Cinque Terre is one of the most beautiful parts of the north west of Italy. Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore make this place a fairytale destination which should be put on every bucketlist!
Cinque Terre wiki
Cinque Terre is famous for her bright coloured houses, “car free” areas and beautiful walking routes from Terre to Terre. The Cinque Terre route is so unique that the entire area has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Every year two and a half million tourists and travelers visit Cinque Terre. Surprisingly, there are still a few that never heard of Cinque Terre until you show them the “famous” picture of the picturesque Vernazza.
Vernazza is the most prosperous Terre and even though a flood destroyed a big part of the village, visitors still believe that Vernazza is the most beautiful Terre. We personally believe that every Terre has its own charm and that all of them are worth a visit!
Cinque Terre on the map:
Cinque Terre – how to travel?
We found ourselves a great deal through Skyscanner and before we knew we were on our way to Italy! We booked a flight from Germany to Pisa and took the train from Pisa to Levanto. The Pisa airport train station is only a five minute walk from the arrivals gate and a train ticket can be easily bought at the train station. An one-way train ticket to Levanto costs approx. € 10,00 and the ride takes two hours.
It is recommended to use the machine for your tickets; if you buy it from the train conductor it will cost € 10,00 extra. More information about tickets and departure times can be found here.
Levanto is a municipality in the La Spezia province and it is the place where we decided to stay during our Cinque Terre trip. The distance from Levanto to Monterosso is only four minutes by train and that makes it the perfect starting point! Other reasons to book your stay in Levanto are the hotel prices and the amount of tourists. Compared to the Terres Levanto is more cost efficient and is less crowded.
During our trip we stayed four nights in Hotel Nazionale. Although the hotel interior is a bit dated, it is still a great place to stay. The location is perfect; it is only fifteen minutes to the train station, two minutes to the beach and less than one minute to the city center, shops and restaurants. The hotel offers free WiFi, serves a good breakfast and the staff is very friendly and helpful.
Monterosso is the largest Terre and is famous for her lemons trees and beaches. If you want to have a beach day; Monterosso is the Terre to go to, because it is the only Terre that has a nice beautiful beach without any rocks.
The Terre itself can be divided into two parts, which are seperated by a big cliff with a monastery on top. If you travel by train you will arrive in the new part of Monterosso. The old town of Monterosso can be found in the clock tower area. Wander around and explore the little streets and visit the authentic shops to buy some lemon souvenirs. Or enjoy your day at the beach!
Vernazza is the most idyllic and romantic Terre. When you arrive in this village, you immediately step into a different world full of colours, cute shops and amazing architecture. It is almost unbelievable that the flood in 2011 destroyed most of the city center. Pictures next to the train station show you what happened here and how the locals restored the city center.
Follow the main street and you will end up at the little beach surrounded by scaffolding, restaurants and hotels. You can swim, relax on the beach, rent a water taxi or travel to the next Terre by boat.
One thing you definately have to do when you are in Vernazza is to visit Castello Doria. It is a small castle, but gives you the best views over Vernazza!
Corniglia can be found between Vernazza and Manarola and is therefore also known as the central town of Cinque Terre. This Terre is built on a small rock facing the sea and is surrounded by traditional terraced fields where the locals grow grapes and produce white wine.
“Landarina” is what makes this Terre unique; this is the staircase that connects the station with the village. It is not just a staircase, 380 steps need to be taken before you reach the village! This is also the reason why we haven’t visited this Terre; after days of walking we didn’t really feel like to climb 380 steps. But if you have the time, just visit Corneglia. You will be rewarded with amazing panaramic views!
Manarola can be found between Corneglia and Riomaggiore and is definately our favorite Terre! This Terre is the oldest Terre and has everything you need during a holiday; great hotspots, amazing views, authentic stores, impressive architecture and it is possible to swim in the sea or just watch the cliff jumpers’ show. Wander around in the little streets and become part of this fairytale..
