Arriving in Cinque Terre was like stepping into the most beautiful dream. Translates to “Five Towns”, each of these towns has something unique and wonderful to offer. Out of all the places we went to in Europe on our honeymoon, Cinque Terre was hands down my favorite.
We took the train from Pisa into La Spezia and then a commuter train into Riomaggiore, the southernmost town of the 5. Riomaggiore is one large hill so if you have very heavy luggage this isn’t the ideal place to stay. Fortunately since I packed light, this wasn’t an issue for us. 🙂 Many people choose to see all 5 towns in one day — as a day trip. This is completely feasible as we traveled to all five in one day. However if you want to relax and really take in the culture I recommend giving yourself at least 2 days. We stayed 3.5 days total and it was perfect.
I highly recommend the B&B we stayed at —Cinqueterre Residence. We had a private patio with a view of the town and ocean and surrounded by lemon trees separating you from the guests next door. Breakfast was included (croissants, bread, fruit, meats and cheese, juice and coffee) in the price. Run by a family, the hosts were kind and accommodating.
Here is a little bit about each of the 5 towns.
On a very steep incline with one main road, this town seemed to have the least amounts of tourists (besides Corniglia). Climb to the top of the town for amazing views. Make sure you go to Bar e Vini a Pie de Ma for drinks and to watch the sunset. Seats are first come first serve and they don’t serve meals so plan to come here for a pre-dinner drink. After all Italians don’t eat dinner until 8pm or later. This was the town we stayed in (see above for details) and we loved it.
This is the largest of the 5 towns. Monterosso has a huge stretch of water and a sandy beach to relax on. Don’t forget to check out the il Gigante statue at the northernmost end of the beach. There are more tourists here but that means it’s the best place for souvenirs (unfortunately we left our full bag of souvenirs under our table during lunch in Vernazza #FAIL). If you’re going to other cities in Italy, then I highly recommend getting souvenirs here because you’ll find more unique items that you can’t find in the big cities.
Many call this the most aesthetically beautiful town and I agree – it’s quite gorgeous. It is the one of the towns you most often see on post cards of Cinque Terre. I’ll let the photos speak for themselves. The best view of Vernazza is on the hike from Monterosso. I love hiking and this was my favorite hike I’ve ever done. The hubby said the same. We were in awe at how beautiful everything was.
We ate outside at a pizza place right by the marina – yummy food (arguably the best pizza we had in Italy) and a great view! The father/daughter we were sitting next to us heard us speak English and struck up a conversation – turns out they are from Virginia (we’re from Maryland). The daughter goes to JMU (James Madison University) and is currently studying abroad in Firenze (Florence). Such a small world!
This was the least crowded town and we weren’t surprised once we heard you have to climb up 365 steps to reach it. Fortunately a bus arrived right after we got off the train and we took that to the top. I believe its 2.5 Euros per person to ride to the top but we used our Cinque Terre Card that we purchased earlier that morning. This town definitely had the best ocean views – breathtaking. There is not much to see in the town otherwise, we spent about 20 minutes there and then climbed down over 300 steps back to the train station to our next destination.
This town has my heart. Could have admired this charming postcard view all day. We spotted a cliffside restaurant and stopped for a drink and formaggio (cheese) board and admired the bella vista. Never wanted to leave.
If I had to choose a favorite town…I’m not sure that I could! Vernazza and Manarola were the most beautiful, I loved the beaches of Monterosso, the culture of Riomaggiore and the quaint old town feel of Corniglia.
Don’t forget to try and buy a bottle of limoncello! Cinque Terre is the best place in Italy to buy this. Cheers!