Cinque Terre is one of the most beautiful places I visited in Italy. What is it and how do you get there? In this article, you can read everything you want to know about Cinque Terre.
Cinque Terre National Park
Cinque Terre is a national park with five coastal villages in the Italian region of Liguria (just above Tuscany). The villages each have their own identity and are known for their height differences, narrow streets, and brightly colored houses. Cinque Terre is full of hiking trails, so this Italian gem is a favorite with hikers.
How to get to Cinque Terre?
The closest airports to Cinque Terre are Genoa and Pisa. From Genoa, it is a good hour by train (or an hour and a half by car) to Monterosso, the most northerly village of Cinque Terre. From Pisa, it is about an hour and a half by train and by car. The cheapest tickets can be found via Skyscanner. Do you prefer renting a car? Then I would do that via AutoEurope.
The villages are accessible by car, but because they are quite remote in the mountains, it takes quite a long time to get there. I would recommend using La Spezia as a base in that case. From here you can easily reach Cinque Terre by train.
The five villages in Cinque Terre
There are five villages located in Cinque Terre National Park: Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore.
Monterosso is the most northerly village of Cinque Terre and has a number of beaches. A lovely place to cool off on a hot day. It is also a very nice village to wander through, there are many narrow streets and cars are not welcome.
Vernazza is located in a bay and is perhaps the most photogenic village in Cinque Terre. There are many places to sit in the bay, so buy a piadine (an Italian flatbread with a filling of your choice) and go people-watching.
Corniglia is a village that’s not in a bay but on a mountain between the vineyards. Here you will find many winding streets full of nice (souvenir) shops and restaurants.
Manarola is also a photogenic village. Just like Vernazza, it is located in a bay, but the height differences are much greater. In Manarola, you have many beautiful viewpoints where you can sit down and enjoy the view.
Brightly colored houses and many narrow streets full of stairs. Riomaggiore is the village to get lost and then suddenly arrive at a beautiful viewpoint.
Taking the train to Cinque Terre
There is a special train connection between Levanto and La Spezia that stops in all the villages of Cinque Terre. A single ticket costs € 4 (it doesn’t matter which station you go to) and you can buy a ticket via Omio or at the stations (don’t forget to validate it in one of the stamping machines). If you plan to take the train several times, it may be cheaper to purchase a Cinque Terre Card.
Hiking in Cinque Terre
There are many hiking trails in Cinque Terre and especially the hiking trails between the villages are very popular. However, they are not always all open, so check with a Cinque Terre info point if you plan on taking one of the hikes.
A walk from one village to another village takes about one to two hours. If you plan to go hiking between the five villages you have to pay entrance to the park (€ 7.50 for a day), this can be done at a special office along the hiking trails or in advance at a Cinque Terre information point.
The hiking trails are very well marked and are sometimes very difficult. There are considerable climbs (so many steps), but the views are worth it. It’s totally worth it!
Tip: if you don’t feel like paying admission to the park but do want to go for a walk along the coast? You can hike between Levanto and Monterosso (two to three hours) or from Riomaggiore to Portovenere (five hours) without paying an admission.
Cinque Terre card
Do you want to hike in Cinque Terre as well as visit several villages by train? Then it is advisable to purchase the Cinque Terre Card. There are two variants: one for walkers only (€ 7.50 for one day, discount for several days) and one for the train (€ 16.00 for one day, discount for several days). Both cards include access to the hiking trails between the villages, you can use the local buses and toilets. With the rail pass, you can also make unlimited use of the regional train between Levanto and La Spezia. You can purchase the Cinque Terre card online or in one of the Cinque Terre shops at one of the stations.
See for yourself whether this pass is advantageous for your visit to Cinque Terre. I used a day pass during my visit and I used it well. I took the train four times (at € 4 per ride), used the toilet twice (€ 2), and went hiking between the villages (€ 7.50).
Where to stay in Cinque Terre
Although they are all small villages, Cinque Terre is bursting with small hotels, homestays and B & Bs. It is easy to find a room through Booking.com.
I myself slept in a very cozy little hostel in La Spezia called Costello. The owners can give you a lot of (budget) tips about a visit to Cinque Terre and can tell you everything about the most beautiful hiking routes in the area. Highly recommended!
Want to read more about Cinque Terre and Italy?
Then order one of these travel guides:
Lonely Planet Pocket Genoa & Cinque Terre
Or check out one of these articles:
- 5 cities in Italy you will fall in love with
- Milan travel guide: tips, the best sights & day trips
- A day in Venice: 14 highlights
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