Wish to get lost in some romantic remote coastal village at the Mediterranean?
Welcome to Cinque Terre. Not just one, you have 5 such villages to choose from.
Italy is no short of rugged coastline, romantic villages and pretty towns on the Mediterranean but famous five villages of Cinque Terre have become iconic in Italy.
The authenticity, the perfectly preserved colorful homes, stunning coastal and mountain trails and nature interspersed with vineyards, olive groves, and citrus orchards makes Cinque Terre an exquisite bucket list destination
What is Cinque Terre? and Where is Cinque Terre?
Cinque Terre on the Italian rugged coastline is the name of a district that encompasses five fishing villages, namely: Manarola, Riomaggiore, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso al Mare. The Cinque Terre is actually a national park, a protected waterway, and a UNESCO World Heritage site.
It is in the region Liguria, in the northwest of Italy, to the west of the city of La Spezia
La Spezia (the closest city from Cinque Terre) from where you can visit all the five villages easily by train, is almost at a distance of 183km from well known Florence.
Best way to go to Cinque Terre?
To visit the five villages of Cinque Terre, you need to reach La Spezia first or Levanto. To reach La Spezia you can take a train from Florence. It takes 2.34 min ( approx ) From Florence first comes Pisa in an hours’ time and then La Spezia in about another 1.5 hrs
From La Spezia, you can take another train (5 Terre Express train) or a boat to visit the five villages. The local trains stop in Levanto, Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, Riomaggiore, and La Spezia.
Riomaggiore is the closest village from La Spezia and it takes only a few minutes from there. The trains run roughly one to two times in each direction every hour. So you can get down, spend some time in a village then board the train again and go to the next village.
You have both the options train as well as car, however, wouldn’t recommend driving as the roads are narrow with twists and turns. And most vehicle traffic is restricted inside the villages. This explains why the area is preserved so well.
The train is pretty comfortable but if you’re planning to drive, consider parking in La Spezia and take the train to the villages
TRAIN TRAVEL DURATION BETWEEN THE CINQUE TERRE TOWNS
Monterosso – Vernazza: 4 minutes
Vernazza – Corniglia: 4 minutes
Corniglia – Manarola: 5 minutes
Manarola – Riomaggiore: 6 minutes
TRAIN TRAVEL DURATION TO CINQUE TERRE
La Spezia – Riomaggiore: 9 minutes
Levanto – Monterosso: 5 minutes
If you plan to go hiking, we recommend you to purchase a Cinque Terre Card which includes unlimited train travel on the line La Spezia – Cinque Terre – Levanto (on regional trains in 2° class) and will give you access to all hiking trails in the National Park.
Tip- Always remember to validate your ticket at the green stamp machine located in the stairs on the way to the platform!
Best time to go to Cinque Terre
Spring and Fall season are definitely the best times to enjoy the region.
In June, July and August, you can also go for a swim at the beach.
Where to Stay in Cinque Terre?
Though you can visit all the five villages in a day by the train but wouldn’t at all recommend that. This place is not for just seeing sights but to absorb. The ideal would be to spend at least a day or two here. You can stay in any of the picturesque villages, just pick one and spend some time with locals and like a local.
Accommodation | Book hotels in advance to save. Opt for a room with a view instead of breakfast as Italians don’t give a lot of importance to breakfast so you may not find that attractive enough.
About the five villages in Cinque Terre
Riomaggiore closet to La Spezia is the start of the zone’s famous trekking route Via dell’Amore or “Way of Love” leading all the way till Manarola. Another route is the Sentiero Azzurro (Blue Trail), traversing the National Park of Cinque Terre.
There is a botanical garden and a bird watching center at the top of the hill. Besides the village has one main street, a harbor, a rocky beach, a castle, a church, and many restaurants
Manarola is positioned at the top of a cliff surrounded by vineyards producing Cinque Terre Wine, Sciacchetrà. If you have time, try the short uphill hike to Punta Bonfiglio for some fabulous views and a playground with a bar. Most famous Cinque terre pics are tekn from this place.
Corniglia is located on the top of a promontory is the only village that lacks direct access to the sea, however, this has the only vantage point from where you can clock (and photograph) all five villages at once and The so-called Givano Beach, a famous nudists’ beach, lies below.
Vernazza considered the most beautiful village to stay in, features Piazza Marconi with its sea-facing amphitheater of pastel houses. The Parish House of Saint Mary of Antioch, the Doria Castle and the Sanctuary of the Virgin of Reggio are Vernazza’s main sights to see
Monterosso, the furthest north of the villages is the only one that has a proper strip of beach. Monterosso is made up of an old town, a new town, big hotels. If you want to avoid stairs and have a more “resort” feel to your vacation, then you should choose to stay here.
The modern town stands at the foot of the Fenigia Hill and the main attractions are the Old Castle, the Church of Saint John the Baptist and the Convent of the Capuchin.
Where to eat in Cinque Terre?
More than two hundred local dishes prove that Ligurian food is not only the tastiest in Italy but healthy as well. Cinque Terre is famous for their Pesto sauce, Seafood ravioli, and fried anchovies. And of course, you should finish the meal with Limoncello.
There are some beautiful fine dining restaurants overlooking the sea with great views like Torre Aurora Mare Cucina & Cocktails in Monterosso and Belforte in Vernazza. For local cuisine, you can try Nessun Dorma in Manarola. Besides for lunch try out Da Billy in Manarola, or at Ripa del Sole or Fuori Rotta in Riomaggiore.
Cinque Terre Travel – Advice/Tips
- Never ever plan to do the trip in a day- Touch and go tourism will just not work here even though the distances between the villages are hardly 5 minutes. Minimum 2-3 days stay will help you absorb the vibe and culture of Italian fishing villages.
- Don’t drive- Use trains to travel between villages or try the hiking trails depending on the time and energy.
- Avoid Italian holidays and weekends. It will be too crowded.
- For hikes and longer stays, please get the Cinque Terre travel card. However, for very short trips point to point ticket is fine.
- What to do while you are Cinque Terre
- First thing, find one of your favorite spots to simply sit and stare at the ocean while having some wine from the famous local region called sciacchetrà – One such spot is Via dell’Amore, Riomaggiore, you can take the stairs at the train station, walk for hardly a min and there you are.
- Either have lunch at one of the recommended restaurants that has a beautiful view or grab some ready to eat stuff from roadside small eating joints, buy wine from the grocery store and go for a picnic to one of the below-mentioned spots.
- Via dell’Amore, Riomaggiore- The sea behind the castle
- The playground at Nessun Dorma in Manarola
- Or any hilltop secluded place near the churches.
- Spend the day at the beaches- Monterosso beach, the obvious one or Guvano beach in Corniglia. It is an unspoiled pebbled strip at the foot of the cliffside that slides gradually into the most beautiful turquoise blue water also known as the nude beach. If you have more time head to Bonassolla north of Cinque Terre for the best beach experience in the region.
- Last but not the least, Cinque Terre is famous for walking paths and you must try one of the hiking trails Recommended trails are: Riomaggiore to Portovenere (free but long) and Monterosso to Levanto (free). For other hikes, you would need the pass.
- And some shopping tips – Market in La Spezia, on Fridays (for clothes and shoes). Forte dei Marmi on Wednesdays ( for designer clothes on discount) and Levanto on Wednesdays (food and clothes again).
Do connect with us if you wish to plan your trip to Italy. We do organize handcrafted travel within India and abroad.