, enchanted villages and sunsets over the sea that will leave you entranced!
Corniglia is the perfect place to fill your memories of landscapes and views of paradise that you will remember for the rest of your life.
Looking at the photos of the Cinqueterre on Google many of the results you will have of this incredible village that overlooks the sea with a thousand colors and lights.
Manarola is a perfect example of how man has been able to integrate, and merge with nature in this case. The village is bathed by the waves of a crystalline sea at the base and climbs up the hills between vineyards and olive trees upstream.
Even here there are unique views from the promontory of Punta Bonfiglio and the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Health of Volastra.
Ready to start again? Follow the famous and astonishing walking path carved into the rock in 900 to get to the most visited village of the Cinqueterre: Riomaggiore. What's your name? Via dell'Amore of course!
This village is the first that you will meet if you arrive from La Spezia. We left it last to 'close in beauty': it is, in fact, our favorite (maybe ... it's so hard to say!) For the fantastic landscapes it has, the food, the sea and if you are keen on trekking and walking in the nature, then you will truly love it! In fact, before leaving, you cannot miss the SentieroAzzurro, a fantastic walk will take you to the Cinque Terre National Park!
In short, visiting the Cinque Terre means going into a paradise on earth, perfect to completely disconnect from everyday life. There are no discos or pub crawls to do but being well connected through the railway network you can take some time for yourself and your soul and regenerate yourself in view of the wonderful adventures that await you on your next trips!
Best activities to do
If you are in Cinque Terre and you are organizing your days, the best thing will be trekking.
At the moment there is a beautiful path that unites Monterosso, Vernazza and Manarola, practicable even by those who are not used to tough walks and offers a unique view of the 3 cities. It is called SentieroAzzurro, it was already present in the Middle Ages and for many centuries it represented the main way of communication between the inhabitants of the coast. Walking through it you will find yourself among the vines and the Ligurian olive trees, while in the background the crystalline sea greets you.
There are more difficult paths for those who are already practiced, such as the ridge, which runs along the watershed that separates the coast from the hinterland.
In the summer you can practice sea watching, an activity that is managed by the local marine area aimed at making known the wonders of the depths of this area.
Leaving out the sport, there are many activities dedicated to the world of taste in which to take part, such as food and wine tours in cellars or castles that allow you to sip good wine and enjoy fresh snacks. Not bad, right?
What to eat in the Cinque Terre
You will notice immediately that the Ligurian cuisine is very simple and varied. Traditional recipes focus on the quality of products trying to maintain their unique and unmistakable flavor.
Among the dishes to taste is fish. Therefore, large bream, anchovies, cuttlefish, octopus and squid, all cooked on the grill and seasoned with the delicious local oil, or fried.
Do not forget the traditional trofie al pesto, to pair with a good glass of Vermentino wine. And to conclude a drop of Sciachetrà, a very tasty passito wine.
Do you want a quick meal? Ovens, pizzerias and supermarkets are ready to offer Ligurian focaccia, excellent during all hours of the day and night. We warn you ... it's addictive!
Where to stay
First of all you have to decide in which vilage of the Cinque Terre you want to stay in. Since all the villages are connected by the railway line, moving between them is very convenient and fast. We strongly recommend that you book early, hotel rooms run out very quickly, especially in the summer months.
The train is the best means of transport to visit the Cinque Terre, connecting Levanto to La Spezia with stops in each of the 5 villages. It follows that the best areas to sleep, beyond the Cinque Terre themselves, are precisely the villages of Levanto and La Spezia, in order to access the Park comfortably by train.
Cheap hotels in the Cinque Terre
To save money, book your accommodation in advance, most hotels do not charge you if you cancel your reservation. Pay attention to the hotels in La Spezia, it is a big city where there are many car parks, and staying here is relatively cheaper (the train arrives to Riomaggiore in 8 minutes). Moreover, from La Spezia it is convenient to move to Pisa or Florence for a day excursion.
Holidays with children
The most important thing for a holiday with children is the presence of sandy beaches and attractions for children. The village of the Cinque Terre that corresponds to these characteristics is only one, Monterosso. On the map is marked the most suitable beach for children, full of families with children and where there is a lot of clean sand.
- Book in advance
- Use the train to explore the area
- Go for a boat tour
- Try typical traditional food
- Explore the area with some trekking
- Going on high season
- Hire a car
- Getting there around noon in the summer
- Avoid the seaside
- Forget to full immerse local history and the villages’ historic centers
Cinqueterre is a wonderful area to explore. If you travel with the right mindset, with flexibility and you follow these tips you will definitely live a great experience!