Cinque Terre: An Easy Guide for Visitors

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Tucked away in the picturesque mountains of northwestern Italy lies Cinque Terre (which translates to “five lands”). If you are planning a trip for the first time, this guide explains where it is located, how to get to there, the five villages, and things to do in each village.

Although Cinque Terre (pronounced Cheen-kway-tay-ray) is sometimes referred to as Italy’s best-kept secret, its five villages are quite easy to get to and make for the perfect day trip or weekend getaway from major cities like Florence or Milan.

So, if you’re traveling but looking for a place to escape the hustle and bustle of city life and want to enjoy some truly stunning scenery, Cinque Terre should be at the top of your list!

Where is Cinque Terre

Cinque Terre is a group of five small villages located northeast, in the Liguria region of Italy.

These villages, Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore, are all connected by a scenic hiking trail and are known for their colorful homes, picturesque views, and delicious food.

Here’s everything you need to know to plan the perfect trip to Cinque Terre as a first-time visitor!

map of cinque terre
cinqueterre.eu.com

How to Get to Cinque Terre

By Car

While you can get to Cinque Terre by car, they were banned many years ago. Thus, access is limited and the only way to travel between the villages is on foot, by ferry, or by train.  

If you arrive by car, you will need to park at one of the train stations. The Levanto station is north of Monterosso al Mare, and the La Spezia station is east of Riomaggiore). Also, parking outside the village may require some uphill climbing with luggage. 

By Train

Trenitalia stops between the villages with each fare being slightly less than 3 euros (one way). This is highly recommended for traveling with ease.

The Five Towns of Cinque Terre

Monterosso al Mare

The first and northernmost village in Cinque Terre is Monterosso al Mare, which is also the largest and most tourist-friendly of the five.  

Monterosso is known for its gorgeous sandy beaches which are a rarity in the rest of Cinque Terre. This makes it a popular spot for swimming, sunbathing, and other water activities. 

Thus, there is no need for a hotel pool! The village also has several excellent restaurants serving fresh seafood caught right off the coast.

Things to See & Do

  • Salita San Cristoforo
  • Chiesa di San Francesco
  • Eat focaccia and torta (savoury pie)

Vernazza

Although all of the villages in Cinque Terre are breathtaking, Vernazza is widely considered to be the best town in Cinque Terre and the most beautiful. 

Vernazza is known for its dramatic harbor surrounded by pastel-colored buildings that seem to tumble down the hillside into the Sea. 

It’s definitely worth taking some time to explore Vernazza’s narrow streets and alleyways; you never know what hidden gem you might stumble upon!

Things to See & Do

  • Salita San Cristoforo
  • Chiesa di San Francesco
  • Eat focaccia and torta (savoury pie)

Vernazza

Although all of the villages in Cinque Terre are breathtaking, Vernazza is widely considered to be the best town in Cinque Terre and the most beautiful. 

Vernazza is known for its dramatic harbor surrounded by pastel-colored buildings that seem to tumble down the hillside into the Sea. 

It’s definitely worth taking some time to explore Vernazza’s narrow streets and alleyways; you never know what hidden gem you might stumble upon!

Manarola

Like Vernazza, Manarola is built around a small harbor surrounded by pastel-colored buildings. Manarola is unique in that it has vineyards right in the center of town, meaning that you can enjoy fresh wine straight from the source! 

Manarola is also home to one of Cinque Terre’s most popular hiking trails, which winds along the cliffs and offers stunning views of both Manarola and neighboring Riomaggiore.

Things to See & Do

  • Punta Bonfiglio
  • Walk Santuario della Madonna delle Salute (trail – about 30 min)

Riomaggiore         

Last but not least is Riomaggiore, the southernmost village in Cinque Terre. 

Riomaggiore is known for its quaint shops selling everything from handmade leather goods to locally-produced olive oil. 

Be sure to try one of Riomaggiore’s world-famous focaccia sandwiches while you’re there!

Whether you’re looking for a beach vacation, a culinary adventure, or just a chance to relax and soak up some Italian culture, Cinque Terre should be at the top of your list!

With its five charming villages connected by a scenic hiking trail, there’s something for everyone in this picturesque corner of Italy.

So what are you waiting for? Start planning your trip today!

Things to See & Do

  • Fossola Beach
  • Explore the town
  • Hike the trail to Santuario della Madonna di Montenero (about 1 hr)

Final Thoughts on the Five Towns of Cinque Terre

You can enhance your Italian adventure to Cinque Terre with captivating day trips from Pisa, where you can explore enchanting destinations beyond the iconic Leaning Tower, or by mastering essential Italian phrases that every visitor should learn, ensuring seamless communication and a deeper immersion into the local culture.

Visiting all five towns in one day takes 8 to 10 hours at a focused pace. If you want to hike or spend time there at a leisurely pace, I recommend that you stay overnight instead of doing a day trip. Even though Cinque Terre is on the tourist route, the absence of cars in these quaint small villages makes it a golden opportunity to immerse yourself in the charm and tranquility of a picturesque coastal paradise.


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