Image Alt

Blog

Corniglia, is a quiet village at the heart of the Cinque Terre in Northern Italy.

Exploring Cinque Terre Town and Map Guide for Your Next Vacation

Prefer listening over reading? We got you covered!
Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

There are few places on earth quite like the Cinque Terre. Situated on the northwest coast of Italy, this picturesque stretch of five colorful fishing villages is famed for its remarkable beauty and charm. Peaceful, quaint, and romantic, it’s one of the best places to go when you simply want to get away from it all.

There’s something for every kind of traveler here. Outdoor adventurers will adore the scenic hiking trails that link the villages. Families will delight at the sight of the pretty pastel homes. Couples will fall in love with the area’s pristine scenery and unmatched charm. And backpackers are sure to adore the authentic atmosphere and unique character of each town.

However, in order to make the most of your visit to the villages of the Cinque Terre, it’s important to be prepared. That means learning all about each of the five villages and what they have to offer, as well as the best ways to get to and around this particular part of Italy. This guide is here to help with that, covering all you need to know ahead of your next vacation.

Below, we’ll provide a full overview to introduce you to the Cinque Terre, as well as looking at each village, in turn, to see what they have to offer. Finally, we’ll answer some questions you might have about how to plan your visit, such as how to get between the villages and which village is best for families or couples.

Contents:

  • Cinque Terre: A Quick Overview
  • How To Get To Cinque Terre and Getting Around
  • Monterosso
  • Vernazza
  • Corniglia
  • Manarola
  • Riomaggiore
  • Day Trips From Cinque Terre
  • When Is The Best Time To Visit?
  • How Many Days Should You Plan?
  • Which Is Village Is The Best For Families?
  • Which Is Village Is The Best For Couples?
  • Where To Stay?
  • Summing Up: Plan The Perfect Trip To The Cinque Terre

A Quick Overview Of Cinque Terre

Riomaggiore, the debut jewel in Cinque Terre's hill cities, bathed in dawn's glow. Pastel buildings cascade, framing a tranquil Mediterranean seascape. A captivating spring morning in Liguria, Italy.

The Cinque Terre, which means “Five Lands” in English, is a coastal region in Liguria, which is in northwest Italy. It consists of five small villages that are built directly on the cliffs – Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. Together, these villages form the Cinque Terre National Park, which has also been given UNESCO World Heritage status.

The history of the Cinque Terre goes back many years, with evidence to suggest that humans have inhabited the area since prehistoric times. However, the villages themselves weren’t all complete until the 15th century, when the “Cinque Terre” name was first used. And, for many centuries, these sleepy little towns suffered repeated pirate attacks.

The locals even had to construct forts and towers – some of which are still standing today – to fend off invaders. Fortunately, the attacks eventually died down and the townsfolk were left in peace, with the area going relatively unknown for many years. However, in the 1970s, the Cinque Terre started to appear in travel guides, gradually becoming a beloved touristic hotspot.

Vernazza, a majestic hillside village adorned with vibrant Mediterranean buildings, captivates at sunset. This enchanting locale in Cinque Terre National Park, Liguria, Italy, is a fantastic destination for travel and photography.

These days, several million people visit each year (only around 4,000 people live there permanently). However, despite becoming so popular, the villages have retained much of their natural charm. The area is car-free and visitors won’t find big brand stores here. Instead, they’ll discover a peaceful and picturesque collection of towns where time almost seems to stand still.

Getting To The Cinque Terre

Aerial panorama of Riomaggiore, a quaint town in Cinque Terre National Park, nestled in the La Spezia province, Liguria Region, Northern Italy.

Before planning out the individual details of your Cinque Terre travel itinerary, it’s important to understand how to get to this particular region. Since the Cinque Terre has no airport, and cars are banned in and around the towns, it can be a tricky place to access. Fortunately, there are still a few different ways you can get there.

The most common and popular option chosen by travelers is to fly into a major airport, like Milan’s Malpensa, and then take either a taxi or train, via La Spezia, to reach the villages. It’s also possible to travel to the Cinque Terre by train from other big cities such as Rome, Genoa, and Florence, as well as ferry rides from La Spezia, Lerici, or Portovenere.

