The beautiful Cinque Terre National Park is certainly worthy of taking up at least 2 days of any Italy itinerary. Located in the Liguria region in the northwest of Italy, the park is home to five wonderfully picturesque villages – Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corgnilia, Vernazza and Monterosso al Mare. Each village has something unique to offer, whether it’s stunning viewpoints or the charming pastel-coloured houses for which Cinque Terre is best known. Thankfully this wonderful national park is easily accessible, thanks to several hiking trails and regular trains running between the villages. Find out the best spots to see in each village, how to get around and much more with this 2 days Cinque Terre National Park itinerary.
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How to get to Cinque Terre
There is no airport directly serving Cinque Terre, so you need to travel over land to get there. It’s best to fly into Milan, Pisa, Florence or Genoa to get to Cinque Terre, as you can easily travel the rest of the way by train or bus. We recommend staying in La Spezia as it’s the closest city to the national park, which means it’s a great base for exploring the area. Alternatively you can stay in one of the 5 villages in the national park or the small town of Levanto. Click here to book your bus or train tickets to Cinque Terre or to check out the latest schedules!
Getting around Cinque Terre
Travelling by train is the quickest and easiest way of getting around Cinque Terre National Park. Trains run between La Spezia and Levanto, stopping at Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso al Mare on the way. During the peak months trains run in both directions 3-4 times an hour, whereas in winter the trains generally only run once an hour.
If you plan on getting between the villages by train then the best option is to buy a Cinque Terre Train Card. These cards include unlimited regional train journeys between La Spezia and Levanto, use of Wi-Fi hotspots in the park and more! If you visit during peak season, which runs from 16th March to 3rd November in 2019, then the cards will cost more. The cost of the various Cinque Terre Train Cards is listed below:
Peak Season (16th March-3rd November)
1 day Cinque Terre Train Card – €16
2 day Cinque Terre Train Card – €29
3 day Cinque Terre Train Card – €41
Outside of Peak Season (4th November-15th March)
1 day Cinque Terre Train Card – €13
2 day Cinque Terre Train Card – €23
There are a number of other tickets available, including reduced price tickets for children and families. Click here to see the full price list for the Cinque Terre Train Cards. Single train tickets cost €4, which means it’s generally cheaper to buy the Cinque Terre Train Card if you’re planning on taking trains between the villages.
Cinque Terre Train Cards are available to buy at the railway stations of the 5 villages, as well as at La Spezia and Levanto stations. If you want to save yourself time queueing, it’s possible to buy the cards online in advance. Click here to buy your Cinque Terre Train Card online now!
When buying one of the cards online you will need to select the day(s) of your visit, whereas if purchased in person your card will only be valid once validated on the train station platform. To get your ticket validated you need to put it into one of the validation machines on the station platforms. Cards are then valid for the length of time purchased, although they expire at midnight on the final day. For example, a 2 day card validated at 5pm on the Monday would expire at midnight on Tuesday, which would actually only give you 31 hours of use instead of 48.
If you’re in a rush then it’s possible to see all the villages of Cinque Terre in one day using the train, even in winter when trains only run once an hour. Personally we’d recommend spreading your visit out over two days if you have the time, and so this itinerary assumes you will be spending two days in the national park. If you do only have one day then it’s best to get an early train and you can just about squeeze the whole itinerary in if you try!
The alternative to using the train is to hike between the villages. If you wish to do this then you need to buy a Cinque Terre Trekking Card, which allows you to use the different trails in the national park. The Cinque Terre Train Card also allows access to these trails, but if you don’t plan on using the train much then the Trekking Card is a better option. It’s worth noting though that even if you opt for the Trekking Card you will still need to catch a train into Cinque Terre as it’s the best way to get into the park. A 1 day Cinque Terre Trekking Card costs €7.50, whereas a 2 day card costs €14.50. Click here to see the full pricing information for the Cinque Terre Trekking Card!
Cinque Terre Trekking Cards can be bought in person at the railway stations of the 5 villages, as well as at La Spezia and Levanto stations. Alternatively, these cards can also be purchased online. Cards bought online will be validated for the dates selected, and if bought in person the seller will select the date of validity for you. Click here to book your Cinque Terre Trekking Card online in advance!
