CINQUE TERRE TRAVEL TIPS

ITALY – CINQUE TERRE TRAVEL TIPS

Cinque-Terre

5 small towns perched on the cliffs. Most accessible by train and boat. You can drive to a couple towns as well.

1. Riomaggiore – Quaint, small and the most beautiful to take a boat from. Best Tiramisu/bakeries.

2. Manarola – Most curb appeal and character. Arguably the best place to be during sunset/pre-dinner aperitif. (Pictured above)

3. Corniglia – The hidden gem that is often overlooked. Best small bites, gelato and most wine selection of the 5 towns. Not accessible by water taxi.

4. Vernazza – Most fun to hike into. (Gorgeous!) This town I disliked eating in as most of the restaurants charge a per head plate/bread fee just for sitting down.

5. Monterosso – The busiest, the biggest, but most fun to stay in especially if you would like a nightcap after 10pm. Best for beach goers looking to relax.

I have been here multiple times now and have followed the infamous Rick Steve’s guide the first couple of times to get a feel for the 5 towns.  I have come up with my own “Top things to do in Cinque Terre” based on his research as well as adding in a bit of my own.

KNOW BEFORE YOU GO:

  • Best airport to fly into: Pisa or Genoa (you can take a train directly to Monterosso from either of these airports.)
  • Best international airport to fly into is Florence.
  • There aren’t a lot of luxury hotels, so as long as you aren’t expecting a 5 star resort, you should be fine. If you are looking at nicer hotel, Town 5 – Monterosso is your best bet
  • Bring your hiking shoes/tennis shoes.
  • There is a train that connects all 5 towns
  • There is a water taxi that runs between all towns with the exception of town 3 – Corniglia.
  • Italians love their air/plane/train strikes. So keep an eye on train timetables to make sure you can get in/out. A taxi from CT can be costly!
  • There is lots of climbing such as hills, stairs, etc that can be somewhat unavoidable.

TOP THINGS TO DO IN CINQUE TERRE:

  • HIKE: Every town is accessible to each other by foot path. There is a hike for everyone at any level. I personally loved hiking through all 5, stopping in each town for lunch/wine/snack/look around. Plan to leave early and budget 6 hours including stops in each town if you plan to do all 5. My advice would be to start in Monterosso (town #5) and head to towards #1. Get the hard part out of the way first, sunset upon finishing and take the water taxi back to your town of choice. Easiest hike: (wheelchair accessible is from town 1 to town 2). Paths are well marked and bring cash — you need to pay to hike!
  • FOOD & WINE: From cooking classes to wine tasting, CT is wealth of wonderful wine, pesto, and pasta!
  • BOAT: At the very least, you must take the water taxis from town to town just once. They are more expensive than the train but seeing all of the towns by boat gives you a whole new appreciation and perspective.
  • PORTOVENERE / PORTOFINO Day trip by boat:  These day trips do not run in the fall/winter months so look ahead before you assume. Take a cruise from Monterosso out to lunch but be prepared to spend a lot more money than you have been spending in CT.  (Portofino being the most expensive).
  • RELAX: Park your toes in the sand with a bottle of wine in Monterosso and eat at one of the cute little restaurants serving lunch/snacks on the beach.
  • A perfect amount of time is 3 nights if you are looking for a quick trip. If you stay longer there 5+ towns to explore, lots more hikes and of course, places to eat!

 WHERE TO STAY:

  • Monterosso: We made friends with a wonderful man named Moreno and his wife Sabrina. They own a fantastic restaurant in Monterosso called San Martino Gastronomia as well as rent out small accommodations. These folks are the definition of true Italian hospitality.  http://www.pietredimare.it/
  • Monterosso: A fun location, right in between new town and old town. For those looking for more of the hotel experience rather than renting a room. Hotel Pasquele.
  • Vernazza: Nothing fancy by any stretch of the imagination, but you will find basic comforts and sweet owners at Albergo Barbara. Located right int the harbor square.
  • Manarola: Hotel Marina Piccola is a little more upsacle. Would be great for a honeymoon.
  • Riomaggiore: For the quieter getaway, check out NiRia in Town #1.
  • www.vrbo.com has lots of great vacation rentals.

 ODDS & ENDS

  • Best book to read on your way to CT: Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter.
  • Don’t forget to read up on the mudslide that happened in October of 2011.  Knowing what these amazing residents have gone through to rebuild these towns is incredible.
  • I’m not usually a tour person, but taking one here was such a highlight of my first trip. It left me wanting so much more and I just loved learning about the history of these special towns and how they operate.
  • Most people speak English so language barrier isn’t an issue.
  • Bring cash. Most hotels/villas will even ask to be paid in cash upon arrival.