For travelers that arrive in Cinque Terre on the heels of Milan, Venice or Florence, this coastal stretch of Ligurian villages will feel like a breathe of fresh air. Cinque Terre translates to “Five Lands,” and it’s made up of Monterosso, Manarola, Vernazza, Corniglia and Riomaggiore. Make a point to visit all five – each village is its own little world, and there’s something to love about each one. Below is my guide to this region of Italy including the best beaches, viewpoints, Cinque Terre hotels, restaurants, photo locations, travel trips and more.
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The iconic Italian umbrellas of Monterosso Beach.
THREE DAYS. Yes, you can see all of Cinque Terre in just two days if you sprint through each of the five villages. But to really soak in the region and enjoy it at leisure, I suggest three to four full days. This affords you the time to visit all five villages, hike the Cinque Terre Trail and enjoy a couple relaxing afternoons in the water.
Nothing beats an afternoon of swimming, cliff jumping and gelato in Cinque Terre.
I loved all the al fresco dining in Monterosso.
The most iconic view of Cinque Terre is from the Punta Buonfiglio in charming Manarola.
It’s very easy to move between the five coastal villages.
CINQUE TERRE TRAIL
There are more than 70 miles of footpaths in Cinque Terre, a delight for both hikers and outdoor adventurers. The most popular trail connects the region’s first and last villages, Monterosso and Riomaggiore, via a 7.5 mile coastal hiking path. It’s a five to seven hour one-way trek to complete the trail, plus a 10 to 20-minute return train ride back to Corniglia, Vernazza, Manarola or Monterosso. Hikers must purchase a Cinque Terre Trekking Card that grants access to the trails, or Cinque Terre Train Card for unlimited train rides, plus trail access.
The only village in Cinque Terre without access to the water, Corniglia sits at the top of a terraced hill surrounded by vineyards and agricultural land. It’s the least famous of the five beloved villages, but serves as a peaceful escape from the midday bustle of its more popular neighbors. From the train station, visitors must climb 400 steps up the Lardarina to reach the village (sometimes there is a shuttle bus).
I suggest spending a half-day in Manarola – enough time to wander the quiet pedestrian alleyways, and then grab a rock for an afternoon of sunbathing and swimming. This village is home to Cinque Terre’s most iconic viewpoint that can be reached via an accessible coastal pathway from Manarola’s harbor. For visitors looking to really soak in the view, sit down for an Aperol Spritz at Nessun Dorma. It’s located just above the Punta Buonfiglio, and the wine bar’s views of the colorful village are pretty spectacular.
Monterosso is the first of the five villages, and the most accessible for tourists arriving by car. It’s also home to Monterosso Beach, the only true beach in Cinque Terre. This dreamy stretch of calm turquoise water sparkles under the sun, and during summer months, rows of orange + green sun umbrellas line the beach for the perfect Italian touch. Additionally, the seaside promenade leads to town where the pedestrian lanes are filled with al fresco dining, gelato shops, storefront boutiques and the picturesque black & white Church of St. John.
Riomaggiore is my favorite mix when it comes to viewpoints, food and swimming spots. Spend a quintessential Italian summer afternoon sunbathing on the rocks with pizza, book and towel, plus spectacular views of the colorful village.
It’s a hit with the tourists, and for good reason. Vernazza is considered one of the most beautiful villages in Italy. Nestled between Monterosso and Corniglia, this charming fishing village boasts a couple of truly epic viewpoints along the Cinque Terre Trail (easily accessible from town, even if you aren’t hiking the entire trail). The best view sits at the start of Hiking Trail 2, a 10-minute climb from the Vernazza harbor. Set aside a half-day for Vernazza to really soak in the town – explore the narrow alleys; sunbathe on the rocks with spectacular village views; visit Castello Doria; feast on fresh pasta and seafood; and swim at the tiny village beach.
Of all the villages, I spent the most time in Riomaggiore.
