Cinque Terre is the area along the western coast of Italy that spans five small – very colorful – towns just above the region of Tuscany. And it’s always been one of the must-see places on my travel bucket list! Despite only being a two-hour drive from our Tuscan villa, there were a lot of logistics to keep in mind. Excited to share today’s post with you to help you plan your own Cinque Terre travel guide + knockout all of those photo ops!
Keep Reading Cinque Terre Travel Guide
About Cinque Terre
First off, let’s make sure we are pronouncing it correctly… CLICK HERE. 😉
Now, let’s get to the 5 cities that make up this area bordering the Mediterranean Sea. North to South, the cities are:
Monterrosso – the largest and most flat area, large span of beach, more resort-like
Vernazza – expect lots of steps in this Medieval town, one of the most picturesque stops, very popular with tourists
Corniglia – smallest town, not accessible by water, 350 steps up to the cliff from the train station
Manarola – the town you see in all of the iconic Cinque Terre photos, no beach access
Riomaggiore – another colorful town but with a rockier beach, nightlife vibes
How to Get There
There are several ways to get to Cinque Terre depending on the starting location. Coming from Tuscany it’s about a two hour drive – but this does not mean you can hop in the rental and drive over. Individual car access is actually highly discouraged. The drive includes very steep and narrow winding roads that can be incredibly hazardous – we even saw a van that had run off the road on the way! Group travelers are best to visit by car or bus via an organized tour – which is the option that we took!
Other options for arriving to Cinque Terre are the local trains, by ferry (depending on the weather) or by bus.
How to Get Around
We took the local train, the Cinque Terre Express, that runs between all five towns. The more easily accessible port city of La Spezia a great place to hop on the train. It’s just below the southernmost town of Riomaggiore, and from there, you can take the train north to see all five towns.
Other options are the Explora5Terre bus that offers the same service as the train, but you will be on the winding roads. The ferry is a hop-on-and-off service which allows you to see each town from the water. The ferry was not running while we were there because of high waves. (Keep in mind ferry service can be suspended depending on the waters and weather.)
If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also hike the trails between each town. The trails apparently are quite challenging and are sometimes closed due to landslides. That was not my cup of tea, so we opted for the train.
Things to Know
Expect tourists as Cinque Terre has become famously crowded.
Be prepared to walk and climb steps. The only mode of transportation in these towns is steep and by foot.
Bring your euros. Many of the local businesses and restaurants require euros as payment. Going to the restroom will also cost you 1 euro if you’re not a paying customer.
Don’t expect great wifi signal even if you have pocket wifi. Internet and cell service are not guaranteed and some cell providers don’t offer coverage there!
Pay attention on the train – we missed a stop because there are no announcements and our train car didn’t have a display board.
Dedicate at least a full day to see Cinque Terre and make a plan of which towns you want to spend the most time seeing. Multiple days spent here would be ideal to really appreciate it’s beauty!
Have questions? Shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Loeffler Randall Bo wrap sandals c/o Orchard Mile
photos by Lainey Reed
More Italy Travel Guides:
Florence Food Tour + City Guide (coming soon)