Top 10 Must-Do Things in Cinque Terre, Italy
Updated On: February 25, 2024 by Ahmed Samir
Nestled along the rugged coastline of the Italian Riviera, Cinque Terre is an enchanting tapestry of five vibrant villages suspended between sea and sky. Steeped in history and bursting with colour, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is an alluring haven for travellers seeking a true Italian escape.
Meander through narrow cobblestone alleys, passing fragrant lemon groves and cascading vineyards, while you savour the essence of la dolce vita. Whether you’re hiking the picturesque trails that bind these captivating hamlets, indulging in mouthwatering Ligurian cuisine, or basking in the warm Mediterranean sun on pristine beaches, the magic of Cinque Terre will leave you spellbound.
Taking a tour around the coastline as the sun sets and painting the sky with hues of gold and pink would be the perfect ending for an unforgettable adventure. So, gear up and prepare yourself for the top 10 must-do things in Cinque Terre, Italy.
1. Where the Heart Loves, There the Legs Walk
Embark on a mesmerising journey along the Sentiero Azzurro, or the Blue Trail, a legendary path that weaves through the heart of Cinque Terre’s five enchanting villages: Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, and Monterosso al Mare.
If you are a hiking enthusiast, you can finish the Blue Trail in 5 to 6 hours, passing across all 5 villages in the following order: ( Monterosso to Vernazza, Vernazza to Corniglia, Corniglia to Manarola, Manarola to Riomaggiore (The Lovers Walk). However, if you plan to take short stops now and then to take pictures and enjoy the scenery, we encourage you to spread the trail over two days.
As you hike these ancient paths, you’ll traverse terraced vineyards, olive groves, and vibrant wildflowers, all while taking in the breathtaking panoramas of the Azure Mediterranean Sea. The stretch between Monterosso and Vernazza is particularly fascinating, offering an exquisite fusion of natural splendour and architectural charm, so make sure not to miss this viewpoint.
2. In the Village, Everything is Slow
As you wander around, you will discover the irresistible charm of Cinque Terre’s five scenic villages, each with its unique personality and allure. Lose yourself in the narrow, winding streets lined with colourful houses, vibrant piazzas, and inviting cafes. Mingle with the friendly locals and embrace their laid-back way of life as you savour the region’s mouthwatering cuisine and renowned drinks.
Take a rest and grab a coffee or a fresh smoothie from BRITTA Take Away, or go for a light meal and try some fresh pastries at Pasticceria Laura. Don’t miss Bar Centrale for a taste of their delectable gelato.
As described by visitors, the best village to set back and enjoy the sunset is Riomaggiore, the most beautiful pictures you can take in Vernazza, the best view of the harbour is at Manarola, and Corniglia is the best one for relaxation and peace.
3. Lose Track of Time in an Express Train
Feeling relaxed? Experience the beauty of Cinque Terre effortlessly by hopping aboard the region’s train system. Connecting all five villages, the Cinque Terre train offers a convenient and scenic mode of transport, taking approximately 25 minutes to journey through Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, and Monterosso, making short stops at each one.
Ticket prices range from €4 for a single ride to €16 for a day pass, granting unlimited travel within the region. The train operates frequently, but to avoid crowds, consider travelling during off-peak hours or weekdays. Make sure to pay your visit from March To November as the Express is only available during summertime.
4. Paradise is Just One Beach Away
Experience the sun-kissed bliss of Monterosso Beach, Cinque Terre’s largest and most captivating sandy haven. Ideally visited between June and September, when the warm Italian sun and gentle Mediterranean waves create the perfect retreat, this beach invites you to unwind and rejuvenate.
Relax on a sunbed beneath a vibrant umbrella or dip your toes in crystal-clear waters. As you plan your visit, consider staying at one of Monterosso’s top hotels, such as the elegant Hotel Porto Roca or the charming Hotel Villa Steno, both famous for stunning sea views and offering unparalleled comfort.
5. When in Doubt, Kayak it Out!
If you are up for some rigorous work, be ready for an enjoyable kayaking and snorkelling adventure at Cinque Terre National Park’s marine area. The best time to experience these exhilarating activities is between May and September, when the calm, crystal-clear waters of the Mediterranean offer optimal conditions for exploration.
Numerous tour operators, such as Cinque Terre Kayak and Outdoor Portovenere, provide guided excursions tailored to various skill levels. Prices range from €50 to €100, depending on the tour’s duration and inclusions. Typical itineraries last between 3 to 5 hours and offer a unique perspective of the coastline, allowing you to paddle past dramatic cliffs, secluded coves, and charming villages. Snorkelling stops reveal the vibrant marine life beneath the surface, adding an extra layer of wonder to your journey.
