Cinque Terre Travel Tips: Everything You NEED TO KNOW

The best travel tips for Cinque Terre, Italy. Here’s everything you need to know to help you prepare for a trip to this part of Italy!

 

Cinque Terre 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.

Cinque Terre, Italy 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. At Pisa Centrale, you will take a connecting train to Cinque Terre.

Insider tip for flights: Momondo is the first place we check when searching for cheap flights (we highly recommend downloading the app to check fares on the go!). It searches hundreds of sites for the best fare and includes both standard and budget airlines.

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 if you are visiting during the busy season, 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.

However, if you have your heart set on staying in one of the 5 villages, here is our complete guide on where to stay in each village: The Best Hotels in Cinque Terre (Where to Stay in Each Village).

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.

If you want to stay right in Riomaggiore (our favorite village) and you are booking in advance, I have heard amazing things about Zorza Hotel and Apartamento Rio Maggiore.

 

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!

Cinque Terre Riomaggiore Restaurant

 

Best 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.

Picnic in Cinque Terre Italy

Taking photos in Cinque Terre is a must. Just be prepared to come early if you want to capture any of those postcard-perfect sunset shots because it can get crowded!

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.

Bring layers. I packed a couple of cute tunic tops and a cardigan to layer over my dresses or short-sleeved shirts.

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.

 

Plan Your Trip to Cinque Terre, Italy

After traveling consistently for over 10 years, we’ve come to trust and rely on a few websites to help us find the best deals on flights and accommodation.

Flights:  Scott’s Cheap Flights is the first place we check when searching for cheap flights. If you sign up for their email alerts, you’ll receive flight deals at up to 90% off. I have traveled all over the world using their flight deals.

Accommodation: Booking.com offers savings on hotels, apartments, and villas in 80,000 destinations worldwide. You can browse hotel reviews and find the guaranteed best price on hotels for all budgets.

Travel Insurance: We never travel out of the country without a travel insurance policy because it’s not worth the risk! We use and trust World Nomads, which we’ve used for the past 8 years.

 

Love to Travel?

Want to know how to travel the world? I’ve put together a page full of useful travel resources with tips and tricks I’ve learned after consistently traveling for over ten years. Learn about my best travel tips, how to find the best prices on flights and accommodation, how to take great travel photos, and more.

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29 Comments

  1. if traveling in cinque terra for three nights four days, is it best to stay in one town or split it up? We were thinking 2 nights Riomaggiore and one night in Vernazza.

  2. Your story about Cinque Terre is enlightening and I’m looking forward to visiting soon! May I please ask an odd question – are visitors allowed to wear sandals upon arrival/ walking around the villages if they are just going to restaurants and beaches? I don’t intend on hiking, just getting the train around 🙂 (I’m a terrible hiker!) Thanks

  3. We’ve just made a last minute booking to Venice (early August 2017!) then heading west to Cinque Terre for 3-4 days. Would love to stay outside the 5 towns at a seaside area where we can ferry to the places each day – could you please suggest a suitable place for a base camp. AND would this place have a train station for us to return to Venice? gracias in advance…

    1. Ordinary Traveler says:

      Hi Geoff. We stayed in Levanto which is RIGHT outside the 5 towns. It could easily be considered the 6th town it’s so close. 😉 Yes, there is a train that goes back and forth to each town from Levanto. I wrote about the place we stayed here: https://ordinarytraveler.com/where-to-stay-in-cinque-terre-italy and I highly recommend it!

  4. Mark A. Griffin says:

    Thank you for a great article! I am planning a trip for this fall and will follow your guidance.

  5. Caity Brewin says:

    This is perfect! I am going to Italy in 3 weeks, we are staying outside Milan but road tripping around. We saw Clinque Terre on Instagram, a must go to place! Thank you x

    1. Ordinary Traveler says:

      No problem! I’m so glad it was helpful!

  6. Joanna & Jeremiah says:

    wow! this is really helpful! thank you for sharing! Cinque Terre is on our bucketlist!

  7. love to travel says:

    Hi there. we are a group of four and will be in Pisa soon. I would like
    to visit cinque terre but i will be with my 80 yr old father who is in fairly good
    shape but would not walk uphills or take many steps.
    Therefore i would like to know if you recommend visiting cinque terre by ferry. Are there steps to arrive to the ferry from the station. going downstairs will be no
    problem for him but then he will need to go up to go back to the station!! Which station would be nearest to the harbor for us to get on the ferry easily? If you think there are ways to visit the harbors and beaches without hiking it would be a pleasure to visit.

