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The Cinque Terre (“five lands”) are five incredibly picturesque fishing communities on Italy’s north-west coast, their candy-colored homes perched atop cliffs and along the sides of ravines. These settlements are so picturesque that they served as the inspiration for a Disney film (Luca). This is all that people adore about Italy: the water, excellent cuisine and wine, breathtaking scenery, and endless photo ops.

Thousands of daytrippers cram into the tiny streets of this once beautiful area of the Bel Paese, anxious to snap a few quick photos for Instagram before heading elsewhere. Today, however, this very same beauty has become a scourge. Is it too crowded in Cinque Terre? Without a doubt. Does it make it harder for you to enjoy it? If you take your time, no. While most visitors just spend a day or two touring the five towns, spending three or four days here will allow you to really appreciate this unique scenery.

Viscerally stunning Cinque Terre is one of the most inaccessible regions of Italy; the train arrived a century ago, and the solitary road only arrived in the 1960s. Gaze up past those multicoloured homes; the occupants have been terraced the cliff slopes for more than a millennium, producing wine and olives that were once the talk of Europe’s elite banquets.

With about 120 km (75 mi) of footpaths allowing you to explore it in its unadulterated state, the entire region is now a national park that honours both Mother Nature and human creativity. However, this is a place to unwind as well as a place to walk. Liguria, as a whole, is known for its mediaeval castles strewn over the shore. From these, you can see the waves pounding against the rocks. Have a glass of wine that was grown right there on those cliffs. See the oceans ignite at sunset. Thank goodness you went on more than a day excursion.

You can make the most of your trip to this must-see Italian location by following the advice in this Cinque Terre guide.

The five villages of Cinque Terre are introduced.

The Riomaggiore

Atmosphere: The most southern settlement has excellent pubs and great eating establishments squeezed into its little terraces. This is your best option if you’re unsure of where to begin when visiting Cinque Terre.

View: The cliffside castle perched above the settlement, Castello di Riomaggiore

Eat: Grab a pastry or a piece of focaccia from Panificio Rosi for a quick lunch or in the morning. A Pié de Ma is a fantastic wine bar and restaurant perched on the cliffs with the greatest views in town and an unequalled glass selection of local wines. La Lampara is an excellent seafood restaurant owned by two Sicilian brothers.

Stay: In the higher section of the hamlet, Locanda Ca da Iride offers basic, cosy rooms (but no breakfast).

The Manarola

Emotions: Possibly the most charming of the Cinque Terre, charming Manarola features homes piled on top of one other and over the cliffs, along with the most charming main street that winds down a canyon to the edge of the water.

See: Immerse yourself in cliffside vineyards with breathtaking sea views by following the footpath that forks upward from the village’s northern edge.

Eat: Cappun Magru has delicious sandwiches, pastries, and cakes that go well with local wine, and is open for breakfast until late lunch. For aperitivo with a view, Nessun Dorma is hard to top—it’s perched atop a cliff and offers stunning sunset views. Located in the centre of the village, Da Aristide is a charming restaurant managed by a family. Taste the muscoli ripieni, which are mussels cooked by nonna Grazia with egg, parmesan, and mortadella.

Stay: In the calmer, upper section of the village, Posidonia is a charming guesthouse with amazing owners.


Feelings: The sole cliffside settlement in the area is tiny Corniglia, which is tucked away high above the waves. Cinque Terre is seen from this vantage point.

See: Ascend (or, easier, descend) the 383 steps that separate the village from the sea-level rail station. While doing so, enjoy the vistas.

Eat: For on-the-go meals or snacks, Dai Luca has panini, foccacia, and street food; Terra Rossa, a wine bar, serves a great array of regional fare and beverages with a lovely garden view. Serving the greatest foods from the Cinque Terre, the charming osteria (café) in the settlement is called Cantina de Mananan.

Stay: Apartments and rooms with sea views are available at Il Carugio di Corniglia.


Feelings: Despite being busy, Vernazza, the busiest village, was once the most significant. Climb the steep staircases to discover peaceful mediaeval alleyways, which are as winding and evocative as the caruggi of Genoa, the regional capital.

Explore the charming 13th-century church of Santa Margherita d’Antiochia by strolling around the little harbour.

Eat: Best place for breakfast is Il Pirata delle Cinque Terre, which serves delicious lunch and dinner along with Sicilian granita and pastries in the morning. Get a pasta box or snack from Pippo a Vernazza, then visit the neighbouring Cantina Cheo for a wine tasting to drink it all down. Although it’s a hike to get there, Ristorante La Torre boasts breathtaking views of the Mediterranean.

Stay: The majority of the accommodations in the village that Restaurant Gianni Franzi offers enjoy breathtaking views of the sea.