Getting Around The Cinque Terre

With cars being banned in the Cinque Terre villages, hiring a car and driving around isn’t really an option here. Fortunately, a local train service links the towns, and it only takes a few minutes to hop from one to the next, making it quite simple to see them all. Ferries also link the villages, but aren’t as frequent or accessible as the trains.

Alternatively, you can also choose to hike between the villages. Multiple scenic trails link the villages together, like the famous Sentiero Azzurro (Blue Path) which runs all the way from Monterosso al Mare in the west to Riomaggiore in the east. Note that you do have to pay a small daily fee to access and use the main trails.

Monterosso: An Overview

Monterosso's vibrant square comes alive with colorful restaurant tables, creating a picturesque scene in the heart of the Cinque Terre village, Italy.
Monterosso’s vibrant square comes alive with colorful restaurant tables, creating a picturesque scene in the heart of the Cinque Terre village, Italy.

Monterosso al Mare, or Monterosso as it tends to be known, is the most westerly and the largest of all five Cinque Terre villages. In fact, it’s so big when compared to the others that it was briefly excluded from the Cinque Terre region back in the late 1940s, before being reinstated just a year later.

Monterosso dates back to Roman times, and the village is divided into two main sections: the Old Town and the New Town. A little tunnel connects the two areas, which are located either side of a cliff, and there’s also a beach here. In fact, Monterosso is the only one of the five Cinque Terre villages to provide easy access to sandy shores.

Vibe-wise, Monterosso is the closest the Cinque Terre gets to a traditional Italian beach resort. The center has many shops and cozy cafés where you can sit and sip an espresso while watching the world go by, and the area attracts many families with young children. It’s also the flattest village, making it very accessible and easy to stroll around.

The Best Things To Do In Monterosso

Tourists bask in the beauty of the Italian Riviera at Monterosso al Mare, Cinque Terre. The sandy Spiaggia di Fegina beach and azure sea provide a serene backdrop to this coastal paradise.
Tourists bask in the beauty of the Italian Riviera at Monterosso al Mare, Cinque Terre. The sandy Spiaggia di Fegina beach and azure sea provide a serene backdrop to this coastal paradise.

In Monterosso, the Old Town is where most travelers will want to begin their visit. That’s where you can admire the oldest buildings of the village, with the classic, colorful homes that the Cinque Terre is famous for. It’s also where you’ll find historic ruins and remains of the old Fieschi Castle and Aurora Tower, which once helped defend the village from attacks.

There are also some beautiful religious buildings to see here, like the Church of St John the Baptist and the Capuchin Monastery, and a little pebble beach. But, for the bigger and better beach experiences, you’ll have to head over to the New Town. Also known as Fegina, Monterosso’s New Town offers lots of sand, with loungers and umbrellas for travelers to relax.

Don’t forget to visit the Monterosso Giant, too. This massive sculpture of Neptune dates back to the early 1900s. It’s suffered some damage over the years, but is still an extraordinary sight. Beyond that, other fun ways to pass the time in Monterosso include shopping in the New Town center, people-watching at local cafés, or hiking the Blue Trail towards Vernazza.

Vernazza: An Overview

A breathtaking aerial view captures the allure of Vernazza, Italy. The enchanting harbor, adorned with boats, harmoniously meets the vivid blue sea in the heart of Cinque Terre village.
A breathtaking aerial view captures the allure of Vernazza, Italy. The enchanting harbor, adorned with boats, harmoniously meets the vivid blue sea in the heart of Cinque Terre village.

Vernazza is the next town along, moving from northwest to southeast, in the Cinque Terre. It has a couple of key distinctions that separate it from the rest of the villages. Firstly, it’s the only one to be built on a natural port. It’s also the only one that has been designated as “I Borghi più belli d’Italia” or “The Most Beautiful Villages of Italy.”

Vernazza has a fascinating past, having once formed a crucial part of the Republic of Genoa. Like other Cinque Terre towns, it suffered many pirate raids, resulting in the construction of fortifying walls and towers. It later experienced something of a renaissance after a stagnant spell, becoming a leading producer of wine and olive oil, while also retaining its fishing roots.