    1. Ordinary Traveler says:

      I think the ferry would be a great option for you! Seeing the coastline from the water will be gorgeous!

  8. The Cinque Terra is my favorite place I’ve visited! We visited when we lived in Italy and then went back last year for a couple days and my boyfriend (no fiance) proposed in Riomaggiore. It was magical!

    1. Ordinary Traveler says:

      Wow! That sounds like the BEST proposal. We love Riomaggiore. Congrats on your engagement!

  9. Kerri McConnel says:

    Hi, thanks for the tips – always love a good restaurant tip. Heading there in a few weeks so will be giving teh food and bevs a good work out.

  10. Eventually I have found some tips how to access Cinque Terre.I am going there shortly. I will stay for 7 days in La Spezia and LS will be my base.To sum up,to see all charm of Cinque Terre towns the best way is to take a boat trip around,isn’t it?

    1. Ordinary Traveler says:

      A boat trip is a great way to see the villages, but I also recommend doing some of the hikes!

  11. Penny Little Wyatt says:

    So glad to find your site. How accessible are the villages and is the trail manageable in an electric scooter? My husband can walk short distances only. Thanks.

    1. Ordinary Traveler says:

      I think you could probably get to the main parts of the villages in a scooter, but I’m not sure about all of the trails. I remember the Riomaggiore trail had some pavement, but I honestly can’t remember if it was all paved.

  12. Hi Christy. We are 6 adults from Canada (very young 60 year olds:) who are planning a month in Italy to celebrate our bds this year. 2 1/2 of those weeks we will be together. We have a week in San Gimigiano and a week in Appenzell Switzerland already booked but we do feel we should experience Cinque Terre on our way to Switzerland. We have 2 full days and nights to invest there. I have sent your b & b a request to see if they have accommodations. Here is my question…based on your experience, in hindsight would staying in one of the 5 towns be better than staying outside? I know parking would be challenge if not impossible. I like the idea of spending a day out wandering, going back to our room and getting cleaned up and then searching for a local restaurant in town for dinner. Walking to the restaurant would be nice. Is that possible where you stayed…or…would leaving CT, going to the B & B and going back to one of the CT towns later be an option or doable? Thanks for your ideas,
    Linda

    1. Ordinary Traveler says:

      If you can find a hotel in one of the villages, it sounds like that might be ideal for you. We took the train in and out of the other villages and enjoyed the quiet town of Levanto. There are plenty of restaurant options in Levanto within walking distance to the B&B, so it’s just your preference of where you want to base yourselves. I can’t remember how late the trains run, so that might be something to check out before you decide. Enjoy your trip!

  13. Thanks for the tips! We are heading to Italy in May and I definitely want to check out a couple of these islands! So beautiful!

  14. Thanks for this. How many hours is from Pisa to Buti? I will be going to Pisa tower and stay at Bhappy Resort.. Thanks!

    1. Ordinary Traveler says:

      Hi Rachel. Sorry, I don’t know the answer to that question, but you could try doing a Google search.

  15. I feel like staying in one if the towns gives you more of an authentic time. We stayed in a guest house booked from airbnb in Vernazza and had the best time. By evening, all the tourists head out and it is quiet and lovely. I would recommend Vernazza to stay in so you can hike to Monterosso one day and to Corniglia one day. Good tips!

  16. Thank your for good tips. What if I only had a chance to visit 3 of 5 cities, which one would you recommend?

  17. John Williams says:

    The “Italian Lover’s Lane” was not the most beautiful section that we hiked. The Cinque Terre is very, very popular and the paths still open were still very busy at the end of September 2012.
    You have to pay to use the main trails between the villages, but it is possible to buy an inclusive rail / trail pass.

  18. Great tips. I still have yet to go to Cinque Terre even though it’s not that far from Munich. This will be the year that I go, so these tips will come in very handy.

  19. Pointsandtravel says:

    I just went to the cinque terre last month, and quite honestly, have to say I was disappointed, considering all the hipe I have heard about the region. I enjoyed Genoa and Portofino much better. I think, since the flooding, Riomaggiore, (especially), has extensive water damage to the exterior of the buildings and the trails were closed during the entire time i was there.

  20. Thanks for the tips. We’ll be there next June – already have a reservation in Monterosso. Hope all trails will be open by then!