20 Aug Cinque Terre – Five Enchanting Villages
Welcome to Cinque Terre
Nestled along the stunning Italian Riviera coastline in the Liguria region, Cinque Terre is a collection of five picturesque villages boasting colourful houses perched on cliffs overlooking the azure waters of the Mediterranean Sea. Discover breathtaking views as well as five villages with their own culture and character – Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore; where each town has its unique character and offers great hiking trails while providing breathtaking vistas of the stunning coastal landscape.
When planning your visit to Cinque Terre, consider the best time to go, as the region attracts many visitors all year through. The temperate Mediterranean climate ensures warm to hot, sunny summers, while the shoulder seasons offer a quieter and more authentic experience. Embark on an extraordinary journey through the enchanting Cinque Terre, where ancient charm and natural beauty combine to create an unforgettable coastal haven.
How To Get There
By Air: If you’re travelling from afar, the closest airports to Cinque Terre are Pisa International Airport (PSA) and Genoa Cristoforo Colombo Airport (GOA). You can easily reach Cinque Terre by train from either airport or hire a car to continue your journey.
By Train: Cinque Terre can be easily accessed by train, a popular and convenient mode of transportation. The region has its own railway line, and regular train services connect the villages to major cities in Italy, such as Florence, Pisa, and Genoa. The train journey offers scenic views of the picturesque coastline and is often considered the most efficient way to reach Cinque Terre – Le Spezia train station.
By Car: While it’s possible to reach Cinque Terre by car, it’s important to note that private vehicles are not allowed in the villages themselves. The region has limited parking, and the narrow, winding roads can be challenging to navigate. It’s recommended to park your car in one of the designated parking areas outside the villages and then use alternate modes of transportation, such as trains or boats, to explore the area.
Places Of Interest
Cinque Terre is a region that brims with captivating places of interest. The renowned cliffside hiking trail called The Sentiero Azzurro or Blue Trail links all five villages and offers breathtaking coastal vistas. Distance: 6.9 miles (11km); 5 to 6 hours to walk. Or, for the experienced hiking enthusiasts, experience the more challenging Sentiero Rosso (Red Trail).
The Gateway to Cinque Terre and the southernmost village is Riomaggiore. Admire the vibrant buildings that cascade down the hillside and the picturesque marina dotted with fishing boats. Visit a medieval castle, now a cultural centre boasting panoramic views of the village and the sea. Wander along the main street of Riomaggiore, filled with shops, restaurants, and local artisanal products. Take a boat ride along the coast or hike the scenic trails. Don’t miss the iconic Via dell’Amore (Lover’s Lane), a romantic coastal path that offers stunning views and connects Riomaggiore to Manarola. Book tour here.
Trail: Riomaggiore – Manarola
The hiking trail Via dell’ Amore, or in English – Lovers’ Lane, is the most famous and romantic stretch of the Cinque Terre coastline, connecting the picturesque villages of Riomaggiore and Manarola. This trail is wide, flat, paved and by far the easiest section of Trail #2 (the Sentiero Azzurro, or “Blue Trail”).
Distance: 0.86 miles (1.4km); 1-hour to walk.
The quintessential Cinque Terre beauty in Manarola, with its iconic colourful houses clinging to the cliffs, is often hailed as the most picturesque village in Cinque Terre. As the sun sets, the village comes alive with a magical glow. Capture the moment as you walk along the famous Via dell’Amore (Lover’s Lane) or savour the local seafood delicacies in one of the charming seaside restaurants. Admire the beautiful facade and the stunning views of the Church of San Lorenzo from the courtyard. Later relax, and visit a popular terrace bar Nessun Dorma for a drink while enjoying the mesmerizing sunset vistas. Book tour here.
Trail: Manarola – Corniglia
A relatively easy path, with spectacular gardens and sea views.
Distance 1.2 miles (2km); 1 hour 15 minutes to walk.
Discover the hidden gem of Corniglia, the unique village in Cinque Terre that perches atop a hill rather than directly on the coast. Ascend the iconic Lardarina Staircase, a stairway of 382 steps that connects the train station to the village. Alternatively, you can opt for a shuttle to reach the hilltop and be rewarded with awe-inspiring panoramic land of the surrounding vineyards and the shimmering sea.