The most famous trail in the park is the blue path, which stretches between Riomaggiore and Monterosso al Mare. See below for a rough estimate of how long it takes to walk each section of the blue path trail:
Riomaggiore to Manarola (route closed until 2021) – 30-45 minutes.
Manarola to Corniglia (route closed indefinitely) – 60-75 minutes.
Corniglia to Vernazza – 90-120 minutes.
Vernazza to Monterosso al Mare – 90-120 minutes.
Trails in Cinque Terre can close for repair due to damage or rainfall at any time of the year. Unfortunately it isn’t possible to predict when the trails will be closed, so if you want to hike then you are best to avoid winter and visit during the warmer months of the year. Click here to see an up-to-date map showing both the open and closed hiking trails in Cinque Terre National Park!
If you want to hike in Cinque Terre then you should decide in advance whether to do it over one or two days. Although it’s possible to do in one day, we recommend doing it over two days as it gives you more time to explore the villages themselves. Doing it over two days also means you can allow yourself extra time for breaks, which is especially important during the hotter summer months.
The blue path trail isn’t too tough, but does require a moderate level of fitness. It’s best to leave the majority of your belongings in your accommodation to avoid making it harder on yourself by having extra weight to carry. If you plan to stay at one of the villages on the hiking route then you may want to just pack an overnight bag to avoid unnecessarily carrying extra. Another option for doing the route over two days is to make use of trains to get back to your accommodation for the night. You can then take a train the next morning to the village where you finished at on the previous day and continue hiking from there.
2 Days Cinque Terre Itinerary
The first stop of this Cinque Terre itinerary is Riomaggiore, the closest of the 5 villages to La Spezia. Masses of tourists visit the village each year, yet it only has a population of around 1,500. The village is beautifully located in a valley between two steep hills, overlooking the sea. As a result, Riomaggiore is one of the most picturesque spots in Cinque Terre!
The best way to get to the village is to take a train from La Spezia Centrale to Riomaggiore station. All regional train journeys from La Spezia to the national park, and within the park itself, are free for holders of the Cinque Terre Train Card. Before using your Cinque Terre Train Card for the first time you need to make sure it is validated. If you bought it online it will be valid for the dates you selected at the time, whereas if bought in person you need to validate it at one of the machines on the station platform.
If you have the Cinque Terre Trekking Card or no card at all then the cost of the train is €4. Even if you’re planning to hike within the park, the easiest and most time efficient way of reaching Riomaggiore is to take the train.
If you’re going to hike you will want to get to the village fairly early to allow yourself time to explore before hiking onwards to Manarola. Alternatively, if you’re taking the train between the villages you only need to arrive early if you want to enjoy the village before the crowds get there!
One spot you simply cannot miss in Riomaggiore is the beautiful harbour area, which provides the best view of the village’s colourful houses. To get there, make your way to Piazza Vignaioli and then follow the steps down towards the sea. For the best viewpoint of the village, head left as you face the sea and go up the stairs. From here you get simply stunning views of the brightly-coloured houses seemingly stacked on top of each other up the hillside. If you want to appreciate this lovely spot without the crowds then you’ll need to get there very early in the day, especially during the peak summer months!
As is the case with most of the villages in Cinque Terre, there aren’t many specific things to do in Riomaggiore itself other than visit the harbour. It’s a village with plenty of character, so it’s worth taking the time to stroll around its streets to take it all in. The village’s main street, Via Colombo, rises steeply upwards, and is home to a selection of restaurants, bars and artisan stores.
Another of Riomaggiore’s main attractions is Via dell’Amore, known in English as ‘the way of love’. This path leads along the park’s wonderful coastline from Riomaggiore to Manarola. It’s known as the way of love as lovers write their names on padlocks and hang them along the route. Although previously this trail has been one of the most popular in Cinque Terre, unfortunately it is currently closed due to damage from a landslide. The route is not expected to be open again until 2021, so you can either take a train or use a longer alternative hiking trail to reach Manarola.
