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Visit Cinque Terre

What does Cinque Terre mean?  In Italian Cinque is ‘five’ and Terra is ‘land’ (or earth/ground).  In other words, translating Cinque Terre into English it would be ‘Five Lands’.

Cinque Terre is the accumulative name for 5 pretty seaside towns in the region of Liguria, Italy.  All of them feature colorful buildings on steep terraces and some pretty spectacular views over the ocean.

Riomaggiore · Manarola · Corniglia · Vernazza · Monterosso.

The 5 villages (or towns) that form the famous Cinque Terre.

real travel facts tips and information on visiting Cinque Terre in Italy
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Is it really worth visiting?

If you’re asking the question:  Is it really worth visiting?  You probably have seen many photos on Instagram or Pinterest, but all from influencers, and you’re not certain if it will really live up to the hype.  Well, Cinque Terre is known for its beautiful coastal landscapes, colorful houses, and scenic hiking trails. The villages themselves are charming and offer plenty of opportunities to sample delicious Italian cuisine, including fresh seafood and local wines. You can also explore the local artisan shops and boutiques, which offer unique souvenirs and gifts.

The hiking trails, in Cinque Terre offer stunning views of the Mediterranean Sea, and they vary in difficulty, so there’s something for everyone. You can also take a boat tour to get a different perspective of the villages from the sea.  You can relax and do some people-watching from a beautiful Italian restaurant, or you can just enjoy exploring the colorful streets.  We really think it is worth a visit and spending some time here.  Don’t try to rush everything in one day.

which of the Cinque Terre villages is the best to visit and travel to in Italy

When is the best time to visit?

Best travel tip on when to go:

Keep in mind that Cinque Terre can get quite busy during peak season, so it’s best to plan ahead and book accommodations and activities in advance. However, if you can visit during the shoulder seasons of spring or fall (between April to May and September to October), you can avoid the crowds and enjoy a more relaxed experience.

Visiting during the shoulder season in Cinque Terre has several benefits. The weather is mild and comfortable for outdoor activities, and the villages are less crowded, making it easier to explore and enjoy the local attractions. Additionally, accommodations and activities may be less expensive during this time compared to the peak season.

Keep in mind that the shoulder season in Cinque Terre may vary slightly depending on the year and weather conditions. It’s always a good idea to check the weather forecast and plan accordingly.

Let's explore the villages

Which one of the 5 villages of Cinque Terre is the best one to visit?

1. Monterosso Al Mare

The largest of the five villages, Monterosso al Mare has a long, sandy beach that is perfect for swimming and sunbathing. The village also has a charming old town with narrow streets and colorful houses.

2 Things you must do in Monterosso

  • Monterosso’s Old Town is a charming and historic part of the village, filled with colorful houses, narrow streets, and ancient buildings. You can wander through the alleyways, admire the architecture, and discover small shops selling local products such as olive oil, wine, and handmade crafts.
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  • The Castle and Museum of Monterosso is a historic fortress located on a hill overlooking the village. The castle was built in the 16th century to defend the village from pirate attacks, and today houses a museum dedicated to the history and culture of the Cinque Terre region. The museum features exhibits on local art, crafts, agriculture, and fishing, as well as archaeological artifacts and historic documents.
2. Vernazza

Vernazza is known for its picturesque harbor, colorful buildings, and historic castle. The village also has a small beach and several hiking trails that offer stunning views of the coastline.  It is worth staying for a while.

2 Things you must do in Vernazza

  • The Vernazza to Monterosso trail is one of the most popular and scenic hiking routes in the Cinque Terre region. The trail takes about 2.5 hours to complete and offers breathtaking views of the sea and the surrounding cliffs. Along the way, you’ll pass through olive groves, vineyards, and small villages, and you’ll have the chance to see some of the most beautiful coastal scenery in the region. The trail is well-marked and relatively easy, but it does involve some steep sections, so it’s important to wear comfortable shoes and bring plenty of water.
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  • The Doria Castle is a historic fortress located at the top of a hill overlooking the village. The castle was built in the 15th century by the Genoese family Doria and was used to protect the village from pirate attacks. Today, the castle is open to visitors, and you can climb to the top of the tower for panoramic views of the sea and the surrounding landscape.

Is Vernazza worth a visit?

Should you stay overnight?  Read more…

3. Corniglia

Unlike the other villages, Corniglia is not directly on the coast but is situated on a hilltop overlooking the sea. The village is known for its terraced vineyards and scenic hiking trails, including the popular Lardarina staircase that connects Corniglia to the train station.

2 Things you must do in Corniglia

  • The Terrace of Santa Maria is a beautiful viewpoint located at the edge of the village, offering stunning views of the sea and the surrounding coastline. To reach the terrace, you’ll need to climb a set of stairs that lead from the village square to the top of the hill. Once there, you can relax on one of the benches and enjoy the panoramic views or take a walk along the nearby hiking trails.
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  • The Church of San Pietro is a beautiful 14th-century church located in the heart of Corniglia. The church is perched on a rocky outcrop overlooking the sea and offers stunning views of the coastline. Inside, you can admire several works of art, including a wooden crucifix from the 16th century and a painting of the Madonna and Child by the Genoese artist Luca Cambiaso. The church is open to visitors throughout the day, and there is no admission fee.
4. Manarola

Manarola is one of the oldest and most charming of the five villages, with colorful houses built into the cliffside and a picturesque harbor. The village is also known for its delicious local wine, Sciacchetrà.

2 Things you must do in Manarola

  • Hiking the Via dell’Amore: The Via dell’Amore or the “Lover’s Lane” is a scenic coastal path that connects Manarola to the neighboring village of Riomaggiore. The trail is relatively easy and takes about 20-30 minutes to complete, offering stunning views of the coastline and the sea.
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  • If you’re traveling to Manarola during the Christmas season, don’t miss the Feast of the Nativity. The village is famous for its elaborate Nativity scene, which features over 300 handmade figures and covers an entire hillside overlooking the sea. The scene is lit up at night, creating a magical and festive atmosphere. The feast is celebrated on December 8th and lasts until the end of January, and there are several events and activities organized throughout the month, including live music, food stalls, and traditional processions.
5. Riomaggiore

Riomaggiore is the southernmost of the five villages and is known for its historic tower houses, colorful buildings, and rocky coastline. The village also has several hiking trails that offer stunning views of the sea and surrounding countryside.

2 Things you must do in Riomaggiore

  • Visit the Church of San Giovanni Battista, a 14th-century Gothic church with beautiful frescoes and a bell tower that offers stunning views of the village and the sea.
  • Try the local specialty, trofie al pesto, a type of pasta made with a traditional Ligurian basil sauce.
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Travel Tip(s)

Maximize luggage space and stay organized by using packing cubes to separate and easily find your belongings while traveling.

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The answer to the question?

So it all depends on what you love.  Each of these towns has very special qualities.

Choosing the best village to visit in Cinque Terre really depends on what you are looking for. Each of the five villages offers unique experiences and attractions, so it’s important to consider your preferences when deciding which one to visit. For example, if you love beaches, Monterosso al Mare might be the best fit for you, while Vernazza offers great outdoor activities and nightlife. If you prefer a more laid-back atmosphere, Corniglia might be the way to go. Ultimately, the best village to visit is the one that aligns with your interests and travel style.