A Complete Cinque Terre Itinerary for A Day Trip or Longer Stay

View of Riomaggiore in Cinque Terre, Italy

A Complete Cinque Terre Itinerary for A Day Trip or Longer Stay

Cinque Terre is a collection of five colorful seaside towns on the Italian Riveria coastline of Italy. The villages in Cinque Terre are Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso. We recently did a day trip to Cinque Terre on our trip to Italy and I’ll be honest, it is a LONG day and it will definitely feel rushed if you try to visit all five towns. While we did visit all five briefly, my suggestion would be to choose two or three to spend your time in! In this Cinque Terre itinerary, we’ll cover how to get to Cinque Terre, where to stay in Cinque Terre, things to do, and places to eat in Cinque Terre.

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Where is Cinque Terre?

Cinque Terre is located on the Italian Riveria coastline. It is most famous for its colorful houses, cliffside hiking trails, delicious seafood dishes, and pesto, a Liguria region specialty!


When is the Best Time to Visit Cinque Terre?

We visited Cinque Terre in early May and found it to be a great time to visit because the weather wasn’t too hot yet and the crowds were mild. However, early spring and summer are also great times to visit too! As the summer months, progress crowds tend to get busier because summer is the most popular time to visit so keep that in mind if you plan to visit Cinque Terre in the summer.


How to Get to Cinque Terre

For our Cinque Terre itinerary, we traveled from Florence which was around a 2.5-hour train ride one-way with one transfer. We took a train from Firenze S.M. Novella to Pisa Centrale then transferred to La Spezia Centrale which is the connecting station to the stops on the 5 Terre Express.


Transportation in Cinque Terre

When we started researching our Cinque Terre day trip we were surprised to find out just how easy it was to get to Cinque Terre by public transportation. Most of the time when we’ve visited smaller regions and places we’ve had to rent a car but Cinque Terre makes it incredibly easy with their own train line called the 5 Terre Express. In fact, I would advise strongly against driving to Cinque Terre because it is closed to car traffic and parking is located outside of the villages and is extremely limited. 

Once reaching La Spezia Centrale station you can take the 5 Terre Express to any of the five towns in Cinque Terre plus Levanto and back to La Spezia Centrale. One-way tickets are €5 for adults and €2.50 for children aged 4-11 years old.

Cinque Terre Card

If you plan on going to each of the towns or back and forth a few times I highly recommend purchasing the Cinque Terre Card. It is available in two options trekking or trekking and train. The trekking card is solely for use of the trails but the trekking and train card gives access to the hiking trails and trains.

The Cinque Terre Train Card includes:

  • Unlimited train travel on the 5 Terre regional train line.
  • Access to chargeable hiking paths – Monterosso to Vernazza and Vernazza to Corniglia (other trails are free).
  • Use of bus services.
  • Free public restroom usage.
  • Reduced admission to Civic Museums in La Spezia.

The Cinque Terre Trekking Card includes:

  • Access to chargeable hiking paths – Monterosso to Vernazza and Vernazza to Corniglia (other trails are free).
  • Use of bus services.
  • Free public restroom usage.
  • Reduced admission to Civic Museums in La Spezia.

TRAVEL TIP: In the off-season (November 1st until the end of March) all hiking paths are free of charge and so you might not benefit from buying the card because during this time one-way ticket between two villages costs around €2.50. However, if you still plan to visit each village it can still save you some money!

Cinque Terre Card Information

Cinque Terre Card PricesTrekking Only (1 day)Trekking Only (2 day)Trekking + Train (1 day)Trekking + Train (2 day)Trekking + Train (3 day)
Adults (ages 13-69)€7.50€14.50€18.20€33€47
Children (ages 4-12)€4.50€7.20€11.40
Family (2 adults & 2 children)€19.60€31.50€48
Seniors (ages 70+)€6€10€14.80

Where Can You Buy the Cinque Terre Card?

There are two ways you can get the Cinque Terre Cards. The first is that you can purchase it at the Tourist Information Points at the train stations of each village or at entry points to the trail. If you purchase the card at one of these points then you will have to validate it on first use. 

The other way that you can get the Cinque Terre Card is to purchase it ahead of time online. For this option, you will not need to validate your ticket since you will select your travel dates ahead of time. 

