No trip to Italy is complete without a visit to the Cinque Terre. Italian for ‘five lands’, it’s a group of seaside villages set on the rugged Italian coastline in the Liguria region, boasting wonderfully colourful houses perched on the side of the cliffs. Perfect for a beach getaway, hiking trip, or just a few days of wining and dining, it truly has something for everyone.GETTING THERE AND AROUND
If you’re already in Italy, the Cinque Terre is easily reachable by train. Don’t try to find tickets to ‘Cinque Terre’ as they don’t exist – trains arrive into the city of La Spezia. Book tickets through Italiarail and if you’re travelling on a weekend make sure you’re there early to grab a seat and a spot for your luggage as they are unassigned and can get super busy. We suggest a minimum of three nights, which should give you two and a half days if you take a morning train, obviously depending on where you’re arriving from. In saying this, if you’re limited on time, take a day trip from Florence or Milan as it’s better to experience it in half a day than not at all!
Your first port of business when you arrive is to purchase your one or two day pass to the region. This gives you unlimited train and bus rides and access to all the hiking trails within Cinque Terre. One day will set you back €12 or two, €23. This can be purchased at the La Spezia station and if possible, we suggest going to buy this around 6pm to avoid long lines in the morning, which will just eat into your exploring time! The furthest village from La Spezia is Monterosso which is only a 25 minute train ride. Hiking trails between the villages vary in length and depending on when you visit, there many be some closed off – be sure to clarify when purchasing your ticket. Your ticket is activated when you validate it at one of the red, white and green machines on the platform.
WHERE TO STAY
There are accommodation options in all five villages, with Monterosso having the most to choose from and the most ‘resort’ feel. Otherwise, you can stay outside of the group of villages, often a more financially wise decision and a great way to see more of the area. We chose to stay in La Spezia and it was perfect – just eight minutes by train to the first village of Riomaggiore, a beautiful little city and without the accommodation and food price inflation of the villages. Monterosso and La Spezia mark either end of the train line so make for logical places to base yourself. There are other areas such as Levanto and Portovonere which are great options if you are staying a little longer. Both hotels and Airbnbs are a good option, as long as you’re within walking distance to the train station.WHAT TO EAT
What not to eat?! As in the rest of Italy, the food is ridiculously delicious and there’s an abundance of restaurants, trattorias, and pizzerias to choose from. Options to suit every budget from €2 focaccia and pesto bread to €40 seafood dishes, you can go for a takeaway cone of fried calamari on the beach, or dine out in style overlooking the harbour.
If you do choose to stay in La Spezia you simply cannot miss having a meal at Gira Dal Pomo Pezzeria Trattoria. Just steps from the train station, their capricciosa pizza is to die for and pasta, the best we had in Italy.
THE FIVE VILLAGES
Monterosso – The furthest village from La Spezia, Monterosso is the place you want to be if you’re looking for a beach break with plenty of sandy stretches to choose from. It is the largest of the five and doesn’t quite have that small village feel to it, with wider streets, plenty of hotels and a few cars here and there.Vernazza – Vernazza consists of just one street which leads down to the beautiful harbour so you can grab a pizza and enjoy it while looking back on the town and the church that sits on the water. There’s a tiny area of ‘beach’ and plenty of rocks to catch some sun on. Make sure you follow the hiking trail signs towards Corniglia to get a perfect view over the top.
Corniglia – Corniglia is reached by climbing 365 stairs (or jumping on a bus!) and is the only village that sits on top of the cliffs rather than down the side of them. It gives a clear view of Manarola in the distance and is quite small and quiet in comparison to the others.
Manarola – Manarola is probably going to be the village you recognise from all the photos and has a bit of everything; a harbour where you can swim, plenty of dining options and that small village vibe.Riomaggiore – The southernmost village, Riomaggiore has somewhat of a fun feeling to it. It looks particularly stunning in the evening when it’s all lit up so is a popular choice for sunset. Venture out onto the rocks that come out through the harbour and you’re sure to have an amazing view, probably to yourself.
The Cinque Terre’s awaiting!
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