I’m beyond excited to finally be sharing our Cinque Terre travel guide with you!
In case you missed it so far, I’ve done a little Italy series where I’ve shared my 15 Must-Know International Travel Tips, my Rome Travel Guide, and my Florence Travel Guide from our Italy trip last fall. And today I’m sharing our final travel guide – Cinque Terre!
If you’ve read my previous posts, then you know that Florence was overall my favorite city because of the culture, history, and amount of activities without being too overwhelming. However, Cinque Terre stole my heart because it was by far the prettiest city we visited. In fact, it’s the most beautiful place I’ve ever experienced in my life! We didn’t spend a ton of time here because there’s not nearly as much to do as there is in Rome and Florence, but it was a definite must-visit place on my list, and I’m so glad we stayed here!
So, just as a helpful side note as you’re reading my travel guide, Cinque Terre is made up of 5 towns along the coast: Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. Monterosso is the largest and has the most amenities. There’s an old town as well as a newer section (Fegina) where the only large beach is found in Cinque Terre and where you can enjoy the “beach” vibe with swimming, kayaking, and chairs with umbrellas. Vernazza isn’t as big as Monterosso, but it’s probably the town you’ve seen photographed the most because it’s an adorable little cove. There’s a central piazza where there’s still plenty to do. Corniglia is the only town that isn’t actually built on the coast. It’s more tucked away in the hills and isn’t very touristy. Manarola is also pretty small but we read that it’s popular for its Lover’s Lane path. Lastly, Riomaggiore is quaint, pretty quiet, and not super touristy either.
Below, I’ve listed where we stayed, the places we ate, and our “original plan” along with our “modified plan”. The reason we didn’t stick with our original plan is because the morning of our first (and only) full day in Cinque Terre, we woke up to a downpour. I’m not going to lie to you – I cried. I’m such a planner and had our whole time mapped out to perfection, so being forced to give that up and improvise was such a bummer. BUT, our time in Cinque Terre ended up being amazing! It was neat to see Jay’s personality (adventurous, spontaneous, relaxed) play out in this context. He calmed me down, created a plan, and made sure we had fun… I just love that man! And I love seeing how God had a different plan for us that was still just as fun and beautiful.
|| Cinque Terre Travel Guide ||
|| STAY ||
Just like in Rome and Florence, we chose to stay in an airbnb in Cinque Terre – and it did not disappoint! We stayed in Monterosso, which I was admittedly not-too-excited about because I was hoping to stay in Vernazza. But now after having explored these two towns a bit more, Monterosso was definitely the better choice for us. We stayed specifically in the old town section that was just steps away from all of the cutest wine bars that played music at night. I’d definitely recommend staying in Monterosso if you can!
|| EAT ||
Since Monterosso and Vernazza were the most populated towns, we chose to hang out there for our entire time in Cinque Terre. So our restaurant choices only reflect the research we did for those two towns.
- Da Eraldo (Monterosso) – Y’all. Our meal at Da Eraldo was top notch. It had high reviews on Trip Advisor, but we were still very surprised at how much we enjoyed the food. I highly recommend the pasta bolognese and the tris di Testaroli – these were seriously the two most amazing dishes I ate in all of Italy!
- La Cantina di Miky (Monterosso) – We kind of happened upon this restaurant right when we hopped off the train from Florence. We just grabbed a little snack and some drinks, but the location is right on the water and we snacking while taking in the gorgeous views.
- Lunch Box (Vernazza) – My original plan had us stopping to eat here, but due to the rain we didn’t make it. But it’s incredibly highly ranked and the sandwiches look absolutely amazing.
Il Pirata delle Cinque Terre (Vernazza) – I was pretty bummed that we didn’t make it here because the food looked SO good and the reviews are amazing. If you get the chance to go here, let me know how it is!
- Belforte (Vernazza) – Jay surprised me with reservations to this place, and I’m SO glad he did because it was absolutely incredible. It’s located inside a castle and everything about our meal, the ambiance, and the service was fantastic!
- Il Casello (Monterosso) – Nothing in particular stood out to us about the food here, but I absolutely loved that it was on the water. It was the perfect place to unwind with a glass of wine and watch the sunset.
