Explore the Cinque Terre

Mention “the Italian Riviera” and your mind instantly drifts to the five pastel-coloured villages of Cinque Terre where rugged coastline, stunning mountain trails and perfectly preserved architecture promises you an authentic Italian retreat away from the hustle and bustle of city life.

Each town can be reached by train and can, therefore, be seen within a relatively short space of time however if you truly want to experience the magic of the area then you have to walk along the connecting hiking trails. Another option is to combine train, walking and boat travel, allowing you to experience every town and inch of the coastline by sea, by foot and in comfort.

Cinque Terre

What makes Cinque Terre so special?

Each town has a unique character

From Monterosso al Mare down to Riomaggiore, each town has something that makes it different from the others. With so much to see and explore, it is worth making one of the towns your base as you travel but if you chose to travel to each town by train then you can easily see them all in a day.

The most northern town in the Cinque Terre is Monterosso al Mare, probably one of the most touristy locations along the coastline with its beautiful beach filled with sun-seeking tourists. The town caters to your every need with shops and cafés lining the colourful streets. Once you have explored here then it is time to head to the quieter, more relaxed towns, first of which is Vernazza.

Monterosso al Mare

The town of Vernazza boasts a natural harbour that caters not just for boats but also for visitors and locals who want to swim in the beautiful waters of the Ligurian Sea and sunbathe on the surrounding rocks. If you’re looking for somewhere to stay then Vernazza has several hotels, apartments and private rooms to rent. Stroll along the cobbled streets and its many stone steps and venture up to the castle which sits at the highest point in the town. From here you can soak up the history of the area whilst enjoying glorious views over Vernazza on one side and the glittering sea on the other.

Next on the itinerary is Corniglia, the only town of the five that is not situated on the water. The streets twist and turn in between the buildings and lead to a refreshing sea-facing terrace that allows you to look out to all five villages of the Cinque Terre. From here you will see your next stop along the walking track, Manarola. Perched on a cliff edge, Manarola is surrounded by grapevines that produce the Cinque Terre wine, Sciacchetrá. If you happen to be a thrill-seeker, then you can try a bit of cliff jumping here, leaping from the rocks into the wonderful waters below.

Finally, the most southern village of the Cinque Terre is Riomaggiore. If you choose to make this the final stop on your adventure, then you will get to enjoy the sunset as it casts a warm glow on the buildings of the town, bathing them in a warm orange glow. Certainly a romantic sight, Riomaggiore perfectly completes your time along this section of the Italian Riviera.

Because each village overhangs the sea

Perhaps one of the most interesting specialties about Cinque Terre is that it’s not one, not two but a collection of five traditional fishing villages, known as Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Riomaggiore, and Manarola. This means you can choose any of the villages you like, or opt to explore all of them if you have a few more days. All these towns are well-connected by the Blue Path and it’s easy to maneuver between them. Riomaggiore is often the least busy and the most serene of all the towns, whereas Vernazza boasts the only natural port.

Its buildings are beautifully rainbow-hued

Cinque Terre Buildings

When you have a glance at the pictures of Cinque Terre, you’d be amazed how colourful the whole area looks! Lush green mountain ranges, glittering blue water and Pastel-coloured houses are nestled together in a kaleidoscope of colours ranging from azure blues to bright pink and sunny orange… it is like a rainbow exploded in this part of Italy. No matter if you stand on the high cliffs in Corniglia to soak in the bird’s eye view or savour a drink in the iconic centre of Vernazza, it looks ridiculously gorgeous from everywhere.

Ligurian food is amazing

There’s no doubting the fact that Italian food is second to none! But when it comes to Cinque Terre, there are a few cuisines that simply must be tried. In the past, each of the five towns would have been remote and therefore they relied heavily on the surrounding sea to provide them with an important food source. As you can imagine, the seafood in the Cinque Terre is amazing, with each town retaining their fishing traditions and proudly serving up their catches in the fantastic restaurants. A particular delicacy are the anchovies, which have been a staple of the local diet since Roman times.

Another food synonymous with the region is focaccia. This soft, salty bread makes the perfect snack to fuel you on your way as you wander amongst the town’s streets and walk along the cliffside pathways. And if you’re looking for something traditional to enjoy for dinner then you must try the pesto. Basil grows especially well in this region, enjoying the warm, temperate climate and local restaurants serve up delicious bowls of warm pasta topped with the green sauce. Of course, you will need something to wash down your delicious Mediterranean meal and luckily the Cinque Terra produces its own white wine. Along the hillsides, families of growers tend to their grape vines and each year produce wines which they proudly supply to the local restaurants. Dinner and drinks at the local eateries here are guaranteed to give you a true taste of Italian culture!

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