Visiting Cinque Terre: A Guide to the 5 Italian Towns

When visiting Cinque Terre you’ll find a string of 5 seaside towns. These gorgeous villages are located in northern Italy and are filled with colorful architecture, facades with character, and delicious Italian street food.

There are plenty of things to do in Cinque Terre for most types of travelers. However, this coastal region is perfect for people who love to hike. There are hiking trails you can follow through all 5 towns. Imagine the views you’d get during that circuit!

We’re not hikers, so we were grateful that a train easily connected the towns. For us, that was the best way to see Cinque Terre.

Your guide to Cinque Terre

In all honesty, Cinque Terre wasn’t my favorite region in Italy, but I cannot deny how stunning it is. Just look at it! It’s certainly not your ordinary scene. I definitely think it’s a must to experience this area at least once.

Your guide to Cinque Terre

Plus, the food was so good. It was nice to try fresh focaccia, pesto, and all the dishes that were born and raised in the region.

Your guide to Cinque Terre

However, we were disappointed that we couldn’t find any delicious pastries, cappuccinos, gelato or pizza. They had all that stuff there, but it doesn’t seem to be what they focus on so we couldn’t find any stops worth sharing with you.

I think Cinque is one of those areas where a food tour would’ve been a good idea to get more local tips. If you want to be more prepared than us, check out this food tour here.

Your guide to Cinque Terre

How Many Days in Cinque Terre?

We spent 5 days exploring the 5 towns of Cinque Terre. We had more than enough time considering we didn’t do any hiking. The train is well connected and quickly gets you from one town to the other so you can easily visit multiple towns in one day.

If I were able to do that itinerary again, I’d spend fewer days in Cinque and more days somewhere like Tuscany. Read why I love Tuscany HERE. If it’s your first time visiting Cinque and you’re also not a hiker, I’d give this region a good 3 days tops. If you love to hike, consider spending more time there.

Visiting Riomaggiore in Cinque Terre 

Your guide to Cinque Terre

Riomaggiore was our home base for our week in Cinque Terre. I’m sure you’ve seen this town and its views from the water on your Instagram feeds. It’s even more beautiful at sunset. 

Your guide to Cinque TerreYour guide to Cinque TerreYour guide to Cinque Terre

I liked that it was less hilly than its neighbor Manarola. As many of you know, I love a flatter town. Photo below shows our view from our Airbnb.

If you’ve never booked an Airbnb before, you can save $40 off your first booking by using this code HERE. Our apartment was right on the main street but the room was toward the back so our sleep wasn’t disrupted. 

This specific Airbnb had a washer and dryer (plus soap) so we were able to do laundry and hang it outside of our window like a true Italian. We were traveling for several weeks with only a carry on so I always seek out washer/dryers. 

Your guide to Cinque Terre

Riomaggiore was a quiet town with not much going on past 9 pm. During the day, hoards of visitors would come in by train or hiking trails and by nighttime only the locals and few visitors could be seen. It made for a peaceful nights sleep for sure. 

Your guide to Cinque TerreYour guide to Cinque TerreYour guide to Cinque TerreYour guide to Cinque Terre

Where to Eat in Riomaggiore: 

Da Paolino– Foccacia like you’ve never had before, so so good. Our favorite was the pesto (to the right). We basically ate this for breakfast every day. This place was also recommended to us by our Airbnb host.

source: tripadvisor.com

Il Pescato Cucinato– Our favorite fish in a cone! This to-go dish is very popular in Cinque Terre and we loved it from Pescato Cucinato. The fish tastes very fresh, they have a wide variety, and the price is wonderfully affordable. You can order your cone and make your way to the water to see the sunset. Perfect end to a busy Cinque day.


source: yelp.com

BAR e Vini A Pie’ DE MA’– This slightly hidden bar has gorgeous views over the sea. It’s a nice spot to sit and have drinks or do a wine tasting. The photo below was the view from our table.

Visiting Manarola in Cinque Terre

My favorite part of Manarola was the sunset views from Nessun Dorma restaurant. We visited for drinks and appetizers but stayed around long enough to watch the sun go down over the town. It was spectacular.

We also tried visiting a highly reviewed restaurant high up in the town but got shooed away because we didn’t have a reservation. Either way, finding our way to that restaurant introduced us to these views: 

There’s something magical about the nighttime in Manarola.

Visiting Corniglia in Cinque Terre

Corniglia didn’t really stand out to us. The views aren’t as pretty as the other towns, and there really isn’t much to see. It clearly still has its beauty but compared to its neighbors, it seemed to be lacking.

We explored a lot of the town in a few hours, had coffee, took several pictures and then moved on. 

Visiting Vernazza in Cinque Terre

Vernazza is one of the prettier towns with many lovely nooks to capture. We visited twice because the first time I lost sunlight for photos and since I was loving it so much I had to return!

However, when we went back earlier the next day the town was so packed with visitors that we could hardly walk. 

So we picked up some focaccia, climbed up to a nearby viewpoint, and watched the sunset over the beautifully layered town. 

Visiting Monterosso al Mare in Cinque Terre

I wish we would have made Monterosso our home base instead of Riomaggiore. I was surprised by how much I liked this place considering it’s more of a “beach town”. 

However, the beach is a bridge away from the center so it’s not like it’s the main attraction, it has so much more to offer.

I believe Monterosso is the biggest of the five. This town seemed to have more restaurants and cafes to choose from that stayed open later. It had more of a “big city” feel. Most likely why I was a big fan.

If you’re feeling a bit more adventurous and you want to explore Cinque Terre by kayak, this unique tour offers that option leaving from Monterosso! It’s up to 5 hours long and you kayak all along the coast passing up caves, crazy views, etc. Your photos will surely be incredible. Click here for the latest pricing.

While in Monterosso, I do recommend San Martino Gastronomia restaurant pictured below. It’s a tiny place run by a local family, all the dishes were made from scratch, and they were all great.

Also, do not leave this part of Italy without buying some pesto sauce to take home. Add in some pasta and you’ll have a delicious flashback to your time in Cinque. Those are my favorite souvenirs!

As you see, there is a lot to be explored in this region. I do recommend at least a few days there if anything at least to try that pesto and focaccia. Have you been to Cinque Terre? I’d love to hear your thoughts on what your favorite town was!

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4 Comments

  • Reply Beth August 14, 2018 at 6:54 am

    I’ve been to Cinque Terre twice (for 2 full days of sightseeing) & agree with your shorter visit comment.

    Last year we spent 1 full day driving between 4 of the villages – I loved this option because of the views & the really cool feeling of walking down the valley and entering the towns from the top instead of the bottom. (Knowing where to park is always tense as a tourist!)

    This year we stayed in an Airbnb in a small hill town at the north end of the park…we like to use small markets & do a lot of our own food. We also cycle so being up in the hills gave us great cycling & a feeling of being part of the area & not a tourist. This time we took the train & did a full day including a hike between 2 of the villages and the beach at Monterosso.

    The 2 days was perfect for us. Thanks for your great review, I felt like I was back in the sun at this beautiful place again 😊

    • Reply This Darling World August 14, 2018 at 10:48 am

      Thank you for your kind comment Beth!! I love that you explored it multiple ways, and making your own food from local markets is a great idea. The cycling sounds so fun too, I didn’t even realize that was another option!

  • Reply JessikaTRIPS August 18, 2018 at 10:38 am

    This post is so well writen and easy to follow. En plus, it makes me dream about Cinque Terre!!

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