UNESCO World Heritage site, 5 beautiful villages to visit : Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola & Riomaggiore. Our recommendations for 2, 3 or 4 days trip and what you need to know before booking your trip…
TIP N°1 : A lot of coastal trails are closed due to landslide, so except from Vernazza to Monterosso, you’ll mainly need to take anoter transportation means (train is about 5 mn between each village). This might impact the time you want to spend in Cinque Terre. You can find the latest information on trails here or simply download the free app “Parco Nazionale delle 5 Terre“.
TIP N°2 : Buy “Cinque Terre Card”. Directly available on this website, you could initially chose between 2 options :
- Cinque Terre Trekking Card : it gives access to all the trails, some guided tours, public restrooms (1€), wifi in hot spots and museum discounts in La Spezia. Adult price for 1 day = 7,5€ // Family price (2 adults + 2 children) for 1 day = 19,6€
- Cinque Terre Card Treno : all the avantages from the trekking card + unlimited 2nd class regional trains between La Spezia & Levanto stations. You can find the planning of the trains here : it’s very easy with very frequent trains. Adult price for 1 day = 16€ // 3 days pack = 41€ = Family price (2 adults + 2 children) for 1 day
Since a lot of trails are closed, currently you cannot purchase the first one; and even if it was available, we highly recommend you to order the second one (TRENO CARD), even if it’s a bit more expensive. It’s also more convenient if you want to have dinner in one of the villages and then go back home…
TIP N°3 : You won’t find a lot of travel guides on Cinqueterre itself and even if we bought “Le Petit Futé”, we did not really find it useful. This article, as well as the app recommended in TIP N°1, should be enough for your trip.
TIP N°4 : YES, it is possible to visit the Cinqueterre in 1 day if you plan an express trip. For sure, you won’t plan any trail, but, thanks to the ‘Cinque Terre Card Treno’, you can arrive early in one of the 5 villages and then go from one to the other by train in just 5 minutes. It takes about 5-10mn to arrive in each port or must-do viewpoint.
How to arrive ?
• PLANE : Leaving from Paris, we took the plane to Genova International Airport (1h) where we took a taxi until the train station Genova Piazza Principe (airport – train station = approx. 20€). You can also take ‘Volabus’ shuttle (8mn walk from the airport) to Principe. From there, you can easily book a regional train until Levanto or La Spezia (we paid 15,5€ and booked our tickets the day before our arrival on trainline)
• TRAIN : Depending on where you come from, taking the train is obviously an easy way to go to Cinqueterre since you can directly arrive in Genova Piazza Principe train station and take the regional trains to Cinqueterre
• CAR : Just keep in mind that you won’t be able to park everywhere and depending on the place, the parking price can be high. You can find all the needed information about where to park here
Where to sleep ?
Sleeping in one of the 5 villages is of course very typical and nice, but it’s often quickly full and quite expensive. If you want to find a cheaper place where you can also easily park with various restaurants, you have two choices : Levanto or La Spezia.
• Levanto is much more “family & summer style”, with its beach, nice tiny places, stores and streets. • La Spezia is more industrial with its port, but with a great number of nice restaurants and the access to the boat for Portovenere is really easy. This is where we slept.
FOOD TIP : If you have time, go to eat to ‘Osteria All’Inferno’. A very typical, cheap and good place in La Spezia ! We highly recommend, but don’t forget to book in advance as this place is very quickly full in during the week.
Cinque Terre in 2 Days :
MUST-DO : the 5 villages of Cinque Terre with train card + the coastal trail from Vernazza to Monterosso (2H)
In 2 days, you will definitely have the time to visit the famous villages of Cinque Terre, and, thanks to the train card, you can just start with any of them. Still, you will find our own ranking with pictures based on our preferences.
Riomaggiore, our preferred one :
This is the most colorful village of Cinque Terre. The port is of course very typical and the narrow streets are steep.
We recommend you to eat at the restaurant ‘Veciu Muin’ hold by local people : it was so good that we ate twice here (the best was the Carbonara plate); it’s also very cheap for the quality of the food.
Since a lot of costal trails are closed, we decided to try the one going from the port of Riomaggiore to the Santuario di Nostra Signora di Montenero. It allows you to have a great view on the village from the heights, but be careful : you will face a LOT of stairs so we really recommend to take water with you. We stopped at the main view due to the strong wind.
Manarola, the amazing view :
We were amazed too by Manarola village.
