If there’s one spot you definitely must visit in Italy, it’s Cinque Terre, five small villages composed of Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, and Monterosso. With beautiful views of the ocean, colorful buildings, stunning mountain landscapes, and delicious food, this was my favorite spot in Italy, if not all of Europe. There was just something about its setting, and how I felt when I was there, looking towards the ocean, surrounded by the gorgeous hills, sunshine, and the beautiful town, that made me feel at peace, and that in that moment, life was perfect. For things to do in Cinque Terre, keep on reading!
- 1 What To Do In Cinque Terre
- 2 How To Get Around Cinque Terre:
- 3 How To Get To Cinque Terre:
- 4 Where To Stay in Cinque Terre:
- 5 Final Thoughts:
What To Do In Cinque Terre
The majority of the things to do in Cinque Terre involve walking around the towns or hiking between them, and taking in all the wondrous sights.
The first town from La Spezia is Riomaggiore. If you’ve seen any pictures of Cinque Terre, it was most likely of Riomaggiore’s marina. There’s one main street in this town with many souvenir shops and pasta and seafood restaurants. If you walk uphill and to the right after reaching the end of the main street, you can go up to a higher vantage point where there are much less people, and a beautiful panoramic view.
Manarola is the next town after Riomaggiore, and it’s just as beautiful. Similar to Riomaggiore, there are many small shops, restaraunts, and beautiful views of the horizon.
Unlike the other towns, Corniglia is situated much higher on a hill, so there are great panoramic views of the ocean below and of the other towns. I recommend taking the bus to Corniglia after getting off the train station, otherwise you have to hike up 300 steps to get there. There is a small beach you can hike down to with snorkeling and kayaking available.
Vernazza has a larger harbor area for swimming and is where numerous boats are parked. At the end of the pier, there is a nice view of the entire town. Similar to the other towns, it also has multiple restaurants and souvenir shops.
Monterosso is quite different than the other towns. The buildings don’t look as similar in style as the other ones, but on the other hand, there is a large and beautiful beach with clear waters to swim in. There are beach umbrellas and chairs you can rent, and the views of the surrounding mountains are just incredible. Just like the other towns, there are restaurants and shops all along the streets. I recommend trying the vegetarian lasagna, I never had it before coming to Italy, but it’s fantastic; it’s made with pesto instead of meat. This was my favorite town in Cinque Terre.
Although there are trains that connect all of the five towns, if you want to hike and explore, Cinque Terre is known for their hiking trails that connect the towns. While it’s pretty tiring to hike all of them, since Cinque Terre is very mountainous, and you have to climb and descend lots of stairs, it’s definitely worth it to hike at least one or two of them. The views along the way are incredible!
Eat Seafood, Pasta & Gelato
Located right by the sea, there is delicious fresh seafood everywhere in Cinque Terre. Some places I recommend are Tutti Fritti in Riomaggiore, which sells all sorts of fried seafood like calamari, mussels, anchovies, shrimp, and more. Another place is Pasta Laboratory, which sells homemade pasta with a variety of delicious sauces. Both of these places I went multiple times during my visit. Similar to the rest of Italy, Cinque Terre also has numerous ice cream shops that sell top-notch Italian gelato.
Swim at Monterosso Beach
It has beautiful views, super clear waters, and a beach resort vibe. If you go to Monterosso, definitely spend time at the beach swimming or just relaxing.
How To Get Around Cinque Terre:
Cinque Terre has a very efficient train system linking the towns with trains coming every 15 minutes. I recommend buying the train card, which includes free wifi at the train stations, the use of park buses, access to to the trekking trails, and unlimited train travel. You can find the prices on their website here.
How To Get To Cinque Terre:
There is no airport in Cinque Terre, so you have to fly into Pisa or Genova, or any other farther airports in Italy, and then take a train to La Spezia, which is the city right by Riomaggiore. I took a train from Florence to La Spezia, but I had to transfer trains in Pisa. It cost me 27 euros total, and the trip took about 2.5 hours.
Where To Stay in Cinque Terre:
There are hotels and hostels in each of the five towns, with varying prices depending on how much you want to spend and how early you book them. Since it is a very popular tourist destination, overall the prices are more on the expensive side.
To save money, I suggest using Airbnb or booking a hostel through HostelWorld. For Airbnb, make sure to book as early as you can because they are fully booked months in advance. However, they are still not as cheap as I had hoped since Cinque Terre is very popular. If you plan to use Airbnb, use this link to save $20 on your booking! It’ll help save me $20 on my next trip to, so I’d appreciate it! If you’re traveling alone, hostels can be more economical.
Another suggestion is to stay in La Spezia, which is the city right by Riomaggiore. This is the option I did, but it was still a bit pricey, I stayed in Hotel Aurora and paid 50 euros a night for a room.
Before coming to Cinque Terre, I didn’t have high expectations, since I hadn’t heard much about it compared to other cities such as Rome and Venice. But after leaving Italy, it was definitely my favorite place by far. With incredible views, nice beaches, stunningly colorful buildings, and tasty food, I would come back here in a heartbeat!
I hope you found this guide useful, and for more travel tips, check out these posts here!