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Whilst sharing my plans for a week in Italy with fellow hostelers over a few (a lot of) beers in Rome, It was suggested that I spend less time in the cities and get out to some of the coastline towns such as the Cinque Terre – I’m pleased I took the advice.
The Cinque Terre is not just one destination, but the name given to a string of five fishing villages along the Italian Riviera coastline; Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore.
The villages are renowned for the colourful houses sprawled across the cliffs. The beautiful hiking trails that will ensure a trip to remember.
Make sure you plan to visit each of the villages as they all offer something special.
You’d be forgiven for looking at the photos and assuming that the villages are quite similar, but once you arrive they all have a different feel and something unique, I’d recommend you allow time to stop in all five.
When is Best to Visit The Cinque Terre?
The Cinque Terre is a tourist hotspot, attracting over 2m visitors each year (with a population of just 4,000). You’ll want to plan your trip well to avoid the peak visitor numbers.
The best weather occurs between April and September, however I’d recommend you visit between April and June or in September.
However, Manorola is home to Italys largest Presepe (nativity scene) so if you’re looking for a Christmas holiday, consider visiting whilst this is open between December and January, more info here.
Should I take a day trip or travel on my own?
There are numerous day trips from Florence offering a full day visit. They generally stop in each of the five villages with a guide to show you around. When I took a day trip, there was free time to explore each village although it was very brief. If you’re short on time this is an ideal way to get a feel for this great place.
I included a Cinque Terre day trip on my Italy one week itinerary here.
However, if you can spare the time, I’d highly recommend undertaking the experience on your own and spending a few days to fully immerse yourself in the villages to ensure you do everything.
Without any cars, the best way of getting between the villages is via the local train from La Spezia which runs frequently and stops in each of the villages. There is a large station in La Spezia so you should be able to get here no matter which direction you’re travelling from.
Walking Between the Villages
Each of the villages is connected by a walking path which veers along the coastline with beautiful views.
You will need to purchase a Cinque Terre card to access the path and I’d highly recommend checking the status of your route as they are often closed temporarily due to weather and some are closed for the longer term such as the famous Via Dell’amore trail, you can check the status here.
Looking for other places to visit in Italy? Kelana by Kayla has some suggestions in her top 10 places to visit in Italy.
Things to do in the Cinque Terre
Try some seafood
As you’d expect from a string of five fishing villages, there is seafood everywhere and to suit all tastes. If you’re looking for a three course freshly prepared meal, try Ristorante Belforte in Vernazza where you’ll also get a beautiful view of the ocean. If you’re looking for something to go, try a seafood cone from Il Bocconcino in Monterosso.
Relax on the beaches
The Cinque Terre has a ton of beaches, the best ones are in Monterosso. If the weather allows it, an afternoon of relaxation by the sea won’t go amiss.
Take a boat trip
If you’re able to splash out a little more, then viewing the Cinque Terre from the sea will give a different perspective. Take a boat with a local from Manorola from €60.
This is pretty much something you should do in every Italian destination.
Stay over in Cinque Terre
Whilst you can comfortably see all five villages in one day, if you fancy immersing yourself a little more and trying some of the more adventurous activities such as hiking, consider staying over in the Cinque Terre. You could stay in any of the villages, but Vernazza is most recommended.