Cinque Terre, one of Italy’s top tourist destinations, will soon see the number of visitors it can receive each year limited. According to official Italian sources, the maximum number of tourists that can visit Cinque Terre will be 1.5 million a year, which translates into 40% less than the 2.5 million people that visited it in 2015. If you are thinking of going, then we will provide you with the necessary assistance to visit Cinque Terre.
Although information is still limited, official sources have indicated that it will be necessary to purchase tickets in advance to visit Cinque Terre. It is very likely that these will have to be purchased through the Parco Nazionalle delle Cinque Terre website or another official Italian website. The roads will be upgraded with devices to count the number of visitors and an application will be created to report congestion in real time. The accesses will be closed once the limit of people has been exceeded.
Read on because with this guide to Cinque Terre you will learn how to get there, how to move around, what to do and where to sleep in the area.
How to get to Cinque Terre
The first thing you need to know is that Cinque Terre is made up of five villages: Vernazza, Corniglia, Monterosso al Mare, Riomaggiore and Manarola. Although the region is usually full of visitors, it is still considered off the tourist route in the country. The closest airports to Cinque Terre are Milan, Florence and Pisa, and after arriving at them, you will need to take local trains or buses to get there.
Many first-time visitors to Cinque Terre get a little confused since it is not a specific place but an area. To reach Cinque Terre you need to head towards La Spezia, Sestri Levante or Monterosso and then use regional trains, ferries or walk to reach each of the villages. From Milan it takes about 3 hours to get there, from Florence it’s about 3 and a half hours and two and a half hours from Pisa.
Traveling in November is usually the cheapest option
Once you arrive at the train station, it is best to head for the information office or self-service kiosks where you can buy the Cinque Terre Card. This card gives access to regional trains and walking trails for 12 Euros. If you are not planning on hiking it is cheaper to buy one-way tickets for the trains, which usually cost no more than 2.40 euros.
How to get around Cinque Terre
Regional trains: It takes less than five minutes to move between different towns using the regional trains but the service varies greatly depending on the station from which you are departing. Most trains stop at Riomaggiore, Monterosso, Levanto and La Spezia, but only a few regional trains stop at Manarola, Corniglia and Vernazza. On Trenitalia’s website you can find the complete timetables.
Ferries: Although sometimes it is a bit difficult to find the piers, since the signposting is not very clear, you should look for the “ticket offices”. Sometimes, these are composed only of one person sitting at a table under a sunshade. The Cinque Terre Card does not include ferry tickets, so you will have to pay between 4 and 8 euros for a single ticket. Ferry schedules can usually be found at the ticket office.
Hiking: It is possible to walk between the five villages in approximately 6 hours, but all this without considering the time you will probably spend taking pictures or eating. If you only have time for one walk, it is best to start in Monterosso and head towards Vernazza as that is where you will enjoy the best views. The Cinque Terre Trekking Card gives you access to all the trails, but if you didn’t buy it in advance you can buy it at the beginning of each trail for 7,50 A word of warning: there are no toilets or shops where you can buy water on the trails, so make all the arrangements beforehand.
What to do in Cinque Terre
Monterosso is the largest village in Cinque Terre and, although the set of facades is not the most spectacular of all, it is worth getting lost in the narrow streets of its historical centre. Wander through them until you come across the city’s points of interest: the church of San Giovanni Battista, the Capuchin Monastery and the church of San Francesco, the Villa Montale, the statue of the Giant, the fortress and the Aurora tower.
Don’t forget either that you are by the sea and that one of the best things to do in Cinque Terre is to relax while watching the waves. Why not lie down in the sun on what they say are the best beaches of Cinque Terre?
Anyone visiting Cinque Terre can’t miss Vernazza. This is the most picturesque village in the region thanks to its location and the beautiful colorful houses on a cliff. After looking at it from some of the viewpoints, you should walk to the parish church of Santa Margherita d’Antiochia, the fortress and the Belforte, the wall that served as a defence against pirate attacks.
Remember that one of the best things to do at Cinque Terre is to walk along the paths that link the villages. From Monterosso to Vernazza you can do a simple route that will take you between 90 minutes and 2 hours.
Overlooking the sea, but without access to it, Corniglia is also situated on the rocks of a cliff. Surrounded by vineyards (with all that that means…), the village has many attractions to visit. Don’t miss the ruins of Corniglia Castle, St. Catherine’s oratory and St. Peter’s church.
The village of Manarola is one of the things to see at Cinque Terre, yes or yes. It is said to be the oldest of all and it is a true and romantic pleasure to walk through its winding streets that lead to the sea. In it, apart from toasting with a good wine, you will find the remains of the old fortress and the bastion.
From Manarola, the most famous path of Cinque Terre, the Via dell’Amore, starts. Along this one-kilometre path you will reach Riomaggiore, where you can enjoy spectacular scenery. Don’t forget to complete this path if you are thinking of sightseeing in Cinque Terre.
Riomaggiore is the closest town to La Spezia. Stand by the sea and look up to marvel at a city that looks like it will fall into the Mediterranean Sea any minute. The structure seems impossible and when you get inside you realize how beautiful it is from every angle. Our recommendation is that, in addition to walking aimlessly around Riomaggiore, you should climb the Clock Tower for some beautiful views.
Where to stay in Cinque Terre
If you are planning to stay for a few days, the best option to sleep in Cinque Terre is Monterosso, the biggest village, the one located further north and the one with the best beaches. Although you will find hotels with a lot of charm, staying in Monterosso can be quite expensive. A cheaper option is to sleep in La Spezia, which usually offers cheap accommodation in Cinque Terre and then move on to the other villages for excursions.
If you are planning a romantic getaway, the best place to sleep in Cinque Terre is Manarola. After a day exploring the region, there is nothing better than sitting on a small terrace overlooking the sea and vineyards with a good wine.
Remember to use Booking to find the best value for money places to sleep in Cinque Terre.
Keep reading the following articles if you are planning your trip to Italy:
The 10 best routes in Italy to do by car
The 10 best beaches in Italy
Discover the calories of Italian food to travel to Italy
Shopping in Rome, a shop window paradise for all pockets
10 free things to do in Milan