Cinque Terre is exactly what you’d expect of the Italian Riviera. Colorful fishing villages dotting the coastline where life is slow and tourists flock from miles around to get a taste of the good life. I was lucky enough to find myself in Cinque Terre two summers in a row and found myself completely enamored by the people, the colorful houses lining the dramatic landscape, and just the general way of life. Check out this guide to effortlessly navigating the five perfectly imperfect villages that make up Cinque Terre.
For starters Cinque Terre is not one single city, but five separate yet equally beautiful villages. The five towns are: Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, and Monterosso al Mare. They say that Vernazza is the most beautiful, but I (and the locals of the four remaining towns) would argue that each village brings its own beauty and its own charm. It’s definitely worth visiting each and choosing for yourself!
The best way to get to Cinque Terre is via La Spezia. We took a train from Genoa (which is also worth the visit if you have time), but there are trains from most of the major cities in Italy. A train from Milan or Rome will get you there in about 3 hours. You can book tickets the day of at the train station or online here. Once arriving in La Spezia there’s a quick train that will bring you directly to Cinque Terre. The train goes through all five towns, so it will be the same no matter which you’re staying in.
The best way (and really the only way) to travel between the five towns is to get a Cinque Terre pass. The Cinque Terre pass gets you access to the hiking trails and the train that runs through each town. You can get them at the tourist offices, trains stations, or online here (the online card is only for the train and does not include the hiking pass).
There are also taxis that run between the cities.
Where to Stay
The hiking trails in Cinque Terre offer an unparalleled view of the dramatic coastline. There used to be a walking trail connecting the five cities that was less steep and easier to take on, but it has since closed down. The hikes between the cities are pretty steep so make sure you wear athletic shoes that you can easily walk in.
If you are only doing one hike, it should definitely be the one that runs between Monterosso and Vernazza (pictured below). This one was my favorite, and in my opinion the most scenic.
Have you been to Cinque Terre? Comment and let me know which town was your favorite!