When I visited Portovenere four years ago I left this place with the promise to come back and explore more of the fabulous region of Cinque Terre. Even though I haven’t seen entirely all of Italy (but pretty much now) I’m absolutely sure that this is the best coastline Italy has to offer (at least to me) if not one of the world’s best coastlines (even though there’s a lot to see still).
How to get there?
If you want to go to the towns of Cinque Terre by train, then La Spezia is the gate to the villages; the Cinque Terre train goes every 30 minutes and stops in every of the five towns. You can either purchase single tickets for 4€ or buy the Cinque Terre Card for 16€ which allows you unlimited train travel between the towns and to and from La Spezia and Levanto.
If you want to go by car, that’s also possible and even allows you to explore a bit further, such as my favourite Portovenere.
What to expect in Cinque Terre?
Cinque Terre has everything you could wish for: beaches, restaurants, cute, colorful villages and hiking paths. As I only had one day to explore the beautiful region (definitely not enough time!) I decided for the two latter.
Where to go hiking?
Unfortunately, the coastal path from one village to another is closed currently due to some landslide, however, there is an alternative fortunately. Besides the path right next to the sea you have the possibility to climb up the high mountains of the national park up to 400 metres and then wander through wine terraces, olive trees, little mountain villages and beautiful gardens. This is what I did and I’m still enchanted by this walk. You can find a good map here (http://www.cinqueterreonline.com/hiking.htm) that shows you all the hiking paths. I opted for the blue path and despite the more than steep way up to the top of the mountain (I’m honest, I almost fainted on this walk as it consisted of only steps from down the harbour to the top of the mountain in the heat of the summer sun) I got rewarded with stunning views that were worth all the sweat.
I “only” made it from Riomaggiore via Manarola to Corniglia; I was too exhausted for the walk from there to Vernazza and Monterosso, the last two towns of the national park. As each village has a train station I could have easily caught the train from Corniglia to the last to villages, however, I didn’t feel like just visiting those two villages shortly without any beautiful walks – I’d rather come back one day to walk from Corniglia to Vernazza and Monterosso on this beautiful path!
What’s the cutest town?
Well that’s a mean question and I can’t actually answer that one because I only visited three of them. I liked them all equally, but probably the most photographed village is Manarola.
Where to eat?
If you’re not travelling on a budget, there are many many great restaurants in the towns that looked incredible, if you’re, as me, travelling on a budget then simply prepare a nice little picknick and eat wherever you want to – trust me, there are enough opportunities!
Where to stay?
If you’re not travelling on a budget, again, choose one of the fancy accomodations in one of the five towns, if you’re travelling on a budget then have a look for La Spezia where you can find hostels or go, as I did, to Sarzana and book Daniela’s great airbnb accomodation. Oh, and if you go for airbnb and haven’t registered yet, then use this link to get a 30$ discount!
When to go?
I went to Cinque Terre in summer and to be honest, if you want to go hiking then this probably is the worst season to go. The walk that I chose (and that is the only one currently) is really exhausting and going in the summer sun didn’t make it easier. Also, the towns are extremely crowded in summer. Due to all the wineyards in Cinque Terre I decided to go there in autumn next time. I’ll tell you how it was! Or how are your experiences?