Cinque Terre Itinerary 2024 – the most complete travel guide

View of Vernazza in Cinque Terre from above the mountain with the beach and the village

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We lived for more than one year in Parma, and Cinque Terre was basically our courtyard! In this Cinque Terre itinerary, you find all you need to know, such as where to stay in the Cinque Terre, what to do in one, two or three days, how to get around and what do to in Cinque Terre. Plus tips and recommendations from who has visited there a few times, to make you visit to Cinque Terre remarkable!

The Cinque Terre in Italy illuminated by the sun at dusk
Manarola at sunset – Photo by Monday Feelings

What are the Cinque Terre?

The Cinque Terre (five villages, literally translated) are five fishing villages on the Italian Riviera, Liguria region. Just a bit below the Cinque Terre, you find Tuscany, the land of the sunflowers. Anyway, the villages of the Cinque Terre are Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore.

The “Five Villages” are a UNESCO World Heritage site as well as a National Park protected and preserved by the government and it’s definitely a must-see for all travellers going to Italy. We have already seen hundreds of pictures of the colourful houses built on top of the rocks of the Mediterranean Sea, a very typical scenario of the Italian Coast. Yet, seeing the Cinque Terre in person is always impressive. The whole region exceeded our expectations not just by its architecture, but also for its great atmosphere.

A view to the sea from a house with another house veranda in front
View of the houses in Cinque Terre – Photo by Monday Feelings

Where to stay in Cinque Terre

Considering that you are not going to make your Cinque Terre itinerary in one day, finding where to stay in Cinque Terre might make a difference in your trip.

All of the “Five villages” have great infrastructure for tourism, with many options of hotels, hostels and apartments. As the towns are smalls, the places get booked up quite quickly, particularly during the high season in Cinque Terre, which is July to September.

Some of the best hotels in Cinque Terre are the Hotel Porto Roca and the Alla Marina. However, these are expensive as they are very well-known. There are some other most affordable options such as the Bed and Breakfast da Beppe.

A cheaper option for the Cinque Terre is to do like we did. We stay over in one of the neighbour cities, La Spezia. Another option is to stay in Levanto.

The Cinque Terre best village – exploring the villages

It is hard to pick the best Cinque Terre village as all of them are really interesting, but anyway, here it goes our impression of each one of them.

Monterosso Al Mare

aerial view of a crowded beach in Italy full of beach sunshades and the train station right next to the beach
Aerial shot of Monterosso Al Mare – Photo by Monday Feelings

The furthest village from La Spezia, Monterosso is more about resorts and less about charm. Here you will find the largest beach, though most of the beach is private and you have to pay hotels and bars to use their space with chairs and sunshades. But there is a small public area, which is always crowded.

It is worth including Monterosso Al Mare in your Cinque Terre itinerary, but this was the village that least caught our attention.


View of Vernazza in Cinque Terre from above the mountain with the beach and the village
View of Vernazza when we arrived arrived from the trekking from Monterosso – Photo by Monday Feelings

If we must have to pick the best Cinque Terre village, that will be Vernazza! The narrow alleys, restaurants, the sea, the shower by the sea in a cave… all of it. You absolutely must visit Vernazza.


The houses on top of the mountain in Corniglia, one of the Cinque Terre
Corniglia, the highest of the villages – Photo by Monday Feelings

The village of Corniglia is the highest of the Cinque Terre villages, about 200m. So, if you take the train, get your legs ready to go up a massive stair. There is a van that can take you up the town, free for those with the Cinque Terre Pass (more on it below). However, they were not working when we were there – note we were during low season. This village is really charming and offers awesome views of the blue sea.


Manarola village of the Cinque Terre with some houses on top of a rock and others near the beach at twilight and the moon
The village of Manarola at night with a beautiful moon – Photo by Monday Feelings

Manarola is another beautiful place and a must-see on your Cinque Terre itinerary! This village is extremely charming and it is worth exploring the region and the allyways that surround it, as there are many spots that offer privileged views of the fishing village.

The only downside of Manarola was the dirty sea. Even though it has many great spots for diving, the dirty on the sea (and on the rocks too) was such that we couldn’t enjoy swimming in there.


The village of Riomaggiore with colourful houses on each side of a hill shaping like V until the beach
Riomaggiore seen from the boat – Photo by Monday Feelings

Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to go over there, so we invited our friend Camila Cesarino to tell us about Riomaggiore:

Riomaggiore is such a charming village. It has stairs and hidden alleys amongst pastel shade’s houses, a small but pleasant beach, let alone the most charming port of the region, from where you can take the boat which connects the 5 Italian lands“.

Bonus village: the Portovenere village

Port of PortoVenere in Cinque Terre with boats moored and houses by the coast
The view of Portovenere port – Photo by Monday Feelings

Portovenere is not part of the Cinque Terre National Park, but is just as beautiful and charming as the others. It was one of the greatest surprises of the trip. The sunset seen from the top of the fortress is stunning. So, if you are staying more than one day, find the time to add a visit to Portovenere on your Cinque Terre itinerary!

