Destinations Europe Italy

Exploring Cinque Terre, Italy

Cinque Terre is a string of five seaside villages located in northern Italy. Here you’ll find layers of colorful architecture, facades with character, and delicious street food. This coastal region is great for active travelers. If you love to hike, there are paths you can take to hike through all five towns. Imagine the views you’d get! We’re not hikers, so we were grateful that a train easily connected the towns.

Your guide to Cinque Terre

Honestly, Cinque Terre wasn’t my favorite, but I cannot deny how gorgeous it is. Just look at it! It’s certainly not your ordinary scene.

Your guide to Cinque Terre

Plus, the food was so good. It was nice to try fresh focaccia, pesto, and all the dishes they specialize in.

Your guide to Cinque Terre

However, we were a little 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.

Your guide to Cinque Terre

I’m still glad I got to explore this part of Italy, but if I were able to do that itinerary again, I’d spend fewer days there and more days in Tuscany.

Riomaggiore

Your guide to Cinque Terre

This 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 my flatter towns. This was the view from our Airbnb:

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.

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

Some of our favorite stops in Riomaggiore: 

Da Paolino– Fantastic focaccia options! Our favorite was the pesto (to the right). We basically ate this for breakfast.

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.


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.

As mentioned, we took the train to visit the other towns during the day so only half days were spent in each. We did a total of five nights in Cinque Terre. If you’re hiking that should be a good amount of time, if you’re taking trains you can probably pull off three days. I would’ve cut back to three days myself.

Manarola

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.

Corniglia

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. 

Vernazza

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. 

Monterosso al Mare

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. 

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 outstanding.

As you see, there is a lot to be explored in this region. I do recommend at least a few days there if anything for 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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