I discovered these sublime colourful villages perched on the side of a cliff in April. It’s located in the region of Liguria at the edge of the Mediterranean sea. You will discover this place through many creeks.
The colours, the language, the smells, the food & the sunset will show you what the Italian Dolce Vita is! This UNESCO World Heritage National Park is 15km long, between Levanto and La Spezia.
As the name suggests, Cinque Terre are composed of Five Villages: Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso Al Mare.
How to get around?
There are different ways to get around these hilltop villages. The best and easiest ones are the train, the boat, the Tuk-tuk or by foot. It all depends on the budget you want to spend on visiting these villages. I advise against renting a car because cars are prohibited in most of the villages.
If you want to discover the best villages and see them from a new angle, I advise you to switch from one to another by varying the means used.
By foot through hiking trails: you can take the path along the Mediterranean Sea or the ones inland. It’s the opportunity to offer you the best views of the Cinque Terre between vineyards and olive trees. It’s also a good way to burn the calories of the many ice creams, pizzas and pasta you’ve had the night before! The trails are sometimes closed. When I went there in April only two were open.
The train through the railway tracks along the Mediterranean Sea: the train stops in each village and comes about every 20 minutes. It connects all villages which all have their own small station. This is the fastest way to visit Cinque Terre. There are daily tickets as well as tickets for several days which allow you to take the train and the bus but also to walk through the hiking trails that aren’t free.
The boat available during high season: visiting Cinque Terre by boat is also a way to have a wonderful view. It stops in all the villages except Corniglia.
Where to stay?
Accommodation remains the most important expenditure during a stay in Cinque Terre. It’s important to book it in advance. The hotel establishments are not so numerous in comparison to the high tourist affluence. It’s also important to know the distance between the train station and the accommodation chosen in Cinque Terre (don’t forget that these are climbing villages with narrow streets which isn’t the best way to move and get around if you carry large and heavy luggage).
For the ones who have small budgets or who don’t want to spend a lot on accommodation, I recommend you Levanto and La Spezia, the two cities closest to Cinque Terre that have a large offer. They are both served by the train that crosses the Cinque Terre. To find my accommodation I used Booking & Airbnb. The sites easily compare each proposed accommodation.
What’s the best season to visit Cinque Terre?
Like any tourist place, Cinque Terre is a destination that knows a peak of travellers and a price increase in July & August.
Thanks to its Mediterranean climate, it’s more than 18 degrees on average during the day from April to October. I therefore recommend you to visit Cinque Terre in April, May, June, September and October. You will be able to enjoy pleasant temperatures while avoiding the flow of tourists.
If you have no choice but to visit during school holidays, I advise you to get up early and enjoy the first hours of clarity.
How to go to Cinque Terre?
Obviously it depends on where you are going. The easiest way to me is to fly to Genoa or Pisa and then take the train. The villages are 80km away from Genoa and 90km away from Pisa.
Many airlines serve these two cities. I recommend you the website Skyscanner to compare prices from your departure city. It’s an online flight comparator which allow you to see immediately the best prices.
Once arrived in Cinque Terre I advise you to buy the Cinque Terre Card that gives you access to unlimited travels between each village.
It’s also possible to go by car but as previously announced most villages prohibit car traffic. You will have to leave your car in a car park near the cities of Levanto and La Spezia. You car will be totally useless to visit Cinque Terre so I wouldn’t recommend this solution except if you are making a road trip.
Manarola is one of the most beautiful villages of Cinque Terre. You will be able to enjoy the best aperitif plate overlooking the colourful houses in Nessun Dorma (I suggest you to get there before opening time!)
Riomaggiore is an old fishing village. It’s by far the most colourful of the Cinque Terre and has a wonderful view on the small harbour. It’s very pleasant to walk there.
Corniglia is a village perched on a cliff made of narrow streets and amazing views! It’s the only village that isn’t directly connected to the sea. It’s necessary to climb 377 steps to reach it but it’s worth the effort.
Vernazza is probably the most picturesque village in Cinque Terre. With its large square surrounded by colourful houses and its port full of boats of any kinds this village is one of my favourites.
Monterosso is the village with the most numerous infrastructures and the largest beaches. The church of the Capuchin Fathers is a monument that shouldn’t be missed. The panorama is extraordinary with a breath-taking view on the other four villages.
I hope this article was helpful when planning your visit to Cinque Terre. If you want to see more pictures and stories about my trip to Cinque Terre, I invite you to join me on Instagram.