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Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso al Mare
I bet you were looking forward to reading some tips for visiting Cinque Terre, since it’s such a trendy place to spend some of the hot days of summer nowadays. So do not worry! This post explains all the musts and gives you great advice to enjoy this beautiful place.
Cinque Terre has become a very popular destination! The good thing is that you can find great food and awesome prices due to it being in Italy. We planned this trip to take my sister Amanda along with us since she is obsessed with this paradise and we wanted a middle ground between Rome and Turin to meet some friends (Yes, Adri and Rafa! You made it to this post 🙂 hahaha)
This three-day itinerary might be helpful if you are planning a multi-city trip to Italy where you can afford to make a quick stop, or if you only have a weekend to enjoy some sun and beautiful towns.
We arrived by Flixbus to La Spezia Saturday afternoon. It is kind of a long trip from Rome. If you arrive using Flixbus—which is cheaper than taking the train— take into account that the bus drops you off a bit far from the town center. No need to fret, though since you can always take a bus. Our advice is to buy your train ticket in advance. It is so much faster and comfortable and you can find great deals!
In terms of where to stay, you will be able to find great places and maybe lower prices in La Spezia, an adorable town just next to the Cinque Terre. If you’re arriving from another Italian city, the closet you will be to the Cinque Terre is Genova or La Spezia.
We stayed at an Airbnb called Piccolo Cuore, located in the historical center of La Spezia. We highly recommend this place! It is cozy, adorable and super comfortable for two or three people. The owner is amazing! She greeted us with some cold water bottles that were much needed during that hot summer day! The other fantastic thing about this place is that it’s just 4 minutes away from the train station. We left our backpacks and headed to the first town. My sister stills regret not having a backpack, so if you don’t have one by now, go online and search for your favorite!
The great thing about these towns is that they are connected by train. We paid a 4 euro ticket to arrive to Riomaggiore from La Spezia Central Train Station. All one-way tickets from La Spezia and through the Cinque Terre cost 4,00 euro – the day tickets cost: 16,00 euro. You can also visit and connect around towns by boat or trekking.
To start our trip and take advantage of the sun remaining for the day, we met our friends in Riomaggiore. I recommend for you to start with this town. You will soon know why.
One of the attractive things about all the five towns, are the churches. They all share one same architectural characteristic: the gothic rose window on the facade. Do not miss the chance to visit all five churches:
–Riomaggiore: Chiesa di San Giovanni Battista
–Manarola: Chiesa di San Lorenzo
–Corniglia: Chiesa di San Pietro
–Vernazza: Chiesa di San Francesco, another beautiful church in Vernazza is Chiesa di Santa Margherita d’Antiochia.
–Monterosso al mare: Chiesa di San Giovanni Battista
Chiesa di San Pietro – Corniglia
Chiesa di San Giovanni Battista – Riomaggiore
I think every one of the five towns has a specific and unique charm and I will tell you what these are, in my opinion. Be ready to take a lot of stairs and walk up and down!
Once you exit the train, you must walk a tunnel to finally arrive at the town! The view is amazing; super cozy and colorful. To really have a great view of this town, you must walk to the viewpoint where you can admire the ocean. We had the opportunity to enjoy an awesome sunset in this spot.
The other cool thing about Riomaggiore is that there are beautiful natural pools where you can have a swim.
To finish our day, we had dinner in a good restaurant called Veciu Meiu. Ask for the Nutella pizza! It is good!
You can get to the next town by train or by walking for around 30 minutes (1 KM) through Via dell’ Amore (5,00 euro). It got this name because it was the meeting place for locals. This is the easiest trekking route and you can enjoy beautiful flowers and a romantic scenery.
If you want the emblematic picture of Cinque Terre, this is the place for you. We started our second day at Manarola, which is absolutely adorable. To take the famous picture, you must go all the way up to enjoy the colorful town and the sea. If you arrive in Manarola at lunch time, there is another great place to eat called Ristorante La Marina. Give it a try!
One of my favorite things about this place is that you can walk all the way down, where there is a part of concrete pavement and rocks. Here you can enjoy the sun, relax and have a swim in one of the natural, clear water pools.
Before we left, we bought a bottle of traditional Cinque Terre wine in Pane e Pumate. When you read about the next town, you will understand why this is a must.
We took the train and arrived at Corniglia. The explanation I promised for the Manarola wine bottle? To get to the town, you must climb 377 stairs! it is worth it, but it is not easy. After drinking the wine bottle, I promise you it gets easier. Remember that as I have said before, I am not the most athletic person!
Once you exit the train, you can choose two routes. If you take a right, you can visit the Nude Beach of Corniglia and if you take a left, you can visit the town. If you walk all the way up, you can take some wonderful pictures.
Corniglia is different from the other towns. It is farther away from the sea, but it’s the perfect location to appreciate the crops and gardens! In fact, we had lunch in a pretty garden place called Bar Nunzio. Another thing you cannot miss trying while you are in Cinque Terre is the pesto sauce. Bar Nunzio conveniently makes a great pesto lasagna.
This town is my ultimate favorite! It is beautiful and it has a more active vibe, filled to the brim with stores and places to eat and shop.
Vernazza Port was destroyed by a flood in 2011 and it was reconstructed, so you will notice that they tried to separate the town from the sea. Vernazza church is also one of the prettiest! Make sure to exit from the back, where you will find some seats and a great view to enjoy the town.
You can also visit the castle for only 1,50 euro. It is a long way up, but from here you can take great pictures.
On your way down, you should grab a gelato close to the sea. The best place for this is Il Porticciolo. You can also save this gelato for dessert. We had dinner in Baia Seracena. This was our favorite restaurant. It wasn’t very expensive, and it had a nice view of the water and sunset. The service was amazing and the pesto lasagna was to die for.
This is the most traditional beach town of all. You will see many beach umbrellas organized to perfection and combining all the right summer colors. We decided to have a look at the important landmarks of the town, and saving our last day to rent some chairs and an umbrella to enjoy the beach. This is the reason why we saved Monterosso for last. It is the only one with a sandy beach and umbrella rentals.
It is important to know that the trains drop you off close to Monterosso Lungomare (the port). To get to Monterosso, you need to walk all the way through the port until you find a tunnel. At the end you will find the town. As is the case with the others, you must visit the church. If you are an active walker and an explorer, walk to the Capuccini Convent. It is a long road, but you will get some great views. On your way down, you can make a quick stop—depending on the time—to the wine tasting at Buranco Vineyards. We could not go, but we were really excited about it.
Have a walk across the Lungomare port to the end of the shore to see the Giant or Neptune’s Statue. This statue was damaged in World War II. The cool thing about Monterosso is that it’s the only place where you can take a picture of the complete Cinque Terre in all its splendor.
For our last day, we rented our umbrella in Bagni Eden. For 30 euros you get an umbrella, two sun-bathing chairs and a cabin, where you can leave your stuff and then change.
This is a fantastic and romantic place, beautiful places to visit but also to relax and just lay and enjoy the perfect breathtaking views.
Photos credit to Ruben A.Hidalgo
If you need some extra help planning your trip, this Travel Guide is really helpful! – Cinque Terre – Travel Guide
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