Caleb and I went to Italy a couple years ago for our honeymoon and one of the places we visited was the Cinque Terre. The Cinque Terre is a very special part of Italy located on the northwestern coast of the country. We had the best time visiting and can't wait to go back some day and spend a few days there just relaxing on the beach, drinking wine, and enjoying the views! I want to share with you though some of the wonderful places we did get a chance to visit while we were there in a little quick guide. For reference, Cinque Terre means "five villages," and the five villages are Riomaggoire, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, and Monterosso.
There are a few options for getting to the Cinque Terre from other parts of Italy. You can take a bus, a train, or you can drive. Driving is not recommended as parking is very limited in the area.
The best major city to travel to the Cinque Terre from by bus or train is Florence. You can take the Italia Rail from Florence to Riomaggorie and it takes around 2 1/2 hours. If you prefer a guided tour and getting there by bus, you can book a day tour from Florence. We personally chose this day tour through Florence Tasting when we visited the Cinque Terre. It was priced at €110 per person and lasts about 12 hours.
There are 3 options for getting around to the 5 villages of the Cinque Terre which are by foot, by train, or by boat.
One of the most breath taking ways to see the Cinque Terre is by hiking through the area. The best way to do this is to hike along Trail #2, which is the Sentiero Azzuro or Blue Trail. The trail runs along the coast and it will take you around 6 hours to get from start to finish. You can start either in Monterosso and head south or you can start in Riomaggoire and head north. You can take your breaks from hiking while exploring each of the towns.
The easiest way to get from town to town is by train. The train stops in all 5 towns as well as a town called La Spezia, which is just outside of the Cinque Terre and is known as the main hub. This is where any trains you take from outside the area like Florence would stop for you if you are wanting to visit the Cinque Terre. La Spezia is about a 10 minute train ride to Riomaggoire and each of the other towns are only 5 minutes apart. It is recommended that you get a Cinque Terre Card for €10 for a day because it will get you unlimited rides on the line that goes to all 5 towns as well as access to the hiking trails and some museums. If you buy a 1 time train ticket for €1.80, make sure you validate your ticket at the station just before you get on the train. This shows that you're using the ticket for this ride and it wasn't previously used on a different ride. If you don't validate the ticket before you get on the train though, the conductor will charge you a lot of money to do it on the train.
The last way to get from town to town is by boat. There are a few different options, too, when it comes to getting around by boat. You can take a ferry, a boat tour from Manarola or Riomaggoire, or rent a private boat. You can catch the ferry from Monterosso and La Spezia and it will drop you off at every town except Corniglia.
Things to Do
The village of Riomaggoire is known for the beautiful colorful houses you always see in photos of the Cinque Terre. The best views of them are from Trail 531 and Trail 2. The town has some lovely shops and places to grab a bite to eat, as well. We recommend stopping in to Giammi Cafe and having a cappuccino and croissants first thing in the morning. This is also the best place to take a boat tour from!
This is the Cinque Terre's most romantic village. It's on top of a hill and has great views of the water. If you take a boat tour from Riomaggoire, you will be dropped off in Manarola. It is a wonderful experience that we highly recommend! We loved doing the boat tour and exploring this little village on our honeymoon. Our favorite part of this village was just relaxing up on a high cliff and watching the sea. Another cool stop to check out in this village is the Chiesa di San Lorenzo, which is a beautiful church.
Head over to the lookout called the Bar Terza Terra for some amazing views in Corniglia. This is also a great place to grab some drinks and food to relax with while enjoying the views of the sea. Another great place for some beautiful views is the Borgo Storico di Corniglia. Bring your walking shoes though because this is a hiking trail and will require some walking up and down hills.
My personal favorite village, Vernazza is where you can get in some amazing beach time. A great place to grab some lunch is Belforte and if you're up for some gelato (who isn't!?) stop by Gelateria Vernazza. For some history, you can check out the Castello Doria, which is a watchtower that use to belong to a much larger castle. It costs €1.50 to enter and climb the tower.
To view some fine art, tombs, and a beautiful church, visit the Church of San Francesco and Monastery. The church sits up on a hill, so it provides for some great views, too. It's a bit of a climb to get to, but the Monumento a San Francesco is worth it. It is a beautiful statue and once you get to it you'll be provided with a breathtaking panoramic view. Bring your swimsuit and towel with you to Monterosso, too, so you can relax at Spiaggia di Fegina. It is supposedly one of the 25 sexiest beaches in the world.
Where to Stay
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I’m Diana; curator & author of Tiny Dapper Fox. Here you’ll find posts on motherhood, home life, travel, & fashion/beauty as well as City Guides for places all around the world. Make yourself cozy and let’s be friends!
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