Tips for Visiting Cinque Terre

by Talia Klundt / Aug 16, 2016 /
Talia Klundt's picture

Last year we took a two week vacation to Italy to visit friends and to go to Cinque Terre. Cinque Terre has long been on my list to visit and I always meant to go when I lived there but somehow I never got around to it and then when I wanted to go, it was too late as I was moving away. I was so excited that I was finally going, despite knowing that it is one of the ultimate tourist attractions.  I loved everything about it: the food, the people, the ambience, and the just the sheer beauty of it. Cinque Terre is made up of five towns (Riomaagiore, Manarola, Cornelia, Vernazza, Monterosso al Mare) that are connected through a series of hikes/trails. It is possible to hike from town to town, or take the local train, which we opted to do. It takes about five hours to get to Cinque Terre from Rome as you have to change to a regional train line at La Spezia. We spent four nights in Cinque Terre, two in Riomaggiore, and then two in Manarola.

Tips for Visiting Cinque Terre

All of the five towns of Cinque Terre are on sea level except for the town of Corniglia (the main reason we never went there). The northernmost town, Monterosso al Mare, is very beachy, unlike the other towns, which have an old world charm with their crooked streets and colorful houses. Like I mentioned before, one can actually hike from town to town if that is your thing, although you must buy a 5 Euro day pass. Hiking/walking is not so much our thing, so we were happy to hear that you can purchase a day pass, which gives you unlimited travel from La Spezia (which is the main train station that you will have to get off at in order to get to Cinque Terre) to all the five towns and it includes Levanto for 12 Euro. It takes about half an hour from La Spezia  to Riomaggiore via the train.  You are able to purchase the tickets at the train stations and also at the tourist points in each town.  They are definitely worth the money if you plan on traveling and visiting the towns or going back and forth like we did, going to the beach in Monterrosso al Mare, then eating in Riomaggiore, for example. 

Riomaggiore was spectacular when we first arrived and the first thing we did was eat at a fantastic restaurant called La Lanterna, where I proceeded to order pesto pasta and continued to do so every day of the week! This is the only restaurant that I can remember and it sticks out to me because it served kamut pasta, which is a healthier ancient grain.

La Lanterna, Cinque Terre

La Lanterna, Cinque Terre

That evening we took a the love walk (Via del Amore) to the town of Manarola, which was about a 20 minute walk. This was the only walk we ever did, otherwise we took the local train. Manarola was a really cute village and was lined full of restaurants and great places to eat and have a glass of prosecco. The views were also fantastic everywhere in the village!

Manarola, Cinque Terre, Italy

Manarolo (above and below)

Manarola, Cinque Terre, Italy

Manarola, Cinque Terre, Italy

Manarola, Cinque Terre, Italy

Manarola, Cinque Terre, Italy

Our five days there flew by and we decided not to visit Cornelia as it did not have a proper beach, and it was too far up on the cliffs. In exchange we went to the beach town of Levanto, which is also along the Ligurian coast and is very popular in the summer with Italians. I loved this town because it was mostly Italian tourists, which made it feel a bit more local and like a proper Italian holiday.

Levanto, Cinque Terre, Italy

Levanto (above and below)

Levanto, Cinque Terre, Italy

That being said, we absolutely loved Monterosso al Mare and went here two days! The beach was fantastic because we didn't have to hike down, unlike the other towns, and it was easy to get an umbrella and chairs and there was a lot of great places to eat near the beach. Vernazza was also a cute place to visit, which we did after Monterosso al Mare. They did a great job rebuilding the town after the floods they had there a few years ago.  

Monterosso al Mare, Cinque Terre, Italy

Monterosso al Mare, Cinque Terre (above and below)

Monterosso al Mare, Cinque Terre, Italy

Monterosso al Mare, Cinque Terre, Italy

Monterosso al Mare, Cinque Terre, Italy

One of my favorite places to go and eat whenever I am in Italy is the delicatessen shops, where you can buy cheese, bread, meat, vegetables, etc. These are often my go to places when I am on the run and in a hurry or just want to grab something cheap. What makes them great is that you can choose exactly what you want. Maybe just an assortment of cold appetizers and a bag of chips, perfect? Or maybe you want a freshly made sandwich to order, choosing your own cheese and meats, fantastic! I always love getting roasted red peppers, eggplant and zucchini either on the side or on my sandwich and it is so much fun to pick out your own cheese depending on the region you are in and what they have to offer. But the best part about these places in Liguria: the PESTO!!! Nothing beat that, I had it smothered on every sandwich and just ordered a container on the side in case I needed to dip some bread into it later for a snack. Even the pizzerias/bakeries where you could get pizza by the slice had pesto on their pizza! If there is one thing you must take home from you after visiting this region it is the pesto!! I have never had pesto as good as this and I suspect I never will until I make my way up there again!

Vernazza, Cinque Terre, Italy

Vernazza, Cinque Terre (above and below)

Vernazza, Cinque Terre, Italy

Seeing that we were only planning on hanging out at the beach and soaking up the sun, we decided to pack very light! We also chose to stay in two different locations so we could get a feel for two different towns and that meant I was not about to lug around a lot of luggage. Cinque Terre is hot in the summer time and no jacket is required in the evening, so bring beach stuff and lots of sun dresses, oh, and sunscreen of course! For those of you who do want to hike the trails, I suggest bringing tennis shoes or more hiking like boots. The Via del Amore was easy to do in shoes/flip flops as it only took ten minutes and there is a lovely bar halfway through where you can sit and have a glass of bubbles (which I highly recommend!) before continuing on. However, the other walks require socks and proper shoes. It seemed like I was the only one in Cinque Terre who did not have tennis shoes (my boyfriend brought his) and I do think at times it would have been easier to run around in tennis shoes, especially when walking up hills and windy roads, since Cinque Terre is perched high up on cliffs. For those who are serious hikers, they have more intricate trails and information is provided at each tourist point if you want to do serious hiking.  

Riomaggiore, Cinque Terre, Italy

Riomaggiore, Cinque Terre (above and below)

Via del' Amore, Riomaggiore, Cinque Terre, Italy

Via dell' Amore

Via dell' Amore, Riomaggiore, Cinque Terre, Italy

Via dell' Amore, Riomaggiore, Cinque Terre, Italy

Via dell' Amore, Riomaggiore, Cinque Terre, Italy

 

 

 

 

Talia Klundt is the Sweden Editor for Wandering Educators

 

All photos courtesy and copyright Talia Klundt