It is highly recommended to visit the restaurant Nessun Dorma 5 Terre. Nessun Dorma offers local food (no pizza and pasta!) and the quality of the food is high; only fresh ingredients are used (some of them are even produced in their own little garden). Make sure you claim a table in the gardenlike seating area; you will have the best seaview of Cinque Terre! Isn’t the view just breathtaking?
For the best ice creams and slush puppies you have to go to Gelateria 5Terre. TripAdvisor gave them the Certificate of Excellence and after our slush puppy we totally understand why! Everything is homemade and the taste of the slush puppies are incredibly good. This place also offers sugar free, lactose intolerants and vegan products.
Riomaggiore is the first Terre you pass if you travel from La Spezia when traveling north. This Terre is famous for its tower house architecture and Via Dell’Amore, the Love walk between Riomaggiore and Manarola. A quick visit to Riomaggiore will be sufficient; this Terre looks smaller (even though it is one of the biggest Terres) than the other ones and there is not much to do. You can visit the small harbor and take a postcard picture, but for the rest there is not much to do..
Cinque Terre – how to get around
Once you are in Cinque Terre, you have different options to explore the Terres.
The car is absolutely a no go; in most of the Terres cars are not even allowed, so it would be a waste of money to rent a car while you can’t fully use it!
The easiest way to get around is by train; use the local train or the express train. The express train takes you from Monterosso to Riomaggiore within fifteen minutes and doesn’t stop at any other train station.
The local train does stop in every Terre and tickets can be bought on every station. A one-way ticket from one station to another costs € 4,00.
If you have enough time and you aren’t in a rush, you could choose to explore the Terres by boat. It is the best way to see more of the beautiful landscape, but it is definately not the fastest and the cheapest way.
If you love hiking, explore Cinque Terre by foot. Cinque Terre has different trails that connect each of the five Terres. Even though we aren’t hikers, we do love to workout so we decided to do the trail from Vernazza to Monterosso. If you don’t have a Cinque Terre Card you have to pay € 7,50 per person for the trail at the Cinque Terre Checkpoint. This trail took us one hour and forty five minutes and is almost ten km. Make sure you bring something to eat and drink because there are no stops (and no toilets!) along the way.
Cinque Terre Card
The Cinque Terre Card includes services as WiFi, access to all trails and the usage of shuttle buses. An one-day card costs € 7,50 and a two-days card costs € 14,50.
The Cinque Terre Card Train offers an extra service on top of the services of the Cinque Terre Card. With the Train Card you can travel free of charge by train on the Levanto – La Spezia line. An one-day card costs € 16,00 and a two-days card costs € 23,00.
We didn’t buy a Cinque Terre Card because we already had WiFi connection, only wanted to do one trail and decided to only by train or foot. If you are planning to do more than one trail (tip: check before you go if the trail is open), the Cinque Terre card would be a cost efficient option.
The Train Card could be an option if you want to visit more Terres on one day. If you only want to visit one Terre per day, the one-day card will be more expensive compared to the normal return ticket(s).
Read this if you want to take your drone!
Before we went to Cinque Terre we bought our drone and we couldn’t wait to fly and take the most beautiful shots in the picturesque Terres! Unfortunately the locals hate drones and we had to be very careful where we took off. In most areas it is actually forbidden to drone and fines can go up to € 35.000. Crazy!
For Vernazza we woke up early and this worked out very well for us. We got our shots without getting any complaints from the locals.
In Levanto it was completely the opposite! As soon as the beach guards noticed our drone, they started to scream and wave. One of them got himself even a stone to throw to our little Spark! Luckily drones have a sport modus and we got ours back safely.
Even though we learned to take the locals into account, we could never think of birds attacking our drone. But it happened! Birds attacked our drone in Vernazza and Manarola. So be careful!
We didn’t even have to think about bringing our drone to Riomaggiore. The locals are quite rude when it comes down to drones. They will call the police immediately and you will probably loose your drone when they catch you.
There are not many roads which you can use to escape, so you better not use your drone in Riomaggiore.
We really fell in love with all these cute, colorful and picturesque villages and we truly believe that a trip to Cinque Terre should be on your bucketlist! If you aren’t convinced yet, please check our Cinque Terre video.