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This article is a guide to the 5 towns of Cinque Terre, Italy.
Welcome to Cinque Terre – an astounding coastal area in the Liguria region of Italy that is the perfect personification of the Italian riviera. Since Cinque Terre is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it means that the villages here have perfectly preserved their landscape, charm, culture and heritage. This makes Cinque Terre one of the most sought-after places to visit in Italy both for the seaside vistas as well as the heritage of the colorful towns set on steep cliffs. Not to mention the range of local wine, olives, lemons and the fresh local food made out of the stunning ingredients.
The words Cinque Terre literally translate to “five lands” signifying the 5 stunning towns of Cinque Terre namely Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso. All of these colorful villages, perched atop rugged cliffs overlooking the azure Ligurian Sea With their quaint houses, narrow winding streets, and vibrant harbors filled with fishing boats, have something unique to offer.
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How to Get to Cinque Terre?
The La Spezia train station is the largest train hub in the Cinque Terre area so you’re most likely to find a train that gets you here. From La Spezia, there is a train to the other Cinque Terre towns every 20-30 minutes.
Florence to Cinque Terre
Florence to Cinque Terre takes roughly 4-5 hours. There is no direct connection unfortunately. And so you’ll need to board a train going to Pisa and then take another train from Pisa to La Spezia, the largest city in Cinque Terre. I found that there was sufficient time for a changeover in Pisa and I was able to find a place to sit when I traveled in mid-May although I’d expect the trains to be a bit crowded during summer.
Milan to Cinque Terre
Just like Florence, there is no direct connection to get to Cinque Terre from Milan. You will need to take a train to Genoa and then changeover and board a train going towards Cinque Terre. This train also stops at Manarola, one of the popular Cinque Terre towns and although it passes through all the 5 towns in Cinque Terre, La Spezia is the main stop and the place to de-board.
Genoa to Cinque Terre
The train from Genoa to Cinque Terre directly connects the two areas while passing through Portofino as well. This train stops at La Spezia, where you can book a hotel or take the train to one of the other Cinque Terre villages.
Where to Stay in Cinque Terre?
There are many factors to consider while finding places to stay in Cinque Terre. Since most trains go to La Spezia instead of the other villages in Cinque Terre, it makes sense to book a hotel in La Spezia itself, especially if you’re arriving at odd hours. There are numerous places to stay in La Spezia- the largest city of Cinque Terre, including hotels and airbnb stays. That being said, Cinque Terre is a popular place to visit in summer so it’s advisable to book your accommodation here well in advance.
How to Get Around Cinque Terre Using the Cinque Terre Train?
So now that you’ve arrived, are settled into your hotel and now need to see the places to visit in Cinque Terre. How do you get around Cinque Terre? You can do that with the help of trains.There is one train called the ‘5 Terre Express‘ that connects all the 5 villages in Cinque Terre. The train starts at La Spezia and goes from Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso all the way to Levanto and back. The journey between each of the 5 Cinque Terre towns takes between 1-5 minutes. And although the stations are quite small, it is still manageable since the trains are frequent.
Coming to the cost of train tickets, each single journey between any 2 places costs €5 (as of May 2023) whereas the Cinque Terre travel pass costs €18.20 for a day. So if you’re planning on visiting multiple places in Cinque Terre in a day, it’s more cost effective to get a day pass.
|Until 23:59 on the day of validity
|2 DAYS ADULTS
|Valid for two consecutive days
|Until 23:59 on the last day of validity
|3 DAYS ADULTS
|Valid for three consecutive days
|Until 23:59 on the last day of validity
|For children from 4 up to their 12th birthday and school groups of the same age
|Until 23:59 on the day of validity
|From the age of 70
|Until 23:59 on the day of validity
|For families with 2 adults and 2 children between
the ages of 4 and under 12
|Until 23:59 on the day of validity
5 Best Cinque Terre Towns Map
What are the 5 Main Cinque Terre Towns?
You will find a comprehensive breakdown of the 5 Cinque Terre towns, including the highlights, what to do, what and where to eat etc. below. Keep reading to get more travel info on traveling to Cinque Terre like how many days to spend, the best towns and more.
The southernmost village in Cinque Terre, Riomaggiore is the gateway to exploring the 5 towns of Cinque Terre. Although all the towns, villages and cities in Cinque Terre have the famous colorful buildings, the vibrant red, orange and yellow buildings along the steep slopes of Riomaggiore are particularly captivating. Boasting of a beautiful marina, boat excursions, local wine and gastronomic delights, there are many things that make Riomaggiore one of the best Cinque Terre towns.
