Visiting the towns of Cinque Terre: Top 7 things to know ahead

The absolute gem of scenic surroundings, distinct Italian culture, delicious food, and excellent entertainment lies in the northwestern end of Italy. The towns of Cinque Terre have been one of the most desired holiday destinations ever since hitting popularity in the 1970s, and you can experience what this gorgeous region has to offer, as well! However, there are some things you should probably know before starting your adventure, so buckle up, and let’s look through it!

towns of cinque terre visit
You don’t need to rent a car to visit the towns of Cinque Terre

1. No need for a vehicle

While road-tripping is an extremely fun way to travel, once you enter the beautiful area of Cinque Terre, a vehicle becomes quite inessential!

The roads connecting the five towns of Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore, are quite narrow and steep, so the locals tend to enjoy walking around, leaving the roads basically trafficless.

Mostly, tourists and locals navigate between the villages by hiking or taking trains. So, if you are into active outdoor activities, you will find it very enjoyable to look for trails that will get you from one location to another. However, if hiking seems a bit much, take the train – they are cheap, comfortable, and quick!

visit cinque terre national park
Make sure you visit the Cinque Terre National Park on vacation

2. The Cinque Terre National Park is a must

While it is entertaining to toy with your options for sightseeing, there are some places you simply cannot miss or reconsider. For the towns of Cinque Terre, it is their pride and joy – the splendid National Park. By the way, if you need more inspiration for vacation ideas, check out Italy private & small group tours and get your ideas or travel packages there. But for now, let’s go back to Cinque Terre!

The protected area that is considered the first national park in the country is one of the most beautiful and picturesque places you will encounter on this journey! In addition to the five villages of Cinque Terre, the national park includes some parts of the Levanto and La Spezia communes, making the area quite broad.

Here you can enjoy the unspoiled and highly-preserved nature, see a bit of a more agricultural side of Cinque Terre, and the overall rugged terrain of one of the most beautiful corners on Earth! However, if you wish to inspect the national park thoroughly, I suggest setting a reasonable amount of time; the hikes between the five villages and two additional communes will take some effort!

villages of cinque terre beaches
Discover the beaches of the beautiful towns of Cinque Terre

3. Plan an itinerary to see the villages of Cinque Terre

While you should already have the Cinque Terre National Park in your plans, there is plenty of other stuff to enjoy here too, so I recommend whipping up a thorough itinerary for your Italian vacation. Here are a few of the essentials:

The Blue Path

The Blue Path is a stunning trail of scenic beauty connecting all five villages of Cinque Terre. It is 12 km of pure natural grounds and striking topography, which has now become a classical and essential Cinque Terre experience.

Wine tasting

Like everywhere else in Italy, the villagers here are incredibly proud of their delicious flavors and traditional wine-making! If you wish to try out the rich tastes of local wineries, I suggest Cantina Capellini and Cantina Sassarini, two of the most highly-reviewed ones in the area. The former is located in the beautiful town of Riomaggiore, the latter in Monterosso al Mare. 

Learn about the art of wine-making, food combinations, and Italian gastronomic traditions!

The beaches

There are plenty of gorgeous sandy beaches to hit if you want to spend the day soaking in the Mediterranean sun, but I advise you to stay within the borders of Monterosso al Mare. 

The beaches are all quite closely connected, and you can travel on foot, but if you lack the time on your schedule for roaming around, definitely visit Spiaggia Fegina – the largest and, yet, the coziest one of all! I suggest going earlier in the day to secure the best spot and avoid crowds.

tourists in cinque terre villages
Summer tourists in Cinque Terre villages enjoying the rocky beaches

4. Choose the best time to visit Cinque Terre

While the Mediterranean climate makes Cinque Terre and its towns enjoyable to visit all year long, there are a few factors to consider before going!

Similar to any other part of Southern Europe, Italy’s high season lasts from May to October, peaking in July. These months are usually overflown with tourists, and the pricings generally go up. That being said, if you do not enjoy brushing shoulders everywhere you go, I suggest visiting Cinque Terre and its villages during the off-season; this could be in the late autumn or very early spring.

packing list for cinque terre
Plan your Cinque Terre packing list carefully

5. Pack lightly

Depending on how long you stay in the towns of Cinque Terre, you might be tempted to pack large suitcases of your summertime attire, but I recommend rethinking it! Especially if you plan on visiting all five towns. 

As I mentioned, the main parts of your travels will be done on foot, so you will inevitably carry all of your stuff with you. In addition, these journeys include taking the Blue Path, which is 12 km of challenging trails at times. So, keep your luggage and backpack as light as possible so as not to tire yourself! All in all, the days here in the towns of Cinque Terre are very warm, so you will not need to pack heavy clothing. 

how to ask for directions in Italian
Learn how to ask for directions in Italian before you visit the towns of Cinque Terre

6. Learn some basic phrases in Italian

Traveling between the five towns of Cinque Terre means that you will encounter and will probably have to communicate with the locals quite a lot! Whether it is asking for directions or any other sort of assistance, knowing how to say it in Italian will help you a lot.

Now, most Italians, especially the younger generation, can communicate in English quite freely, but some still prefer speaking in their native tongue only. This especially applies to the villagers. Also, Italians are very fond of tourists even attempting to speak their language, so any effort goes a long way!

So, buy a standard dictionary and try out your linguistic skills!

restaurant with a view in cinque terre village
Want a restaurant with a view? Book it ahead of your trip to the towns of Cinque Terre!

7. Book everything in advance

Cinque Terre is heavily crowded during the high season, so I strongly advise you to think ahead to secure accommodations or any sightseeing event. 

Book everything as early as possible, including hotels, wine tastings, museums, or even trains that will take you from one town to another. To ensure a place to stay and a seat on the train, do some research and purchase your tickets as soon as you are done with your itinerary and have a clear idea of how your days will be going! 

Enjoy visiting the towns of Cinque Terre!

Hopefully, you have a clearer picture of how to visit the five towns of Cinque Terre now! Skim through my suggestions one more time before planning your journey, and get ready for the best Italian adventure ever! Arrivederci, and good luck!

About the author

Mirela Letailleur The Travel Bunny

Mirela Letailleur is a Romanian travel blogger living in the South of France. She writes on The Travel Bunny travel blog about affordable travel in Europe. Creator of unique free travel guides and local travel expert. Problem solver. Wannabe coffee guru.

Read more about Mirela Letailleur

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