So, you’ve seen the iconic coloured houses, the ones that hug the Italian coastline and thought, ‘I’d love to go to Cinque Terre one day’. Well, like you, I had this same thought a year ago, visited Cinque Terre and am now sharing my guide to this amazing location with you. I’ve based the guide on common travel questions that both myself and my friends have asked me about visiting Cinque Terre. If there are any other questions you have, please feel free to ask them in the comment box below.
The string of fishing towns called Cinque Terre (literally translated to ‘five towns’ in Italian) are perched high on the picturesque Italian Riviera and are connected by sea, rail and a set of ancient footpaths. Known for their captivating beauty, the five towns of Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore are comprised of many vibrantly coloured medieval fortresses and offer breath taking views of the Mediterranean below. Today, Cinque Terre is listed as a National Park and surrounding marine areas are protected by UNESCO.
Getting to Cinque Terre
Travelling to and through Cinque Terre isn’t as painful as what it may sound – you can easily get around Cinque Terre by rail and boat, which I have outlined below.
The train is definitely the easiest and most cost effective way to travel to and around the five towns. From Genoa (or Genova), you can take the local train to La Spezia, the stop to alight for the direct train through Cinque Terre. From La Spezia, you can purchase a Cinque Terre Train Card, which allows for unlimited train rides on the La Spezia line. Trains run frequently throughout the day and a timetable can be found by clicking on this link.
Alternatively, if you are travelling from one of the major Italian cities, catching the train to La Spezia and through Cinque Terre will only cost you the following:
From Rome: 3.5 – 4.5 hours travel and 40 – 50 Euros
From Venice: 5 – 6.5 hours travel and 40 – 50 Euros
From Florence: 3 hours travel and 15 – 25 Euros
From Genoa: 1.5 hours and 7 – 15 Euros
Travelling to Cinque Terre (except for Corniglia – as there is no water access point) can be made by boat with the Consorzio Marittimo Turistico running ferry services from La Spezia daily. The ferry service runs from the end of March until the beginning of November and a timetable can be found by clicking here.
Where to stay
If you are looking to take the train through Cinque Terre, I strongly suggest staying in La Spezia or Levanto, as they are both cities near the five towns and are both on the direct train line, allowing for easier travel. Staying just outside of the the five iconic towns will also be a lot cheaper than staying in one of the five. Personally, I’m a huge fan of Air BnB and suggest looking here – not only can you get some amazing accommodation for decent prices, the hosts are usually quite helpful with providing tips on where to eat and shop etc.
What to do
Cinque Terre has plenty of restaurants and bars for you to enjoy and whilst all towns have food options, Monterosso offers the most variety.
For amazing views of the Italian Riviera and coastline, there a plenty of vantage points that you can climb up to (like the one in my picture below). A must-do for anyone visiting Cinque Terre is the hour hike across the ancient footpaths from Monterosso to Vernazza. Not only will this hike give you an insight into how the locals would have travelled between the towns, you will also see beautiful panoramic views of the coast and have the opportunity to capture that iconic photo of the colourful fortresses nestled within the stark cliffs. My number one tip for this hike is to where comfortable shoes, as there is a bit of a climb and the gradient of the walk can be challenging (depending on your fitness level of course).
After your hike to Vernazza, a dip in the ocean is a must prior to trying a gelato from Gelateria II Porticciolo – I had the pistachio and hazelnut flavours, which were amazing!
Visiting Cinque Terre? Leave a comment – I’d love to hear about your trip 🙂