Out of all the Cinque Terre towns, Vernazza is often regarded as one of, if not the most romantic. Surrounded by olive groves and made up of narrow alleys and staircases, it’s not exactly the most accessible town, but it’s exceptionally picturesque, with a small beach and several pretty old buildings to admire.

The Best Things To Do In Vernazza

The Church of Santa Margherita d'Antiochia graces Vernazza, a Cinque Terre village in Italy. This historic landmark adds cultural richness to the charming coastal landscape, standing as a testament to Vernazza's timeless allure.
The Church of Santa Margherita d’Antiochia graces Vernazza, a Cinque Terre village in Italy. This historic landmark adds cultural richness to the charming coastal landscape, standing as a testament to Vernazza’s timeless allure.

The main landmark in Vernazza is the remains of Doria Castle, built back in the 11th century and still watching over the town to this day. Visitors can hike up to the old tower and enjoy the scenic views in every direction. Other historic sights to see include the Church of Santa Margherita d’Antiochia, which also enjoys seafront views, and the small Chapel of Santa Marta.

Given that Vernazza is known for its wine, tourists may also like to take a moment to sample some of the local produce, like Vernaccia white wine or the sweet and scrumptious Sciacchetra dessert wine. Locally-made olive oil is also easy to find and delicious to taste, with Vernazza also being a good place to shop for souvenirs and traditional gifts to take back home.

Finally, visitors should also spend some time down at the town’s natural port. There’s a scenic promontory you can walk along to get a full view of the colorful town that surrounds you, ideal for snapping some selfies or simply taking in the majestic, magical beauty of the village, as well as a small beach to sit, relax, sunbathe, and even swim.

Corniglia: An Overview

Perched above the Ligurian Sea, Corniglia unveils its coastal charm on the Italian Riviera. This picturesque city captures the essence of tranquility and beauty along the rugged coastline of Italy.
Perched above the Ligurian Sea, Corniglia unveils its coastal charm on the Italian Riviera. This picturesque city captures the essence of tranquility and beauty along the rugged coastline of Italy.

Corniglia is the central Cinque Terre village. It also happens to be the smallest of the bunch, with an estimated population of around 150 permanent residents. That makes it notably quieter and calmer than some of the others, like Monterosso, but it still draws in the crowds, especially during the summer months.

Corniglia also has the distinction of being the only one of the Cinque Terre villages not located on the seafront. Instead, it’s situated atop a rocky cliff, with no direct access to the waters below. To access it from the local train station, visitors have to walk up a long staircase, known as Lardarina, with close to 400 steps in total.

Travelers who brave the many steps will discover a small and quaint village with shorter and simpler homes compared to its counterparts. It’s arguably the most authentic of the Cinque Terre towns and the least touristic, proving particularly popular with nature lovers and hikers, thanks to its surrounding vineyards, groves, and trails.

The Best Things To Do In Corniglia

Corniglia, a tranquil mountain village in Cinque Terre, Liguria, Italy, graced by the Mediterranean Sea. This charming locale combines coastal beauty with the allure of historic Italian architecture.
Corniglia, a tranquil mountain village in Cinque Terre, Liguria, Italy, graced by the Mediterranean Sea. This charming locale combines coastal beauty with the allure of historic Italian architecture.

Corniglia doesn’t have too much to do in terms of historic ruins or attractions. Instead, it’s one of the best villages to visit to admire the view or watch the sunset, thanks to its perched position atop the cliff. There are several panoramic lookouts, as well as hiking trails to explore, and visitors should stop off at the small but charming Church of San Pietro.

Manarola: An Overview

Manarola's old town, Cinque Terre, Italy, boasts traditional colorful houses overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. A sunny day adds romance to this picturesque coastal village, creating a charming and vibrant scene.
Manarola’s old town, Cinque Terre, Italy, boasts traditional colorful houses overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. A sunny day adds romance to this picturesque coastal village, creating a charming and vibrant scene.

Manarola is the second-smallest town of the five, with an estimated population of around 350 people. It’s also believed to be one of the oldest of the group, with structures dating back to the 13th century. Made up of very colorful buildings, complete with vineyards, terraces, olive groves, and lemon trees, it is, in many ways, the quintessential Cinque Terre town.

