11 Best Things to do in Cinque Terre National Park, Italy

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Stunning Vernazza of Cinque Terre, Italy

Look no further if you’re looking for the best things to do in Cinque Terre. This list has everything from hiking to wine tasting to make the most of your time in this beautiful corner of Italy. Check it out and start planning your trip today!

People who travel to Cinque Terre National Park should learn about the best things to do there. That’s because it will help them have a better time while they’re there. For example, they can hike, see beautiful views, taste wine, and learn how it’s made.

This penned exploration will cover the best things to do in Cinque Terre National Park. It’s an area known for its natural beauty and wine production, so there’s plenty to see and do.

What’s more, learning about the best things to do can help travelers make the most of their time in this picturesque corner of the world.

Visiting Cinque Terre, Italy

Cinque Terre, Italy - Top 5 Ways to Experience Italy's Beautiful Cinque Terre

Among all of Italy’s attractions, the Cinque Terre is unique. It comprises five picture-perfect seaside villages on the dramatic Ligurian coast. It’s also a national park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

And Cinque Terre has charms to satisfy even the most jaded international tourists. The five towns are nestled among centuries-old terraced vineyards and olive groves: Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore.

Each village is perched along the region’s breathtaking cliffs, and each one offers an old-world ambiance that’s not easy to find in this fast-paced world. Let’s explain more about what each of the Cinque Terre villages offers.

Monterosso al Mare

Address: Monterosso al Mare, 19016 SP, Italy

Monterosso al Mare is the northernmost and largest village in the Cinque Terre. Monterosso has a great sandy beach, ideal for sunbathing and swimming. Monterosso is the only village with a large flat area, making it suitable for travelers who want to relax and enjoy the sun.

Monterosso al Mare is an excellent destination for travelers who want to experience the beauty of the Cinque Terre and its fabulous beaches.

Vernazza

Vernazza From Above

Address: Vernazza, 19018 SP, Italy

Vernazza is considered by many to be the most beautiful of the Cinque Terre villages. Nestled along a picturesque harbor and surrounded by rugged cliffs and verdant hillsides, Vernazza boasts a stunning array of pastel-colored buildings and winding streets.

Corniglia

Corniglia

Address: Corniglia, 19018 SP, Italy

Corniglia is the only village that’s not directly on the water. Instead, it’s built into a rocky cliff and offers stunning views of the Mediterranean Sea. Corniglia is a charming coastal village in the Italian province of Liguria.

One of the most distinctive features of Corniglia is that it is not built directly on the water like many other towns in the region. Instead, Corniglia is built into a rocky cliff, offering stunning views of the sparkling blue Mediterranean Sea.

Although this lofty position may seem imposing initially, Corniglia has become a popular tourist destination due to its stunning natural setting and energetic local culture.

Manarola

Manarola

Address: Manarola, 19017 SP, Italy

Manarola is a beautiful coastal village in Italy known for its charming old houses and stunning fishing port. Covered in vibrant blue, red, yellow, and green hues, Manarola’s picturesque houses perfectly reflect the beauty of the seaside setting.

And if you’re looking to explore Manarola’s cultural heritage fully, make time for some of the area’s famous festivals and annual events, like the Manarola Film Festival or Manarola’s Panevin celebration.

Riomaggiore

Riomaggiore

Address: Riomaggiore, 19017 SP, Italy

Riomaggiore is one of the oldest, most scenic towns in Cinque Terre. Here, you’ll find winding streets lined with brightly colored houses that stretch up the rugged coastline. While Riomaggiore is a popular tourist destination, it retains its original charm.

See Related: Things to Do in Italy

How to Get Around Cinque Terre, Italy

Cars have been banned from the Cinque Terre for over a decade, so traveling to this fascinating region is done by train, local electric buses, or on foot.

If you plan to stay for a few days, consider buying the Cinque Terre Card, which gives you unlimited train travel, all the hiking paths, local buses, and many museums and cultural sites. Once you’ve got your Cinque Terre Card — and your walking shoes — you’re ready to start exploring!

See Related: Best Restaurants in Italy

Things to Do in Cinque Terre, Italy

Now that you know a little about each of the five villages, it’s time to start planning your trip. Here is what to do in Cinque Terre.

1. Hike the Trails

Cinque Terre is a hiker’s paradise with plenty of hiking trails. The entire region is covered with twisting paths that take you from one village to the next, ascending the rocky cliffs and winding down along the water’s edge. This is the best way to see the Cinque Terre; many people come here specifically for the hikes.

Distances are relatively short — you can walk through all five villages in one day — but the terrain can be demanding, and the scenery is spectacular, so take your time.

The most popular Cinque Terre hiking is on Trail #2, the Sentiero Azzurro, or Blue Trail. Start your hike in Riomaggiore, where the pathways are paved and easier going, and work your way north toward Monterosso and the more strenuous going.

If you want to avoid the crowds, take the Sentiero Rosso (the Red Trail) instead. It’s a much longer hike but very doable if you take it in small sequences. And remember, you can always hop on the train if you’re getting too tired!

