The Complete Guide to Cinque Terre

McCabe David / March 04, 2021

Cinque Terre is one of the most beautiful areas in all of Italy. Translated from Italian, Cinque Terre means Five Lands. It is comprised of five colorful cliffside villages on Italy’s gorgeous Ligurian Coast. When you visit Cinque Terre, you’ll find breathtaking, postcard-perfect views, a slow and relaxed pace of life, and charming villages that remain untouched for hundreds of years. This beautiful gem of a destination is worth more than just a day trip and deserves a spot on any Italian itinerary.
Cinque Terre is made up of five small villages. From north to south, they are Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. Once you are in La Spezia or Levanto, you will need to purchase a Cinque Terre Train Card to get around the villages.
You can check prices for the Cinque Terre Train Card and get more details here. The most expensive option, a three-day pass, will cost you €41 during the high season. The easiest way to get between the villages is the train. It’s only a five-minute ride between each village and the trains run frequently throughout the day. I didn’t take the bus or hike while I was there, but these are other options you can try. Bear in mind that some of the more popular hiking trails may be closed when you visit, and the routes that are open can be strenuous hikes that take a few hours.
You might be wondering the best time of year to visit Cinque Terre. Like many places in Italy and Europe, I would prefer to visit Cinque Terre during the low season to avoid crowds. I visited in late May, and it was already extremely crowded (which you may be able to notice from my pictures.) It was also pretty hot, with temperatures hitting 80° F some days.
Cinque Terre’s high season runs from May to September, so for the best combination of low crowds and mild weather, I would visit in March, April, or October. Even if you visit during the high season, you can still have an enjoyable, crowd-free experience before and after the day trippers and cruise tourists leave each day.
While many people just come to Cinque Terre for one day, I really recommend staying for longer unless you just absolutely don’t have the time in your itinerary. I stayed for three days and two nights and found this to be the perfect amount. It gives you enough time to visit all five villages in a leisurely manner and go back to your favorites. There isn’t much to “do” in Cinque Terre in terms of museums, churches, ruins, etc. (which can make it a nice break from the rest of Italy!) Some of the best moments you can have in Cinque Terre are just walking around, relaxing on the beach, or snapping photos of the incredible views around you.