What to do in Riomaggiore
If you’ve seen pictures of Riomaggiore, one of the most popular towns in Cinque Terre, on instagram then you already know that grabbing a takeaway pizza, sitting by the rocks on the harbor and having dinner is the one of the best things to do in Riomaggiore.
The marina of Riomaggiore is the starting point of boat tours and the place to go kayaking or swimming. Although it is mostly in ruins, the Castle of Riomaggiore, or Castello di Riomaggiore, is a medieval fortress that stands atop the village and offers panoramic views of Riomaggiore and the surrounding landscape. Apart from that, the Church of San Giovanni Battista, which is the main church of Riomaggiore has intricate religious artworks, a charming bell tower, rose windows and is a notable architectural landmark in Riomaggiore, Cinque Terre.
Where to Stay in Riomaggiore
Budget Stays in Riomaggiore:
Affittacamere Anna Michielini is a budget-friendly guesthouse in Riomaggiore offering clean and comfortable rooms that’s located just a short walk from the train station and the village center.
Mid-Range Hotels in Riomaggiore:
Hotel La Zorza is a charming bed and breakfast located in the heart of Riomaggiore, offering comfortable rooms with a rustic ambiance and friendly service.
Locanda Ca’ dei Duxi is a family-run inn nestled in the historic center of Riomaggiore, featuring cozy rooms, a charming courtyard, and a complimentary breakfast.
Traditionally a fishing village, the trade still lives on in Manarola where you’ll see fishing boats against the backdrop of terraced vineyards towering on an opposite hill. Manarola is, in my opinion, the best Cinque Terre town for various reasons. Firstly, most of the town faces the ocean and no matter where you go, you’re likely to get an ocean view.
Secondly, there are many restaurants with a fantastic view in Manarola. Nessun Dorma is by-far the most popular restaurant in Cinque Terre but I found it harder to find a table there, now that they have given their prime hours to the pesto workshop. Instead, I dined at Affittacamere La Risacca which had another awesome view of the town and the decor and food were excellent here!
What to do in Manarola
Coming to the things to do in Manarola, there are many more possibilities here in comparison to the other 5 Cinque Terre towns. There are river cruises departing from the Manarola harbor in big cruise-style boats. Apart from that, there are also cliff-jumping, sun-bathing and swimming possibilities at the same harbor.
You could walk up into the town and explore it or on the pathway along the cliff to get almost a bird’s eye view of the town. There are also vineyards on the other side of the same cliff where you can hike up and later on sample some delicious local wine. As mentioned in the previous section, there are some fantastic restaurants with a view in Manarola, which you must check out!Walk along the Via dell’Amore or the Lovers’ Lane from Manarola to Riomaggiore. This coastal path is popular among both hikers and lovers who have added love locks, love murals and other graffiti along the way.
Where to Stay in Manarola
Budget Stays in Manarola:
Da Paulin is a budget-friendly place to stay in Manarola with clean and simple rooms, located in a quiet area of Manarola, just a short walk from the village center.
Affittacamere San Giorgio is a budget accommodation option offering basic rooms with shared bathrooms, situated in a central location and providing easy access to the main attractions of Manarola.
Mid-Range Hotels in Manarola:
Arpaiu is a charming guesthouse located in the heart of Manarola, featuring comfortable rooms with traditional decor, a garden terrace, and a complimentary breakfast.
Ca’ de Baran is a family-run bed and breakfast offering cozy rooms with sea views, a communal terrace, and a central location close to the train station and the harbor.
Luxury Hotels in Manarola:
La Torretta Lodge is a luxury boutique hotel in Manarola that is situated in a renovated historic tower, offering stylish rooms with panoramic views, a rooftop terrace, and a wine bar.
It is generally considered that Corniglia is the least-popular of the five towns in Cinque Terre. That’s because of 2 reasons primarily, Firstly, it’s the only town in Cinque Terre that is not directly adjacent to the sea. Secondly, accessibility is an issue while getting to the village. And while all that is true, it is still worth checking out this town if you have time to spare.
The town is set high up on a cliff and it’s a laborious walk up there. Which is why there is a mini bus that plies to the town from the Corniglia train station. If you have a Cinque Terre travel pass then you can ride the bus for free otherwise you’ll need to purchase a ticket for the bus ride to Corniglia town.
