This fairy tale land has been an inspiration to so many artists, and so to me as a travel blogger. Whenever I tried to planned a trip something came between. But not this time, as I was determined to experience this five charming fishing villages located on the Ligurian Coast overlooking the emerald sea.
Things to know before your trip:
- Best time to visit – From April to May or September. I visited in August and the weather was perfect for hiking and swimming in the sea! Although August is known for being the hottest month of the year, so be prepared for the heat.
- Some places take credit card but cash is highly recommended.
- Stay safe by drinking bottled water only.
- Many Italians speak English, so ordering a lunch or a coffee won’t be a problem.
- Is it safe? Yes, it is! Just be aware of pickpockets on every corner.
- One day is completely enough to experience Cinque Terre, although two-day trip is perfect if you want to hike between villages.
- Train ride between villages is easy and fast.
Me and my friend decided to book one day trip to Cinque Terre (actually it was 3 day trip, including Bologna, Parma, Lucca and Mantova, but one day was reserved for Cinque Terre). Our day began early in the morning en La Spezia, where we embarked on the boat. Boat ride is perfect for everyone who wants to capture the panoramic view of all five villages, as we stopped in the bay in front of every single village for few minutes to take pictures. What a view! Something I will never forget. Do you know how sometimes places look completely different in photos and in real life, well here it was an opposite. It looked even better and more colorful than I could ever imagine. No picture can capture the beauty of this picture perfect villages.
After an hour-long ride, we stopped at the largest village called Monterosso al Mare, where we had some free time to explore the streets or to swim in the Ligurian sea. It is the most visited village, mostly famous for its long sandy beach with colorful umbrellas. The village is divided in two parts (old and new) marked by the medieval tower of Aurora.
Monterosso al Mare is situated up on the hill surrounded by vines and olives. Amazing beaches with crystal clear water, make this village one of the most visited villages out off all.
After swimming in the sea, we continued by train to the most quaintest, Vernazza. Vernazza is known for the best views up from the hill that requires a bit of the hiking. You will have to ask a local or a tour guide how to find a hill above the church that offers one of the most spectacular views. There are a few steps to reach the finish line, but at the end it was absolutely worth it, don’t you agree? As well don’t forget to try the most delicious ice-cream at Gelateria Vernazza as Italy is known for the best gelato.
Next village, Corniglia is a special one, as our tour guide explained to us, that locals from Corniglia just don’t like tourist. Who could blame them, right? It is the only village that doesn’t have a harbor and even access by train is difficult, since you have to walk few minutes to reach the village.
So we respected their wishes and moved by train to the next one, hardly anticipated and the one that inspired most of the painters in the past, Manarola! Situated on the cliff above the harbor, it is known for its colorful houses. Manarola is the most known and photographed out of all five villages. For the best picture I would advise you to follow the trail up on the hill, to get the best view of this colorful city. There is one specific restaurant, with the best view over Manarola called Nessun Dorma where you can relax, order a glass of vine and enjoy the view.
And then there is the last one Riomagorre, the one that I most regret not exploring it by foot. But even though our tour didn’t cover Riomaggiore by foot, I manage to take some beautiful panoramic pictures from the boat.
Just a reminder, one day is completely enough to visit all five of villages, as the access by train is very close and fast, and honestly these villages are so small, that 2 hours per each is more than enough. But I would advise you to visit in Fall or Spring, as Summer is a high peak of the season and it gets very crowded.
Hope my story and pictures have inspired you to visit spectacular Cinque Terre!