Italian for "Five Lands," Cinque Terre is a spectacular collection of towns tucked away on the side of a mountain on the Italian Riviera in Liguria, a western region of Italy right above Tuscany. The vibrant and colorful houses look like carvings on a mountain. The atmosphere is laid-back, despite the constant crowds during high season.
In Italian antiquity, founding fishing villages on coastal hills, away from popular areas, was a strategic move to avoid destructive newcomers and offered strong defense. The name "Cinque Terre" started to pick up movement in the Renaissance. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site and known for its culture.
Journy has planned thousands of trips to Cinque Terre—leveraging our network of experts to send travelers off-the-beaten path and allowing them to travel more meaningfully and deeply with customized, detailed itineraries. You can learn more about how Journy works here, and continue reading to discover the highlights that this region of Italy has to offer.
When To Visit Cinque Terre And How Long To Stay
Since Cinque Terre is a great place for hiking, it's best to visit in the months with the least rainfall. March to September is ideal. July, though hot, has the least rainfall (28 mm) and October has the most (149 mm). May through August are the busiest months. During winter, hiking trails may be inaccessible, so it's best to visit in the early summer for the best weather for hiking.
Cinque Terre is three hours by train from Florence, four and half hours from Rome, and just under four from Milan. As such, it's not convenient to visit Cinque Terre as part of a day trip while in Tuscany (otherwise you'd spend at least 6 hours in the train that day). Instead, it might make more sense to either take a day trip from Portofino or La Spezia—or stay overnight in one of the five Cinque Terre towns, so that you can explore without having to carry your luggage everywhere. Two to three days is a good amount of time to spend, but when you travel with Journy your personal trip designer can help you map out the exact amount of time to spend where based on your total trip duration and interests.
Transportation To And Within Cinque Terre
The closest airport to Cinque Terre is the one in Pisa, so it makes sense to visit Tuscany before venturing out to The Five Lands. The best way to travel to Cinque Terre is by train from Pisa. The Cinque Terre Express stops at a train station in each of the five towns. It costs four euros in high season and 1.8 euros between November and March.
Within Cinque Terre, walking is the best way to travel around each individual town. The Cinque Terre Express train line, as mentioned above, stops at each of the five towns, so this can be utilized as well.
Cinque Terre’s Must-See Sights
This rocky promontory atop Manarola (on the path toward Corniglia) offers a great view of the towns and the coast. There’s a playground for kids here, as well as a bar.
Cinque Terre can get pretty crowded, so this small, secluded beach just southeast of Riomaggiore marina is a nice reprieve. The pebbly beach can have strong currents at times, so swim with caution.
Belvedere Di Santa Maria
Shaped like a heart, the Belvedere di Santa Maria is a clifftop viewpoint in Corniglia on the Via Fieschi. From here, you can see an 180-degree view of the Mediterranean, so bring your camera.
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Florence, Rome, & Venice
Located in the town of Corniglia, La Torre is a medieval viewpoint at the top of a stairway from the Piazza Taragio.
Getting to Guvano Beach is half the fun. The Corniglia beach is reachable only via an abandoned railway tunnel.
Convento Dei Cappuccini
Unlike the other towns of Cinque Terre, Monterosso al Mare has an old part and a new part of the city. The Convento dei Cappuccini is a church and convent complex located on the hill dividing the two areas.
As the oldest surviving fortification in the Cinque Terre, Castello Doria dates back to around the year 1000. It’s a steep climb up the narrow staircase, but well worth it.
Top Local Delicacies To Try
Get ready for a carb overload in Cinque Terre! Focaccia is an Italian flatbread that is a local specialty, and as such, served at many restaurants in Cinque Terre and throughout Italy. The texture is similar to pizza doughs and usually seasoned with salt, olive oil, and sometimes, herbs.
You’re in for a real treat with Farinata. This thin, savory pancake is made from chickpeas, flour, water, olive oil, and salt.
No major explanation here; seafood is a popular entree at many restaurants in Cinque Terre. It's sourced directly from the sea, with anchovies being the particularly popular option.
