Travel to Cinque Terre

Cinque Terre

The 5 villages of Cinque Terre: Corniglia, Manarola, Monterosso al Mare, Riomaggiore and Vernazza are located in the Liguria region and were added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1997. The five villages are connected by hiking trails inside the Cinque Terre National Park.

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You can visit the villages between March and November with a ferry service that travels between the 5 villages from La Spezia, Portovenere, Levanto, Deiva Marina, Moneglia and Portofino and the islet of Palmaria. Additionally, from May onwards, it is possible to sail from Nervi (Genoa), Camogli and Rapallo. Or you can travel by rail and with local bus services. The villages consist of a cluster of colorful houses that seem to cling to the rocks interspersed between vineyards, laid out on steep terraces rising from the sea. Cinque Terre is one of the most crowded tourist attractions in Italy, with more than 2 million tourists passing through each year.

Cinque Terre in brief

Cinque Terre in brief

Monterosso al Mare is the largest village of the Cinque Terre, there is a small beach and many amenities such as cafés and restaurants. Vernazza is the only village that has an important source of income besides tourism: fishing, especially for anchovies. If you stop for a meal in the village I can recommend tasting the local specialty: Acciunghe alle Vernazzana, actually it will be difficult to avoid it. Corniglia is the only village that is not directly located on the seaside, but it is one of the most authentic villages. I can recommend a wine tasting from the surrounding vineyards. Manarola is tiny and at times it gets very, very crowded. Riomaggiore is my favorite village of the 5, a very colorful fishing village perched on a steep cliff. It has some good restaurants overlooking the sea.

CornigliaCorniglia

If you want to explore beyond the five villages check out this article about the most beautiful villages around Cinque Terre or this article about the vineyards of Cinque Terre. If you have time to spare, after your visit to Cinque Terre, take the boat to the beautiful abbey of San Fruttuoso on the Portofino peninsula. Learn more about lodging in this area in this article about recommended hotels near Portofino and Camogli.

Visiting time

When is the best time to visit Cinque Terre?

The strip of coast called 'five lands' has become one of the biggest tourist attractions of Italy, crowded with tourists from all over the world almost all year round. Most people arrive by train and in high season it will be packed like sardines in carriages of which the airconditioning is totally inadequate. Walking trails between the villages along the coast is not for inexperienced hikers. Distance between two villages easily runs from 1 hour to 2 hours. During the autumn and winter months you have to watch for rapidly changing weather conditions and the hiking trails often close early as a precaution.

Riomaggiore in Cinque TerreRiomaggiore
taking the car

Parking at the villages becomes a little easier in the off-season. There are small parking lots outside the villages, the average walking distance to the center is often one or two kilometers. Buses also run between the villages, but less regular than during the summer season. It's great to visit the back country during the fall with its imposing steep vineyards, the Cinque Terre region has some excellent D.O.P.'s. We wrote a special article about touring the vineyards. Those who want to know more about hiking in Cinque Terre should read the following article. If you want to explore this region the 'SLOW' way, check out this new gourmet itinerary  along the coast of Liguria. The tour visits all 5 villages Corniglia, Manarola, Monterosso al Mare, Riomaggiore and Vernazza.

All articles on Dolcevia.com about this area of the 5 villages are below, including places to stay and restaurants. Besides Liguria, you can also search in the Lunigiana region, which is part of Tuscany.

Vernazza Cinque TerreVernazza
walking Cinque Terre

How to hike through Cinque Terre?

Be prepared to start early in the day. Keep in mind, that to avoid the biggest crowds, 7 am is not a bad time to leave. Everyone wants to walk the Via dell´Amore (the trail is closed until 2023), but try to avoid the so-called Sentiero Azzura because it is usually super crowded. There is a maze of trails criss-crossing the National Park, so plenty of choice. With the hiking map you can go anywhere and even participate in organized hikes with guides. The schedule for these hikes is announced on the park's website. First, buy a Trekking Card online (the Cinque Terre card). The website is in Italian and English, but the version in Italian gets updated more often in my experience. This is the website which tells you  about the organized (free) hikes. For less experienced hikers, such as small children or people that cannot walk that far, there are still plenty of opportunities to visit the five villages, at least 4 of the 5. Most villages are easy to get to, Corniglia is perhaps the exception. There are plenty convenient means of transportation such as train, bus and ferry services. The ferry between the villages runs about every hour on a normal schedule with a two-hour break at lunch. The path around Riomaggiore.consists of quite a few steep stairs, which you will see immediately when you get off the train. If you turn right, however, you will come into a tunnel that will take you to the 'main street' and then you can simply return to the station through the tunnel, this road is completely flat. Manarola consists of one street with steep stairs up. You do have the option here of going to Vernazza by train or ferry. Save the ferry for the way back and prefer to take the train here. Vernazza is even smaller than Manarola, you can take the ferry to Monterosso here. To the left of the port you can take the tunnel that will take you to the beach and the train station.

By Train

How to visit Cinque Terre by train

The train is of course the best way to visit Cinque Terre, but it is not always easy. They can be very full, it is difficult to get on and off the train and confusing to understand which station you have arrived at. The travel time between Riomaggiore and Manarola and the other villages takes only a few minutes. You already have to be ready to get off when you get on, which doesn't make the chaos at the doors any less.For older people or if you are traveling with children, this is not really a relaxing experience. If you decide to travel by train try to plan as early in the day or as late in the afternoon as possible. Click here for more information about the train.

By boat

How to visit Cinque Terre by boat

An alternative to the train is to take a ferry to one of the 5 villages. This boat sails several times a day between all the villages, except Corniglia, which is a bit higher and has no port. You can leave from Portofino or Portovenere by boat only during high season. The port of Monterosso is the easiest to board, followed by Vernazza. If you plan to board or disembark in Riomaggiore or Manarola expect to have to climb a lot of stairs to get to the village itself. You can check the ferry schedules here.

#CinqueTerre Posts

  1. Lerici

    Lord Byron was a good swimmer, he lived in Portovenere,a short distance from Cinque Terre, and across the bay from La Spezia and Lerici, where his good friends, the Shelley's lived in an old boathouse, locally known as Casa Bianca, officially its name was Casa Magni. Byron regularly swam across the bay to San Terenzo to visit Mary and Percy Shelley.

  2. Cinque Terre, with the villages of Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore, has become one of the busiest tourist attractions in recent years and is in great danger of being trampled by the mass of tourists. The damage done daily to this unique piece of land by the heavy human footprint is irreparable unless we treat it more carefully in the future. Our first and most important piece of advice is therefore: Don't visit Cinque Terre in

    ...
  3. Travelling through Cinque Terres winecountry

    Its namesake National Park is, of course, a jewel in the Mediterranean, and anyone who hasn't been there should definitely plan a trip to the famous five villages. But if you want to learn something new about the area and the National Park, you should look at our tips below. We took the exit for Deiva Marina and drove to Corniglia looking for interesting tips for foodies and wine lovers. The five fishing villages of Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, and

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  4. San Fruttuoso

    On Saturday, more or less at the same time as the government announced new Covid-19 measures, I found myself on a ferryboat from Camogli to San Fruttuoso. The sea was pretty rough and the few passengers who used the FAI's Open Monument Day had to shield themselves from unexpected showers pouring down.

    • Camogli

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