Indeed, many of the most famous images and photographs of the Cinque Terre were taken in Manarola, thanks to the unique way its pink, orange, and yellow homes seem to sit atop one another, built right into the cliff and gazing out across the water. Like its neighboring villages, it relied on fishing and wine-making for many years, before emerging as a touristic destination.

There’s no beach in Manarola, and it’s very small, but there’s still much to love about this place, like its cozy village square and independently-owned shops. There’s also a small port and swimming area, along with some interesting annual festivities around the Christmas and Easter holidays.

The Best Things To Do In Manarola

Manarola's bustling fishing harbor, captured from a high angle, teems with summer tourists enjoying a swim. This vibrant scene epitomizes the lively charm of Liguria, Italy.
Manarola’s bustling fishing harbor, captured from a high angle, teems with summer tourists enjoying a swim. This vibrant scene epitomizes the lively charm of Liguria, Italy.

Visitors to Manarola can find a deep swimming area down by the harbor, as well as a pleasant playground for kids. Multiple charming stores and terrific cafés can also be enjoyed here, along with a little cliffside park, just next to the cemetery, where you can watch the sun go down – Manarola has some of the finest sunset views in the Cinque Terre.

This village is also well-suited to lazy days of simply sitting down and taking in the ambiance or strolling around beside the colorful buildings. As in the other towns, you can also hop onto a hiking trail here and make the trek to Corniglia, meandering through the surrounding vineyards and admiring the sea views as you go.

In addition, if you happen to visit the Cinque Terre around Christmas or Easter, Manarola is definitely the place to be. Each Christmas, the hill behind the town is lit up with thousands of lights and an extraordinary nativity scene, featuring hand-carved figures designed by a former resident named Mario Andreoli. Andreoli also created equally impressive decorations for Easter.

Riomaggiore: An Overview

Riomaggiore, Cinque Terre, Italy, radiates summer allure along the enchanting Ligurian coast. A popular tourist destination, it beckons with its coastal charm and scenic beauty.
Riomaggiore, Cinque Terre, Italy, radiates summer allure along the enchanting Ligurian coast. A popular tourist destination, it beckons with its coastal charm and scenic beauty.

Riomaggiore is the final Cinque Terre town, sitting at the southeastern end of the coastal stretch. It’s the closest town to La Spezia, so it’s often the first village that people see when coming from that direction. It was built above a river, which still flows beneath the village’s main road, and it’s split into two distinct sections, either side of the railroad tracks.

The lower section of Riomaggiore feels like a traditional fishing village, with seafront cafés and a small, rocky beach, along with a charming harbor, where locals and visitors alike gather to watch the fishing boats sailing in and out. The upper section is mostly dedicated to agriculture, made up of olive groves and vineyards.

Compared to the likes of Manarola and Corniglia, Riomaggiore is notably livelier and more dynamic. It’s also got the No. 1 sunset spot in the entire region, as well as boasting a decent nightlife scene, with several bars and eateries staying open late during the tourist season.

The Best Things To Do In Riomaggiore

Ascending the path towards the Sanctuary of Nostra Signora di Montenero in Cinque Terre's National Park, Riomaggiore, Italy. Panoramic views unfold, showcasing the breathtaking beauty of Liguria district in Europe.
Ascending the path towards the Sanctuary of Nostra Signora di Montenero in Cinque Terre’s National Park, Riomaggiore, Italy. Panoramic views unfold, showcasing the breathtaking beauty of Liguria district in Europe.

As mentioned above, one of the best things ot do in Riomaggiore is stay up late. The Cinque Terre villages aren’t exactly famed for their nightlife, but Riomaggiore definitely has the most entertaining evenings, with lots of good bars where you can mingle with the locals or drink and dance alongside your fellow travelers from across the globe.

By day, Riomaggiore is also a charming town to explore. Hiking enthusiasts might like to try the Via dell’Amore hiking trail (as long as it’s open – many of the Cinque Terre trails temporarily close down due to landslides). Alternatively, you might decide to take the long walk above the town to Santuario di Nostra Signora di Montenero, a charming church with jaw-dropping views.