Basil thrives in the temperate climate of the Italian Riviera, making pesto a staple throughout Cinque Terre. The traditional version comes together with Parmigiano (Parmesan cheese), olive oil, pine nuts, and garlic—in addition to basil, of course.
The best way to finish off an amazing meal is with a small serving of Limoncino—an immensely popular Italian liqueur made from lemon peel, ethanol, sugar, and water.
Also not to be missed are the local wines of the Ligurian region. You’ll spot vineyards on some of the trails through Cinque Terre, and many restaurants offer bottles from local wineries. For something more immersive, sign up for a guided vineyard tour and tasting—which your Journy trip designer can happily handle for you.
Must-Try Restaurants and Bars
Fuori Rotta Wine Bar (Riomaggiore)
For an excellent wine bar away from the Riomaggiore crowds, grab a chair at Fuori Rotta. Order a glass of white wine or cocktail and indulge light finger foods as well.
Il Porticciolo (Manarola)
Located in Manarola, Il Porticciolo is a typical restaurant you’ll find in the Cinque Terre, with a menu offering fresh seafood dishes and local wine. There’s also a veranda that overlooks Manarola’s main street.
Bar Pan E Vin (Corniglia)
Although tiny (what else would you expect from the Cinque Terre’s smallest town?), Bar Pan e Vin is full of charm. It’s a perfect spot to grab a coffee or cocktail and do a bit of people watching or simply rest from your hike.
For wine with a view, zig-zag your way to Winexperience. Six-generation Vernazza local and sommelier, Alessandro, offers top recommendations. Opt for a pre-determined tasting or order by the glass. Light snacks are also served.
Ristorante Miky (Monterosso)
After a day of beach bumming in Monterosso, freshen up for a romantic dinner at Ristorante Miky. Elegantly decorated and boasting a relaxing atmosphere, you can’t go wrong with a pasta dish (try their homemade Spaghetti alla chitarra).
Hike The Cinque Terre
Hiking, as in many regions of Italy, is a major activity here as well. The hiking trails between villages offer unparalleled Italian sights, so it is well worth the effort. The hike between Vernazza and Monterosso is perhaps the most challenging, but yields amazing views along the footpaths and up to the hilltop. Pack plenty of water and take your time; there are many photo-ops for the adventurous hikers out there!
Swim In The Ocean
Taking a dip in the refreshing water is a must, and with five Cinque Terre villages, you have many opportunities to do so. Keep in mind that some beaches have rougher currents than others. Monterosso is perhaps the premier town for swimming, while the secret (and, ahem, clothing optional) Guvano Beach boasts a more hippy vibe.
Take A Sunset Cruise
While there’s no ‘wrong’ time to take a boat tour through Cinque Terre, we recommend a sunset sail. You can either join a group sail, which usually includes a sunset cocktail and light snacks, as well as a swimming break in one of the towns. Alternatively, you can charter a luxury yacht for your group.
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Tuscany & Rome
Riomaggiore is home to the Cinque Terre National Park and a one-kilometer romantic pedestrian footpath called "La via dell'Amore" (the way of Love).
A frazione of Riomaggiore, Manarola is the second smallest of the Cinque Terre (and the oldest). There are many popular restaurants here, many of which serve the local wine, called Sciacchetrà. Also worth visiting is Volastra, a village that sits in the Cinque Terre National Park with a stunning Romanesque-style church that sits atop of the hill.
As the middle village of the Cinque Terre, Corniglia is built on hilltop cliff 100 meters above the sea level and surrounded by vineyards. Many people choose to reach the town via the hiking trail from Vernazza. However, if you take the local train, be prepared for the many stairs leading up the cliff.
This fishing village is Cinque Terre’s only proper harbor town. There’s no street traffic and the surrounding terraced houses are stunning. Whether hiking to Corniglia or Monterosso, you’ll enjoy great hilltop views of Vernazza.
While you're in the Ligurian region of Cinque Terre, take a trip to Portovenere, a village known for Porto Venere Regional Natural Park around Palmaria Island, along with hiking trails, sandy beaches, and caves. Also worth visiting? Genoa, the port city capital of the Ligurian region known for its Romanesque Cathedral of San Lorenzo and Teatro Carlo Felice opera house.