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Visiting the Cinque Terre in Italy: itinerary and tips

Last update : 25 February 2024

Visiting the Cinque Terre in Italy had been a project of ours for a very long time. We had discovered the existence of these villages thanks to the many photos seen on Instagram in particular. So last August, we finally organized ourselves a road trip in Italy to visit the city of Naples, the villages of the Cinque Terre and the city of Florence. Ten days of exceptional travel in Italy!
Discovering the Five Lands was for us a magical experience under the sun, lulled by La Dolce Vita and fine Italian cuisine.

In this article, discover all our tips for organizing your stay in Cinque Terre, Italy, and the answers to all your questions: how to get to Cinque Terre, how to get around between small villages, our favorite Cinque Terre hotels, our good addresses for eating well in Cinque Terre, what budget to allow… and above all where to eat the best ice creams!

Visiting Cinque Terre, where to sleep?

In Cinque Terre, you have two options. Sleep directly in a hotel in the heart of each village, or sleep in one of the nearby towns, in La Spezia or Levanto. For your vacation rental, it all depends on where you want to stay! In the heart of the small villages, or would you prefer a little peace and quiet and take the train to the colorful houses of the five lands!

Sleeping in the heart of the Five Lands, the benefits

  • You’re right on the spot to soak up the atmosphere of the Five Earths. A way to be as close as possible to the narrow, colorful lanes and hiking trails.  You tell us which little village you liked best!
  • The sunrises and sunsets in these little villages are exceptional!
  • You’ll avoid the cost of transportation to reach the Cinque Terre, just take a shuttle bus between each village
  • You’ll feel like you’re living like a local!

La Terrazza di Peun

Sleeping in La Spezia or Levanto, the advantages

  • Find hot accommodations and rentals that are much more affordable!
  • Access Riomaggiore, the first village of the Cinque Terre, in just 10 minutes from La Spezia!
  • Enjoy peace and quiet at the end of the day, far from the tourist hustle and bustle of the Cinque Terre.
  • You’ll find it easier to go swimming, especially in Levanto where there are real beaches.
  • Local costs will be much lower, especially for restaurants or supermarket shopping. Enough to indulge yourself with Italiana specialties

La Spezia

For our part, we chose to sleep in La Spezia, mainly because accommodation was much more affordable. Also, La Spezia makes access to the Cinque Terre very quick and easy via the Bus Station. Once you’ve bought your 2 or 3-day pass, it only takes 10 minutes to get to the first village! Just enough time to sit back.

The city of La Spezia surprised us with its sheer size – after all, there are 220,000 inhabitants! You’ll find plenty of shops and restaurants. We found it nice to have all the comforts of a big city where we were staying. The port of La Spezia is huge and offers a pleasant walk to admire the huge ships that dock there. 
The only drawback is that La Spezia has no beach. We were very hot at the end of August and would have appreciated a little swim in the evening!

Cinque Terre

Levanto

We discovered Levanto one afternoon and were very pleasantly surprised! The town is much smaller than La Spezia (only 5,000 inhabitants) and is a little further away from the Cinque Terre. It takes 30 minutes to get from Levanto to Monterosso Al Mare, the nearest village in the Cinque Terre.
The big advantage of staying in Levanto for your Cinque Terre holiday is that it has a huge beach! You’ll find lots of little bars and restaurants right on the beach, ideal for an affordable lunch overlooking the sea.

A final advantage of staying in Levanto and taking your rentals here: the town and its inhabitants claim to be part of the “Slow Life” trend, a return to nature, the earth and calm. A quality of life philosophy that can be felt even when you spend a few nights here.

Hotel Levanto
 

Visiting the Cinque Terre, which village to discover?

Riomaggiore – Manarola  – Corniglia – VernazzaMonterosso Al Mare

 

Visiting the Cinque Terre in Italy, activities

Hiking between the villages of the Cinq Terre

Hiking between the villages of the Cinq Terre is well worth experiencing. You’ll get incredible views of the villages, and it’s from above or from afar that they’re ultimately the most beautiful! All the same, you need to be in good physical condition and not be too afraid of heights, as the trails are on the side of hills and not all of them are safe…
For the less athletic among you (we also plead guilty), choose to do just one hike a day. Allow around two hours for each hike.

 

Hiking between Vernazza and Monterosso Al Mare

Listen carefully to this advice : absolutely do this hike starting from Vernazza on the way to Monterosso Al Mare!!! We did the opposite, setting off innocently from Monterosso Al Mare, motivated as ever.  Big mistake: the trail keeps going up and up, between wobbly steps and climbs from hell! haha

We had a good laugh, but we suffered a bit. The hikers we passed in the other direction were all serene and pointed out that the other way, downhill, was much more pleasant …

The cliffs of this nature park skirt the region’s vineyards and vines, making this panoramic hike exceptional. We can’t recommend the region’s superb hiking trails enough. They link all the picturesque hilltop villages of the five lands and are only closed in bad weather. Nice, inexpensive excursions!