We purchased our tickets ahead of time which is what I’d recommend because lines to purchase at the stations were quite long! I can imagine that during the summer they would get even longer. Personally, we printed the tickets out at home and brought them along with us on our trip but we also saw many people showing their Cinque Terre passes on their phones so I think that’s an option too.

Cinque Terre Train Timetable


Cinque Terre Ferry Boat

One of the most beautiful ways to experience Cinque Terre is by boat and while there are private boat tours you can book (which I’ll cover more soon) you can also ride the ferry boat from March until November. The ferries run from La Spezia and Portovenere stopping in Monterosso, Vernazza, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. In addition, there are connections to the nearby villages of Levanto, Portofino, and Palmaria Island. You can buy a one-day ticket, a half-day ticket for unlimited ferry use, or a one-way ticket between villages. Ferry tickets can be bought at ticket counters located at each docking point. You can buy the boat tickets before departure at the ticket counters located near the docking points.

Cinque Terre Ferry Boat Prices

TicketsAdultsChildren (Ages 6-11)
Daily ticket for Cinque Terre (with Levanto, La Spezia, Portovenere, and Lerici)€37€15
Afternoon ticket (after 12pm) for Cinque Terre (with Levanto, La Spezia, Portovenere, and Lerici)€28€15
Daily ticket for Levanto to Cinque Terre€32€15
Afternoon ticket (after 12pm) for Levanto to Cinque Terre€26€15
Daily ticket for Cinque Terre villages€30€15
Afternoon ticket (after 12pm) for Cinque Terre villages€23€15

Cinque Terre Ferry Docking Points


Where to Stay in Cinque Terre

Although we only spent one day in Cinque Terre we are already hoping to go back and spend at least 2-3 days there so we can take more time in each town and experience even more things to do in Cinque Terre! However, here are some well-reviewed and ranked places to stay in Cinque Terre if you plan an overnight or multi-day trip!

  • Hotel Porto Roca: This stunning hotel is located steps away from the historic center of Monterosso and close to the 5 Terre hiking path. There are 40 rooms and three suites in this boutique hotel. In addition, there is a restaurant with chef-driven meals featuring local dishes in a panoramic setting overlooking the ocean.
    • Location: Monterosso al Mare
  • Hotel Marina Piccola: What once was a fisherman’s house is now a 12-room romantic hotel located in the center of Manarola. There are spectacular sea views and visitors rave about the breakfast spread that is available each morning.
    • Location: Manarola
  • La Torretta: Another charming hotel option that has great views and private patios to enjoy overlooking the sea. If you do happen to drive, La Torretta offers paid private parking nearby making it convenient for car travelers.
    • Location: Manarola
  • L’Amandola Villa: If you don’t mind staying just outside of Cinque Terre or are looking for somewhere quiet and charming, this 17th-century villa in Levanto is a great option. There are only eight rooms, making it an intimate experience. You can enjoy walking through the olive groves and the lush garden after enjoying a swim in the outdoor pool. Also, this hotel offers some parking and even has charging ports for electric vehicles.
    • Location: Levanto 

Hiking in Cinque Terre

One of the main reasons people enjoy visiting Cinque Terre (other than the fantastic sights) is to hike the trails! If you are visiting Cinque Terre on a day trip I wouldn’t recommend hiking all of the trails since you won’t have enough time to do so in a day. However, if you do want to do a little hiking I recommend doing the trail from Monterosso to Vernazza! It’s only around 1.5-2 hours depending on your pace and how many stops you take but it offers a taste of the trails and stunning views of the ocean and Vernazza as you make your way into the town. 

However, if you are visiting Cinque Terre for a few days you can enjoy the hiking trails that lead through each of the towns. If you plan to hike for two days I would recommend going from Monterosso to Corniglia on the first day and from Corniglia to Manarola.


Hiking Trails in Cinque Terre

Levanto to Monterosso

Length: 8km
Difficulty: Average
Average Time: 3 hours

This part of the Sentiero Azzurro hiking trails starts in Levanto which is not included in the five villages and is located a little further north of Monterosso al Mare. The path is located on an old donkey trail and passes through woodlands and to an old lighthouse and chapel ruins. You can also see views of all five Cinque Terre villages. At the end, you’ll follow the stairs down into Monterosso.