How to get to Cinque Terre

The starting point for the Cinque Terre is normally La Spezia Town, the largest and most developed village of the region. La Spezia is accessible by train from all over Italy. You can find direct trains from the many main Italian cities – check the availability of tickets here. You can also look at the best options using Omio, a search tool. It has really saved us in Europe sometimes.

Also, if you haven’t got your flight tickets already, we recommend use Skyscanner to look for the best deals. We always found the best prices and use Skyscanner as our main tool to find our flights.

  • From Milan to Cinque Terre = 250 km / 155 mi
  • From Genoa to Cinque Terre = 101 km / 62 mi
  • From Pisa to Cinque Terre = 77 km / 47 mi
  • From Florence to Cinque Terre = 151 km / 93 mi
  • From Parma to Cinque Terre = 123 km / 76 mi
Map of Cinque Terre itinerary

You can also have as a final destination one of the five fishing villages, as all of them have its own train station. However, you will very likely have to change trains in La Spezia anyway.

The advantage of going first to La Spezia is that you can stop at the Tourism Office on platform 1 and get all the information you need. There, you can also buy the Cinque Terre Pass and the Cinque Terre Express, which we will get into a bit later.

How to go from one village to the other

You can travel in between the Cinque Terre by trekking, train, bus, boat or car (we actually don’t recommend driving within the Cinque Terre, but we will talk about that below).

For those planning on getting around the Cinque Terre by train, bus or walking, you have three options of passes to choose from:

You could, in theory, do all the Cinque Terre by foot. However, the trail between Riomaggiore, Manarola and Corniglia are closed, so connection is via train only. That means, from the 4 existing trekking routes, only 2 are currently open to the public:

  • from Monterosso to Vernazza (distance: 3,5 Km/3,1 mi; duration: 1h30);
  • from Vernazza to Corniglia (distance: 4 Km/2,4 mi; duration: 1h30).

By the way, even though the trekking is quite tiring, we really recommend it as the view is breathtaking!

Overview of the Cinque Terre with a village on top of the mountain and the sea
View from the trekking – Photo by Monday Feelings

There are also a non-official trek that goes through the mountain and does not require a pass. We, for instance, didn’t do it, but we met some tourists who did it and said it was extremely tiring (lots of ups) and the view wasn’t that exciting, as you go through the mountains and not by the sea.

Cinque Terre Treno Card

The Cinque Terre Treno Card is a day pass that costs € 19.50 (adults) and € 12.50 (children between 4 and 11) and includes:

  • Anytime trains from La Spezia to Levanto, which means to any of the Cinque Terre. The trains work from 4am to midnight;
  • Anytime town buses (work only within the town, not from one town to another). You will hardly need to use them. Unless you are in Corniglia, where the station is quite far and really down below;
  • WiFi of the National Park (not so great though, but helps for whatsapp conversation);
  • Use of the toilets with a fee on the train stations (in good and clean conditions);
  • The trekking between the fishing villages.
Overview of the Cinque Terre from above showing a beach in between mountains
The view from Corniglia of Vernazza and Monterosso – Photo by Monday Feelings

Cinque Terre Trekking Card

The Cinque Terre Trekking Card is a day pass that costs € 7.50 (adults) and € 4.50 (children between 4 and 12) and includes:

  • Anytime town buses (work only within the town, not from one town to another). You will hardly need to use them. Unless you are in Corniglia, where the station is quite far and really down below;
  • WiFi of the National Park (not so great though, but helps for whatsapp conversation);
  • Use of the toilets with a fee on the train stations (in good and clean conditions);
  • The trekking between the fishing villages.

Cinque Terre Express Trains

A guy sticking his head out of the train window with the train stopped at the platform and people getting in
Random guy decided he should be at the picture too 🙂

If you do not plan to go up and down among the villages, it is possible to buy a single journey of the train instead. It costs €4 each single journey (€2 for children). Therefore, you will need to buy the ticket for each journey you make and it does not allow you to do the trekking. You will find the machine to buy them at each station.

It’s great to combine with the trekking card, if you don’t plan to take many journeys. For instance, you can have the trekking card for one day and a single journey for the next day to relax in one of the village only.

Cinque Terre by boat

A boat in the ocean alone with people in it going to the cinque terre
The boat that takes you to the “Five Villages” – Photo by Monday Feelings

Something we really recommend doing is the Cinque Terre boat tour! There are stops on every village, including La Spezia and Portovenere, towards the Cinque Terre and Levanto. You just cannot stop in Corniglia as it is above the sea level. We recommend buying the day pass for the boat tour, which can be the whole day or just the afternoon. It is not the cheapest option, but surely the most beautiful.

Prices for doing Cinque Terre by boat

-Daily ticket:

  • Adult: €41
  • Children (6 to 11 y.o.): €15

-Afternoon ticket: 

  • Adult: €28
  • Children (6 to 11 y.o.): €15

Check their website for the boat timetable and prices, or just buy them at the port. We bought ours at Portovenere Port.

