Wanting to Travel to Italy? You won’t want to miss Cinque Terre!
Cinque Terre – The 5 Terraces or 5 fishing villages is a UNESCO World Heritage site in the Liguira region of Italy. It’s best known for it’s hiking trails, colourful houses, seafood and best of all PESTO! You seriously should go there just for the pesto (it’s worth it)
We have stayed in both Manarola and Vernazza. All of the 5 villages have something different and charming about them. If you can, stay up in the hills so you can wake up to amazing views and cherish the sunset by looking down at the village below (plus it’s usually cheaper)
See a full Itinerary of ‘what to do’ at the end of this post
ISN’T IT BEAUTIFUL?!
Below we have outlined a bit of information for you.
We have made Vernazza your base village of choice; you can easily use this information if you are staying at another village as we have outlined our favourite hiking routes, food places and tourist/art shops of all the villages below…
Places to eat in Vernazza:
(because eating is the most important thing to think about)
Bar Baia Saracena Pizzeria – get the pesto pizza or pasta, pesto is from this region – you can’t not have it, plus it’s delish!!!
Belforte – on the cliff by the rocks/jetty, make sure you get a sea view table (scrumptious prawns and yummy bread baskets to start you off)
Gelato – Gelateria Vernazza – about half way down the main street is the best one.
Buy it from any small shop or mini supermarket with some fresh pasta and cook at home – it is amazing pesto! (note: buy extra to take home)
The wine guy is great, he’ll tell you about every different wine and what it’s good with. Wine is pretty cheap and nice from anywhere but he had a great selection… p.s. I don’t actually know the name of his shop, but there’s only one and it’s by the cat shop in Vernazza!
Most Hikes follow the blue line – the main tourist route and easy to follow trails. These are fairly busy during the high season (Europe Summer: June, July, August, September). If you’re going at low tourist season it should be fairly quiet! Our first time was in March and we only saw one or two groups on our walks (during summer we battled zigzagging around people). The blue line trails cost in summer but they won’t cost in low season (check just in case).
My Favourite Hike – Vernazza to Cornigila:
You climb up a decent amount of stairs to reach the top of the trail then it’s fairly flat (not too strenuous) following the terraces all the way around to Corniglia. Once you’re there turn right down the main ally and there is ‘Alberto’s Gelato’ (it’s the best we had in Cinque Terre, and trust me, we tried most of them! I really liked the ricotta one – try it)
Corniglia to Manarola:
This part of the walk is far more strenuous as you go up, up, up, around, then up some more. It will take longer than Vernazza to Corniglia but you could definitely complete both in a day with sunshine and relaxing to spare in the afternoon.
We have walked Manarola to Corniglia and Corniglia to Manarola, either way has a steep upwards climb for at least 20minutes but it has an awesome stretch of flat easy terraces and you pass quirky little houses as you go.
Monterosso to Vernazza:
Get a train from Vernazza (or your base village) to Monterosso, have a look around the town (there is a great art shop here, expensive but I bought postcards and then framed them and they look cool. There aren’t many cafes and restaurants open in the morning here).
The walk is nice; a steep up hill with plenty of stairs and rails to pull yourself up then you wander around the terraces (I would recommend this walk to those who aren’t as confident with hikes and hills but want to walk a trail). The Finishing – you curve up a hill and around a corner and you’re at the top of Vernazza looking down at the little Beauty from above – this is where everyone goes under the barrier and takes awesome pictures of the town below and puts it on instagram or their blog (see mine below).
The hike here from Manarola to Rio is closed from the landslide damage from 2011. It’s best to take a train here from any of the villages in the afternoon and wander around to the village from the train station (5 min around the cliffs). Go for a walk up the main street and choose a takeaway pizza place to order from. Grab a bottle or two of wine from the local and head back down to the rocks for a sunset picnic – you wont regret it. This is also a good time to take photos as the sunset makes the coloured houses look vibrant.
An Extra BIG hike – Saviore Temple:
From Vernazza town walk up the stairs to the left of the train station and you’re on a new trail. After the 3rd set of stairs there is a bench seat that looks out to Vernazza here too that you can take pictures that look stunning (especially in the morning) :). Walk all the way up and follow the signs to ‘Madonna Di Reggio’, ‘Termine’ and the Monastery. Make sure you follow the walking signs not the road signs; they are brown with red and white. You can turn back at any time, but we walked all the way to the Monastery called ‘Saviore Temple’. Make sure you pack a decent picnic, because we didn’t and were starving!! This hike was one of my favourites because there was no-one else on the trails/roads – it was just you, nature and the sea/villages below!
ALWAYS take water bottles with you and snacks or money for food in the next village….and your camera of course!
An Itinerary: 4 days in Cinque Terre…
Day 1: Vernazza
Wake up early and scout an espresso shot from somewhere. Train to Monterosso, check it out. Then walk back along the trails to Vernazza. Eat lunch here to refuel. Walk to Corniglia and buy a gelato, take it to the look out at the end of the main ally way. You can see almost all of the villages from this point! (I also bought a cool star dish here – probably best village for trinket buying!) Just look at the shops as you walk down the ally.
Walk back to Vernazza or go down the stairs and jump on the train back. Have dinner while watching the sunset.
Eat lunch or Dinner in Vernazza at Bar Baia Pizzeria (pesto pasta!)
Walk from Vernazza through Corniglia to Manarola (or train to Corniglia and walk to Manarola). Spend the afternoon here, go for a swim if you’re keen! You can jump off the rock here. When you’re at the end of town at the water look up and you’ll see a terrace bar ‘Nessun Dorma’. It’s perfect for afternoon drinks and a cheeseboard of deliciousness! Have dinner at a restaurant here if you’re still hungry (we weren’t) OR Train home and make some pesto pasta in your home stay.
Attack the 13km Hike (or some of it) up above Vernazza OR take a boat from Vernazza to Portovenere. The boat takes you past all the villages, getting a sea view then around to the cliffs and little islands by Portovenere. It is a really interesting boat trip and it’s not too rough as you stay close to land! On your way back, get off at Riomaggiore and buy your sunset picnic to have on the rocks! Sneak around to the quiet stone beach to check it out.
Go back to your favourite spot or do another walk up into the hills and back (there are so many walks/trails for you to just go exploring, ask a local for a hot tip!). Alternatively, do one of the options from day 3 that you didn’t do.
Have your last meal at Belforte – splash out and tuck in!
Other things/Must do’s:
Trattoria dal Billy is a fancy restaurant in Manarola that was nice – fresh fish, decent vibe.
Get a bottle of wine and head up into the grape terraces in Manarola, find a good spot and relax. (snacks were also present)
Make the most of sitting on the rocks in any of the villages and jump in the water, even though it’ll be cold, it’s awesome!
Try all of the gelataria’s (I know you will)
Check out the jewelry shop at the end of Vernazza just before train station.
Coffees (if you’re kiwi) there ain’t no flat whites but espressos are all good, you are in Italy…
Ask me questions below if you want any more advice or ideas and I’ll respond promptly 🙂