17 Quick Cinque Terre Tips You Need to Hear

Looking for the most important Cinque Terre tips to keep in mind as you plan your trip to these popular villages?

We have you covered!

Known for their beautiful colors, stunning cliffside setting, and many local hikes, the five fishing villages of Cinque Terre are undeniably one of the most famous coastal getaways in all of Italy.

So, it’s no surprise that several visits later, we’ve assembled quite a list of Cinque Terre tips, tricks, and pieces of advice for visiting this gorgeous slice of Italy’s Ligurian coast.

Here are the Cinque Terre tips we think everyone should hear before arriving for the first time!

View of Vernazza from hiking trail, One Day in Cinque Terre Itinerary
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Tips for Exploring Cinque Terre

Shoulder season is the best season to visit Cinque Terre.

Unless you have your heart set on near-guaranteed swimming conditions during your trip to Cinque Terre, shoulder season–spring or fall–is truly the best time to visit the villages.

It’s no secret that Cinque Terre struggles with the number of visitors who come during the summer and often overwhelm the villages and their infrastructure, and those realities combined with simply how crowded Cinque Terre can be makes summer less than ideal for a visit.

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Winter, however, isn’t the best time to visit either–even if you’re not worried about swimming, you’re still likely to find many businesses closed for the season in addition to the cold weather.

That being said, if your idea of the perfect trip to Cinque Terre involves lounging underneath a colorful umbrella on the beach and swimming beneath the cliffs, then braving the summer crowds is a must.

If you’re planning a summer trip to Italy and have your heart set on visiting Cinque Terre, we recommend spending at least a couple of nights there and aiming for a trip in early June or early September. Avoid August if you can!

Woman facing away from camera on Manarola Promenade, One Day in Cinque Terre Itinerary

If you’re looking to lay out on the beach, head to Monterosso al Mare.

Monterosso al Mare is home to the only traditional sandy beach in the 5 villages, and the absolute best place to stay in Cinque Terre if you’re planning to swim.

Over the summer, the beach in Monterosso al Mare is covered with colorful umbrellas set out by lidos (beach clubs), which you can pay to use.

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If you’re less concerned about a traditional beach day and just want to enjoy the thrill of being in the water, it’s popular to throw a towel down and go for a swim in the harbors of Manarola, Vernazza, and Riomaggiore as well.

Vernazza even has a tiny sliver of sand to enjoy!

The only village in Cinque Terre that offers absolutely no swimming is Corniglia, as it’s set high in the cliffs and doesn’t have a harbor.

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If you want to hike between villages, you’ll need a Cinque Terre card.

If there’s one Cinque Terre tip we can give for getting around, it’s this: purchasing a Cinque Terre card will make your visit go much more smoothly than it would otherwise.

A Cinque Terre card will allow you to use the trails, the wifi network in the villages, the buses, and also allow entrance to the toilets at the train stations in the villages (sounds silly, but at 1 Euro/use, those costs can add up!).

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You can also add on an option to your Cinque Terre card to use the trains, which we highly recommend.

As of the time of writing, a one day Cinque Terre card runs 7.5 Euros for adults or 18.2 Euros with train access.

You can check updated prices and information here.

View of Spiaggia di Fegina in Monterosso al Mare with colorful umbrellas in the foreground, one of the best photography locations in Cinque Terre Italy

Vernazza is often considered the prettiest of the villages–and we agree.

Unlike most of the villages, which have one postcard-worthy, picture-perfect viewpoint, Vernazza has two!

Vernazza’s first iconic viewpoint is visible when approaching the village from Monterosso al Mare, and the second is visible when approaching the village from Corniglia.

Photo of skyline of Vernazza when approaching from Corniglia: making sure to see this view is one of our Cinque Terre tips!
The view of Vernazza from the trail connecting it to Corniglia.

… But you don’t have to hike (much) to access Vernazza’s viewpoints.

The view of Vernazza’s harbor is visible about 10 minutes up the trail toward Monterosso al Mare.

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It is part of the paid trail area, though, so you’ll need a Cinque Terre card in order to see it!

The view of Vernazza in the photo above, showing the town jutting out to see, is only about a 5 minute walk out of town toward Corniglia–and you don’t even need to be on the paid section of the trail in order to enjoy it.

swimmers enjoying vernazza harbor in cinque terre tips

Don’t trespass.

I cringe every time that I see people hopping fences and blowing past private property signs to get photos of Cinque Terre’s viewpoints (and then shamelessly posting their conquests on Instagram and TikTok for the world to see, of course).

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The locals are put out enough by absorbing the mass of tourism that has come to this part of the world–don’t be a jerk about it.

This goes for anywhere, of course, but Cinque Terre does seem to attract more than its fair share of fence-hoppers–and if I could only give one travel tip for Cinque Terre, it would be this one.

Souvenir Stand in Vernazza, Cinque Terre

Looking for that famous viewpoint? It’s in Manarola.

If you’ve seen one photo of Cinque Terre, it’s probably of the harbor of Manarola–and the view is a less than 5-minute, flat walk from the village.