At the end of this hike in the Cinque Terre National Park, we arrived at the small port of Vernazza. A rocky promontory above the town offers a fantastic view, perfect for ending this excursion!

This region is a veritable sanctuary, where the villages are UNESCO World Heritage Sites!
Petite pepite de cette randonnée: you’ll undoubtedly come across an inhabitant of Cinq Terre, in the middle of the hike, selling orange juice pressed on the spot! He’s been selling his little juices for 20 years on this hike, enough to give you a boost. Expect a 2€ coin for a juice, and off you go again! 

 

Sail aboard a boat to visit the Five Lands

You can choose the boat option to travel between the villages, which should offer a magical view in this marine protected area. We weren’t too tempted, as the boats are huge and overloaded with tourists. Expect to pay between €12 and €20 for a return trip between the town of departure (Porto Venere or La Spezia) and the village of arrival. It must be great to admire the narrow streets and coves of this Italian riviera!

Cinque Terre
 

 

Visiting the Cinque Terre, practical information

How to find the best tickets to visit Cinque Terre

To find the best mode of transport (plane, train, bus) to get to your destination, we recommend you always look on the OMIO comparator. This will give you an overview of all the modes of transport available for your destination, and allow you to compare prices very easily.

 

How to find the best hotels to visit Cinque Terre

In order to find the best hotels and benefit from the best conditions (security, cancellation…) we go almost exclusively through Booking.com for our trips. We recommend that you take a look at the available hotels and filter them according to their ratings. The customer reviews are very numerous and recent, which helps to avoid unpleasant surprises when traveling!

How to find ideas for vacation activities

If you want to get ideas for activities to do on your vacation and want to book in advance, we’d also recommend looking at GetYourGuide.

How to get around between the Cinque Terre villages

Forget about using your car in Cinque Terre, you won’t be able to get around or park! The train is a very practical and inexpensive way of getting to Cinque Terre and between each village. Trains are in very good condition, fast and run very frequently, about every 20 minutes.

Cinque Terre Card fares give you unlimited access to trains, from Levanto, through the 5 Cinque Terre villages, to La Spezia. You’ll also have access to Cinque Terre hikes with this card!

 

Price of the Cinque Terre Train Card

For adults: Cinque Terre Card Treno – 1 day: € 16 2 days :  € 29 3 days :  € 41

For children over 4: Cinque Terre Card Treno – 1 day: €10

Alternatively, take the family card for 2 adults and 2 children: Cinque Terre Card Treno – 1 day Family: €42
Please note: children under 4 don’t need a ticket!

Cinque Terre
 

When to visit Cinque Terre?

We set off to discover the Cinque Terre during the last fortnight of August. It was still quite hot, in the 30s.
We’d prepared ourselves to meet a lot of tourists at that time of year, and despite that we decided to go in August, as we’d booked our vacation at that time… What we found: it was crazy crowded! In some villages, Vernazzia in particular, we were amazed at the crowds in the little streets, the huge tourist boats pouring into the villages …

Our biggest tip: you can easily visit Cinque Terre in 2 days, which is quite enough. Plan a weekend out of season (in September, October, May or June) to enjoy optimal conditions! You’ll enjoy sunny weather and much quieter villages.

Cinque Terre
 

Budget to visit Cinque Terre

Italy and particularly the Cinque Terre are not known for being a cheap destination… As far as we were concerned, we found accommodation, leisure activities and restaurants quite expensive for rather average services. Despite this, the real advantage of Cinque Terre is that there are plenty of options to suit your budget.

Our tips for limiting your travel budget

  • Sleep instead in one of the towns near the Cinque Terre, Levanto or La Spezia, then reach the first village by train.
  • Prefer hiking : you’ll only have to pay €2.5 to follow the trails of the Cinque Terre.
  • Enjoy takeaway foccacias and local specialties for lunch al fresco with superb views.
  • For a little extra: choose a relatively accessible activity, such as renting a kayak to enjoy the clear waters and have a perfect panorama facing the village!

Last budget tip: always carry cash! Italians don’t often have CB machines, and especially in the small shops of Cinque Terre, you risk being stuck without change. On the other hand, don’t worry, there are plenty of cash dispensers in the Cinque Terre train stations and even in the village streets.

manarola

 

Thank you for reading

We hope the tips and good addresses on our travel blog will help you visit
the Cinque Terre.

You can also follow our daily adventures on Instagram 🙂
Clem & Alex

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