Monterosso al Mare to Vernazza

Length: 3.5km
Difficulty: Average
Average Time: 1.5 hours

This is one of the most popular sections of the trail and the perfect section to enjoy if you want to do a little hiking on your Cinque Terre day trip. This path has a ton of scenic views to enjoy along the way but the most stunning spot is the view of Vernazza from above as you begin your descent into the town.


Vernazza to Corniglia

Length: 4km
Difficulty: Average
Average Time: 1.5-2 hours

This path winds from Vernazza to Corniglia overlooking beachside views, olive grows, and vineyards. In the spring and summer, you may also get to witness wildflower fields along the trail too. 


Manarola to Corniglia (via Volastra)

Length: 4km
Difficulty: Average
Average Time: 2 hours

To start this hike the best option is the take a bus from Manarola to Volastra where you can enter the trailhead. This hike takes you through paths that lead through a vineyard offering Mediterranean Sea views as you decline into Corniglia.


Manarola to Riomaggiore (via dell’ Amore)

CURRENTLY CLOSED UNTIL JULY 2024

Length: 1.5km
Difficulty: Easy
Average Time: 30 minutes

The Via dell’ Amore is known in English as Lover’s Lane. This is the most popular stretch of the tail because of its ease of access and scenic views. However, due to a landslide it is currently closed and set to reopen in July 2024.


Manarola to Riomaggiore (via Beccara)

Length: 1.5km
Difficulty: Average
Average Time: 1 hour

Since Via dell’ Amore is currently closed an alternative path between Manarola and Riomaggiore is via Beccaria. Although this trail is ranked of average difficulty there are steep cliff areas that you’ll have to climb here that are a bit uneven but it offers panoramic views of the ocean and other scenic views.


Riomaggiore to Portovenere

Length: 12km
Difficulty: Difficult
Average Time: 5 hours

This is perhaps the most challenging hike on Sentiero Azzurro starting with a steep ascent that takes almost an hour. There are a few places to stop along the way but one of the best spots in the pine forests that lead to a 15th-century sanctuary, Santuario di Nostra Signora di Montenero. Although this trail is challenging, it offers some of the best views of the Mediterranean Sea alongside some nearby islands.

HIKING THE BLUE TRAIL GUIDE


Cinque Terre Itinerary

Other than hiking there are still plenty of things to do in Cinque Terre. You can visit the villages of Cinque Terre in any order but I recommend working your way from Monterosso al Mare (farthest north) to Riomaggiore (farthest south) so that you can time your train rides back to La Spezia if you are doing a day trip. This route is also great for two days in Cinque Terre, especially if you are hiking. However, you can also go the opposite direction from Riomaggiore to Monterosso al Mare if that works better for the activities you have planned.

We visited each town but if I was to do this Cinque Terre day trip over again I’d recommend visiting only two or three towns. Vernazza, Manarola, and Riomaggiore would be the three I would recommend visiting since they have the prettiest views.


Monterosso al Mare

Monterosso al Mare is the largest of the five towns offering the most accommodations and amenities. Start your morning by visiting Monterosso Public Beach which is the longest sandy beach in Cinque Terre. Here you can rent a beach chair lounger and enjoy a spritz or other beverage of choice! 

Nearby the main public beach is The Statue of the Giant which resembles Neptune. This statue was created in 1910 by Arrigo Minerbi, a Jewish Italian sculptor. One of the most interesting things about this statue is that it is carved into a cliff next to a building that reminded me of some of the Gaudi architecture I saw in Barcelona.

After lounging you have a few options, the first being exploring the town itself. Each of the villages has a number of restaurants, gelaterias, and shops. It’s well worth taking a look at the shops in at least one town. If you decided to head into the center then be sure to take a moment to stop by Parrocchia S. Giovanni Battista which is a 14th-century Catholic church with gothic architecture including unique black and white marble patterns. 

If you happen to be visiting Monterosso on a Thursday, there is usually a farmer’s market where you can go shop for produce and other goods. However, if you want to experience part of the hiking trails in Cinque Terre the hike from Monterosso to Vernazza is one of the best sections to do on a Cinque Terre day trip since it only takes around 1.5-2 hours.