What to do in Corniglia
You wouldn’t expect this from a town that’s high up on a hill but Corniglia has a beach called the Guvano beach. This rocky beach can be reached by a steep trail or a boat ride and is a small secluded haven. The Church of San Pietro is the center point of Corniglia. With Gothic architecture and beautiful rose windows, the 365 steps to reach the top in order to get rewarded with a panoramic view make it one of the top things to do in Corniglia, Cinque Terre.
Where to Stay in Corniglia
Budget Stays in Corniglia:
Corniglia Dreams is a budget-friendly sea-facing guesthouse, offering clean and classic furnished rooms with a sea-facing balcony, air conditioning, a shared terrace, and easy access to the village amenities.
Belvedere Affittacamere is a budget accommodation option in Corniglia, Cinque Terre providing basic rooms with private bathrooms, situated in a quiet area of Corniglia, with a kitchenette and a balcony with a stunning view.
Mid-Range Hotels in Corniglia:
Affittacamere Le Terrazze is a charming guesthouse nestled in the heart of Corniglia, providing comfortable rooms with rustic decor, a terrace with sea views, and a continental breakfast.
AMARE IL MARE Affittacamere is a is a simple yet well-furnished place to stay in Corniglia, offering cozy air-conditioned rooms that are only 600 m from Corniglia beach, rooms with oven and microwave, and a central location near the village center.
Luxury Hotels in Corniglia:
La terrazza sul mare is a luxury 2-bedroom villa in Corniglia located just 800 m from Corniglia beach, offering elegant rooms with panoramic views, a large terrace with spectacular seaside views, a garden and barbeque.
Just like Riomaggiore and Manarola, Vernazza is one of the popular Cinque Terre towns. Although it is small in comparison to the other two, the harbor of Vernazza is absolutely breathtaking and the view of the town from here is jaw-dropping. The raw natural beauty of Vernazza, its coastal charm, vibrant atmosphere and hiking trails offer an enchanting experience of the Italian riviera.
What to do in Vernazza
In spite of its petite size, Vernazza offers many exciting places to visit. Overlooking this quaint town, the Doria castle is a medieval landmark that represents the history of this village in Cinque Terre. You can climb to the top of the tower for a panoramic view of Vernazza.
Piazza Marconi, the main town square, is always bustling with the activity of the shops, the smell of the focaccias, the excitement of the tourists shopping for lemon-printed tote bags and magnets at the souvenir shops and the ones queuing up for a taste of the best gelato in town.
The Church of Santa Margherita di Antiochia is yet another landmark in Vernazza, overlooking the harbor and featuring many religious artworks. The Feast of Santa Margherita, celebrated on July 20th, is a highlight of Vernazza that features processions, fireworks, and traditional performances.
Other than that one of the best things to do in Vernazza is to hike to the other towns of Cinque Terre. While you can hike to Corniglia from Vernazza on the south end, you can hike to Monterosso from Vernazza from the other side of town. Both hikes are challenging, exciting and offer excellent views along the way. To know more about these hikes, scroll down to the hiking section. Keep in mind that hiking in Cinque Terre is not free and you need to pay at a kiosk that you’ll see along the way. Alternatively, you can get a Cinque Terre hiking pass or a Cinque Terre travel + hiking pass.
Where to Stay in Vernazza
Budget Stays in Vernazza:
Camere Toni is a budget-friendly place to stay in Vernazza, offering simple and clean rooms, located near the Vaernazza beach, with a friendly staff and a shared kitchen.
Affittacamere Elisabetta is yet another budget accommodation option providing basic rooms with shared bathrooms, situated in a central location and offering affordability and convenience.
Mid-Range Hotels in Vernazza:
Gianni Franzi is a charming bed and breakfast located in the heart of Vernazza, offering comfortable rooms with a rustic ambiance and friendly service.
Camere Nicolina is a family-run guesthouse in Vernazza situated in a central location, featuring cozy rooms, a communal terrace, and a convenient base for exploring the village.
The largest and the most unique Cinque Terre town, Monterosso is the only place in Cinque Terre that has a proper beach. What’s great is that the long stretch of the beach opens up immediately upon exiting the Monterosso train station. The colorful beach umbrellas, crystal clear water, long sandy beach and spirited environment add to the charm of this coastal village.
