After living in Italy for almost 2 years in total, I can definitely say Cinque Terre is one of my favorite destinations in the country to visit. It is located in the region of Liguria on the northwest coastline and is made up of 5 villages (Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, and Monterosso). Naturally, being that it has a beautiful coastline and a unique layout, it is a very popular tourist area. If you are looking for a beach vacation or planning to visit the country this is definitely a place worth your while.
Cinque Terre is the type of place you see on a postcard: colorful homes assorted into the hill sides, small fishing boats buoyed up in the water, and a crystal blue coastline. It’s a breath taking and overall relaxing place. You can easily make this location a day trip or plan to stay for a few days. With 2 days in total you can see everything and still manage to have some down time. When I was in Cinque Terre I spent a lot of time on the beach and roaming around each of the 5 villages; shopping, eating, and exploring
The best time of year to visit is anywhere from late spring to early fall. If you plan on being in Italy during the winter, I would suggest putting off this trip until you can visit during these times due to weather purposes.
Getting from village to village is rather simple. You can take a coastal hike or take the train that runs between each village. I have done both means of transportation and found both to be pleasant. If you do decide to hike, I would make sure the walking paths are open before you arrive. There have been several natural disasters since the time I have been there that have resulted in closed pathways so I would make sure to plan accordingly.
Of the 5 villages my favorite are Monterosso and Vernazza (which is the most popular to visit). Even though I like these villages the best, I would suggest traveling and exploring each of the 5 villages and deciding for yourself.
Riomaggiore is the closest village to La Spezia which is where any train that takes you to the area will stop. There is no beach here but it is a colorful town with some great places to eat and shop.
Manarola is the oldest of the villages. Here you can find the “Love’s Trail” and hiking trails that lead to vineyards
Corniglia is a quaint village that does not sit on the sea and it better known for it’s vineyards.
Vernazza is a famous fishing village and has some of the best seafood around. If you like seafood this is where I would suggest you eat.
Monterosso is a historical area that has a popular castle many tourist visit and is the only village with a sand beach. This is definitely where you will want to take a swim!
Traveling to Cinque Terre?
To get to Cinque Terre you can take a train to La Spezia from Florence, Bologna, or Pisa. The train ticket should run around €16 give or take. Once you get to La Spezia you will then take another train which takes you from village to village. You can buy a ticket to the first village (Riomaggiore) or you can buy a ticket that goes the whole way to the last village (Monterosso). Depending on where you are going tickets will range from €4 to €8
Cost of Traveling to Cinque Terre
If you are already in Italy, this trip will not be extremely expensive. However, if you are traveling internationally depending on where you are flying from flights are not cheap. This is a tourist area and the prizes can get high but there are free activities you can participate in such as going to the beach or hiking. Needless to say, it can be expensive or done on a budget. A day trip will be your cheapest option.
Cost of Transportation
If you are already in Italy and coming from Florence, Bologna, or Pisa, your train tickets will cost you in total about €25. If you are traveling from further locations you will have to factor in those cost.
Cost of Stay
If you are planning to stay in one of the villages there are hotels, bed and breakfasts, and hostels. The hotels rates will be the highest. On average €115 per night. A bed and breakfast will be €40 per night. A hostel will be anywhere from €20 – €30 per night.
Average Meal Cost
If you plan on eating at a sit down restaurant a meal will cost you anywhere from €25 – €40 including the table fee and drinks. If you aren’t willing to spend that amount you can find other options such as pizza or focaccia which both are amazing!
A few tips I would follow when traveling to this area include:
Choose one village to stay in
If you plan on hiking, do not bring much with you. The hikes are not short.
Go swimming in Monterosso (The last village)
Try a piece of focaccia
If you like seafood, eat up! Italian dishes are the best