Cinque Terre

The Cinque Terre is made up of five quaint fishing villages cut in to the rugged Mediterranean coastline.  The Cinque Terre offers incredible hiking, unique scenery, colorful architecture, and one of the most relaxing getaways in Italy.  The Cinque Terre is now a very popular destination, but a few simple tips can help you enjoy the best scenery, the best food and local wine, and truly unwind.

The Basics
Top Things to do in the Cinque Terre
How to get Around in the Cinque Terre
Insider Tips
Clear Travel Summary

The Basics

  • Recommended Time: 1-2 Days
  • Language: Italian, but English can get you by
  • Currency: Euro
  • Airports: Closest is Pisa (PSA)  It is also possible to take a train from Florence, Milan, or Rome, but the journey will be longer.
  • Train Stations: Each of the five towns of the Cinque Terre has a train station.  From South to North: Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, and Monterosso al Mare.  Most trains to the Cinque Terre need to change trans in La Spezia.

Top Things to do in the Cinque Terre

See All Five Villages (Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, and Monterosso al Mare)

  • Each village in the Cinque Terre offers a unique experience, and is located in a national park.  Monterosso has the best beach, Vernazza the scenic port village, Corniglia the hilltop gem most tourists don’t bother walking up to, Manarola the terrace town cut into the hillside, and Riomaggiore, the colorful terrace town dating back to the middle ages.
  • How to get there:
    • Train: Regional trains operate between all five towns.  Buying the train and trail pass will allow you unlimited train rides between all of the towns.
    • Hiking: All five of the towns are connected by hiking trails.  It would not be possible to hike between all five and still have time to enjoy each town, but hiking between a leg or two is highly recommended.
  • Ticket Information:
  • Insider Tips:
    • The towns can all look similar, but you are likely to find a favorite one.  With the train running between all of them, it is easy to see multiple towns in the same day, then stay longer in your favorite.
    • There will likely be certain legs of the hiking trails that are closed when you travel to the Cinque Terre.  Be sure to check when you arrive which sections are open for hiking.  There should be trail signs, and it also should be posted at the train station in each town.
Hiking

  • Hiking between one or more of the cities is highly recommended.  Along the way, you will enjoy incredible scenery, and get to hike close to the shoreline through vineyards, olive groves and citrus trees.
  • How to get there:
    • Each of the small villages has well marked trails directing you to the walking trails from the train station area.
  • Ticket Information:
  • Insider Tip: The hike between Monterosso al Mare and Vernaza offers some of the best scenery, and an incredible view as you are coming in to Vernaza (picture above)

 

Via Fegina (Beach)

  • Monterosso al Mare has the only true beach of the five towns, and is a great way to relax and enjoy the Mediterranean atmosphere.  Location on Google Maps.
  • How to get there:
    • Train: Get off at Monterosso al Mare and walk out of the train station on to the beach.
    • Hiking:
  • Ticket Information: Be prepared to pay for a chair and umbrella at the best part of the beach (19 EUR or so.)  There is a public access area further down by the Statua del Gigante
Riomaggiore Castle
  • Small stone castle on the hilltop in Riomaggiore.
  • How to get there:
    • Train: Riomaggiore stop, then follow the signs and walk up the hill.
    • Hiking: The castle is on the top of the hill, so it is a walk from the train station, but you are on your way if you are enjoying the rest of the village.
  • Ticket Information: The castle is open to the public, but the best views are from the outside.

How to Get Around in Cinque Terre

To/From the Airport to Cinque Terre:
  • By Train:
    • Pisa to the Cinque Terre by train takes around 1.5 – 2 hours depending on whether you pick a direct route, and which town you are in.  Most of the time you need to change trains, it will be in La Spezia.  The Trenitalia site can help you pick the best solution for your schedule.
    • Trenitalia
Between Villages:
  • Hiking:
    • All five villages are connected via hiking trails, although some can be closed on short notice (and some, like the trail between Riomaggiore, Manarola has been closed for years).  A national park pass can allow you unlimited hikes between villages.  Check the trail signs, or at the train station before you head out.
    • Parco Nazionale delle Cinque Terre Ticket Office
  • By Car: It is possible to drive between some of the towns, but parking is extremely limited and expensive.  We believe it is best to get to the Cinque Terre by train and get around by train/hiking.

 

Insider Tips for the Cinque Terre

  • Enjoy the scenery.  There are not as many things to do/see in the Cinque Terre; this leg of your trip is more about enjoying the colorful fishing villages and relaxing.  So go ahead and grab a bottle of local wine, take a leisurely walk through your town, and unwind.
  • The hiking is incredible.  Plan on doing at least one trail between the towns.
  • The towns of the Cinque Terre are steep.  Research the exact address for your accommodations, especially if you are worried about walking steep hills with your luggage and to/from the train station. Some locations can look close on a map, but can be a steep walk from the train station.  Skip staying in Corniglia altogether if you are concerned with that – it is a long steep walk from the train station.

Clear Travel Summary

The Cinque Terre can be seen in 1-2 days.  Booking a Cinque Terre trail and train pass for your stay allows you the flexibility and ease to go between the villages as you please.  Each of the villages has it’s own unique atmosphere and scenery, so leave some time to pick your favorite one.   The scenery of the Cinque Terre is truly unique.  The villages offer unforgettable hiking, great food/wine, a great Mediterranean beach, and colorful architecture to help you unwind and relax.

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