Manarola is without a doubt one of the most beautiful villages in Cinque Terre, if not the most beautiful. Built upon a 70-foot high cliff, the village definitely has an edge over the others!
The pathways in Manarola are quite up and down, so prepare for a bit of uphill walking. For the best view of the village you want to make your way from the train station to the harbour. From there you should follow the path leading away from the village along the coast. On this trail you will have breathtaking views of the village’s pastel-coloured houses that rise upwards from the cliff below.
After following the trail for a short while you will eventually reach some stairs that lead you up to an even better viewpoint. It’s the perfect spot for taking pictures of one of the most famous views in Cinque Terre. Better yet, there’s a wonderful outdoor bar called Nessun Dorma nearby from which to enjoy the amazing views!
We recommend sitting at one of the tables by the railing so that you can enjoy a drink or two with one of the best views in Cinque Terre. It’s such a lovely spot that we recommend spending the remainder of your day there, as that way you’ll be in a brilliant position for views of sunset over Manarola.
The village is also a great place to try some seafood as the restaurants get their stock freshly delivered by local fishermen. There are a number of restaurants along the road to the harbour, so just take your pick and enjoy a delicious fish dish!
If you’ve chosen to hike then it’s unfortunately probably not the wisest move to finish your day in Manarola. Your best bet is to hike to Corniglia by the end of your first day in the park, so that you only have 2 more hikes to complete the following day. Alternatively, if you’re travelling by train but want to make this into a 1 day Cinque Terre itinerary then you can spend less time in each village and squeeze it all into one day!
Once you’ve finished up in Manarola you will need to make your way to your accommodation. If you’re getting around by train simply take a train back to La Spezia or the village that you’re staying in. Alternatively, if you’re hiking then you should try to find accommodation in Corniglia so that you can stay in the middle village of the park. The other option is to stay in Manarola and be prepared to wake early to complete 3 hikes during your second day!
The next village along from Manarola is Corniglia, which is where the second day of your Cinque Terre itinerary begins. It’s the middle of the 5 villages, and therefore is a logical starting point from which to continue on to Vernazza and Monterosso al Mare. Personally, Corniglia was our least favourite village in the national park. In our opinion the village has less to offer than the others and isn’t as picturesque, but we still think it’s worth a brief visit anyway.
When you get to Corniglia train station there are two ways to reach the village itself – take the shuttle bus or walk. The shuttle bus is free if you have a Cinque Terre card, otherwise tickets cost €1.50 at the park’s tourist information centres or €2.50 when you board the bus. If you opt against taking the bus then you will need to climb the Scalinata Lardarina – a stairway consisting of almost 400 steps. It’s not too hard of a climb, but it does take a bit of time to reach the top. Fortunately, you get some wonderful views along the coast as you climb the steps.
The reason you need to climb so many steps is that Corniglia is perched on top of a cliff, around 100 metres above the sea. It’s the smallest village in Cinque Terre and the only one that doesn’t have direct access to the sea, but its location surrounded by vineyards and terraces is perhaps the most charming thing about it.
As Corniglia is such a small village, there really isn’t too much to see or do. There is a pleasant panoramic viewpoint known as Belvedere di Santa Maria that shouldn’t be missed. The viewpoint is the best spot in Corniglia, and is the only place in any of the villages from which you can see all 5 villages. Take the time to enjoy the fabulous viewpoint before exploring the village’s narrow streets. There are a few restaurants and gelato stores in the village if you’re hoping to grab a bite to eat during your visit.
After you’ve finished up in the village you need to follow the blue path onwards towards Vernazza or make your way back to the station to catch the train.
The picturesque village of Vernazza is undoubtedly one of the highlights of any Cinque Terre itinerary. It’s arguably the most beautiful village in the national park thanks to its lovely viewpoints and the wonderful pastel-coloured houses dotted along the natural harbour.
If you’re hiking between Corniglia and Vernazza then you should pass one of the viewpoints as you approach the village, but if you’ve opted to take the train then you can walk from the station in the direction of Corniglia for around 10 minutes to reach the same spot. From here you get wonderful views overlooking the village and the houses built on a cliff sticking out to sea. It’s a lovely spot to stop and take some photographs before heading down to the village.