6. The Sanctuary of Montenero
Discover the historical and spiritual temptation of Cinque Terre’s hidden gem, the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Montenero, an 18th-century religious site perched atop a hill overlooking Riomaggiore and the Mediterranean Sea.
Dedicated to the Madonna of Montenero, the sanctuary has long been a pilgrimage site for locals seeking solace and divine protection. To reach this tranquil haven, follow the well-marked trail that begins in Riomaggiore, leading you on a moderate hike through terraced vineyards and lush vegetation.
Or, if you fancy a spectacular ride, take the Livorno Funicular; kids and grown-ups love it. As you explore the church’s beautifully adorned interior, immerse yourself in its rich history and enjoy the sweeping panoramic views.
7. Feeling Peckish?
Savour the mouthwatering flavours of Cinque Terre by indulging in the region‘s local cuisine, a delightful blend of traditional Ligurian specialities and freshly caught seafood. Start your day with a scrumptious and reasonable price breakfast at Bakery Rosi Roberta Di Baudinelli in Riomaggiore, famous for its Focaccia and cakes.
Sample some of the best seafood in Vernazza at Ristorante Belforte, where the catch of the day is cooked to perfection. Don’t miss the sweet indulgence of cannoli at Pasticceria Laura or some rich ice cream at Gelateria La Scogliera at La Spezia.
Cap off your day with a visit to the cosy Batti Batti’ Friggitoria for traditional Italian street food, especially fresh fried anchovies.
In the mood for dinner in a warm setting? Try some delicious meals at the family-run trattoria La Lanterna in Riomaggiore, where you can feast on local favourites like anchovies, stuffed mussels, and farinata. Dining in Cinque Terre offers a tantalising journey into the heart of Italian gastronomy, leaving your taste buds longing for more.
8. Visiting Vernazza
Step into the enchanting world of Vernazza, a picturesque village steeped in history and home to remarkable attractions. Begin your exploration at the Sanctuary of Madonna di Reggio, a revered 14th-century pilgrimage site nestled amidst verdant olive groves. Marvel at the sacred art gracing the walls of the ancient Chapel of Santa Marta, a 13th-century treasure located in the heart of the village. Continue to the medieval Doria Castle, a former fortress that once served as a vital defence against pirate invasions.
As you stroll through the winding pathways and stone arches of this historical marvel, ascend to its summit and indulge in breathtaking panoramas of the vibrant village and the serene harbour below. A visit to Vernazza’s captivating landmarks promises a fascinating journey into the past, revealing the rich cultural tapestry that has shaped this timeless Italian gem.
9. Let Your Dreams Set Sail in a Boat Trip
Experience the enchanting scenery of Cinque Terre from a unique perspective with unforgettable boat trips. Navigate the stunning coastline while discovering hidden coves, charming beaches, and breathtaking views. Companies like Angelo’s Boat Tours and Cinque Terre Boat Tours offer excursions ranging from 2 to 4 hours, with prices starting at €35 per person. These memorable adventures allow you to appreciate the region’s natural splendour, access secluded spots, and indulge in a refreshing swim in the azure waters.
10. Cherish Your Memories with Top 5 Viewpoints
Bombard your Instagram with jaw-dropping photos and let the world behold the unmatching beauty of Cinque Terre through these five stunning viewpoints. In Riomaggiore, trek up to the Guardiola Tower for panoramic vistas of the colourful village and the Mediterranean. At Manarola, don’t miss the iconic Nessun Dorma viewpoint, where sunsets paint the sky with vivid hues.
In Corniglia, climb the Lardarina staircase for a breathtaking coastal panorama. Vernazza’s Doria Castle provides an unparalleled vantage point of the harbour and village, while in Monterosso, a short hike to the San Cristoforo Hill reveals the expansive shoreline and vibrant village life.
As you plan for the top must-do things in Cinque Terre, Italy, one last thing to remember is to respect the environment and local communities during your visit. Cinque Terre is a fragile ecosystem, and sustainable tourism is vital for its preservation for long years to come.
What are you waiting for? Surrender yourself to this unique stretch of the Riviera and pause to admire the vibrant hues of the villages, cascading down to the sparkling shoreline below. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or a casual wanderer, the Sentiero Azzurro invites you to discover the magic of Cinque Terre in all its glory, leaving you with memories to last a lifetime.