A how-to guide to Cinque Terre

by Michelle on June 9, 2014 · 9 comments

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If you’re travelling to Italy, Cinque Terre is a place not to be missed. With a collection of five coastal villages along the Italian Riviera, village hopping to each of the picturesque villages is definitley an unforgettable experience.

Getting there

The best way to get to Cinque Terre is by train. From Pisa it’s only about an hour away, but there’s also connections there from Florence, and other major cities like Venice and Milan. The Italian national railway is called Trenitalia. It’s a bit confusing but it’s great for searching for connections beforehand and even buying your tickets online.

Click here to search up train schedules!

*Remember to get your ticket validated before you go on the train!*

Depending on where you’re traveling from, you might have to travel to La Spezia and take a connecting train to the villages. Luckily I travelled there from Pisa, where there are a good amount of direct connections! A single way train ticket from Pisa is aprrox. 8 euros.

The villages of Cinque Terre in order of closeness to Pisa are:

Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, and Monterosso

Something I would recommend is taking a train to the last (and also biggest) village – Monterosso, and working your way to Riomaggiore, where you can take a train back to Pisa, or elsewhere.

One thing to keep in mind is that since Cinque Terre is considered a national park, cars are restricted from most parts of the villages!

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Once you’re there

There’s a travel office in each village, so I would recommend getting a timetable printout of the train schedules for the villages. The trains come to the villages about once every hour or so, and the distance between each village is really short – only about 2-5 minutes!

You can buy the train ticket for the villages at these travel offices as well, and they start at 4 euros, which gives you a basic single journey in one direction to each of the villages. You can also get a Cinque Terre card that allows access to unlimited train travel and all the hiking trails which starts at 12 euros for a one day pass.

Additionally you can also travel to each village by boat! There are ferry boats that take you to every village except Corniglia.

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The Villages

Riomaggiore basically has one main street and is the closet village to La Spezia. There’s some restaurants, little shops and harbour and a beach.

Manarola is the smallest village but I think has the best view. When you search up photos of the Cinque Terre, the images of the houses on the hill are all taken there! There’s also lots of boats and swimming areas.

Coniglia is the hardest to get to since when you arrive, you have to walk up the 365 steps to actually get to the village centre! It feels quieter than the other villages but it’s worth the trek!

Vernazza has an amazing waterfront piazza and a harbour with a beach. There’s lots of tiny streets that lead to a main street and supposedly has the best night scene!

Monterosso is the largest village and has an old and new part of town, a sandy beach and a long seaside promenade. It has a resort like feel and has lots of beach-side restaurants and cafes.

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Hiking

Cinque Terre is a popular destination for hiking, and there are definitely some breath-taking views hiking from one village to another. It’s important to check the weather especially if you’re only in Cinque Terre for a little while, since the hiking paths aren’t always open.

A good pair of shoes are also a must for hiking since some of these trails take 2-3 hours and range in levels of difficulty.

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Accommodation

I’ve never stayed overnight in Cinque Terre, but there are a good amount of sleeping options. The fanciest hostels are in Monterosso, but there are also B&B’s and hostels, as well as apartments that you can rent. For hostels, they start at around 16-20 euros a night.

It’s important to book early especially in the summer, since places fill up really fast!

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Food

Pesto is a Ligurian specialty and you’ll see tons of shops selling them as well as a popular dish called Spaghetti al Pesto. Some other great foods to try are: vegetable pies (torte di verdura), rice pie (torta di riso), egg frittate, and farinata. Of course seafood dishes are a must as well!

Hope you guys find this mini guide helpful!

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Agness June 11, 2014 at 2:45 am

My friend visited Manarola and she was so impressed by the beauty of this village. I also hope to visit it! As you know, hiking is one of my favourite travel activities!!

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Michelle Michelle June 29, 2014 at 12:50 pm

Yes, it’s definitely a must on everyone’s travel bucket list! 🙂

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Mike June 18, 2014 at 7:15 am

Oh Michelle, it’s so beautiful!!! That’s great that cars are kept out of the one area though it could be inconvenient. And hey, any place that has restaurants advertising pizza and pasta dishes has got to be good, right? 🙂 Good post, our friend!

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Michelle Michelle June 29, 2014 at 12:51 pm

Haha yes, I love pizza and pasta! I’m very happy with all the pedestrian only zones too…helps to preserve the beauty of these little villages!

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Marsha June 23, 2014 at 7:06 pm

I love visiting little villages; these look so fantastic. I’ll have to keep this in mind when I return to the area. 🙂

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Michelle Michelle June 29, 2014 at 12:51 pm

Yes, sometimes it’s the little places that surprise you the most and are full of character! 😛

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Hitch-Hikers Handbook July 3, 2014 at 6:32 pm

It looks like a wonderful place! We would certainly like to go there!!! Great blog, Michelle! Thanks a lot for connecting with us on Twitter! Keep up the great work and travel safe!

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Michelle Michelle July 8, 2014 at 10:14 am

I hope you do!! 😀 And no problem! Keep in touch! 🙂

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Christopher July 28, 2014 at 8:22 pm

Good overview of one of my favourite places. Early morning hours are best to view the villages at their touristless best. The food is great everywhere, and hiking from one village to the next is an excellent way to spend the day.

Focaccia is also a speciality in Cinque Terre.

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