It’s also free to visit!

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Want to get a higher viewpoint?

The Nessun Dorma restaurant serves light food and beautiful cocktails that are wonderful to enjoy while admiring Manarola’s most famous angle.

It’s also insanely popular, so plan ahead and make reservations if you want to visit (personally, we have our eye on enjoying one of their pesto-making classes during our next trip).

View of Manarola, One Day in Cinque Terre

You have to eat pesto genovese while in Cinque Terre.

Liguria is famous for its pesto, especially served as trofie al pesto, and it is an absolute delight!

This is perhaps the most important of these Cinque Terre tips as far as your taste buds are concerned: don’t leave without devouring at least one serving.

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… and the seafood, of course.

These are fishing villages, after all–and the seafood in Cinque Terre is magnificent as a result.

Muscoli (mussels) are particularly popular!

Plate of seafood pasta with mussels in it as served in Cinque Terre. Trying the seafood is among our many Cinque Terre tips!

Where to Stay in Cinque Terre Tips

If at all possible, you should really spend (at least) one night.

While it is possible to visit Cinque Terre as a day trip, we strongly recommend booking at least one night there if at all possible.

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The villages have a quiet(er) beauty to them when the many daytrippers leave, the sunsets are gorgeous, and there’s simply something special about seeing Cinque Terre under the cover of darkness.

Ideally, we’d recommend 3 nights in the villages, but of course, that doesn’t always fit into a trip’s itinerary.

Riomaggiore at night, with lights showing lit up on colorful houses and the sea dark below.

When deciding where to stay, not all villages are created equal.

Riomaggiore is our personal favorite village to stay in–it’s a great mix of beautiful views, several restaurants to choose from, and quiet streets to stay in.

Monterosso al Mare is the best pick for beach lovers and Manarola or Vernazza are wonderful for those looking to soak up stunning views overnight.

The only village we personally wouldn’t choose to stay in is Corniglia, for the simple fact that it requires more effort to get in and out of than the other four villages.

Photo of people sitting at a restaurant outside in Cinque Terre. There are umbrellas over the tables.

If you find a hotel or apartment you like, book it.

Unlike major cities like Rome and Milan, Cinque Terre’s villages are small and don’t have any large hotels–only boutique properties and family-run spots.

For this reason, places to stay in Cinque Terre sell out fast. If you find one you like, book it now!

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Well-Reviewed Places to Stay in Cinque Terre

Luciano Guesthouse (Riomaggiore) — This is where we stayed during our most recent visit to Cinque Terre, and we can’t recommend it enough!

The property was clean and lovely, and the customer service offered by Francesco and his wife during our stay was absolutely top-notch. We would be thrilled to stay again!

Check rates & book your stay at Luciano Guesthouse!
kate storm and jeremy storm overlooking manarola cinque terre italy

Scorci di Mare (Riomaggiore) — Want to stay a 3-minute walk from the beach and see the sea from your window?

If so, the popular Scorci di Mare is the perfect spot for you!

Check rates & book your stay at Scorci di Mare!

Da Baranin (Manarola) — Cinque Terre is expensive, there’s no getting around it.

For a budget option, consider Da Baranin–you’ll need to climb up and down a steep hill as a trade-off, but you’ll get to stay in Manarola for a very affordable price tag!

Check rates & book your stay at Da Baranin!
Harbor of Riomaggiore as seen when looking back at the town.

Cinque Terre hotels too expensive? Consider La Spezia or Levanto.

Given its small size and intense popularity, it’s no surprise that Cinque Terre is far from the most affordable place to book a hotel in Italy.

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If you want to spend a couple of days enjoying all that Cinque Terre has to offer but also want to travel on a bit more of a budget, consider staying in one of the towns that border Cinque Terre instead.

Levanto and La Spezia are both lovely options that have easy train access to Cinque Terre.

We generally book hotels and apartments for visiting the Cinque Terre area (and everywhere else in Italy) through Booking.com.

Kate and Jeremy hiking with their grandparents in Levanto Italy.
Hiking with my grandparents near Levanto, circa 2016!

Absolutely can’t spend the night? Book a tour.

If spending a night in Cinque Terre simply doesn’t fit into your schedule, a day trip is the next best thing!

If you’re driving yourself and/or coming from somewhere reasonably close, this is easy enough to do independently.

If you’re coming from as far away as Florence or Milan, however, an independent day trip is quite the hassle, and we recommend booking a tour instead: this one from Florence and this one from Milan are both well-reviewed and popular.

Book your day trip to Cinque Terre today!

Main street of Manarola, Cinque Terre

Hiking Tips for Cinque Terre, Italy

Confirm your hiking plans with a local before you start.

Landslides, storms, maintenance issues… because of these concerns, and more, sections of Cinque Terre’s trails have opened and closed many times over the years.

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Because of the constantly shifting access, we recommend chatting over any hiking plans with a local (your hotel operator or a guide in one of the tourism offices at each train station is a great option) before you get started.

