The Italian Riviera can be quite breathtaking with its gorgeous hiking trails, local delicious cuisine and unbelievable views, but of course, the five coastal towns of Cinque Terre can get slightly confusing and time consuming if you don't plan accordingly. Enter Natasha. 👋🏻
- Cinque Terre is an area not a single destination so forget searching "Hotel in Cinque Terre" or "train schedule to Cinque Terre".
- It takes between 3-25 min to get between each of the towns via train. Trains leave about every 30 min.
- Cinque Terre is actually a national park, a protected waterway and a Unesco World Heritage site and therefore most vehicle traffic is restricted inside the villages.
- There are no hotels in any of the 5 towns, only small inns, bead and breakfasts and rentals. You won't find a Ritz Carlton or a Peninsula here so book ahead accordingly. Cinque Terre is considered the Italian Riviera but do not expect the glamour and luxury to be like that of Positano or the Amalfi Coast.
- You can navigate through all five towns via train or boat ferry or hiking. I highly suggest train as its quickest if you wish to see all five towns.
You're liable to fall in love with one town in particular (or all!) and I'd love to know which one, if you have been! Tell me in the comments below.
Riomaggiore has one main street, a harbor, a rocky beach, a castle, a church, a pharmacy, and a handful of restaurants. It is the closest to the main city of La Spezia (where I caught the train) and has plenty of train connections to the different towns.
Heading north from Riomaggiore is the second village called Manarola. It’s also a one-street town, with a small cove in the harbor where you can swim. It has an incredible spit of land where the most famous Cinque Terre photos are taken from. It’s very similar to Riomaggiore, but has a more grown-up, chill vibe. This is by far my favorite town as I loved the feeling of the one street leading directly to the water with its cobblestone streets, small vendors and colorful homes clinging to the cliffside.
The baby of the family and smallest town is Corniglia. She’s built far above the ocean on the cliffs. To arrive in Corniglia you’ve gotta huff up the 365 steps (one for each day of the year) to reach the center of town. If you have excessive luggage my advice is to not stay here. But with that being said, you should come here if you want to get away from it all.
The beauty queen of Cinque Terre is Vernazza. This village is the most popular girl at school; everyone wants to hang out with her and be her friend. She’s incredibly photogenic (and for good reason!) Vernazza is a one-street town with a church built on the water. It has a castle, the remains of the old wall that protected against pirates, and a gorgeous waterfront piazza.
The northernmost village is called Monterosso al Mare. She’s the biggest kid in the family, and has many streets and even (gasp) a few cars driving around there. Monterosso is made up of an old town, a new town, lots of sandy beaches, some larger hotels and a long seaside promenade suitable for strollers too. If you want to avoid stairs and have a more “resort” feel to your vacation, then you should stay here.