Immerse yourself in the charm of Corniglia as you wander through its narrow streets, soaking in the tranquil atmosphere. Step into the enchanting San Pietro Church, adorned with elegant Gothic architecture and a lovely interior. Indulge in the flavours of the region by tasting locally-produced wines at the Terrace Vineyards, where you can savour the unique terroir of Cinque Terre. Corniglia offers a serene and authentic experience away from the bustling coastal scenes. Book tickets here.
Trail: Corniglia – Vernazza
This trail has stone steps which tend to be quite steep, uneven, and not always well-kept, but you will find lush olive groves and exotic plants and flowers along the way.
Distance: 2 miles (4km); 1 hour 45 minutes to walk.
The postcard-worthy fishing village of Vernazza is perched on cliffs along the Cinque Terre coast. As you stroll through the charming streets, you’ll encounter charming cafés, quaint shops, and breathtaking viewpoints. Be sure to hike up to Castello Doria, a medieval fortress boasting panoramic views of the village and the azure waters of the Ligurian Sea. Visit the beautiful Santa Margherita di Antiochia Church dating back to the 14th century. Book tour here.
The hiking trail from Monterosso to Vernazza is probably one of the hardest of the five tracks with a maximum height of 175 metres (575 ft). Distance: 2.3 miles (3.7km); 1 hour 20 minutes to walk.
Unwind in Monterosso al Mare, Cinque Terre’s largest village, renowned for its stunning sandy beaches. Bask in the sun, enjoy refreshing swims, and partake in various beachside activities at Fegina Beach. Take advantage of the charming old town with its medieval architecture, where you can wander through narrow streets, sample local delicacies, and visit the historic Chiesa di San Giovanni Battista. This beautiful church features stunning architecture and houses precious artworks. Book tickets here.
Where To Stay
Belmond Hotel Splendido, Portofino in Monterosso al Mare, offers a luxurious and elegant retreat. Its stunning views, impeccable service, and lavish amenities provide a truly indulgent experience for guests seeking the pinnacle of luxury in Cinque Terre.
Hotel Porto Roca, in Monterosso al Mare, offers a comfortable and stylish mid-range accommodation option. It boasts panoramic views of the sea, direct access to the beach, and a range of amenities such as a swimming pool and a restaurant serving delicious local cuisine.
Hotel Souvenir in Manarola provides a budget-friendly option without compromising comfort and convenience. Located in the heart of the village, it offers cosy rooms, friendly service, and a central location that allows easy exploration of Manarola and its charming surroundings.
Where To Eat
Cinque Terre is renowned for its delectable cuisine, offering a delightful array of dishes that showcase the region’s rich culinary traditions. Here are some recommendations:
Trattoria dal Billy (Manarola): This family-run trattoria in Manarola is well-known for its authentic Ligurian dishes. Enjoy fresh seafood, homemade pasta, and local specialities in a cosy and welcoming atmosphere.
Enoteca Internazionale (Riomaggiore): Wine enthusiasts shouldn’t miss Enoteca Internazionale in Riomaggiore. Indulge in a diverse range of local wines at this wine bar, perfectly complemented by delectable snacks such as focaccia and cheese.
Il Pirata delle Cinque Terre (Monterosso al Mare): Located in Monterosso, Il Pirata delle Cinque Terre is a casual seafood restaurant known for its generous portions and reasonable prices. Feast on fresh fish, fried calamari, and seafood pasta.
Da Eraldo (Monterosso al Mare): Da Eraldo is a local favourite, serving up delicious seafood and Italian classics. Their seafood platter and spaghetti are highly recommended, and the friendly staff adds to the dining experience.
Cinque Terre is a true gem that should be on every traveller’s bucket list. With its stunning landscapes, vibrant villages, and warm Mediterranean charm, this coastal paradise offers an unforgettable experience. So, pack your bags, embrace the Italian lifestyle, and let Cinque Terre cast its spell on you.
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