Italy’s most famous five fishing villages, known as Cinque Terre, have found its way onto the bucket list of many travelers. The reasons for that lie in the dramatic coastal scenery, sinuous paths, 19th-century railway, vernacular architecture, and colorful houses. If these charming villages are on your travel list, here are a few fantastic things to do in Cinque Terre.
1. Walk the path of love
Via dell’Amore, or the Path of Love, connects the village of Riomaggiore with Manarola and is one of the top things to do in Cinque Terre. The trail is about 0.62 miles long and offers a magical atmosphere, partly because of the stunning sea and hard rocks, and partly because of the legend that surrounds it. Made in the early 20th century for the railroad workers who moved between two villages during the construction of the tunnel, it became a meeting point for lovers from the two towns.
Tip: The entrances to the path in both villages are found near the train station, so they are easy to find. Everything about this path is made for a carefree walk of a couple in love.
The Guidester Difference: Without a personal Italy trip planner, you may waste precious time because you didn’t know Via dell’Amore is closed for renovations due to landslides, with only a portion opened for visitors. According to the latest press reports, the entire trail is set for re-opening in 2023.
2. Or take the whole trail…
The Cinque Terre coastal trail is one of Europe’s best hikes, not only because it is moderately challenging, but also because it offers plenty of interesting sights and experiences along the way. It includes the Path of Love and other trails such as the Sanctuaries Ways. The whole hike includes all five villages, Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, and Monterosso, and it is 6.8 miles long.
Tip: You can cover the entire trail in about six or seven hours. But if you have enough time, it’s better to take two days to be able to experience the spirit of each town. You can befriend the locals, eat incredibly tasty meals, and enjoy the magnificent architecture.
3. Visit the beach – the hard way
Cinque Terre has many beautiful beaches, but most tourists visiting Cinque Terre go to Monterosso’s Beach because it’s the only beach with an extensive stretch of sand, umbrellas, and loungers. Sure, it’s beautiful, but it is a beach like any other in the world, usually crowded with tourists.
Tip: The best beaches are always the ones that are hard to reach, and a great example is Canneto Beach near Riomaggiore. This untouched piece of rustic paradise with crystalline water and uncompromising privacy is only accessible by sea.
The Guidester Difference: One of the hidden gems Guidester would suggest is Guvano Beach, located between Vernazza and Corniglia. It’s accessible by hiking down the edge of a cliff or through an abandoned railway tunnel (so if you are afraid of heights or dark enclosed spaces, stick to Canneto).
4. Find the best place to watch the sunset
The Cinque Terre sunset is an unparalleled experience you need to have. However, since this is a fact well known to every tourist, it will be difficult to find a quiet place to really soak in the beauty of the settlement aflame with the tints of the golden hour.
The sunset viewpoint on the Corniglia trail is the most popular for photographers, but unsurprisingly, it’s always crowded. Monterosso is nice, but if you want to take photos, you will probably miss the sun as it sets directly behind the mountain.
The Guidester Difference: Your personal Itlay trip planner would tell you that to view an incredible sunset without the crowds, head to Riomaggiore. Go down to the harbor, on the southern side, and watch the sun setting over a dramatic coastline.
Cornelia is a good choice. You just need to follow the main thoroughfare to the lookout point or begin the walk toward Vernazza, and when you’re just outside the village, you’ll have the chance to see the sunset, glistening sea, and terraces.
Tip: All of these viewpoints require some hiking, so make sure you have a convenient carry-on backpack or suitcase with easy access to essentials and compartments for food, water, and electronic devices.
The Guidester Difference: Your personal Italy trip planner will give you little extras that make big memories. So pack a bottle of wine and some bread to enjoy while you watch the sunset.
5. Visit the Castle of Riomaggiore
The Castle of Riomaggiore was built in the 13th century under Marquis Turcotti, and it is one of the area’s most important artifacts and one of the top things to do Cinque Terre. The square base and a round set of towers are instantly recognizable. The castle is still in function as a venue for cultural events, and you might just be in time for something interesting when you visit. Since it is very close to the cliff, it provides breathtaking views.
6. Sign up for a boat tour
If you want to see the settlements from another perspective, sign up for a boat tour. You’ll admire the cliffs adorned with vibrant buildings and vineyards bathing in the sun’s rays. The sightseeing becomes even more interesting if your boat has a restaurant offering local specialties.
7. Try authentic Italian food
If you don’t indulge in sinfully delicious Italian specialties, have you really been to Italy? The regional cuisine of Liguria is a particular treat for the taste buds. But when in Cinque Terre, look for meals that are genuinely local:
- Anchovies from Monterosso are the best and the most unique fish to try when in this part of the world.
- Muscoli ripieni or mussels farmed in the Gulf of La Spezia are served stuffed with eggs, mortadella, cheese or seasonal vegetables.
- Torta di riso di Monterosso is a delicious rice pie made with puff pastry, wine, parmesan cheese, cooked rice, eggs, and oil.
- If you’re up for something sweet, try the fruit cake Pandolce.
- Of course, you can’t leave Cinque Terre without eating Pasta al pesto.
The Guidester Difference: Scouring through sites like Yelp & TripAdvisor for authentic restaurants is overwhelming, so we do it for you! Some of the best restaurants to try these dishes are Trattoria dal Billy (Manarola), La Lampara Ristorante (Riomaggiore), Ristorante Belforte (Vernazza), Rio Bistrot (Riomaggiore), Enoteca da Eliseo (Monterosso), Fuori Rotta (Riomaggiore), L’Ancora della Tartuga (Monterosso), Torre Aurora Bar and Restaurant (Monterosso), and Ristorante Il Porticciolo (Manarola).