A Dream Come True: Visiting Cinque Terre

Cinque Terre has been on my travel list for a long time, and finally, the time has come to visit this magical place. My research began with finding a place to stay, and I quickly discovered that accommodation within the five villages is quite expensive. So, I looked for an alternative and ended up in La Spezia.

La spezia

La Spezia is just one train stop and an 8-minute ride away from Riomaggiore. God, I love that name—it sounds so beautiful: Riomaggiore.

cinqueterre italy map

La Spezia itself isn’t particularly interesting. It has a castle, a church, and a somewhat boring shopping street. and a harbour However, it’s very crowded, filled with people who had the same idea: stay in La Spezia and visit the Cinque Terre.

By the way, “Cinque Terre” means “Five Lands” in Italian, not “five islands” as some might think. These five picturesque villages—Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore—are nestled along the rugged Ligurian coast and are famous for their stunning landscapes, colorful houses, and breathtaking views of the Mediterranean Sea.

I bought a Cinque terre card at the train station’s information office. It cost me €27 and €17.50 for my daughter. With this ticket, we could travel unlimitedly through the five stations, and it also included the bus service in Corniglia, which made it very convenient to explore the area without any hassle.

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Cinque terre card

Discovering Monterosso

We started our journey at the largest of the five villages, Monterosso al Mare. It boasts beautiful beaches and a charming old town with narrow streets and vibrant houses.

Vernazza

The next stop was Vernazza, renowned for its picturesque harbor and quaint, colorful buildings.

Corniglia

Then we visited Corniglia, which was an unexpected challenge. I saw the bus stop but forgot that the bus ride was included in our ticket. There was a long queue of older people waiting for the bus, so I decided to start walking. I soon realized that this village was on top of a freaking mountain! I absolutely hate walking up a mountain, but by then it was too late to turn back. The village itself, although beautiful, was quite boring to me. If I had known before, I would have skipped it.

Manarola

Our next stop was Manarola, famous for its romantic ambiance and lovely vineyards.

Riomaggiore

Finally, we ended our tour in Riomaggiore, the village I was most excited to see. Its beautiful terraced houses cascading down to the sea were just as breathtaking as I had imagined.

Tips on What to Do in Cinque Terre

Monterosso al Mare

  1. Relax on the Beach: Monterosso has the best and largest beaches in Cinque Terre. Spend some time sunbathing or swimming in the crystal-clear waters.
  2. Explore the Old Town: Wander through the narrow streets of the old town, lined with colorful houses, quaint shops, and cozy cafes.
  3. Hike to Vernazza: The trail from Monterosso to Vernazza is one of the most popular hikes, offering stunning views of the coastline.

Vernazza

  1. Visit Doria Castle: Climb to the top of this ancient castle for panoramic views of the village and the sea.
  2. Harbor Views: Enjoy a meal or a drink at one of the cafes around the picturesque harbor.
  3. Church of Santa Margherita di Antiochia: Explore this beautiful church located right by the sea.

Corniglia

  1. Skip the Climb: If you don’t enjoy hiking up steep hills, make sure to take the bus from the train station to the village center.
  2. Scenic Views: Despite my experience, Corniglia offers breathtaking views of the surrounding area, perfect for a quick photo stop.
  3. Wander the Narrow Streets: If you do visit, enjoy the charm of this quieter village by exploring its narrow lanes and small squares.

Manarola

  1. Sunset Views: Manarola is famous for its stunning sunsets. Find a good spot to watch the sun go down over the sea.
  2. Via dell’Amore: This “Path of Love” is a scenic walking trail connecting Manarola to Riomaggiore, though parts of it might be closed for repairs, so check ahead.
  3. Wine Tasting: Visit a local vineyard or wine bar to taste the region’s famous Sciacchetrà wine.

Riomaggiore

  1. Explore the Marina: The small marina is a perfect spot for photography, especially with the colorful houses as a backdrop.
  2. Castle of Riomaggiore: Visit this historic castle for great views and a bit of local history.
  3. Boat Tours: Consider taking a boat tour to see the Cinque Terre villages from the water for a different perspective.

General Tips

  1. Hiking Trails: The trails between the villages offer some of the best views in the region. Make sure to wear comfortable hiking shoes and bring water.
  2. Cinque Terre Card: This card includes unlimited train travel between the villages and access to some hiking trails. It’s a convenient and cost-effective option.
  3. Stay Hydrated and Protected: The sun can be quite strong, so bring sunscreen, a hat, and plenty of water.
  4. Avoid Peak Hours: The villages can get crowded, especially during midday. Try to visit early in the morning or later in the afternoon for a more pleasant experience.
  5. Local Cuisine: Don’t miss out on local specialties like seafood, pesto, and focaccia. Each village has its own unique restaurants and cafes to explore.
  6. Travel by Boat: Another scenic way to travel between the villages is by boat. The views of the coastline from the water are spectacular and offer a different perspective of the area.

By following these tips, you can ensure a memorable and enjoyable visit to the enchanting Cinque Terre.



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