Five cliffside towns on the Ligurian coastline comprise the Cinque Terre, one of the most-visited areas in Italy. All five towns boast spectacular sea vistas and multicoloured houses, but each town has a different vibe and personality. Use this guide to help you decide on where to stay in the Cinque Terre.
You can enjoy a guided hike along the Cinque Terre coastal route as part of Culture Trip’s action-packed 10-day Northern Italy adventure, led by our local insider.
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
Riomaggiore is the first of the five seaside towns that make up the Cinque Terre, starting from the south, and the second-largest in size. The railway line divides the town into two parts. Down next to the water is the Borgo dei Pescatori (fisherman’s village), where you will find painted wooded fishing boats bobbing in the clear green-blue water. There is also a small rocky beach. On the other side of the train tracks is the Borgo dei Contadini (farmers’ village), which rises steeply with terraced gardens and vineyards.
Manarola is the oldest town and the one with the strongest ties to the land. There are references to Volastra, which is a hamlet above Manarola that dates back to the Roman era. The steep terraced land above the town is planted with lemon and olives trees and grapevines. Climb up the path towards Corniglia for a view down on the harbour, fishing boats, rocks and water below. This is a great pick for the foodie traveller, with excellent places for a seafood meal and a gelato snack.
It is 33 flights, or almost 400 steps, up to this hilltop village, the only one of the Cinque Terre villages that is not by the water. The cool thing about Corniglia is that it is only from this height that you can get a view of the four other towns. Come here if you are looking for peace and quiet and don’t mind the trek uphill.
This is the town you have seen on a postcard or an Instagram post – the one that probably got you thinking about a trip to Italy. It is even designated as one of the most beautiful villages in Italy. It is the only village of the five to have a natural harbour, which brought security and wealth here centuries ago. There is a castle built on the hill, which you can visit. The heart of the town, Piazza Marconi, is full of cafes, where locals are catching up and tourists are perfecting their own Instagram posts to inspire.
Monterosso al Mare
Monterosso al Mare is the last of the towns and the largest of the bunch. There is a strip of sandy beach here, dotted with colourful umbrellas and a seafront promenade lined on one side with bars and restaurants. You can shop in the small shops in the historic centre and gather in the Piazza Garibaldi. This town is a great choice for families with small children or travellers who can’t climb a lot of steps.
Before you start exploring the Cinque Terre, here are a few general words of advice.
Don’t bring a car
There is very limited parking, and the villages are all completely pedestrianised. It is much easier to walk, take the train or ferry between each of the towns. Make sure you check the train and boat schedules before you set out, so you don’t get stuck with a long walk back after diner.
Rethink your idea of a beach
There is plenty of gorgeous and inviting water. There are no empty stretches of sand. Most of the “beaches” are small coves with pebbles, like in Riomaggiore, or enormous rocks with flat spots for lounging and deep water for diving, like in Vernazza. Monterosso has the most traditional beach, most of which is filled with private beach clubs that charge admission and rent chairs and umbrellas.
Don’t expect luxury hotels
Until quite recently, these were simple fishing villages and not jet-set destinations. Most of the available accommodation consists of private rooms in family owned buildings. This does not necessarily mean inexpensive.
There are a lot of stairs. Where you stay will probably not have an elevator, and getting there from the train station will also likely mean at least a few flights of stairs or a climb up a steep slope. The smaller and lighter your suitcase is, the happier you will be.
Expand your horizons
You might want to look beyond the borders of the five towns and stay nearby. La Spezia is less than 10 minutes by train and is much more lively after dark than the Cinque Terre villages. Just to the north, Levanto is considered the gateway to the Cinque Terre but is remarkably different, with flat bike trails and sandy beaches.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.