Cinque Terre is undoubtedly one of the most picturesque areas in Italy, and it’s impossible not to be charmed by the colorful quaint villages clinging on to the rugged cliffs along the coast and its warm hospitable locals.
Walking around the villages you can easily picture what it must have been like a hundred years ago when the area was so secluded that the only way to get there was by sea or mule paths.
These mule paths have been maintained and used over the centuries and are now popular hiking paths with the most amazing views of the sea-swept Cinque Terre …
How To Get Around
You can buy 1, 2, 3 or 7 day passes that are valid on all local trains on the Cinque Terre route – that way you can travel back and forth between all the towns as much as you like for the time period the pass is valid.
A 1 day pass costs €10 per person and lasts all day.
There is also a one-direction pass for €8 where you can travel in one direction, but by the end of the day you’ll still need to return to your city and pay a single ticket, so it kind of evens out anyway.
Single tickets cost between €1.80 and €2 between the villages when bought from the stations.
The 5 Villages
Cinque Terre literally translates to “5 lands”, and includes the five villages Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore. While they have many similarities, each village stands out with its own unique attributes and charm.
With a picturesque harbor and stunning views overlooking the village from the walking paths nearby, Vernazza is surrounded by hilly vineyards on one side, and the great ocean on the other.
The cafés are cute and cheap, perfect for a lunch stop.
The waves that clash against the dark rugged rocks that the little colorful houses in Manarola cling to really makes the view over the town one of the most dramatic in Cinque Terre.
Completely surrounded by vineyards, Manarola is a good stop to sit down in a Trattoria and taste the local wine – if you’re feeling for something more refreshing, Manarola has the best Gelateria in Cinque Terre called Gelateria Cinque Terre.
The largest village and also the flattest, Monterosso has two sandy beaches, a rare commodity in the area, it also offers more budget friendly hotels than the other villages and is often the place travelers base themselves in.
Riomaggiore was the village we stayed in, so we naturally spent more time there and loved the cafes and take-away restaurants that lined the steep main street of the village.
We never tired of the view of the houses tightly tucked next to each other on the steep hill.
Set high above the ocean on a hilltop, Corniglia is very different from the other villages that are located by the shores – the narrow, winding alleys in Corniglia charm visitors with its tiny Trattorias, Pizzerias and handicraft shops.
The views overlooking the other villages below and a small village even further into the secluded hills are stunning.
The village is so secluded that locals buy their daily necessities from vans that drive up to the village to sell food, cooking utensils and what not from the back of their vans.
Each town has its own charm and special touch, but if we had to choose our favorite, it would be Vernazza – it’s incredibly picturesque, offers beautiful views, and has a great vibe.
What To Eat & Drink
The locals are very friendly and open, and the cafes and eateries serve fantastic food for good prices – we were expecting over-priced meals since the villages in Cinque Terre are rather secluded and small, offering few options.
But instead we found that the meals were normal compared to other places in Italy, and we didn’t have one boring meal during our stay (coffee was a bit more, around €2.50).
Cinque Terre is a pesto paradise, and local diners serve all sorts of food smothered in the green deliciousness. We became huge fans of the “Gnocchi al Pesto” at Te La Do Io La Merenda in Riomaggiore (€6).
Cinque Terre grows a lot of lemons, which is why their dessert wine Limoncino is a local specialty.
Also make sure you try their local wine, which are grown from the unique vineyards you see all over the area clinging to the ocean cliffs and hills.
Cinque Terre was one of the most colorful areas we’ve ever been and we absolutely loved it! What are some of your best tips for travelers visiting Cinque Terre?