(Updated: April 2022). The famous 5 coastal villages that form the Cinque Terre are probably on everyone’s Travel Bucket list. And, let us tell you, rightfully so. They are unbelievably beautiful!
It’s best to visit the Cinque Terre after the main season. We went there in October and enjoyed perfect late summer weather with not too many tourists.
The harbour of La Spezia was our starting point for the Cinque Terre exploration.
How to get to Cinque Terre
We started our journey at the harbour of La Spezia, where most of the Cruise ships stop for a day during a Mediterranean cruise. From here on you can either rent a car, book a day trip on a boat or visit the Cinque Terre via train. We decided for the train trip and were pleasantly surprised.
The schedules are easy to understand and surprisingly reliable! The trains go between the villages at least every 10 minutes. And now comes the biggest surprise: Of all things the day of our visit was the day of a general strike in Italy. We thought that would mean: not one train would go. Wrong! Maybe every third or fourth train was cancelled – but it was all clearly signed at the train stations and the alternative trains would leave only minutes later.
Another reason why to take the train would be parking! The small coastal villages offer very (!) limited parking, so you’ll have a hard time with a car here. With the train you arrive without the hassle of parking your car.
The first village we visited in Cinque Terre was Vernazza, the Northernmost village of the five! We decided to start our round trip in the North and then make our way down to the South, village by village.
This was our first view of Vernazza. We climbed up a hill for this!
The hills are lined with vineyards and you’ll get spectacular views if you keep walking uphill.
View of Vernazza from up in the hills!
After you make your way back down to the village you can take the main street. It leads from the train station directly to the harbour. Make sure to sit down at Gianni Franzi and eat “Trofie con Pesto”, the local speciality. It’s a dish of small rolled noodles with a green pesto made of basil, oil and lots of garlic.
From Vernazza it’s only a couple of minutes by train to our second tour stop: Manarola. But if you have some more time: Consider to hike the path between the two villages. This will open up new amazing views of the Mediterranean, the cliffs and the small villages.
This is one of the nice views on Manarola’s harbour.
And here’s the most famous view of Manarola. The village is nestled alongside the cliff in a spectacular way. You can really sense how the inhabitants fought off their houses inch by inch from the cliff.
Make sure to stop at “Nessun Dorma” for a drink under the white umbrellas with a one-of-a-kind view of the coastline and the village.
We could’ve stayed in Manarola much longer – a day is really too short for an exploration of the Cinque Terre!
Our last stop brings us to Riomaggiore, that is famous for it’s sunsets. Well, we can never resist a good sunset viewpoint! And this one didn’t disappoint. Walk down to the harbour and climb on the stones. Find yourself a comfortable place and stay until the sun sets.
Bring a bottle of red wine, some bread, olives or grapes and prepare yourself a little picnic. You won’t be the only one doing this here in the harbour and you’ll get to enjoy some authentic Italian vibes.
Even in October, some brave people still take a dip in the water.
But most visitors just climb around the rocks for the best sunset views.
When the sun sets the colors of the village shine even brighter than during the daylight.
This was the end of our day trip to Cinque Terre!
After the sunset in Riomaggiore we had to catch a train back to La Spezia to board our cruise ship. We definitely want to come back to see all five of the Cinque Terre and spend some more time in the villages. Early morning must be a perfect time to be there without too many visitors – what do you think?
Find out more about our favourite regions in Italy:
- A luxury retreat in an old castle in Tuscany
- Our favourite hotels in South Tyrol
- Discoveries at Lake Como
In our Italy category you can find more posts covering anything from Venice to Turin, Cinque Terre to South Tyrol.