Cinque Terre is one of the most picturesque parts of Italy. Close to such popular cities as Florence, it's a must-see destination in the region of Tuscany. Cinque Terre (literally meaning Five Lands) consists of five colorful seaside towns built on steep cliffs along the exceptionally attractive coastline. The sea, the surrounding mountains and enchanting architecture - you can find all this side by side in this magnificent land. If that's not enough, Cinque Terre can also offer spectacular, turquoise beaches where you can relax after a strenuous hike. In this post, I'll give you some tips on what are the best ways to explore this beautiful area.
How to get to Cinque Terre
Reaching Cinque Terre is easy. In order to get to there, you can fly to Florence or Pisa (click on the links to see my posts about those towns). We chose the latter as the flight was a great deal. From Pisa/Florence, it's easy to take a train or bus to a city of La Spezia which is a base for the trips to Cinque Terre.
Best Ways to Travel around Cinque Terre
Cinque Terre consists of 5 villages: Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso. We stopped at 4 of them - all with the exception of Corniglia. You can explore Cinque Terre by train (the most popular way), by boat or you can hike - however, note that currently the way between Riomaggiore and Corniglia is inaccessible due to a landslide. The trail has been closed for a couple of years now (as of 2018) and it's not known when it will be reopened.
If you're wondering which way you should choose to explore Cinque Terre - the best advise is - all of them. What we did was we took the train from La Spiezza and stopped at the first village - Riomaggiore. It's one of the most beautiful towns in Cinque Terre - you've most probably seen it on postcards from Italy. The brightly colorful houses seem to appear stacked one on top of another creating a magnificent view. Riomaggiore overlooks a little port.
The towns are tiny so it doesn't take to long to visit each of them. However, if you want to get some good pictures (especially the amazing postcard panoramas), you must walk away from the town centers to the viewpoints. This can be a bit tiring and can take a considerable amount of time - but it's so worth it - you won't regret it - don't stay only around the center areas of the towns as you will miss the best views.
We didn't continue our journey by train. We decided to take a boat which stops at every town - this allowed us to admire the towns and the coast from the sea - a unique perspective. For now, we skipped all the towns and got off at the fourth of them - called Vernazza. Vernazza is probably the most beautiful town of Cinque Terre. Then, we hiked the trail (the part which is open) - marked green on the map - from Vernazza to Monterosso. The views are stunning. Especially before reaching Monterosso - there's a large viewing platform over the stunning turquoise beach and the Monterosso rock. This came as a surprise for me as, although I had expected something spectacular, like the beautiful villages - such a paradise beach surpassed my assumptions completely.
The village of Monterosso as far as the architecture is concerned is not as amazing as the other ones, but the beach itself more than compensates for it.
Now, we decided to take the train to go back and stop in some villages in order to explore them better from the inside. Before doing that, however, we had also gone the other way to see the next town after the Cinque Terre villages - called Levanto. I wouldn't recommend that you visit it to be honest - there's nothing special there - stay longer in the amazing towns of Cinque Terre.
The train runs about every 30 minutes. If you want to visit Cinque Terre the way we did, don't buy the daily fare - buy just a return ticket. You will save some cash.
On the way back, starting from Monterosso, we stopped in Vernazza and Manarola - Vernazza is definitely the most amazing of all - as I previously mentioned, don't miss the viewpoint - it's located on the trail leading back to Monterosso - around 20 minute walk or so. Manarola is also amazing and there are some cool viewpoints around it too.
The last stop was at the first village of Riomaggiore once more where we had dinner and got some rest.
It took us one full day to visit all the villages by train, boat and to do some hiking. We should have skipped Levanto though. This means it is possible to visit most of what Cinque Terre has to offer in only one day - but it will be a bit hectic.
Author: Tom @ Adventurous Travels
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