I had been dreaming about seeing these 5 coastal towns in person for 7 years and I knew I had to find a way to make one of my dreams come true. Imagine small hilly alleyways, colorful houses and the bluest water as far as the eye can see.
Cinque Terre has become increasingly popular over the last few years because of social media but don’t let the crowds deter you from explore these 5 magical towns.
I did a day trip for Florence (Santa Maria Novella) to La Spezia Centrale which took about 3 hours by train. Book your tickets in advance online at trainline.com. Once at La Spezia there is a ticket counter where you can buy a Cinque Terre pass to see all 5 towns and the cost is 16 euro. If you only have time for 1 or 2 than it would be a little cheaper to buy one-way tickets which cost 4 euro. Depending on if you want to spend time on a beach or relax at one of the cafes, I would say you don’t need more than 1-2 hours at each town. The closest town from La Spezia takes about 3mins and the rest are about 3-4mins apart from each other.
You cannot drive to these towns so if you do have a car you will need to park it in La Spezia and then take a train to Cinque Terre.
If you are interested in hiking there is a trail that connects each town and the trails are clearly marked and the views are supposed to be incredible. I suggest taking a train to the last town, Monterosso, and hike to the first town, Riomaggiore, with stops along the way to explore the other 3 towns.
In Manarola I found the trail for hiking and it’s located toward the back of the town, so when you leave the tunnel from the train station go right and wander around and it’s located between 2 houses, there should be a sign. If you hike up you get really pretty aerial views and there’s also a cemetery up there you can check out.
If you are in Manarola and need some lunch I suggest going to Nessun Dorma, this restaurant is very affordable and has the best views of the town. If you want a seat by the railing to have an uninterrupted view and great spot for photos I suggest getting to the restaurant 15mins before it opens to stand in line. The restaurant opens at 12pm every day and is closed on Tuesdays. Also, by the restaurant is great photo opportunities of Manarola without the crowds.
Riomaggiore was also very pretty and a colorful town but it was a lot smaller than Manarola and less to do so you won’t need as much time here. There’s places here to rent boats and kayaks for a couple hours. This town is quite hilly and there’s lots of pretty spots to stop and take photos. If you venture out of the busy area which is where the first picture is taken below you will find lots of peaceful places to sit and relax.
I hope this guide helps and you get a chance to visit Cinque Terre, it was definitely a highlight of my trip!