Cinque Terre | Italy : A Quick Guide to Planning Your Adventure


Five Lands. 

The literal translation of Cinque Terre. Thus, it should be no surprise Cinque Terre is a region in Italy made up of five small villages. But what you may not [ yet ] know is this seaside area of Northwest Italy is incredibly scenic and oh so charming. The sparkling blue ocean, hillside vineyards and colorful houses clinging to the steep cliffs make for a breathtaking hike [ literally and figuratively ]. 

Which village should you visit? All of them.

Which village should you stay in? Well, that’s for you to decide. But hopefully after reading the short guide below, you will know which is the best for YOU! 

Accommodation: I rented the “Orange Room” in a “bed and breakfast” style airbnb called Ciao Bella. It wasn’t the Ritz-Carlton, but its basic necessities were all we needed. Located in Riomaggiore [ the village farthest east ], the airbnb was in an ideal location – a three-minute walk to the train station, one-minute walk to the main street in town and less than a five-minute walk to the water. I wouldn’t recommend this airbnb for a romantic getaway, but I would certainly recommend it if you simply need a place to crash in the evenings and don’t mind not having much privacy!

I don’t think you can go wrong with any of the villages, although I would choose Riomaggiore, Manarola and Vernazza before Corniglia and Monterossa. Just my personal preference, and I am curious what other Cinque Terre visitors think.

Pretty cool: Take the ferry to each of the five villages. This may be difficult to complete in one day [ and it wouldn’t give you much time to wander the villages, hang out in a cafe, drink wine, eat pizza, drink more wine ], but this can easily be done over a two-day period. 

You can alternate between the ferry and the train, as well. The train system is simple to navigate [ unless the employees are on strike like they were for one of the days we visited ]. You can be in the next town within three-to-five minutes by train. Buy a train pass at the station – no need to buy tickets in advance.

Skim the captions of the five photos below for a recap of my experiences from each village:

Riomaggiore: Charming and stunningly beautiful, this vibrant village has a hustle-and-bustle feel. Stop by the market for cheese/meat/olives/wine before heading down to the water to watch the sunset. No massage in the world can match that feeling of tranquility.

Manarola: I love the charm of this village. There are plenty of cafes, trattorias and boutiques. There isn’t a sand beach, but that doesn’t stop visitors from laying out on the large rocks [ and jumping into the ocean below ].
Corniglia: Similar to Ravello in the Amalfi Coast [ Southern Italy ], Corniglia is a bit more difficult to reach than the other villages. You will walk up [ just under ] 400 brick steps to reach the village. You are then rewarded with fantastic views of the coast and vineyards nearby. It’s quiet and quaint.

Vernazza: Spend some time admiring the view from the harbor, watching the boats depart to sea.
Monterossa al Mare: The village farthest to the west has a very large sand beach, and for that, it is much more crowded than the other villages. You’ll notice many more cars in Monterossa, as well.

Don’t miss it: Cinque Terre is well known for its hiking trails, which offer some of the most spectacular views of the Italian coastline. I enjoyed the hour-long walk between Riomaggiore and Manarola. Be prepared for a lot of steep stairs. For more info on hiking, check out this post from Walks of Italy.

Wish I had more time for: More hiking! But the sun was shining, so most of my days were spent by the water in the magnificent Manarola.

Must try food/drink: Fresh, fried seafood served in a paper cone. You will see this snack all over Cinque Terre. The calamari was my go-to takeaway snack! Support the local economy by drinking wine from the area, too. And of course, you’re in Italy after all – you can’t go wrong with pasta dishes, pizza, gelato, olive oil, bread, etc. Lastly, TripAdvisor is super popular in Europe! For a better dining experience, do some research on restaurants, trattorias and cafes before heading out for the day. 

Here’s a hint: Cinque Terre deserves much more than a day trip. We stayed four nights, and I could easily have spent another night. Four nights gave us time to explore each village, do a bit of hiking, eat plenty of seafood, marvel at magnificent sunsets, taste yummy wines and best of all – swim in the sea in Manarola! You will thank yourself for spending at least two full days.

[ Next stop ]: After swimming and sunbathing under the Italian sun for five days, we were completely relaxed and rejuvenated, which was perfect, as we had a nearly 14-hour train ride to Barcelona, Spain! Thankfully, we divided the trip into two days and stayed one night in Marseille, France, before arriving to the capital of Catalonia.

Have you visited Cinque Terre? Share your experience and recommendations in the comments below.

Planning a trip and want more details? I would love to share more recommendations and tips with you. Provide me your contact info by clicking here.

[ Riomaggiore sunsets ]
[ Exploring Riomaggiore ]
[ Riomaggiore from the sea ]
[ Riomaggiore from the ferry ]
[ A glimpse of the ferry approaching Riomaggiore ]
[ Riomaggiore sunsets ]
[ A great restaurant on the water in Riomaggiore ]
[ A relaxing evening by the water in Riomaggiore ]
rio sunset dinner
[ It isn’t pretty, but it’s delicious – Riomaggiore ]
[ The start of an hour hike to Manarola from Riomaggiore ]
[ For some reason, I really liked this sign when hiking to Manarola: “Please do not touch the grapes. This is my only income.” ]
[ Captured somewhere in between Riomaggiore and Manarola ]
[ Captured somewhere in between Riomaggiore and Manarola ]
[ Nearing Manarola from Riomaggiore ]
[ Nearing Manarola from Riomaggiore ]
[ Peeking over to Manarola ]
[ Arriving in Manarola ]
[ The hustle and bustle in Manarola ]
manarola by sea
[ Swimming in the Italian Riviera = Bucket List moments ]
[ A day spent in the water in Manarola is a day well spent ]
[ Magnificent Manarola ]
[ Vernazza ]
[ Quiet mornings in Monterossa al Mare ]

Have you visited Cinque Terre? Share your experience and recommendations in the comments below.

Planning a trip and want more details? I would love to share more recommendations and tips with you. Provide me your contact info by clicking here.



5 Comments Add yours

  1. This looks absolutely beautiful! I would love to go some day!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You will have to visit! It’s so picturesque. Have you been to any other cities or towns in Italy?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s