Hidden and humble, you’ve almost gone unnoticed. But thankfully we found you. You have a way of making us work for your love. Traveling through mazes, climbing your terrains, and navigating your cobblestone alleyways, just to catch a glimpse of your pastel beauty. But once we do…we are captivated.
Five quaint, colorful towns clinging to the rugged cliffs of the north-west Italian coastline- Cinque Terre is a must see in your lifetime.
The name literally translates to “five lands” so makes sense that it is made up of 5 villages. Each village takes on a personality of their own and can easily be visited during your stay. If hiking is not your jam you have the train as another option of travel. We rode the train from Venice into La Spezia, just outside of Cinque Terre. The train line connects all five villages directly with Genoa, Pisa and Rome. The good-value Cinque Terre Pass covers all train travel between Levanto and La Spezia, as well as hiking fees. This will be highly used on your trip. Make sure you have your ticket while taking the train, they can be fairly strict and we learned that the hard way, oops.
Here is my village breakdown:
Monterosso is the popular one of the group. This village has resort written all over it and caters well to tourists. Therefore, it is noticeably busier. We highly suggest paying extra for the private beach. The public beach is packed and vendors. We regret not doing so. And I mean who doesn’t want to use the cute umbrellas anyways? Pros: Best beach and easy swimming, an array of great restaurants, great views of the blue waters.
This cute village is the second most popular and quite the social scene. Filled with outdoor eating and local shops, you can’t go wrong stopping by this town. Vernazza has the only natural harbor in Cinque Terre. It is even home to the Castle Doria, a 15th century tower, (see picture) which was allegedly used to keep a look out for pirates. Pros: Upbeat and social, fun to explore, great spots for lunch by the harbor
Personal favorite of ours. Quiet, humble, and all sorts of cute. Because Corniglia sits on the hill, you get so many incredible views. This little town was a great rest break in the middle of our hike. We tasted some of the best gelato and lemon slush. Links below. This is also where we swam (see middle image below.) The crowds were minimum and every corner you turned there was something to discover. Caution: Corniglia has a surplus of steep steps
One of the smallest and oldest of the towns, Manarola is made up of beautiful cobblestone alleyways and views from the San Lorezo church. We spent the least amount of time here. However, Manarola is very photogenic!
This town has a special place in our hearts because we stayed here during our time. Rio is filled with friendly locals and the perfect spot to watch the sunset. We fell in love with the warm Italian hospitality and delicious pesto pasta. Pros: Quaint yet lively, great place to rent kayaks, perfect spots for sunset and you tend to make friends.
Hiking in Cinque Terre
I mean unless you are physically unable to...you HAVE to hike Cinque Terre. The best views, exploration, and pictures came from our time hiking the terrains. Upon arrival, right before Riomaggiore, you can purchase trail tickets for your hike. parconazionale5terre.it We, being the challenge seekers we are, decided to take the hardest route. We do not suggest this for everyone (especially if you are afraid of heights.) There are other, easier and scenic trails you can follow. We started off hiking up hill past Riomaggiore all the way to the last village of Monterosso. To complete the entire journey, it took almost a full day. That included stops in every village. The hike was filled with scaling up hills, wandering the maze of local vineyards, peering out into the bluest water, and catching a breath in the next village ahead. Depending on the season and time of day, there can be quite a few people on the trails. This can become challenging due to the lack of path width. We started first in the morning and took the harder, less-traveled route.
1. I would give yourself atleast 3 days for your visit
2. Eat all things gelato, lemon, and pesto! All local, all incredible
3. Grab a bottle of wine at the market in Rio and sit out on the rocks for the sunset
4. Airbnbs can be a bit pricer here so you may want to explore your options
5. Make friends with the locals, they are so fun and give you the full scoop
Our Restaurant Picks:
-We actually stayed with the owner of this one