Next you should make your way to the harbour area and treat yourself to some gelato on the way. The harbour is a lovely place to sit and relax whilst enjoying your gelato, offering lovely views of the colourful houses on the waterfront. We recommend taking your time here and just relaxing in one of the village’s most pleasant spots. If you’re feeling a bit more active then you can wander through the streets to get a better feel for the village.
After you’ve taken the time to relax there is another brilliant viewpoint of Vernazza that you simply cannot miss. The viewpoint is on the trail to Monterosso al Mare, so if you’re hiking between the villages then you will pass it on your journey. Alternatively, if you’re travelling by train you can reach walk 10 minutes to the viewpoint before making your way back to Vernazza to catch your onwards train.
In our opinion, this is the best viewpoint of Vernazza. It offers a simply amazing view of the harbour and the village’s multicoloured houses. Although you get a relatively good view from the path, it’s possible to climb down under some railing onto a natural ledge that provides an even better viewpoint. Prepare to be blown away by one of the most famous and beautiful viewpoints in the Cinque Terre National Park!
After you’ve enjoyed the views and taken as many pictures as you want, it’s time to make your way to Monterosso al Mare. To get there, either continue on the walking trail or make your way back to Vernazza to catch the train.
Monterosso al Mare
The final stop of your 2 days Cinque Terre itinerary is the beachside village of Monterosso al Mare. It’s the only village in the national park to have a proper stretch of sandy beach, so it’s an extremely popular stop in the warmer summer months. The village itself is split into two sections – the old town and the more modern resort town that stretches along the beach. Both sections are connected together by a tunnel that runs underneath the San Cristoforo promontory.
The main attraction is the beach, where it’s possible to rent sunbeds and umbrellas if you wish. As a result, Monterosso al Mare has a bit more of a commercial feel to it than the other villages in Cinque Terre. It’s a nice enough spot to relax and enjoy some good weather, but it doesn’t quite have the same charm as the other villages.
One of the most interesting things to see in the village is the Statua del Gigante, also known as the Monterosso Giant. The 14-metre tall statue is built into the rock face, supporting a platform above. Unfortunately, the statue is currently under renovations so make sure to check on TripAdvisor before you visit so that you won’t be disappointed!
Sadly, there are no real great viewpoints of Monterosso al Mare from the village itself. If you are hiking to the village from Vernazza then you will get good views along the way, but if you’re travelling by train then you may have to miss out. Thankfully, the other villages are more picturesque anyway!
As Monterosso al Mare is the most touristy village in the national park, there are some good restaurants and bars to choose from. After 2 days of exploring Cinque Terre it’s time to treat yourself to a nice meal as well as a drink or two before making your way back to your accommodation. Alternatively, if you preferred one of the previous villages and have a train pass then make your way back there for dinner and/or drinks to finish your trip on a high!
Best time to visit Cinque Terre
The weather in Cinque Terre is at its best between June and September, but this also means it’s the busiest time of year to visit. In our opinion it’s only worth visiting at this time of year if it doesn’t bother you being surrounded by crowds of other tourists. One advantage of visiting at this time though is that the trails are highly unlikely to be shut due to bad weather, meaning it’s a good time to visit if you plan on hiking. If you do want to visit at this time of year then be sure to book accommodation as early as possible as places will book up months in advance. It’s also worth buying your Cinque Terre Train/Trekking Cards online to save queueing to buy them in person.
If you want good weather but would prefer to avoid the crowds then the best months to visit Cinque Terre are April, May, October and November. With the exception of Easter, these months should be a lot less busy than summer but still have the benefit of relatively good weather. It should still be a reasonable temperature during these months, and hiking should be easier as you won’t have to put up with the summer heat!
Another option for avoiding the crowds is to visit Cinque Terre during winter. If you want to hike it’s not the best time to visit as some of the trails may be closed, but if you’re planning on using the train to get between the villages then it shouldn’t be too much of an issue. The weather can be a bit hit and miss, but when we visited in winter we were treated to some lovely sunny days. If having good weather isn’t essential to you then visiting during winter is a great way to ensure you won’t find the national park packed with other tourists!