Indeed, it might be the village with the greatest scenic viewpoints since you can very quickly and easily walk along the sea when going to the port and face the colored buildings and great landscape. You will easily find good places to have a drink or eat. We tried the most instagrammable one, ‘Nessun Dorma’ : great fruit juices and, of course, an amazing view on Manarola.
A few meters from there, you will also be able to enter Manarola’s cemetery with its unique atmosphere and view.
Vernazza, the 'most welcoming' village :
You will feel good in Vernazza, with its small beach, bell tower and port where you can see fishermen working.
After visiting this nice village, we started the only opened coastal trail to Monterosso. We highly recommend you to do it : you will discover beautiful landscapes over the sea and a crazy view on both villages. It took us about 2 hours; just keep in mind that sometimes the trail is really narrow and not very flat.
You can obviously start from Monterosso too, but we found it more convenient starting from Vernazza (less people going this way = less waiting time in narrow paths).
Monterosso Al Mar and its summer style :
Monterosso is the first village of the Cinque Terre when coming from Levanto and the train station stops directly in front of the beach; it’s a good way to start your visit since it’s a mix between the “summer style” of Levanto and the typical way of living of Vernazza. You will be able to go to swim or relax on the sand. Don’t hesitate to walk a bit further than the touristic restaurants if you are hungry; we ate at ‘Barabba’ in front of the sea, and the pizza as well as the sea food were good.
This is also as discussed a starting point from the great coastal trail to Vernazza.
Corniglia and its heights :
Corniglia is a very typical place and is the highest village of Cinque Terre. It does not really look like any of the other villages since you won’t find the usual port and access to the sea. Instead, if you continue your walk until the view point (near the Bar Terza Terra di Cadario Alison), you will perceive Vernazza and the sea. You can find as well nice tiny streets with shops, restaurants, bars and a great central place next to the Church. We have to admit though that we were a bit disappointed compared to the other villages but this is a must-do too.
We decided to have a drink on a more quiet place in a cosy garden with its great view on the sea and Vernazza : ‘La Posada’.
TIP : Don’t miss Scalinata Lardarina viewpoint when going from the train station to the village.
Cinque Terre in 3 or 4 Days :
If you are in Cinque Terre for more than 2 days, we highly recommend you to visit Portofino or Portovenere, or both of them, like we did ! In order to give an estimation, we stood 1/2 day in each of the 2 destinations.
Portofino, luxurious and beautiful village :
Initially a fishermen village, now the place for luxury brands and super-yachts, Portofino remains a very beautiful place to visit with a lot of charms.
You can easily take a regional train from La Spezia or Levanto to S.Margherita Ligure Portofino train station (around 7€ per person). From there, you have direct buses to Portofino (around 4€ against 40€ by taxi for 15 mn drive!).
TIP : Keep your camera on during the drive since you will discover amazing tiny beaches on the way to Portofino, like Baia di Paraggi.
You will discover the beautiful and cleaned streets, the expensive but stylish stores, and the very nice port where you can eat or have a drink. Of course, this is a bit “show off” style but still, the place is too nice not to enjoy it. We decided to go to eat a pizza at ‘Bar Gelateria Il Molo’ : low rate on tripadvisor, but one of the cheapest restaurant with a direct view on the port and the food was OK.
You will definitely need to go to the viewpoint near Chiesa di San Giorgio Church; it will allow you to get a great view from the heights on the village, but also Brown Castle as well as the sea from the other side. The castle is about 10-15 mn walk from the port.
Portovenere, the wilder and less touristic village
If you want to enjoy Italy on a quieter way with a bit more nature, you definitely need to go to Portovenere. You can easily take a boat from several different places to go to Portovenere; we decided to leave from La Spezia which is the closest starting point, and as a result, the quickest way to go there (around 30mn).
When arriving to the village, you will discover the colorful houses along the port. You will definitely need to walk a bit further and go to ‘Grotta di Lord Byron’ to enjoy the beautiful nature lanscape and the crazy colour of the water. Don’t forget to enter the church Chiesa di San Pietro (free) when going there (a few meters from the cave) to enjoy the limitless view over the sea.
We visited too the church Chiesa di San Lorenzo (free) and its beautiful flowers next to it; close to this place, you will perceive Castello Doria (castle) which you can visit; we chose not to pay and enjoy it from the outside.
TIP : Since you have your train card with you, we highly recommend you to chose Riomaggiore as you return destination; it allows you to get a great view from the sea of our preferred village (this is the only way to see the entire village from front side). Plus, this is the closest village from Cinque Terre when leaving Portovenere, so it will be cheaper compared to other villages and quicker.
You are planning to go to Cinque Terre and need additional information ? Don’t hesitate to contact us.