Cinque Terre, Italy Travel Tips
We spent time in Cinque Terre, Italy this year and while researching for our trip we noticed a lack of online travel guides for this area. So, we put together this complete guide with our best Cinque Terre travel tips.
How to Get to Cinque Terre, Italy
The closest airport is Pisa and it’s about a 1 1/2 hour train ride from Cinque Terre. If you fly into Pisa Airport, take the train from Pisa Airport to Pisa Centrale. (Insider tip for flights: Momondo is the first place I check when searching for cheap flights. It searches hundreds of sites for the best fare and includes both standard and budget airlines.) At Pisa Centrale, you will take a connecting train to Cinque Terre.
If you are arriving by car, it is highly suggested to stay in the neighboring towns of the 5 Terre region, such as Levanto. You will have a much easier time finding parking. Our hotel, Villa Margherita B&B, offered free parking for guests. To see a full review of this hotel, visit our post on where to stay in Cinque Terre — Villa Margherita B&B Review.
Where to Stay in Cinque Terre
You may be tempted to stay in one of the 5 villages of Cinque Terre, but our advice is to stay outside of these towns (we highly recommend Villa Margherita B&B) and take the train or ferry. Accommodation is cheaper and many of the neighboring towns (besides La Spezia) are less touristy and have more of an authentic feel.
We stayed in Levanto and fell in love with this small town. To learn more about the town of Levanto, read about our experience in Levanto, Italy.
Be aware that Italy train travel can be frustrating because it seems like they are having a strike almost every week. If a train strike occurs during your stay (which it did for us) then you may be stuck without a train out of any of the five villages. We met a couple who had to take a 60 Euro cab ride to a neighboring town in order to catch a train to get back to Rome.
If you have your heart set on staying in one of the villages, be prepared to spend more money. If you are traveling in summer, book FAR in advance. We traveled in May and had an extremely hard time finding any vacancies in the villages.
How to Get Around in Cinque Terre
You have a few different options for travel throughout the 5 villages. You can either hop on one of the many trains that link each village, take a ferry ride or hike the trails. There is also a taxi service in Monterosso, Vernazza and Manarola.
How Many Days to Stay in Cinque Terre
At least three days is needed to see all of the villages, preferably more. If you try to visit too many villages in one day, you may find yourself spending too much time at the train stations and not enough time enjoying the beaches, restaurants and hikes.
Best Places to Eat in Cinque Terre
Riomaggiore is a great place for dinner. We met quite a few people who ended their day in Riomaggiore at A Pie’ de Ma’ (spectacular views!) or at one of the many restaurants along the main strip.
We ate at the restaurant right below Mar Mar Hotel and a few others along the strip. These are just a few suggestions. Explore the area and hop into the first restaurant where the menu catches your eye. Most likely, you won’t be disappointed. After all, you ARE in Italy!
Favorite Things To Do In Cinque Terre
If it’s hot outside, we highly recommend spending a few hours lounging by one of the gorgeous beaches in either Monterosso, Manarola or Riomaggiore.
Watch the sunset with a bottle of wine and a fresh pizza pie.
Taking photos in Cinque Terre is a must. Just be prepared to plant yourself early if you want to capture any of those postcard-perfect sunset shots.
Hiking any of the Cinque Terre trails is a popular thing to do while visiting this area. Two of the trails were closed during our visit due to the devastating floods, but we were able to hike the trail from Manarola to Riomaggiore, also known as “Italian Lover’s Lane.” This is by far the easiest and shortest hike and the views are simply stunning.
Best Time to Visit Cinque Terre
The best time to visit Cinque Terre, Italy will depend on your preference. Most travelers obviously visit in the summer to get the best weather for swimming and lounging on the beach.
I always tell people to visit in either the late spring or early fall to avoid the summer crowds. We visited in May and it was hot enough to swim, but not too hot to walk around. If you are not scared of a chance of rain, then April, May and September are the best months to visit Cinque Terre.
What to Pack for Cinque Terre, Italy
This will depend on the time of year you visit, but here are a few things to keep in mind when packing for a trip to Cinque Terre, Italy.
If you want to hike any of the trails, make sure to bring a good pair of hiking or running shoes.
For the ladies, leggings are never a bad idea, plus a pair of comfortable shoes to go with nicer outfits. These are my favorite travel shoes. They have plenty of cushion and I’m always getting compliments.
for the men, these Vans are what Scott wears on all of our trips!
I always bring a sarong to wear over a swimsuit and it can even be used as a towel.
If you visit in the colder months, these boots are perfect to wear with dresses and leggings.
In my opinion, the most important thing to bring to Cinque Terre is a decent camera. You will want to capture these memories. To find the right camera for your trip, visit our travel camera buying guide.
If you visit in the spring or fall, you might want to bring a light waterproof jacket.
For more information about what we pack on our trips, visit our Europe packing list for women, our packing tips for world travelers, and our tips about how to stay stylish while traveling. To learn more about how to travel in Italy, visit our post with our best travel tips for Italy.
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