The Italian Riviera isn’t exactly short of stunning destinations, but the Cinque Terre is particularly special. These five fishing communities are no longer the isolated villages they once were, but they still have the relaxed, quaint feel they did before they became a popular tourist destination.
These hamlets, nestled in and on the mountainous hillsides, look like huge splatters of paint from a distance. The homes, tall and statuesque, are painted in all different colors, from white and cream, through pastels to bright vibrant reds and blues.
The five villages that comprise Cinque Terre are Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. The best of Cinque Terre can be seen in a day, so if you are short on time you can still get your fill and tick this destination firmly off your travel bucket list.
Some of the best sights to see is the sandy beach in Monterosso al Mare, a beautiful beach that looks as though it ought to have pirate ships stationed in the bay. Here, you can start the Monterosso to Vernazza hike, which takes about 2 hours and though steep in places, is suitable for sensible children. At Vernazza you can stop for some delicious local food, and then hike on to Corniglia, which takes about an hour and a half. You can continue on like this all the way along, or jump on a boat instead!
The easiest way to reach the villages is by train – there’s a trainline that runs along Italy’s west coast which connects all five villages with Genoa, Pisa, and Rome, though you could, of course, also reach the villages by boat. The closest airports are in Genoa and Pisa, though it’s also possible to reach the Cinque Terre from Milan and Florence if you change trains in Genoa and Pisa. There is a Cinque Terre rail card which covers travel between Levanto and La Spezia, as well as hiking fees.
You can drive there, but the roads are pretty hair-raising. If you haven’t driven on twisting single-track European roads on cliff edges before, you will struggle. If you are traveling by car it’s best to leave it at the station in La Spezia.
There are no restrictions on visiting the Cinque Terre in 2019, despite unverified sources saying there are.
Are you compiling your ultimate travel bucket list? If so, the Buckil site is the perfect place to start. You can use our bucket list maker online, or you download the Buckil app, available on iOS and Android, to take your bucket list with you wherever you go.