Mare Monterosso

Feelings: Known as simple “Monterosso” due to its long, sandy beach, this is the largest settlement and the one that most resembles an ordinary beach resort.

See: Take a stroll through the maze-like old town and make your way up to the humbug-striped Convento dei Cappuccini to view a Van Dyck Crucifixion.

Eat: if you’re feeling very adventurous, try the torta monterossina, which is packed with chocolate and jam. Start the day with pastries from Pasticceria Laura. Buranco is a restaurant, winery, and agriturismo located just outside of the centre; you might spend a whole day there. After enjoying a delicious home-cooked lunch, take a bottle and stroll around the vineyard. Since 1980, Miky Ristorante has been a beloved local landmark.

Stay: Just beyond the village’s historic centre, the friendly Hotel Marina is located close to Buranco.

In what season should I visit Cinque Terre?

Cinque Terre has lovely, temperate summers, just like the rest of Liguria. However, this isn’t really a place to kick back on the beach like neighbouring resorts along the Italian Riviera are—not least since Monterosso boasts the only true beach, complete with small stones and sand. The other communities offer swimming harbours, rocky bays, or boulders that double as diving boards. Spring and fall are better bets because most guests come for an active vacation with lots of trekking. The area is quieter in the winter, though hiking isn’t always feasible due to bad weather. The location is crowded all year round, especially in the summer. Verify your schedule against Italian public holidays, as the villages may be overflowing with day visitors.

How much time ought I to spend in the Cinque Terre area?

The majority of visitors come here on day trips, and although it is possible to see all five towns in one day, doing so would be to miss the area’s natural beauty. Cinque Terre, like Venice, is so well-known and packed that you’ll probably be let down if you only get a cursory look.

Rather, to truly get a sense, you’ll probably need to spend three or four full days in Cinque Terre. This provides you with the opportunity to explore the villages, stroll along some of the Sentiero Azzurro routes, enjoy a glass of the local wine while admiring the scenery, and even venture to some of the settlements situated higher up on the cliffs. If you give it a week, you can include less well-known treks and see some of the most breathtaking vineyards in Italy. Extended travel is preferable — I thoroughly loved my two-week trip on my first excursion.

Is Cinque Terre easy to get to and from?

It’s crucial to spend as much time as possible here because this is a somewhat difficult-to-reach location. The closest airports to Cinque Terre are Pisa and Genoa, which are both roughly one to two hours away by train, depending on connections.

One very crucial note: it is best to avoid driving here. The few places to park inside the villages are for residents, therefore parking is very expensive, very limited, and typically requires a long, steep climb outside. For those who have never driven on a cliffside in Italy, even as an experienced driver, I found that driving on the narrow roads perched above the sea is somewhat intimidating; the Amalfi Coast pales in comparison to these narrow lanes. Even if you are travelling with a car, parking outside of Cinque Terre (try La Spezia or Levanto) and arriving by train is preferable. On this, I swear to you.

Rail is unquestionably the most efficient means to go between the settlements. The trains travel a short distance between each of the five settlements, making stops every fifteen to twenty minutes during the day. Ticket prices range from €5 to €10 each voyage, depending on the season (even for a quick two-minute hop). Purchasing a timed Cinque Terre Card, which grants unlimited rail travel between Levanto and La Spezia (the area’s northern and southern cities), is frequently a better deal. In addition, bus transportation to the farther-flung communities and hiking expenses are covered by the card. The national park receives the proceeds.

Another way to move about is by boat. Between La Spezia and Levanto, the Navigazione Golfo dei Poeti passes through every village. A rail from Genoa goes into Golfo Paradiso. But in poor weather, services can be suspended, and boarding with a lot of luggage can be challenging.

The only practical means of transportation within the settlements is walking, and the paths are steep. It will undoubtedly be challenging for anyone with mobility concerns. Much of the coastal area of Monterosso and the centres of Corniglia and Vernazza are flat. For those who have trouble moving around, Manarola and Riomaggiore are more difficult.

Highlights of Cinque Terre Activities

Climb a portion of the Sentiero Azzurro

The most well-known route across Cinque Terre is the Sentiero Azzurro, or “Blue Trail,” which spans the cliff faces and connects all five villages (designated on maps as SVA). It’s been uncommon to find it completely open in recent years due to winter storm damage, which has caused some lengthy sections to close. The shortest distance is from Corniglia to Vernazza (2.5 miles, with a sharp descent at the conclusion); this stretch is actually more of a moderate level. Before you leave, visit the national park website to acquire the most recent information on closures.

View the shoreline from the water.