What to do in Monterosso
Manarola has a long stretch of sandy beach which is naturally one of the top things to do here. But the town has a lot more to offer. The Monterosso Vecchio i.e. the old town of Monterosso has historical buildings and beautiful winding streets whereas the Monterosso Al Mare i.e. the new town boasts of a promenade, shops and cool restaurants.
The Church of San Giovanni Battista in Monterosso features a marble facade, rose windows and valuable religious works of art. There is even a tower called the Aurora Tower located on a hilltop from where you can get breathtaking vistas and panoramic views of the town and the coastline. You can check out the historical monuments – Torre Aurora and the Convento dei Cappuccini (Capuchin Convent) to get a glimpse of the village’s rich history.
The terraced hillsides of Monterosso are laden with olive and lemon groves, which are a major part of the agriculture industry here. You can sample fresh dishes made with local ingredients at a restaurant in Monterosso, accompanied by local wine.
Where to Stay in Monterosso
Budget Stays in Monterosso:
Affittacamere Da Flo is a budget-friendly guesthouse offering simple and clean rooms, located in a quiet area of Monterosso, with easy access to the beach and hiking trails.
Albergo Suisse Bellevue is another budget accommodation in Monterosso providing basic rooms with shared bathrooms, situated in a central location and offering affordability and convenience.
Mid-Range Hotels in Monterosso:
Hotel Punta Mesco is a charming mid-range hotel located near the Monterosso beach, offering comfortable rooms, a rooftop terrace, and a central location within walking distance of the village center.
Hotel Margherita is a family-run hotel featuring cozy rooms, a garden terrace, and a convenient location close to the beach and train station.
Luxury Hotels in Monterosso:
Hotel Porto Roca is a luxury hotel in Monterosso, perched on a cliffside with breathtaking sea views, elegant rooms, and a panoramic terrace.
What is the Most Beautiful Town in Cinque Terre?
Although all the towns in Cinque Terre are quite similar, there are unique aspects to each of them. It’s hard to say what the most beautiful town in Cinque Terre is for many reasons. First of all, the layout of the towns is very similar with all of them facing the river and having lots of colorful buildings set on a cliff. Secondly, everyone has their own preferences and opinion.
Generally speaking, Riomaggiore, Manarola and Vernazza are the largest, most popular and the most beautiful towns in Cinque Terre which is why many people also choose to stay in one of these, instead of at La Spezia.
How Many Days to Spend in Cinque Terre?
So, how many days should you spend in Cinque Terre? Technically speaking, you could see all them in one day but that’s all you would be doing – just seeing them. To see the five villages of Cinque Terre at your own pace, leisurely, and to fully experience them, you’d need to spend at least 2 days in Cinque Terre.
Hiking in the 5 Towns of Cinque Terre
1. Sentiero Azzurro (Blue Trail)
The most popular and the longest hiking trail in Cinque Terre, the Blue Trail spans 12 km (7.5 miles) and covers all the 5 villages of Cinque Terre. This rigorous but exciting trail offers a glimpse of all the villages and the coastline of Cinque Terre. Some of the sections of this trail require the Cinque Terre card for access, which you can purchase online or at train stations.
2. Vernazza to Corniglia
A scenic and only moderately difficult hike, the trail from Vernazza to Corniglia offers a birds-eye view of Vernazza, panoramic views of the coastline as well as terraced vineyards. Reaching Corniglia from Vernazza by this trail can take anywhere between 1.5-2 hours, depending on your speed and fitness level.
3. Vernazza to Monterosso
The famous hike from Vernazza to Monterosso is part of the Sentiero Azzurro (Blue Trail), which is the main coastal trail connecting all five villages of Cinque Terre. With both uphill and downhill sections, the difficulty of this hike is moderate and it takes 1.5-2 hours to cover the stretch of 3.6 km (2.2 miles). Since the terrain of this path is uneven with a combination of dirt paths and stone steps, it’s advisable to wear proper hiking shoes. Take note that hike can only be accessed with a Cinque Terre hiking card.
4. Manarola to Riomaggiore (Via dell’Amore)
The Lover’s Lane hike from Manarola to Riomaggiore is a short but sweet hike of just 1 km (0.6 miles). Since the path is mostly flat and paved, it is perfect for a leisurely stroll between these two famous Cinque Terre towns and is suitable for families with kids. There is an abundance of love locks and graffiti, making it an interesting hike in Cinque Terre.
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