Italy's Charming Cinque Terre Towns

Italy's Charming Cinque Terre Towns

Breathtakingly nestled atop the sides of cliffs and washed by the blue waters of the Ligurian Sea, the 5 dazzling colorful Italian towns have won the affection of thousands of travelers from all over the world. In fact, recently Cinque Terre has become such a popular destination because of its unparalleled beauty, that planning your trip there in advance is more of a "must" than a simple recommendation! Translated from Italian as "five lands" and pronounced as "chinkwe terrei", the mind-boggling traditional fishing villages are more than 500 years old and have remained practically intact, which surely adds them some extra charm. On this page, we're happy to share information about each of the five villages, answer the often asked questions, as well as give handy tips for making your Cinque Terre vacation even more complete!

 

Is Cinque Terre worth it?

In case the jaw-dropping photos of this part of Italy surprisingly haven't stolen your heart and you aren't sure whether a Cinque Terre visit should make it onto your travel plans, trust us, it should! Saving at least one day can already be enough to explore the best attractions and spots, especially if you have a well thought through Cinque Terre itinerary. You can reach Cinque Terre by train which arrives at nearby La Spezia from where you may, as an option, make your way to the closest of the villages by car.

However, the most widespread option for exploring the villages is via the hiking trails. But if you're not a fan of long walks, have no worries and for sure don't let this keep you from visiting the towns. Alternatively, you may use the Cinque Terre Express trains, making stops in all Cinque Terre villages on the route from La Spezia to Levanto and vice versa. Another great option is taking a Cinque Terre ferry from La Spezia to Monterosso as this way you can enjoy the views from water as well.

 

Where is Cinque Terre, Italy located?

Those who are aiming at Northern Italy travel have the best chances of spending time in the glorious five. The villages are located not far from Genoa on Italy's northwest coast, explaining why taking a Cinque Terre day trip from Florence or visiting Cinque Terre from Milan or Venice are highly common choices. The best time to visit the Cinque towns is during the hotter months of the year from late spring to early fall, in winter it will definitely be less crowded yet the weather may be rainy with little sunshine.

In case you wish to spend more than one day in this part of the Italian Riviera, you'll have to keep in mind that, as a rule, there is very limited availability of the accommodation options. The towns are petite, meaning that there aren't too many Cinque Terre places to stay at to select from right from the start, not to mention the skyrocket prices, especially during the warmer months. Thus, if staying overnight in Cinque Terre isn't a top priority for you, we'd advise to visit them as a day tour.

 

What are the Top Cinque Terre Things to Do?

Apart from snapping hundreds of gorgeous photos and wandering the tiny streets of the villages, taking a Cinque Terre hike is, indeed, among the most favored activities in the area. All five towns are connected by trails, making it possible to see the best of Cinque Terre in one day. To pass the entire hiking route doesn't require much preparation beforehand, yet, proper footwear and comfortable walking shoes will without question be needed as sometimes the footpaths are steep, there are many steps, and although some parts of the trail are rather flat, most of the distance is rocky with a cobblestone surface.

Some sections of the route can take about 30-40 minutes on foot from one village to the next, others are more lengthy and take around 2.5 hours. Although you need to watch your step when walking, the trails are quite safe, and, without a doubt, the views of the olive groves, vineyards, the blues of the sea, and the adorable color-rich villages placed ahead from one of the numerous lookout viewpoints are an experience to remember for years! Plus, as mentioned previously, you may always spice up your time by taking a Cinque Terre boat tour, for instance, for your return ride back to the station after the hike.

Monterosso al Mare, Italy
Monterosso al Mare, Cinque Terre

Opening the list of the five Cinque villages is Monterosso, it is usually one of the first places to be visited by travelers on Cinque Terre tours. This gorgeous town is also the largest, noted for having the best of all Cinque Terre beaches (simply called Monterosso beach). Mentioning the unmissable sights, the Aurora Tower, the Capuchin Friars Monastery, and the lovely Giovanni Battista Church are certainly highlights worth seeing. Generally, the Cinque Terre hiking trails begin (or end) here as well.

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Vernazza, Italy
Vernazza, Cinque Terre

Easily connected by the Monterosso - Vernazza Cinque Terre trail (which takes about 1 hour and 15 minutes on foot) is alluring Vernazza. The little town is home to numerous historic sights, including the famous Doria Castle which dates back to the 11th century, its tower that's set on the edge of a cliff is a popular photo stop. Other landmarks to see in Vernazza are the Santa Margherita di Antiochia church as well as the Marconi Square. A stroll down to the harbor with lined finishing boats will also grant you with spectacular spots for taking pictures.

Corniglia, Italy
Corniglia, Cinque Terre

Crave to see some phenomenal views? Passing the next 1.5-hour section of the trail to Corniglia with many uphill rises and steps surely pays off and can easily become one of the memorable experiences of the trip. The town of Corniglia is the only village not set on water, yet it is surrounded by stunning vineyard terraces. It is also noted for the production of its delicious Cinque Terre wine, the tasting of which can be your reward for completing the walk. Stopping by the well and the Oratory Santa Caterina can be a great addition to your itinerary for Cinque Terre too.

Manarola, Italy
Manarola, Cinque Terre

Perhaps the most photographed and favored of all Cinque Terre cities, breathtaking Manarola is reached by the next long leg of the trek, opening indescribable coastline views. The 5 km (3-mile) distance is usually covered in 2 and a half hours. Among the must-sees in town are the San Lorenzo Church, the Disciplinati Oratory, the Bastion, as well as the main square (called piazza). The dazzling fishing village of Manarola boasts numerous cafes, therefore, make sure to treat yourself to lunch with seafood or some snacks while there.

Riomaggiore, Italy
Riomaggiore, Cinque Terre

Usually the ending (or starting) point of the extensive walking path to see the villages, Riomaggiore, is a heart stealer! It takes about 1 hour to reach it from Manarola by the renown Path of Love, called Via dell'Amore. It is often rated by visitors as Cinque Terre's best town for its adorable looks, and is home to a tiny harbor and several sights worth checking out. They are: the Castello di Riomaggiore castle, the San Rocco Church, and the Madonna di Montenero Sanctuary.

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