- L’Ancora della Tortuga (Monterosso) – We didn’t make it here because of the rain and colder weather, but it was at the top of my list simply because of the dreamy outdoor atmosphere. If it’s good weather while you’re there, this seems like it would be a great place.
- Enoteca da Eliseo (Monterosso) – This place was just outside our airbnb and was the perfect spot to grab a charcuterie board and wine!
- Enoteca Internazionale (Monterosso) – This place was just the cutest and it’s where we bought our authentic Italian olives to take home.
|| DO ||
In Rome and Florence, there were tons of guided tours to choose from with lots of history, but Cinque Terre is more of a laid back, explore-it-yourself type of town, so I don’t have any tour recommendations this time around.
Our original plan (pre-rain) was to hike the Cinque Terre Trails. These trails start in Monterosso and go all the way through the 5 towns, ending in Riomaggiore. You can find the path trails at the local information center in your town (ours was near the train). Our plan was to leave at 9am and do all of the following along the way (taking the train back to Monterosso around 2-3pm):
Stop in Vernazza and climb Castello Doria, eat at Lunch Box for lunch, and explore a little bit
- Leave Vernazza and hike to Corniglia, stopping to get gelato at Alberto Gelateria
- Leave Corniglia and hike to Manarola to explore
- Leave Manarola and hike to Riomaggiore to explore
- Take the train from Riomaggiore back to Monterosso and possibly head to the beach in Fegina to relax before dinner, if time allowed
However, due to the rain, the hiking trails were closed, so we came up with a modified plan:
- Grabbed coffee at Bar Gio to brainstorm our day. Even though it was just regular coffee, we were able to sit at the tables overlooking the water right after the rainstorm, and it was the most peaceful experience of our entire trip!
- Jay looked up the trail to the Church of San Francesco – Capuchin Friars Monastery and said it looked neat, and I’m SO glad we decided to do this! The trail starts in Monterosso and basically went straight up (so beware of stairs if you don’t like them). It took us a while to get to the actual church at the top because we stopped along the way at the Monumento a San Francesco d’Assisi. This spot had the most amazing views I’ve ever seen in my life (see my pictures below!). We stayed here for about 30 minutes, and I told Jay that I had never been so at peace and so grateful for life than I was at that moment – It was incredible! After that, we followed the trail to the very top and ended up at the church that had a gorgeous cemetery. It was definitely creepy, but it was so beautiful and also kind of fun to see how huge the cemetery was. We seriously walked through it for like 15 minutes until we finally got to the end. Although this path wasn’t my original plan, it was amazing, the views were stunning, and I’m so glad we did it!
- After our hike, we came back down, wandered through Borgo Antico, and stopped at one of those wine bars listed above.
|| PHOTO RECAP ||
|| HELPFUL TIPS ||
- For my full list of helpful travel tips, check out my 15 Must-Know International Travel Tips post where I list all of my super important tips for traveling! (Some of which we learned the hard way… Whoops!)
- Since you’re probably going to be out most of the day, don’t forget your external phone charger. We took so many photos and videos of Cinque Terre because we wanted to remember every second of it, and I don’t know what we would’ve done if our phones had died!
- For transportation, the only easy way in and out of the towns is by train. So make sure you know the schedule and when the last train leaves for the night. Also, Cinque Terre is where we learned about the train strikes, so try to pay attention to any flyers you see (that’s how we learned about the strike happening our last day there!). Thankfully, the strike was only for the local trains, not the larger trains, so we were able to make it out of Cinque Terre to get to Milan. If we had stayed another day in Cinque Terre though, I don’t think we would’ve been able to get from town to town, so I guess just try to stay aware and be flexible!
- Since most of the activities include lots of walking and/or hiking, be sure to pack your tennis shoes.
If you found this Cinque Terre travel guide helpful or are wanting to save these tips for your future trip, would you pin this image to your travel board?
I hope my Cinque Terre travel guide tips and recommendations can be helpful to you as you plan your future trip. If you’ve gone anywhere else in Cinque Terre that you absolutely loved, be sure to share your experiences and recommendations in the comments!
Stay tuned for my international packing list and Italy vlog coming soon!
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