Useful things to pack for visiting Cinque Terre
Suitable clothes – Cinque Terre is blessed with reasonably good weather for most of the year, so it’s important to pack accordingly. It’s best to pack some light summer clothing for your trip to help keep you cool on hot days, especially if you’re visiting between May and October. Even during the winter months it can be reasonably warm, as we found out during our visit in February 2019, so it’s still worth having some clothes suited to good weather just in case! If you’re looking for great value clothing then we recommend shopping at Zaful. Not only do they have a large selection of both men’s and women’s clothing, but they also offer free shipping worldwide!
Walking shoes – If you’re going to be hiking in Cinque Terre then it’s a good idea to get some walking shoes for your trip. A good pair of walking shoes or boots can make a big difference, as they have much better grip and are often waterproof. They will prove to be particular useful if you want to try some of the more challenging hiking trails in the national park. If you’re not planning to hike, make sure to pack a good comfortable pair of shoes for your visit!
Powerbank – One thing we recommend packing for any trip is a powerbank. Having a powerbank means you can charge your phone whilst on the move, so you don’t have to worry about running out of battery. We’ve all been in a situation where our phone has died halfway through the day, but with a powerbank you can stay charged to make sure you get beautiful pictures throughout the Cinque Terre National Park.
Adapter – If you don’t have a universal travel adapter then it’s worth getting one for your trip. That way wherever you go on future trips you’ll have a suitable adapter too!
Extension Lead – A great addition to any packing list is an extension lead, as it means you only need one adapter to be able to plug in multiple things. If you have a laptop, phone and camera then you’d need 3 adapters to be able to charge them all at once, but if you pack an extension lead then it’s much easier!
Sun cream and aftersun – Fairly obvious inclusions during the summer months, but both sun cream and aftersun are essential things to pack.
Mosquito repellent – Another relatively obvious inclusion, but mosquito repellent is useful to have if you want to avoid being bitten!
Camera – Last but not least, make sure to pack a good camera. Although smartphones take some pretty good pictures these days, they’re still no match for a proper camera. You’ll be able to instantly tell the difference in quality when using a camera, so if you want to look back on pictures of your trip in years to come, it’s best to invest in a decent camera. Two great options are the Canon EOS M100 and the Sony a6500. We’ve used both cameras on our travels and both take high quality images. The Canon is a cheaper option if you don’t want to spend too much, but if you’re happy to splash the cash a bit then the Sony a6500 is definitely worth it!
Where to stay in Cinque Terre
Atmosfere Guest House
Atmosfere Guest House is a brilliant accommodation option in La Spezia, the closest city to Cinque Terre National Park. La Spezia Centrale train station is within walking distance, which means getting to and from the park is incredibly easy. Rooms at the property are extremely comfortable and represent great value, with rates starting at just €67 ($76 USD) per night.
Scorci Di Mare
If you want to stay in the Cinque Terre National Park then expect to pay a premium for the privilege. Scorci Di Mare is one of the best options in Riomaggiore as it provides beautiful views of the village’s colourful houses. Rooms at the property are well maintained and fitted with air conditioning, which is much needed during the warmer months! Prices start from around €117 ($132 USD) per night.
One of the best accommodation options in Manarola is the lovely Ca’ D’Andrean. The property is well located just a 5-10 minute walk from Manarola station and within walking distance of the scenic viewpoints. All rooms are comfortable, modern and fitted with air conditioning to help keep you cool during the summer months. Prices in peak season start from around €167 ($188 USD) per night and from €95 ($106 USD) per night during low season.
Monterosso al Mare
Stella Della Marina
If you want to stay in Cinque Terre National Park but want a good selection of restaurants and bars nearby then the Stella Della Marina Hotel is a great option. The property has a lovely rooftop terrace with a bar, which is a great place to enjoy a drink with a view! On top of that, the property is in a great location just a short walk from the beach. Rooms at the property are comfortable and fitted with air con too. Prices start from around €155 ($174 USD) per night.
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