ALMAVENUS STUDIO SUITE (RIOMAGGIORE)
The hotel and apartment selection is far from stellar in Cinque Terre, which makes the charming Almavenus Studio Suite a rarity. While the apartment is updated, it still retains a lot of its Old World charm with an exposed brick wall and wood beam ceilings. If this one is available, book it.
CA DA MIRELA (RIOMAGGIORE)
Charming little apartment with the most amazing balcony that sits over the Riomaggiore waterfront. This is one of the best apartment balcony views in Cinque Terre. The Ca da Mirela apartment itself doesn’t have a ton of character, but it’s a clean and comfortable stay.
LA TORRETTA LODGE (MANAROLA)
One of the only luxury options in Cinque Terre, La Torretta Lodge sits tucked away in little Manarola. The lodge is home to just a handful of rooms and suites that become highly sought-after in busy season. For reference, I made our reservation seven months in advance.
LIFE CLASS APARTMENT (RIOMAGGIORE)
Recently renovated apartment that feels brand-new located in the middle of Riomaggiore. Guests are treated to modern amenities, everything feels very clean and up to date, a rarity in Cinque Terre. Life Class Apartment opens up to a charming little balcony that overlooks a spectacular view of the village waterfront.
MADA CHARM APARTMENTS (VERNAZZA)
Small apartment building in Vernazza, centrally located in the village. The Terrace apartment has a particularly lovely view of Vernazza, if you’re able to snag that room at Mada Charm.
SPAZIOSO APARTMENT (LA SPEZIA)
If nothing of quality is available in Cinque Terre, this three bedroom three bathroom apartment is La Spezia is clean, modern and incredibly spacious. In addition, the location is ideal, an eight-minute walk from the train station, and surrounded by cafes and restaurants.
Summer days in Cinque Terre.
Set in an 11-century castle with tables perched on the rocks above the sea, Belforte just might be the most spectacular dining experience in Cinque Terre. The menu is a mix of fresh seafood and pasta dishes.
GELATERIA 5TERRE (MANAROLA)
Small gelato shop that serves gelato in edible bowls with edible spoons, plus a menu of canolli and crepes.
GERLATERIA VERNAZZA (VERNAZZA)
Popular gelato shop located in the heart of little Vernazza.
KEPRIS PIZZERIA (RIOMAGGIORE)
Satisfy those pizza cravings with classic Italian pies at Kepris Pizzeria, ideally located near the train station in Riomaggiore. The pizzas are simple, traditional and absolutely delicious.
NESSUN DORMA (MANAROLA)
Even if you aren’t hungry, it’s worth having a glass of wine to sit and soak in the Manarola views from Nessun Dorma. The menu offers a delicious selection of bruschetta, fruit, wine, spritzers and beer.
SAN MARTINO GASTRONOMIA (MONTEROSSO)
Food is fresh, flavorful and affordable, served up on a little terrace in the pedestrian lanes of Monterosso. Menu includes seafood spaghetti, pesto pasta, seafood salad, pansotti and more.
TRATTORIA DAL BILLY (MANAROLA)
Reservations are a must at this small establishment tucked away in Manarola. Popular dishes include the seafood pasta, lobster pasta, mussels, swordfish truffle pasta and tiramisu.
For the best aperitivo view, head to Nessun Dorma in Manarola.
Cinque Terre is accessible by train or car. The main carpark is located in Monterosso, and from there tourists can travel between the villages by train. Alternatively, most tourists arrive by train from different regions of Italy.
Sweeping scenes over little Manarola.
Visitors move between Monterosso, Riomaggiore, Manarola, Vernazza and Cornigilia by train. The train system is easy to use, and the trains are pretty frequent. Tickets can be bought from the machines at each station, or you can opt for the Cinque Terre Train Card that offers unlimited train rides, plus access to the trails.
It’s incredibly easy to move between the villages by train.