Things to do in Cinque Terre, Italy
The dramatic coastlines and picturesque villages of the Cinque Terre draw over 2.4 million visitors a year! Cinque Terre has five villages, from North to South: Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore.
All villages can be visited within a single day trip but if you are into hiking two full days in the national park are recommended. Should you visit all five villages? They are quite similar so it is best to read each village’s description and decide on your own.
Tip: You could use Cinque Terre (La Spezia) as a starting location for your Tuscany road trip.
Vernazza, Cinque Terre
Vernazza is the most picturesque village in Cinque Terre and thereby also the most visited. The harbor area has a couple of terraces, relaxing areas, a small beach, and an old castle tower that you can visit on top. The hiking trail leads to a viewpoint for a panoramic view over the harbor of Vernazza.
Manarola in Italy with its surrounding vineyards is a small village similar to Vernazza. Less visited, and even better walking routes. Don’t miss the view from the Nessun Dorma terrace. Book a tour in the area
Good to know: Do not visit Cinque Terre by car. It is hard to get into the villages, and parking fees are as expensive as two train tickets from Pisa to Vernazza.
Most people who spend the night inside Cinque Terra will stay in Riomaggiore. It is one of the bigger villages and has loads of small hidden streets to get lost. Wear good shoes as this village is built against the steep rocks, which requires a little hiking to reach the top. The best part of Riomaggiore is the view of the harbor.
Ready to relax on a beach? Monterosso is the village that has a large sand beach with sunbeds and umbrellas in high season. This village is also a good option to spend the night. Other than that, it isn’t as beautiful as all the other villages.
Corniglia is a more local and laid back village. It is the least visited because it is the only village where the train doesn’t stop in the center. At the train station, you can either hop on a shuttle bus or take the stairs up towards Corniglia.
Corniglia is popular with hikers because you can do a few great hikes from this point.
While Portovenere is no part of Cinque Terre National Park, it is highly worth a visit. A little medieval town with loads of little streets to get lost, a harbor with terraces, and inside the old city guide is a narrow, colorful shopping street that leads towards the old church: Chiesa di San Pietro.
You can quickly get to Portovenere by bus from La Spezia. Ask the locals or use Google Maps.
Best time to visit Cinque Terre
As the majority of the visitors make a day trip to Cinque Terre, the best times to visit is before 09:30 AM and after 4:30 PM. If you have the flexibility to do more than a day-trip, it is recommended to spend the night at one of the five villages or a hotel in La Spezia.
If you can only make a day trip, take the train as early as possible. The train runs 24/7 so you might want to start at 6:30 AM and enjoy the calm morning. (Find the best train tickets here)
Date-wise, before April and after October is the less-visited months but also has the most chance of rain and cold weather.
How to visit Cinque Terre
It is not recommended to drive a car to Cinque Terre as the area is hard to reach and parking fees are very high. Better park your car near the train station in La Spezia and take a 10-minute train ride to reach the first village of Cinque Terre. If you’re renting a car in Italy we recommend Sunny Cars as they work with local car rental companies and the price includes all insurances. Book your rental car here.
Cinque Terre’s train network makes it easy to get from one village to another because it runs every couple of minutes. A single train ticket costs 4 EUR, a Cinque Terre day pass 16 EUR, and two-day 29 EUR. The price includes entrance to all the hiking routes.
Where to stay in Cinque Terre?
Accommodations inside Cinque Terre National Park are booked far in advance. Hotels are mostly available in Riomaggiore and Monterosso but expect to pay way over your typical budget per night. A more affordable choice is to stay in La Spezia where hotels and Airbnb’s start at 35 EUR a night.