Day Trips From Cinque Terre

Porto Venere, Liguria, Italy, bathed in sunset hues, offers a breathtaking view from old ruins. St. Peter's church crowns the rocky peninsula, creating a captivating scene in European coastal splendor.
Porto Venere, Liguria, Italy, bathed in sunset hues, offers a breathtaking view from old ruins. St. Peter’s church crowns the rocky peninsula, creating a captivating scene in European coastal splendor.

If you choose to stay in one of the Cinque Terre villages for a few nights or more, you might like to use one of your days to head out and explore some other part of Italy. Fortunately, even though the Cinque Terre seems quite cut-off, it’s not too tricky to jump on a train or boat and see some of the local cities and coastal resorts.

One of the easiest day trips takes you to the nearby city of La Spezia. Located mere minutes from the Cinque Terre, this city boasts a fascinating Naval Museum and 14th century hilltop castle. Alternatively, you could head in the opposite direction for a day trip to Genoa, known for its Romanesque cathedral and grand piazzas.

Porto Venere is another intriguing destination to consider, easily accessed from the Cinque Terre by boat. It’s actually quite similar to the Cinque Terre villages, but larger, with a lovely seafront promenade and great harbor. Or, try Portofino, famed for its colorful architecture and upscale vibes.

What’s The Best Time To Visit?

Manarola village, a tapestry of trekking trails, churches, and vineyards unfolds in the Cinque Terre National Park, Liguria, Italy, Europe. Captured with a long exposure, it unveils a timeless beauty.
Manarola village, a tapestry of trekking trails, churches, and vineyards unfolds in the Cinque Terre National Park, Liguria, Italy, Europe. Captured with a long exposure, it unveils a timeless beauty.

Given that the Cinque Terre attracts around three million tourists per year, you may want to choose the time of your visit with care if you hope to avoid the crowds. Alternatively, you might not be too worried about crowds, but want to make sure that you get good weather for your trip. So, when is the best time to visit?

Well, the summer months here can be quite hot and humid, and summer is also when the tourist crowds are at their biggest. Many travelers therefore prefer to plan their trips during the shoulder months of May or September. You may get a little rain during these months, but the weather should be mostly warm and pleasant, perfect for hiking and exploring.

How Many Days Do You Need?

Vernazza, the epitome of Cinque Terre's beauty, captivates with people joyously savoring its charm. This picturesque village in Italy radiates warmth and enchantment amid its stunning coastal setting.
Vernazza, the epitome of Cinque Terre’s beauty, captivates with people joyously savoring its charm. This picturesque village in Italy radiates warmth and enchantment amid its stunning coastal setting.

The majority of the visitors to the Cinque Terre only spend a day here. On a day trip, it’s possible to see all five villages, though you’ll certainly want to spend a little longer here to fully appreciate the area. Three days is a good starting point, though some travelers may prefer to book a full week, dedicating a day to each village and giving themselves time to relax and soak in the soothing, peaceful atmosphere of the place.

Which Village Is The Best For Families?

Cinque Terre, the renowned Italian Riviera, unfolds its beauty with vibrant beach umbrellas adorning the colorful coastline against the backdrop of the azure Mediterranean Sea.
Cinque Terre, the renowned Italian Riviera, unfolds its beauty with vibrant beach umbrellas adorning the colorful coastline against the backdrop of the azure Mediterranean Sea.

For families, there’s no doubt that Monterosso al Mare is the No. 1 village to visit. The biggest reason for that is the fact that Monterosso has its own golden sand beach. It’s the only large sandy beach in the region, and it’s big enough to cope with the large crowds that gather here, giving families plenty of space to sit, sunbathe, play games, or splash in the sea.

Monterosso also has quite a lot else going on, including the old castle ruins and the convent, giving families plenty of activities to pass the time. Kids will also enjoy admiring the Monterosso Giant statue. What’s more, Monterosso is also quite flat, making it safe and simple to get around, even with very young children.

Which Village Is The Best For Couples?

Vernazza, a gem in Cinque Terre, Italy. A blissful young couple enjoys a mountain picnic, gazing over the ocean. The panoramic view adds romance to the picturesque landscape of La Spezia province.
Vernazza, a gem in Cinque Terre, Italy. A blissful young couple enjoys a mountain picnic, gazing over the ocean. The panoramic view adds romance to the picturesque landscape of La Spezia province.