A special note: in the past, Cinque Terre was deluged with flash floods and deadly mudslides in torrential rainstorms. Several people were killed, and the villages were damaged. They’re still recovering from this disaster.

Some of the most famous hiking routes, including the Via dell’Amore (the Lover’s Path) from Riomaggiore to Manarola and the trail from Manarola to Corniglia, were closed after the floods and remain closed as of this writing. Alternate trails still provide spectacular views but may require a bit more stamina. Check with the Cinque Terre National Park Service for updates.

2. Visit the Vineyards

Vineyard in Manarola, Italy
anzebizjan / Adobe Stock

Cinque Terre is also famous for its wine, so visit some local vineyards. You can learn about the winemaking process and taste some of the delicious wines produced in the region. Visit a local winery during your stay in the Cinque Terre. The terraced vineyards are gorgeous, as is the area’s local wine.

On a hot afternoon, the crisp white Cinque Terre wine is refreshing and intoxicating; for a sweet after-dinner drink, try Sciacchetra. It’s a late-harvest wine made from dried grapes with a rich golden color.

3. Learn the History and Culture

Cinque Terre

The history of the Cinque Terre is fascinating, and it’s on display for you at the Museo delle Cinque Terre Antiche in Riomaggiore. In this small museum, housed in an old restored wine cellar, you’ll learn about local traditions, regional agriculture, and the long history of this ancient region.

Riomaggiore Italy

Monterosso, the oldest of the five villages, was founded in 643 A.D. The others followed a few hundred years later, and most of what you see in Cinque Terre dates back to the High Middle Ages.

Each town has historic architecture, with Benedictine monasteries, Roman villas, and old churches. The Church of San Lorenzo in Corniglia is especially worth a visit, as is the ancient castle in Riomaggiore.

4. Rent a Boat

Vernazza Italy

Enjoy a different view of this gorgeous region and its lovely seaside towns from the deck of a boat. The ferry makes regular runs between four of the five villages. It provides access to the nearby towns of La Spezia, Levanto, Portofino, Portovenere, and the picturesque island of Palmaria.

If you’re feeling a bit more daring, try renting a kayak. There are rental spots all along the coastline, and it’s just a 30-minute paddle between villages. You’re guaranteed an afternoon in a kayak — and nothing beats a quick dip in the ocean after a day in the hot Italian sun.

5. Visit All of the Cinque Terre Villages

Cinque Terre Villages

When visiting the Cinque Terre, exploring all five of the stunning villages that make up this part of Italy is a must. Although they are all situated close, each village has its character. In Riomaggiore, be sure to take in the beautiful harbor. For a taste of traditional village life, pay a visit to Manarola.

Suppose you’re looking for some unforgettable views, head to Corniglia. And don’t miss out on Vernazza, with its picturesque streets and charming churches.

Of course, no trip to the Cinque Terre would be complete without sampling some of the delicious local cuisines. Each village has its specialties, so be sure to try them all.

6. Go Fishing

Vernazza Marina

If you’re a fan of seafood, then you’ll love the fresh fish caught in Cinque Terre. Fishing in Cinque Terre is a great way to experience local culture and savor some delicious seafood.

You can sign up for fishing trips with a local fisherman and explore the beautiful coastal waters around Cinque Terre. There are endless possibilities for fishing tours – you can go Fishing for seabass, tuna, squid, and more, depending on the season and your preferences. Plus, fishing excursions are a great way to learn about the rich fishing traditions of this region.

After fishing in Cinque Terre, you can enjoy a delicious meal at one of the many fantastic seafood restaurants in the area. You can choose from traditional Italian dishes and fresh catches from local fishermen – it’s the perfect way to experience all this beautiful region.

7. Ride the Train

The train is the best way to get around Cinque Terre. Not only is it convenient, but it’s also a great way to see the stunning scenery. The Cinque Terre Express runs frequently and quickly between five villages, making getting around easier. The railway connects the villages of La Spezia (Liguria), Levanto, Manarola, Riomaggiore, Corniglia, and Portovenere (Cinque Terre).

For all visitors, the train will continue to be a significant mode of transportation between sites; however, for daytrippers or people who come for only ten days, this will be critical to your experience. It can be cramped, hot, and unenviable at peak times, but a pleasant and convenient means of traveling.

8. Enjoy the Local Cuisine of Liguria

Restaurant Il Porticciolo in Manarola

The food in the Cinque Terre is simple, fresh, and delicious. Perhaps due to the rich algae that thrive in the Ligurian Sea, the seafood here is delicious.

Anchovies are a local staple, and you’ll find them in antipasti, on top of pizzas, or fried up as an appetizer. Mussels, calamari, and prawns are all delicious and grilled or served in a pasta dish.

Fresh basil pesto is another local specialty — in fact, it was invented here in Liguria. And, of course, the olives (and olive oil) are everywhere. For an exceptional treat, try trofie, a light brown pasta made from wheat or chestnut flour, with a fresh pesto Genovese (pesto from Genoa).

