CinqueTerre, translated as “The Five Lands”, is made of five coastal villages (full blogs of each village and hikes are linked):
Of all our stops during our Europe trip, this is the place we were most excited about! We had exactly two days to explore all the villages and eat as much Ligurian food as possible.
There are three easy options of getting around in Cinque Terre:
- One is the cliffside trail that connects all the Cinque Terre villages along the coast. It takes a total of 5 hours to hike between all five villages (breakdown of each portion of the trail here) and is €5 per person for a day pass. The hike is not the easiest way to get around but something worth doing in CT.
- The train is easily accessible, affordable (€2 or less), and takes a few minutes to travel from village to village.
- The ferry with ports in Vernazza, Riomaggiore, and Monterosso. Cost €3.50 for a single ticket up to €15 for a day pass.
Having hiked the Inca Trail two weeks prior, we were excited to hike the entire five hour trail. We stayed in a B&B in Vernazza and hopped on a train to Riomaggiore to start off the day by doing the most popular and easiest trail to Manarola, which was called Via Dell’Amore (“Path of Love”).
This was the view from the port of Riomaggiore:
Via Dell’Amore ended at Manarola:
We wanted to continue up to Corniglia, but realized that the trail was closed due to construction. There was a storm that hit Cinque Terre in October 2011, and they are still recovering from the damages. This was Corniglia from a distance. So close!
We decided to hang out in Manarola for dinner and for sunset photos and take the train back to Vernazza. The next morning we woke up bright and early to hike from Vernazza down as far we could go.
Here’s a view of Vernazza on the left and Corniglia on the right from the trail:
We were hoping the construction was only temporary, but once we reached Corniglia, we were informed that the trail to Manarola was also closed that day. The rest of the day we took the train to get around. After eating lots of pasta and taking lots of photos, we conveniently realized that we didn’t have enough time to hike the hardest part of the trail from Vernazza to Monterosso al Mare (saving it for next time). We decided to ride the ferry to Monterosso to experience variety.
View of Monterosso Al Mare from the ferry:
Afterward, we raced back to take sunset photos of Vernazza. The best views were always a hike. :)
Additional Tips for traveling and staying in Cinque Terre:
- We stayed in Vernazza, but would recommend staying in Monterosso or even La Spezia since the options for accommodation are nicer and the train is so convenient.
- If you are staying in Cinque Terre, look for places that specifically states they have AC especially if you’re traveling in a hot month like we did. I would even call to confirm. We booked a room that said online description included AC but we discovered that it wasn’t the case when we arrived.
- Check the trail conditions before hiking the trails here or on the official park website. It will save you a lot of time.
- The hike is not so intense that you need hiking gear. Tennis shoes should suffice. You’ll see some people go in flip flops, which can be done, but I wouldn’t recommend it.
- For the photographer: Photos of Manarola and Vernazza are best during sunset and photos of Riomaggiore and Monterosso are best during sunrise due to the direction they face. I took photos of Corniglia midday and didn’t feel an urge to go back. If time is limited, I would choose to photograph 1. Manarola 2. Vernazza 3. Riomaggiore in that order.
- The Ligurian region is known for pesto. That’s where it originated. The best pesto pasta dish I had was at Gianni Franzi in Vernazza.
- They are also known for growing good lemons. The best lemon gelato I had was at Midi Bar Gelataria in Riomaggiore.