We stayed in Riomggiore with an amazing balcony view of the street and ocean and visited Manarola, Vernazza, Corniglia, Monterosso and took a day trip to Porto Venere: Our Favorite.
- First and foremost you can get to all five places from the train that’s right there. Technically six if you count Porto Venere. . Parking will cost about 20 euro per day but there is only so much parking.
- Day trips from Cinque Terre? See the leaning tower of Pisa or visit Tuscany.
- Try and go during Spring and fall, especially if you plan to hike. There’s not much of a breeze and the beaches can get really crowded. These coves are very tiny and to truly enjoy and appreciate the area it’s best to go when it’s not overcrowded.
- Stay in Vernazza for things to do, Riomaggiore for ocean tranquility, Monterosso for the beach or Porto Venere for the port, castles and cool vibe.
Here’s our take on Cinque Terre from North to south:
1. The best beach is in Monterosso. The rest of the places, either, do not have a beach at all or the beach is very small or rocky. Monterosso is a lot more spread out and flat. There are plenty of shops and restaurants on the beach if that is what you’re looking for. The sunset is beautiful here and one of very few Purgatorial society Churches left in the world is located here. You can’t miss it. It’s slightly creepy.
2. Vernazza has the best views. You have to explore a little but if you climb up to the top there is a lovely restaurant and some really cool views. Plenty of adorable shops and a place to definitely people watch. The cove is beautiful and peaceful. If you stay anywhere, this would be one of the best places to stay that has it all
3. Corniglia was awful. If you rule out anyone let it be this one. I don’t even have any pictures worth uploading of this place. The hike from just the train for one, sucks and two it’s the farthest you’ll walk to get the worst of the five. There really wasn’t too much to see. The problem is its situated high on a hill and once you make it up the hill, it’s not that pretty. It’s extremely steep, not very many rustic buildings and when you reach to the other side there’s a small cove that isn’t nearly as appealing as the rest. The hike down to that spot looked awful and not worth it. I’m pretty sure we wasted almost two hours to check it out.
4. Manarola is more of a Tourist Trap filled with narrow streets and more brightly colored buildings. The picture below is of us waiting to jump on the train station. Its a cute place but the cove is tight. Any of the pictures you google are most likely taken from a boat so to truly see it that way you would have to travel that way, I would say it’s mostly shops. Nothing too special about it.
5. Riomaggiore is where most of the famous pictures of Cinque Terre are taken of. Note that those pictures are taken from a boat 🙂 As most of the pictures are. It’s beautiful though, not as pretty as most of the pictures you’ll see online but lovely and quaint nonetheless. There isn’t a whole lot to see. A few restaurants and shops. We lucked out and rented one of the only private apartments with a terrace available on the south side of Riomaggiore. It was a two bedroom apartment and was amazing waking up to the sound of crashing waves. If that’s what you’re looking for and more tranquility than, say, Vernazza, then this is the place.
PORTO VENERE was our favorite from this area. While the “Cinque Terre” region is the reason we visited, Porto Venere was only a 25 minute drive from Riomaggiore and worth every second we were there. If you’re a castle lover you’ll LOVE this area. The castle is huge. There’s a few actually that are worth exploring. The area is a huge port with plenty of restaurants and more to do. If you want an area with it all, stay here. You can catch the train to hit Cinque Terre and back just note that the last train is early like around 9pm!