Cinque Terre: A Great Guide to 5 Wow Villages of the Italian City

Cinque Terre

Updated On: April 18, 2024 by   Marwa Abdel MoniemMarwa Abdel Moniem

A trip by the hill cliffs on the rugged coastline of the Italian Riviera – that’s something to take time away from your busy schedule to enjoy! Italy has a lot of retreats, that’s a fact, but – also a fact – many are not under the spotlight as the capital. This article will shed more light on the Cinque Terre, an unmatched natural beauty and hiking experience. So, lace your hiking boots and let the excitement begin!

The Cinque Terre, Italian for “five lands”, has gained local and international acclaim as the first national park in Italy and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is made up of five villages with plenty of hills that you can hike your way through them all.  

Benvenuti alle Cinque Terre!

Five hillside villages connected by hiking trails – this is the Cinque Terre. This region is seen as a national park offering the most popular hiking experience along 70 miles of well-marked footpaths.

You will visit Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore villages on Italy’s Ligurian coast, and the easiest and fastest way to do so is by train. The train takes five to 10 minutes between one village and the next, so it is the best transport option to visit all of the Cinque Terre in a single day.

The villages of the Cinque Terra are full of stunning views and activities that make them incredible escapes from busy city life. Every year, around 2.5 million people visit the Cinque Terre, which rises from the rocky contours of the Italian Riviera. It is truly a super touristy city!

Manarola: The Village of Colourful Houses

Cinque Terre

Colours, colours, colours everywhere! Climbing to the top of a cliff in Manarola village, you find yourself in the middle of brightly painted houses that appear to be part of a portrait that catches the eyes of the beholder. This is the tallest part of the village. 

Tumbling down the rocky cliff, you will reach a little harbour, which contains a boat ramp and a swimming hole – you are in for a couple of activities! Small alleys could be seen climbing from the sea up to the cliff offering an iconic view of the Cinque Terre. Manarola is considered one of the most photographed villages in the Cinque Terre. 

Manarola is a bit sleepy at night, which might sound like a perfect romantic choice for couples. The relaxing evenings, small streets and sea views could be a caption for a photographer’s shot of Manarola.

Vernazza: The Busiest of All! 

Cinque Terre

This is the crown jewel of the Cinque Terre and the busiest of all five villages, though it has no car traffic. A fishing village it is, featuring a natural port, the only one in the Cinque Terre. We are in Vernazza!  

Vernazza is packed with colourful and elegant houses that stand on rocky cliffs projecting to the sea. Here, you can also visit an old castle used to protect the village from pirates. Many have reason to believe that Vernazza is the most scenic village of the Cinque Terre. 

The name of the village is derived from the Latin adjective verna, which means “native”. Tourism is considered a primary source of revenue in Vernazza—tourists like to visit Vernazza, where they can buy unique handmade souvenirs and take the most photos.

Riomaggiore: Colourful Houses & Little Promenade

Cinque Terre

Tourists can enjoy their days and nights in Riomaggiore, one of the biggest villages in the Cinque Terre. Like all villages, it also has colourful houses on the cliffs, but what is unique about Riomaggiore is its promenade.   

This is a lively village, with restaurants and cafes opening along the tiny promenade for visitors to enjoy their meals and drinks even after the sun sets on Riomaggiore. This village is known for its locally grown agri-good products-that gives it the thumbs up. 

Monterosso: The Village of Lemon Trees

Cinque Terre

Welcome to Monterosso! You are in the village of lemon trees, grapes and olives. Bars and food shops are characteristic of this village.

This is the largest of all five villages in the Cinque Terre. What is fantastic about Monterosso is that you can easily get there by car and, in addition, it has cheap parking lots. You won’t have a hard time reaching Monterosso!

Corniglia: The Smallest of All!

Situated on top of a cliff 100 metres above sea level, Corniglia is the smallest of all the five villages in the Cinque Terre. Unfortunately, it is also the least known. Difficult access to Corniglia discourages tourists from visiting it, but many who decide to buck this trend end up calling it the best terra of all five. Finally, making it to Corniglia, you will be overwhelmed by the vineyards and stone terraces surrounding it on three sides. In the Cinque Terre, there is always more than meets the eye!

Go Hiking in the Cinque Terre!

If you are into hiking and climbing, you are in the right place. Hiking in the Cinque Terre National Park is quite an experience that could be paired with some sightseeing and many pictures. You can get 1k likes for that!

We are talking about 48 hiking trails that will surely cater to your trekking passion. You could spend days exploring areas of the Cinque Terre before you could return home with a heart full of stories!

While no fee is required to enter the Cinque Terre National Park, you should purchase a Cinque Terre Card to be able to hike the two famous trails: from Monterosso to Vernazza and from Vernazza to Corniglia.

The Blue Trail (Sentiero Azzurro) remains the most popular and longest route, covering the length of all five villages of the Cinque Terre. If you like, you can walk the entire path, or if you can’t, hop on the train for an easier journey. So, consider buying a combined train-hiking pass.

Before you go, you must know that the Blue Trail is divided into four sections that vary in difficulty. The easiest part of the trail is between Riomaggiore and Manarola- this is the paved section, and it is called “Via dell’Amore” or “The Path of Love”. Unfortunately, this section of the route is currently closed due to reconstruction work.  It is expected to open in May 2024.   

What is more challenging is the portion between Monterroso Al Mare and Vernazza. This part of the trail is considered the most difficult due to the unpaved, rocky way. Trekkers will have to walk through lots of narrow winding paths and will have to climb lots of hills up and down along their most strenuous hikes in the Cinque Terre. The bad news is that this part of the Blue Trail is closed due to landslides and will not fully open before May 2025.   

Go Swimming in the Cinque Terre!

Care for some swimming and snorkelling? No worries, you can enjoy the water activities in the Cinque Terre! If you are visiting between May and October, you will have the opportunity to dive into the beautiful blue water of the Cinque Terre and watch the sunset after your excursions. 

Swimming would be much fun on the coastal cliffs and the sloping pebble beaches-can you imagine it?!

Bear in mind that the options are a bit trim. We are talking about a few beaches along an almost-all rocky coast of the five villages. Diving in from the ports could also be a good choice.

Fegina is a long sandy beach in the new part of Monterosso. Another sandy beach in the old town of Monterosso could be found near the boat rental area. It is excellent to relax at this beach’s public or private zones after your hiking trip.

If you are in Vernazza, you can make good use of its harbour, whose small sandy beach is open to swimmers. But if you have deep-water swimming in mind, we recommend that you go to the harbour area in Manarola.

There is also a public beach in Riomaggiore, where you can chill out by the sea all day and enjoy the crystal water. Who said Cinque Terre is all about hiking?!

Go on Sea Kayaking Trips in the Cinque Terre!

A kayaking trip should be part of your plan during your visit to the Cinque Terre. It is a fantastic way of exploring the Italian Riviera along the coastline of Cinque Terre. A sea kayaking trip is estimated to last for three hours.

Kayaks depart from Monterosso. Make sure to go on a trip while stopping in this village. We recommend that you go with a guide to show you the best spots: hidden coves, rocky cliffs and the bright hues of the five villages of the Cinque Terre.

Is the Cinque Terre in Italy Worth a Visit?

The answer is yes! This is a unique trip that you should go on at least once in a lifetime. The five villages in the Cinque Terre are an excellent choice for short vacations or weekends. So, pack your bag and lace your boots and get ready to explore this part of the Italian Riviera!

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