That way, you can get the most up-to-date information on available hikes, get a heads up on any quirks, and perhaps even learn about new trails you weren’t familiar with before!

You can also check the updated status of the various Cinque Terre trails on this website.

View of Monterosso al Mare beach from above on a sunny day, umbrellas are visible on the right side of the photo. This beach is one of the most instagrammable places in Cinque Terre!

If you only have time for one hike, hike from Monterosso al Mare to Vernazza.

This hike isn’t an enormous time commitment (it takes about 2 hours on average) and is incredibly beautiful. 

The views of Vernazza as you approach the village are absolutely magnificent, hence why we suggest hiking this way instead of from Vernazza to Monterosso al Mare as part of this list of Cinque Terre tips!

View of Vernazza harbor from above--worth adding to your list of sights when planning a trip to Italy!

Getting Around Cinque Terre

Beware of train strikes.

On our very first visit to Cinque Terre, we were hit with a train strike that massively impacted our plans, so keeping an eye out for these will always be on our personal list of Cinque Terre tips!

Luckily, Italians plan their strikes in advance, so ask around before setting off for the day if you’re concerned.

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… But also, the train is (often) the best way to get between the villages of Cinque Terre.

When at all possible, the train is generally the best way to get around the villages of Cinque Terre (when you’re not hiking, anyway).

It’s inexpensive, it’s fast, it’s easy, and as the train stations (except in Corniglia) are right inside the towns, the trains are very easy to access.

Photo of the empty train tracks at a station in Cinque Terre. Some people are standing to the side and waiting on the platform.

Don’t forget about the boats (during the summer, that is).

Ferries between the villages of Cinque Terre also run during high season.

If you’re there when the ferries are running, we recommend taking the boat at least once in order to appreciate Cinque Terre from the water!

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The exception is Corniglia, as it is the only village in Cinque Terre without a port.

If you have a bit longer to spend visiting Cinque Terre, you can also take the ferry to Portovenere, the beautiful “sixth town” of Cinque Terre that receives a fraction of the visitors that the main five do!

You can check the timetable and fares for the Cinque Terre ferry here.

Visitors disembarking from a ferry in Vernazza, One Day in Cinque Terre

Don’t drive to Cinque Terre.

It is much easier to take the train between the villages than drive between them.

If you do bring a car to the area, we recommend parking it in Levanto or La Spezia (both train stations have paid parking garages available) and then taking the train to Cinque Terre from there.

Image shows two photos of Cinque Terre on top of each other, both overviews of Vernazza. White words on an orange background in the center of the image read "17 Useful Travel Tips for Cinque Terre"

About Kate Storm
Image of the author, Kate Storm

In May 2016, I left my suburban life in the USA and became a full-time traveler. Since then, I have visited 50+ countries on 5 continents and lived in Portugal, developing a special love of traveling in Europe (especially Italy) along the way. Today, along with my husband Jeremy and dog Ranger, I’m working toward my eventual goal of splitting my life between Europe and the USA.

10 thoughts on “17 Quick Cinque Terre Tips You Need to Hear”

  1. Thank you for all of these great tips! I love your passion and knowledge of Italy that’s so evident on this blog. Heading to Cinque Terre for the first time in September and I’m so excited. Will be staying for two nights in Riomaggiore, so glad to hear you recommend it.

    • Thanks so much, Riana! That’s a joy to hear, truly.

      Hope you have an amazing time in Cinque Terre! September is a wonderful time to be in Italy–we’ll be back there ourselves then. :-)

  2. Wonderful, informative site. One suggestion…Label your pictures as to where it was taken. I’m very interested in the pics Bottega Toscana, the storefront with goods outside, and the cafe with people sitting outside.

    • Thanks, David! You must have seen the first photo you describe on another post, but I know it well: that store is in Arezzo, a short walk from the main square. :-)

      The storefront with goods outside in this post was taken on the main street of Vernazza, and the cafe with people outside was taken in Corniglia.

  3. Hi Kate
    I plan on hiking the Dolomites in September then plan on going to Florence and Cinque terra after. Do you have any helpful tips on traveling after my hike in the Dolomites?
    Marianne Nickell

    • Hi Marianne!

      Not sure exactly what you’re looking for, but we have lots of posts on both Florence and Cinque Terre to check out! We personally love traveling by train in that area–if you’re driving in the Dolomites, you may want to drop off the rental car after that leg and switch to train.

  4. Hey Kate!
    So unlucky me and I get to travel to Italy for 2 weeks this upcoming february. So I plan on visiting Cinque Terre during that time.. How much do you think this will suck? I know alot of places will be closed but thats ok.

    • Hi Raisa!

      We haven’t personally been to Cinque Terre during the winter, but based on our experience of visiting other coastal escapes in Europe during the offseason, I’d imagine it will be very peaceful and very beautiful.

      I wouldn’t count on hiking, but if you’re just going for the views and don’t mind limited restaurant choices, I’d imagine you can have a lovely visit.


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