Cinque Terre Travel Guide

Cinque Terre is not far from bustling cities like Florence and Milan, but in every other way, it is worlds apart. It’s where you go to connect with nature – Italian style. Think candy-coloured buildings, breathtaking ocean views, and unforgettable sunsets. Life is simpler on the riviera. The hotels are sparse and the food is less complex, but it’s exactly the kind of break you need if you have a jam-packed itinerary.

I arrived in Cinque Terre after a whirlwind week in Florence and Rome, in desperate need of relaxation. I took less pictures and made it a point to be a lot more present. If you’re visiting Northern Italy, I highly recommend making a pit-stop at Cinque Terre. While most people choose to make a day trip here, I spent 2 days exploring the towns, and I think it was the best decision I could have made. So, without further ado, here is my guide:

Where to stay

Based on my research, I found the hotel scene in Cinque Terre to be quite limited. Their five-star category didn’t exactly meet my standard of luxury, so instead, I chose to stay in an Airbnb. I stayed in La Spezia, which is a 10 minute train ride into Riomaggiore (the first of the 5 towns in Cinque Terre). Upon visiting Cinque Terre, I realized this was a 100% the right decision, as I was traveling with a lot of luggage, and Cinque Terre has no shortage of stairs. I would have broken my back if I’d had to carry my suitcase up to the top of the hills.

Where to eat
The Italian Riviera is well known for focaccia, fresh seafood, and pesto. I loved grabbing food to-go from tiny little restaurants and exploring the towns.

For sunset views and starters to share, go to Nessun Dorma in Manarola. It is located at the highest point and offers the best view of the town and the sunset. Just make sure you go about an hour before sunset, or all the tables will be taken.

There are no shortage of gelaterias in Cinque Terre. My favourite was Gelateria Vernazza.

My favourite of the 5 towns for food was Monterosso, where I had the most delicious focaccia and flakiest croissant for breakfast at Il Fornaio di Monterosso.

Although I didn’t get any pictures, I highly recommend Batti Batti in Vernazza for focaccia – it is the best I’ve had in my life.

What to do
Cinque Terre is composed of 5 ocean-side towns. They are Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, and Monterosso. The best way to travel from town to town is by train – they are about a 5 minute ride away from each other. You can buy a day pass for, I believe, €12, which covers all transportation within Cinque Terre and beyond.

Most pictures you see of Cinque Terre on Instagram are taken in Riomaggiore and Manarola. However, my personal favourites are Vernazza and Monterosso.

Vernazza
If you go to Vernazza, take the hiking route which leads to Monterosso (don’t worry, you don’t need to hike all the way there). Once you get to the top, you’ll get a view that will take your breath away.

Monterosso
Monterosso is a beach town with a very chill vibe. I found that there were a lot less people here than the other towns, and as I mentioned, the food scene here is my favourite.

Manarola
For the most beautiful sunset, go to Manarola. The entire sky turns pink as the sun dips into the ocean. It’s the most ethereal experience.

Riomaggiore
Out of the 5 towns I visited, I found Riomaggiore to be the most touristy. Needless to say, it is beautiful, but I didn’t like it as much as the other towns.

Corniglia
Corniglia was my least favourite out of the 5 towns. You have to climb close to 500 steps to get to the hilltop town, which I didn’t think was worth it. I found it to be underwhelming in comparison to everywhere else – I was expecting an unreal view, but was quite disappointed. However, if you’ve been to Corniglia, I’d love to know if you had a different experience – perhaps I missed something!

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20 Comments

  1. October 23, 2017 / 1:54 pm

    This is making me want to pack my bags and head there immediately! It looks like such a beautiful place and the food sounds incredible! Definitely on the bucket list!
    x Emily
    http://shedoes.com.au

  2. October 23, 2017 / 2:52 pm

    such a beautiful city, love the colors, so romantic and peaceful. Your pictures are stunning, now I want to visit that place 🙂
    Sonia
    http://www.soniaaicha.com

  3. October 24, 2017 / 2:39 am

    Beautiful photo and loved your recap! Dying to visit there – hopefully next summer!! Your Italy trip looked AMAZING from start to finish.

    xx, Amy
    https://www.theluxilook.com

  4. October 24, 2017 / 2:51 am

    Looks incredible Siffat! I went to the Amalfi Coast in July this year and it was amazing! The Cinque Terre is def next on my list!
    x Rubi
    Pose & Repeat

  5. October 24, 2017 / 5:08 am

    Wow, Italy is so amazing! I’ve been there long time ago but missed going to Cinque Terre and regret it. Everytime I see photos of Cinque Terre I get major FOMO and definitely have vowed to go back and spend some time there. I am hoping to go with my kids in the next year or so and this guide is perfect for us. I love all the gorgeous photos and must get lots of gelato! Thanks for sharing these vacay photos and experience. xoxo, Christine
    http://dailykongfidence.com/

  6. October 24, 2017 / 7:54 am

    i used to come here w/my family in the summers when we were younger and it’s been so much fun looking at everyone’s posts about it!! brings back such great memories. ps, loving your polka dot skirt, perfect fit for the location!
    xx
    http://angelebaby.com

  7. October 25, 2017 / 3:43 am

    I’m blown away by the beauty of these photos. I have always wanted to go to Cinque Terre and now you have me ready to book a flight ASAP!

  8. miri
    October 25, 2017 / 9:57 am

    Cinque Terre looks truly stunning. It is one of those places I would love to visit one day and I am glad you had a great time, Siffat.

    XO
    Miri
    https://currentlywearing.com

  9. October 26, 2017 / 9:53 am

    I have always meant to go, and been close to it but haven’t ever been organised enough to actually go and explore it properly. Last time while we were staying with our friends at their house in Como they suggested just going for a day trip, but I knew I didn’t want to miss the sunset, so we just spent a day in Florence instead. I will have to make it a mission to get there next time. Though, honestly their house is on the lake and only a short ride up to Bellagio on a ferry, so it is hard to leave. It’s just such a beautiful place and so peaceful. Your photos, as always are stunning!
    xx Jenelle
    http://www.inspiringwit.com

  10. October 27, 2017 / 3:03 am

    Cinque Terre is marvelous! This post makes me miss my time there. PS – love your polka skirt!!

    Jessica | notjessfashion.com

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