And if you happen to find yourself hungry in Corniglia, make a beeline for the Miele di Corniglia — a delicious creamy gelato made with local honey.

9. Go Shopping

Corniglia
Image by EpicV27 / CC BY-SA 4.0

Cinque Terre is the perfect place to shop for a few simple souvenirs to take home, as well as something more exotic and unique. With its diverse selection of shops and markets, this charming Italian coastal town has everything you need.

And if you can’t decide on just one item to buy, there’s always the option of purchasing a bottle of local olive oil or a cute ceramic figurine so you can remember your trip well after your return home!

So don’t miss out on all the shopping opportunities when you explore Cinque Terre – with its friendly atmosphere and breathtaking views, it’s truly a shopping destination like no other.

10. Relax in the Sun

View of Vernazza From Above

If you’re planning a trip to Cinque Terre, you’re in for a real treat. With its relaxing coastal vibe and beautiful Mediterranean climate, this is the perfect place to kick back and unwind. There are countless opportunities to relax and recharge in this beautiful region.

And with its temperate climate, lush scenery, and beautiful sandy beaches, there’s no better place to do so than Cinque Terre. So rest easy, kick off your shoes, get your feet in the sand, and enjoy all this stunning area offers.

11. Take a Boat Tour

Boats In Cinque Terre

If you’re looking for an unforgettable vacation experience, a boat tour of Cinque Terre is a perfect choice. This stunning stretch of coastline is renowned for its dramatic cliffs and craggy sea caves.

As you take in all the breathtaking views from the water, you’ll be rewarded with refreshing sea breezes and beautiful glimpses of local wildlife. If you’re ready for an adventure on the seas, book a boat tour in Cinque Terre today.

See Related: Best Places to Visit in Northern Italy

When is the best time to visit Cinque Terre?

Its peak season ranges from Easter to November and is never hushed. Avoid summer and August to avoid being crushed by the crowds. In the summer, reservations are accepted very early, and the weather is hot and dry, with a temperature of 29°C/84°F on average.

Summer is the preferred season to visit Cinque Terre since temperatures are more pleasant and fewer people are than during peak summer months. Spring is mild and dry. October through December are the wettest seasons, and landslides may be expected due to significant rains.

See Related: Things to do in Venice, Italy

How hard are the Cinque Terre hikes?

The ground has been the only way to travel between these Cinque Terre towns throughout history, and it is still the most convenient method of transportation. There are several beach or trip alternatives.

The coastal pathways are no longer pleasant strolls along the beach, at least not the open section. Following damage from a landslide, a single-level coastwalk between Corniglia and Riomaggiore will be closed permanently. There are several steps and rises on this route. There’s some pretty steep ground with some huge drops.

Is Cinque Terre Worth Visiting?

Yes, absolutely. Cinque Terre is one of the world’s finest destinations, with spectacular ocean views, quaint villages, and great food and drink. There’s no way to convey the beauty and charm of this place in words. It’s one of the loveliest spots on earth — a timeless home that enchants and delights everyone lucky enough to experience it.

The best things to do in Cinque Terre all share one common trait: they’re perfect for enjoying this area’s incredible scenery and natural beauty.

Are you looking to explore more of Italy’s beautiful regions? Be sure to subscribe to our free travel newsletter for tips on the best things to do in Cinque Terre, Italy, and beyond.

FAQs

What are the best things to do in Cinque Terre?

There are several great things to do in Cinque Terre. Here are some of our favorites: take a hike through one of the many picturesque trails, enjoy the fresh seafood, and relax on one of the beautiful beaches

How can I get around Cinque Terre?

The best way to get around Cinque Terre is on foot or by train. There is a local train that runs between all of the villages, and there are also several scenic hiking trails that connect them.

Where should I stay in Cinque Terre?

There are several great places to stay in Cinque Terre. We recommend staying in one of the villages to easily walk to all the attractions.

What is the best time of year to visit Cinque Terre?

The best time of year to visit Cinque Terre is between April and October. This is when the weather is usually the most pleasant, with fewer crowds.

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Kyle Kroeger
WRITTEN BY

Kyle Kroeger

Kyle Kroeger is the Founder and Owner of ViaTravelers.com. He is a full-time traveler and entrepreneur. Kyle started ViaTravelers.com to help travelers experience a fully immersive cultural experience as he did initially living in Italy. He's a converted finance nerd and Excel jockey turned world wanderer (and may try to get lost on purpose). After visiting 12 countries and 13 national parks in a year, he was devoted to creating and telling stories like he'd heard.

Plus, after spending more time on airplanes and packing, he's learned some incredible travel hacks over time as he earned over 1 million Chase Ultimate Rewards points in under a year, helping him maximize experiences as much as possible to discover the true meaning of travel.

He loves listening to local stories from around the world and sharing his experiences traveling the globe. He loves travel so much that he moved from his hometown of Minneapolis to Amsterdam with his small family to travel Europe full-time. Read more about his portfolio of work.

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