See the breathtaking scenery of the Cinque Terre from the water by renting a boat from Navigazione Golfo dei Poeti. It gives you an impression of how isolated the area is (there was no road here until the 1960s) and how the inhabitants have carved out terraces from the sheer cliffs, creating useful areas out of an otherwise unusable setting. You can continue to La Spezia or (my choice) Levanto after docking at the tiny harbours of the villages, which is a fantastic experience.

Go along the Via dell’Amore.

The most well-known stroll in the Cinque Terre has traditionally been the 1 km (half a mile) level, easily accessible Via dell’Amore walkway that connects Riomaggiore and Manarola. It will reopen for guided visits only in July 2024 after being closed since 2012 owing to damage from landslides. The tours highlight the area’s rich history and encourage you to look past the eye-popping houses. I was impressed when I got a sneak preview last year.

Try the regional wine.

Grown among the cliffs, Cinque Terre is noted for its sea-flecked, salty white wine, which has been enjoyed for centuries. A Pié de Ma in Riomaggiore and Cappun Magru in Manarola are two bars that serve it by the glass and both provide wine flights and tastings.

One of my favourite activities in Cinque Terre

It’s time for another glass of wine. Nothing, in my opinion, captures the essence of Cinque Terre like sitting high atop the hills and learning about the people who have made bottles that were so well-known during the Renaissance that they were placed on the tables of popes and monarchs. While the vineyards are a shadow of their former glory, they remain vital to stabilise the increasingly precarious landscape and mitigate the effects of climate change, even though tilling those cliffsides is physically taxing.

A vineyard tour is the most enjoyable and optimal method to comprehend this. When I take a trip from Cheo, I’ll take you up onto the hills above Vernazza, where the vineyards offer breathtaking views of the sea, the castle, and the village below. Remember to sample Cinque Terre’s famed sciacchetrà wine, which is divinely sweet and has an amazing tang from the sea breeze.

For Cinque Terre, how much money do I need?

Cinque Terre is pricey even by Italian standards; if you go on a weekend or during peak season, prices are likely to quadruple. There aren’t many hotels in this area, so your best option is usually to rent a room without breakfast (affittacamere), which is rather pricey given the quality of what’s offered. The cost of lodging in La Spezia and Levanto is typically lower, and there are usually fewer issues with local renters being evicted by homeowners to make way for Airbnbs—a big concern in the villages. That aside, the charm of Cinque Terre is more potent at night.

Liguria is the birthplace of Italian street cuisine, and there are lots of tiny bakeries serving delicious snacks like focaccia that are perfect for lunch. On the plus side, you won’t find any cheap restaurants or trattorias—prices are on par with those of upscale establishments in big cities.

The average daily price for:

  • Room at hostel €20–40 (dorm spot)
  • Standard room, €130–250 for two
  • Airbnb-compatible self-catering apartment €150-250
  • A ticket for public transportation costs €5–€10.
  • Coffee, €1-4
  • Sandwich: €6–€12.
  • Two dinners for €60–150
  • €6–15 for a glass of Cinque Terre wine


No matter the season, wear layers.

Along the coast of Liguria, the weather can change quickly, so even in the height of summer, you should always pack a jacket or sweater for the evening and for daytime boat rides.

Get ready to walk a lot.

Never undervalue how difficult the villages can be for people who have mobility issues. Manarola and Riomaggiore are very steep, even if you aren’t planning on hiking. It is important to keep in mind that there aren’t many porter services available, so you’ll need to carry your bags up the cliffside while making your hotel reservation.

Invest in a Cinque Terre card.

Skip the cost and go from village to village. With the card, you can ride the bus lines to the settlements perched higher on the cliffs and access all of the hiking paths. The national park receives the revenue.

If lodging in the villages is scarce, consider staying in Levanto or La Spezia.
If you’re booking at the last minute and the villages are sold out, try Levanto or La Spezia (I prefer Levanto – La Spezia is a bigger city). Both cities are covered in Cinque Terre rail tickets.

Encourage neighbourhood companies

Cinque Terre’s future hinges, like that of all overtourismed places, on how visitors handle it. Get souvenirs from the neighborhood’s artisan stores and dine at eateries that serve regional wine and seasoned anchovies. The latter is particularly significant since it shows how the replanting of grapes by youthful residents is stabilising the brittle cliff terraces.

Be cautious when using the trails.

Despite being extremely tiny at times and vertiginous cliffside routes, Cinque Terre’s walkways are so well-known that you frequently feel as though you are cushioned against the natural world. To prevent mistakes, always halt to capture a picture instead of strolling while holding your camera. There is very little shade, so wear appropriate footwear (flip flops are prohibited and subject to checks at the trailheads). You should also pack a lot of water. Because this is such a delicate ecosystem, you should always stay on the approved route. Naturally, avoid littering as well.

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