Vernazza

View of Vernazza in Cinque Terre, Italy

In my opinion, Vernazza offers one of the most beautiful settings in Cinque Terre, especially if you hike from Monterosso to Vernazza. But there are also stunning views inside the town by the Port of Vernazza. Vernazza is surrounded by rich olive groves and it is often claimed to have some of the best olive oil in the country. 

While visiting make sure you visit the Doria Tower Ruins which are located on the tip of a rocky ridge in Vernazza. The tower was originally built as part of the castle to protect the village from pirates. 

If you’re craving gelato (or just needing to cool down a bit) then stop by Gelateria Vernazza which has a lot of delicious flavors. It’s hard for me to narrow down a favorite flavor because I love so many but pistachio and nocciola are always a great choice. I also really enjoyed their passionfruit flavor if you want something more fruit-forward. After grabbing gelato head towards the other side of the water to The Church of Santa Margherita. It is a small 14th-century Catholic church overlooking the Ligurian Sea.


Corniglia

Corniglia is the smallest of the Cinque Terre villages and is the only one that is without access to the sea. Instead, it is located 100 meters above the sea and you have to either climb the Lardarina footpath which consists of 377 stairs to get to the town center or take the bus. Note: The bus gets full quickly so be prepared to wait a while if you decided to take the bus instead of climbing the stairs. 

If you are only doing a day trip to Cinque Terre and limited on time you may want to save Corniglia for a later date. But if not, I recommend climbing the stairs and checking out the views on your way up. Once you’re in the village, go to Chiesa Di San Pietro which is a Baroque-style architecture church constructed in the mid-1300s.


Manarola

View of Manarola in Cinque Terre, Italy - Cinque Terre Itinerary

Manarola is the next beautiful village that you’ll find in Cinque Terre. At the top of Manarola, you can visit the Church of San Lorenzo which was built in 1338. There you’ll find a watchtower that was said to be used as a defense tower for potential pirate raids. 

If time allows, I highly recommend booking the pesto class at Nessun Dorma for a unique experience of learning how to make the Liguria region’s famous pesto. 

Before leaving Manarola make sure you take a moment to stop at at least one of the scenic viewpoints. They are particularly perfect to view at sunset but no matter what time of day you are visiting Manarola, it will be gorgeous. 


Riomaggiore

Riomaggiore is the closest of the five villages to La Spezia and one of the largest and most popular. Walk down the Via dell’Amore to peruse the shops and restaurants before heading to Castello di Riomaggiore which was built in 1260 and has a lovely overlook of the sea. Of course, there is another stunning panoramic viewpoint that is close to Riomaggiore Beach.



Places to Eat in Cinque Terre

Miky

Miky has been a Monterosso staple since 1980 serving up traditional flavors of the Liguria region prepared with many ingredients from local fishermen and farmers. Miky has received a number of high accolades such as being named in the Michelin Guide.
Location: Monterosso al Mare // MAP


A Cantina da Mananan

A Cantina da Mananan is a quaint trattoria in a tavern-like setting that has regional specialties such as homemade pasta with pesto, octopus, and hearty rabbit stew. 
Location: Corniglia // MAP


Nessun Dorma

Nessun Dorma is the perfect spot for lunch serving up bruschetta and meat and cheese platters with fresh fruit and epic views from their outdoor terrace. 
Location: Manarola // MAP


Da Aristide

Another terrific restaurant in Manarola is Da Aristide which has a great outdoor patio located near the dock and a variety of specialty dishes like pesto or squid ink pasta and many fresh seafood options.
Location: Manarola // MAP


Fuori Rotta

Another restaurant that focuses heavily on local cuisine is Fuori Rotta which has epic views from the outdoor terrace. Their menu changes bi-monthly to ensure that they use the freshest ingredients based on seasonality and availability. Because of this, their menu is quite small but what they do have, they do well. They also have a tasting menu that includes multiple courses for €50 which is a steal for a typical tasting menu.
Location: Riomaggiore // MAP


Cinque Terre was one of the highlights of our recent Italy trip and we hope to visit again soon to see even more!

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