For couples, there’s really no wrong choice when it comes to which village to stay in or see first. They’re all so scenic and charming, you could pick any one at random and still have a magical experience. However, if you don’t have too much time or want to ensure you have the most romantic stay possible, head to either Vernazza or Riomaggiore.

Vernazza, officially one of “The Most Beautiful Villages of Italy,” is arguably the prettiest and most romantic of all five Cinque Terre towns. With its winding, labyrinthine alleys and surrounding olive groves, it’s remarkably picturesque, the perfect place for couples to unwind and connect with one another.

Riomaggiore is also stunning, and has some of the best restaurants in the region, making it a good fit for couples who enjoy romantic evening meals together. There’s even a love-themed walking path here, the Via dell’Amore (Street of Love) that extends along the coastline. Plus, it’s one of the top spots in the area to watch the sunset.

Where to Stay?

Monterosso

Locanda Il Maestrale in Monterosso is a coastal masterpiece, a symphony of elegance and nature. Set against the Ligurian Sea, the terracotta façade mirrors the warmth of the sun. Lush vines climb gracefully, embracing the building, while azure shutters complement the deep blue waters. A sublime fusion of architecture and seaside allure.

Vernazza

Budget: In the heart of Vernazza, Albergo Barbara beckons with captivating beauty. Overlooking the mesmerizing Ligurian Sea, this haven showcases vibrant bougainvillea draping gracefully over ancient stone walls. Terracotta-roofed buildings frame a spectacular coastal panorama, inviting guests to immerse themselves in the enchanting allure of Albergo Barbara’s unparalleled charm.

Luxury: Pensione Sorriso, a gem in Vernazza, captivates with its seaside splendor. Perched on the cliffside, it offers panoramic views of the azure Ligurian Sea. Vibrant flowers adorn the charming terraces, and pastel-hued facades blend harmoniously with the coastal landscape. A serene haven, Pensione Sorriso radiates beauty and tranquility.

Corniglia

AMARE IL MARE Affittacamere in Corniglia is a coastal haven, a vision of tranquility. Perched on the cliffs, its terracotta exterior harmonizes with the Ligurian landscape. Azure shutters echo the nearby sea, while vibrant flowers cascade, creating a sensory feast. A serene retreat where beauty intertwines seamlessly with the embrace of the sea.

Riomaggiore

Budget: Hotel Del Sole in Riomaggiore is a coastal masterpiece, perched on the cliffs overlooking the Ligurian Sea. Its pastel-colored façade blends with the vibrant surroundings, while terraced balconies offer panoramic views of the azure waters. A harmonious blend of architecture and nature, Hotel Del Sole captivates with its stunning coastal allure.

Luxury: Hotel Villa Argentina in Riomaggiore is a haven of coastal elegance. Its terracotta exterior gracefully meets the azure sea, blending with the enchanting Ligurian landscape. Vibrant bougainvillea frames the charming balconies, creating a picturesque retreat. With panoramic views of the mesmerizing sea, Hotel Villa Argentina exudes timeless beauty in the heart of Riomaggiore.

Summing Up: Plan The Perfect Trip To The Cinque Terre

Cinque Terre's mountainside cityscape boasts a kaleidoscope of colors against the Mediterranean Sea in Europe. Traditional Italian architecture adds charm to this picturesque coastal haven.
Cinque Terre’s mountainside cityscape boasts a kaleidoscope of colors against the Mediterranean Sea in Europe. Traditional Italian architecture adds charm to this picturesque coastal haven.

All in all, Cinque Terre is, without doubt, one of the prettiest gems in all of Italy, if not the world. The five special towns that make up this place are all wonderful and charming in their own ways, from family-friendly Monterosso al Mare to the more romantic and cozy Vernazza and colorful Corniglia with its spectacular seafront views.

Doing a day trip to the Cinque Terre is possible from various Italian cities. But, if you really want to get the full experience, it’s much better to spend at least a couple of nights here, taking your time to see each of the five villages and exploring the unique sights that make this such a one-of-a-kind place.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit sed.

Follow us on