Cinque Terre is an area consisting of five small villages and can be found on the Italian coast near La Spezia. You’ve probably seen these villages on Instagram or television: the beautiful colored houses, built on cliffs along the coast. The area in which the villages of Cinque Terre are located is called the National Park Cinque Terre. The five villages are Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore. All five are listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites and are all worth a visit. Although they look a lot like each other, the villages are all different. We visited all of them in one day from Pisa, but you could also stay a few days in one of the villages. Curious what to do in the Cinque Terre? I’ll tell you all about it!
Getting to Cinque Terre
Cinque Terre is best reached by train from La Spezia or from Portofino. We stayed in Pisa, so we first had to take a train to La Spezia. This train ride took about 1 hour. We changed to the train to the Cinque Terre in La Spezia. A train ride between the villages never takes longer than 15 minutes.
Cinque Terre Card
At La Spezia station you can buy the so-called Cinque Terre Card, with allows you to travel between the villages by train the whole day and costs € 16 per person per day.. But you can also buy separate tickets, so check what is more beneficial for you. If you also want to walk between the villages, the card costs € 29,- per person per day. Walking is only possible between Monterosso and Vernazza and only if the conditions are good. So please inquire well in advance if the walking route is open. The villages are also accessible by boat, except for Corniglia. Again, the weather conditions must be good.
Monterosso Al Mare
When arriving by train from La Spezia, Monterosso is the last village of Cinque Terre. The uniqueness of this village is the (large) beach. There are numerous beach beds and umbrellas where you can relax for a few hours. Furthermore, you can have a drink at Restaurant Nuovo Eden which has a nice view over the beach. The center of the village is further up the hill. Here you will find several nice restaurants with delicious Italian food. Monterosso Al Mare is the largest village and you can spend at least a few hours here. The next village is Vernazza, which can be reached by foot, boat or train from Monterosso Al Mare. The part from Monterosso to Vernazza is the only part you can walk. Between the other towns you can’t do this anymore.
The second village is Vernazza. The special feature of Vernazza is its small harbor. Vernazza can also be reached by boat in good weather. If you want to walk from Vernazza to Monterosso, you will have a very nice view during this trip. Vernazza’s center is also home to numerous restaurants and souvenirs shops. If you only have limited time, then you can see Vernazza within an hour.
After Vernazza comes Corniglia. Corniglia is the only village you can’t reach by boat, because it’s not directly located by the sea. Instead, Corniglia is built about 100 meters higher on the mountain. The train station is located at the foot of the mountain, but if you bought tickets for the Cinque Terre National Park or pay €1 per single ride, you can use a shuttle bus that shuttles between the train station and the village. Within 10 minutes you’ll be at the top, but it can be very busy, so you’ll have to wait a while.
Naturally, you can also reach Corniglia on foot. You can do this via a staircase with 382 steps or via the winding road from the station to the top.
You will soon notice that this village is a lot quieter than the other villages. Yet a visit to Corniglia is definitely worth it! From Terrazza di Santa Maria have a beautiful view over the other villages and the surrounding area. Corniglia is the smallest town of Cinque Terre and you’ve seen all it within an hour.
Manarola is probably the oldest village of Cinque Terre and is mainly known for its local wine. If you walk down from the station, you can walk up the mountain on the northern side of Manarola. From here, you have a beautiful view over the village. Another great place to enjoy this view from is restaurant Nessun Dorma. In the meantime, you can enjoy a nice glass of wine here together with bruschetta, Italian ham and cheese!
Would you like to go sunbathing? Unfortunately, Manarola has no beach, but there are some large rocks on the coast where people are sunbathing!
The last village is my favorite! The houses in Riomaggiore have very nice colors and are beautifully built along the coast. The rocks off the coast provide the opportunity to enjoy a beautiful sunset. It is just lovely to sit there for a while. You will also find some nice restaurants.
Note: If you want to eat something in one of the restaurants in the evening, you usually have to make a reservation in advance. Due to its beautiful sunset, Riomaggiore is very popular in the evening. The restaurants will fill up quickly. There are some restaurants in Riomaggiore where you can watch the sunset.