How to visit Cinque Terre, Italy: planning your trip
Few places on the Italian riviera are as romantic and charming as the Cinque Terre. Colorful little houses hanging from the hillside, fantastic sea views, and a unique picturesque atmosphere. Without a doubt, the Cinque Terre are enchanting and will surprise anyone! It is no wonder that they are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and have inspired the sets of Disney’s Luca.
Do you need help with how to visit Cinque Terre, Italy, in the best way? Don’t worry! We’ve prepared some golden tips for those looking to get to know Cinque Terre and make the most of this Italian Riviera gem!
Cinque Terre, Italy: everything you need to know
1. What the Cinque Terre are, and where are they located?
The Cinque Terre are located in the Liguria region of Northwest Italy. As the name reveals (“cinque” means five, in Italian), there are actually not one, but five small towns, which form the smallest and densest protected area in Italy: the Cinque Terre National Park.
Monterosso Al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore are linked together and set in a panorama of intense beauty, with colorful houses, vineyards and olive groves, and trails along the edge of the cliff.
In short: Cinque Terre is one of the most incredible areas of the Italian Riviera, perfect for anyone who loves nature and picturesque places. In addition, it is also ideal for romantic getaways and for the very Italian dolce far niente.
2. When to visit Cinque Terre?
First, you must know that Cinque Terre, Italy, are never exactly peaceful. After all, we are talking about a very popular destination in Italy by travelers worldwide. Therefore, the high season in the Cinque Terre runs from Easter to October.
Summer, especially between July and August, is the time with the most crowds. The region is crowded with tourists and very hot, making the experience of visiting Cinque Terre much less pleasant.
The mid-season – May and September – is the best time to visit the Cinque Terre, Italy. Temperatures are pleasant (around 20ºC), it doesn’t usually rain much, and there are fewer tourists than in the high season.
On the other hand, October and November are the wettest months, and there is a risk of heavy storms causing landslides. Finally, prices can be much lower in the low season, and cities are more accessible. However, restaurants and accommodations close in winter, and you are at serious risk of being unable to take boat trips or enjoy the trails.
3. How many days to stay in Cinque Terre, Italy?
“Is it possible to visit the Cinque Terre in one day?” This is probably one of the most common questions about visiting Cinque Terre, Italy. The direct and simple answer is: yes. However, this is not the best way to get to know the region.
First, because it’s a really short time. You will likely experience peak hours in cities. Between 10 AM and 4 PM the towns are crowded with day travelers.
On the other hand, the early morning and late afternoon/evening leave the Cinque Terre with a delicious atmosphere of a fishing village. Second, considering the displacements, you will spend just over 1 hour in each city.
On the other hand, if you dedicate more days, you can calmly discover each village. In addition to taking the routes between them and walking calmly to admire the landscapes, you will have time for unmissable activities. Take a boat trip along the coast or walk along the region’s famous trails.
In short, the ideal for a pleasant trip is to dedicate at least 2 or 3 days to the Cinque Terre, Italy. And if you have more time, you can also visit nearby cities like Portovenere.
4. How to get to Cinque Terre, Italy?
Getting to Cinque Terre, Italy, is quite easy. The most convenient airports are Genoa (1h30min journey), Pisa (1h50min), and Florence (2h30min).
Those who choose to go by rented car or with a private driver will also have no difficulties. However, the best thing is to stay in the surroundings of Cinque Terre, as we explain below.
5. Where to stay to visit Cinque Terre, Italy?
First, it is important to know that most accommodation options in Cinque Terre are small to medium-sized. Most of them are 3-star hotels or bed & breakfasts, but there are also apartment options for rent.
If you choose to stay in the Cinque Terre itself, Monterosso Al Mare is the one with the most accommodation options and the easiest access.
On the other hand, if you are a more demanding traveler, the golden tip is: stay close to the Cinque Terre! This is because in cities like Portovenere or Sestri Levante it is possible to find much better hotels, and at a reasonable/short distance from the places where you can take the regional train that runs through the Cinque Terre.
In addition, those wishing to explore not only the Cinque Terre, Italy, but also other places on the Ligurian coast can also choose to stay in Portofino and Santa Margherita Ligure. These places have excellent 5-star hotels.
As for prices, they can vary greatly depending on the location, type, and season.
6. Getting around Cinque Terre
The best way to travel between the five cities of the Cinque Terre is with the regional trains on the Levanto – Cinque Terre – La Spezia line. That’s because vehicle traffic is restricted to residents in Cinque Terre, Italy. If you drive, you can park in La Spezia or Levanto and then take the train to Cinque Terre.
To use the train, the best choice is to buy a Cinque Terre Train Card, for 1, 2, or 3 days, according to your itinerary. With this card, you can access unlimited train travel on the regional train line (2nd class) La Spezia – Cinque Terre – Levanto.
At the same time, the Cinque Terre Card also gives access to the two paid hiking trails (from Monterosso to Vernazza and from Vernazza to Corniglia), the use of bus services within the parking area, and reduced admission fee to the Civic Museums in La Spezia.
7. What to do in Cinque Terre, Italy?
Cinque Terre has a delightful coastal atmosphere. Walking around small towns and enjoying the atmosphere and natural beauty is a great activity. You will undoubtedly appreciate it a lot!
However, there is more to do in the region. Here are some ideas:
- Do a private boat tour around the region
- Rent a kayak in Riomaggiore
- Enjoy a day at the beach in Monterosso al Mare
- Hike from Monterosso to Vernazza and enjoy the breathtaking views
- Have an aperitif with a view of Manarola
- Enjoy the calm, the sea views and vineyards in Corniglia
- Take the opportunity to get to know the charming Portovenere, known as the “sixth land”
Did you feel like traveling to know the Cinque Terre, Italy?
First, we hope this mini guide to the Cinque Terre has inspired and helped you! As you may have noticed in the article, Cinque Terre is a region that makes you want to visit today!
If you want to get to know the region in the best way, there’s nothing like having the help of experts to prepare your trip. A personalized itinerary, tailor-made for you, is the best way to discover this and other beauties of Italy. So, you can enjoy everything according to your tastes and the time available.