A great option is to take a tour. Have a look at this trip that takes you from La Spezia and put you on a wooden boat, provide lunch and wine and goes through the five villages. Alternatively, you can rent a private boat and enjoy the Cinque Terre as you should! See how to rent your private boat tour to Cinque terre here.

Did you know that public museums in Italy are free of entrance on the first Sunday of each month?

Cinque Terre by car

If you are planning to drive from one village to the other, ask first if it is worth driving to Cinque Terre? We actually thought about renting a car to Cinque Terre, but after reading a lot and talking to people who did that way, we realised we would get into a mess.

We definitely don’t recommend travelling by car to Cinque Terre. It is a nightmare to find a parking spot, let alone being quite expensive. In addition, it is quite a walk from the car parkings to the towns, making you go up and down the hill all the time.

A slope street with houses on one side in Cinque terre
Road that lead to Corniglia – Photo by Monday Feelings

On the other hand, however, Aline Cinelli, a Brazilian-Italian who’s been living in Italy for the past years, visited Cinque Terre by car and told us about her experience:

Message from Aline about car hire in Cinque Terre

“We decided at the last minute to go to Monterosso. As we have two children, we thought it would be more comfortable to drive over there, as we heard the way back from the beach by train, on some weekends, can be quite cramped. We agreed that the view from the way was beautiful. We stopped in a few places just to admire the landscape and also stopped in some small towns in the mountains that take you to Monterosso. I also felt sick, lol (that is important, though: if you don’t like the car turning all the time, well, there will be many going up and down).

We managed to park the car at the nearest car park on the beach, which was not cheap: €17 to stay about 5 hours (the price has definitely gone up, expect something around 22). But it was all worth it, though, mainly because when you are going back home tired from a whole afternoon at the beach and have quite a way back.

I think if you stay more days, to leave the car parked is not worth it, as you will pay for it through your nose and will not use the car. It is possible to park the car in one of the Cinque Terre and make the others by train, so to see them quickly. I think, if you are going to spend a day only, it is worth driving over there, as it is more comfortable, particularly if you have children.”

Therefore, if you are thinking on finding a Cinque Terre car hire company, have a look here.

Cinque Terre in one day

A village on top of a hill surrounded by the sea of the Cinque Terre
Leaving Vernazza for the trekking to Corniglia – Photo by Monday Feelings

Can you visit Cinque Terre in one day is one question we get all the time. Well, It depends… yes and no. It is like asking “can we see London in one day?” Yes, but you will miss out on many things. And the same goes for Cinque Terre. Regardless though, one day is better than no day at all, and if it is what you got, then do it!

We visited Cinque Terre twice. The first time, we did it in one day, leaving from Parma in the morning and back at night. It was great! But we visited three of the villages only, which just made us more excited to come back, as we did two weeks after. Then, we spent 4 days to better exploring the region.

If you don’t have much time, we recommend to focus on three of the villages too and see them well, instead of jumping from town to town and not really enjoying any of them. Below, we will give you the Cinque Terre itineraries, including Cinque Terre in one day itinerary. So, keep on going!

The sun almost in the horizon in the sea with a mountain next to it and framed by olive branches
The sunset in Manarola – Photo by Monday Feelings

Itinerary for Cinque Terre

Cinque Terre in one day

  • Buy the Cinque Terre Trekking Pass in La Spezia and take a train to the furthest village, Monterosso.
  • Go on a trekking to Vernazza. Enjoy the village for a few hours.
  • Go on a trekking to Corniglia. Walk around and take a single journey train back to La Spezia.

 Cinque Terre in two days

  • Day One:
    • Checking in a hotel and buy the Cinque Terre Trekking Pass
    • Take a train to the furthest village, Monterosso.
    • Go on a trekking to Vernazza. Enjoy the village for a few hours.
    • Go on a trekking to Corniglia. Walk around and take a single journey train back to La Spezia.
  • Day two:
    • Buy Cinque Terre Treno Pass and visit Riomaggiore
    • Take a train to Manarola and then to another city you liked the most from the day before
Fernanda against the sun light in between pillars in Cinque Terre
Fernanda posing at sunset in Portovenere – Photo by Monday Feelings

Cinque Terre in three days

  • Day one + day two
  • Take the Cinque Terre boat tour from Portovenere in the afternoon (or the full day) and be back to see the sunset in Portovenere.

Where to eat in Cinque Terre

All villages have many options of restaurants and to find one that fits your taste and pocket won’t be a problem.

Something that caught our attention was the price of the restaurants and markets. Unlike we thought, it wasn’t a rip off and it is totally possible to find meals for €8-12 in nice restaurants in any of the villages.

The entrance of a restaurant in Cinque Terre
One of the restaurants we ate and had a few beers in Corniglia. Recommended! – Photo by Monday Feelings

If you are travelling on a budget though, take sandwiches and a bottle of water on a backpack for the afternoon snacks. You can fill up your bottle on public fountains almost everywhere, for instance.

And you, have you been to Cinque Terre? Did you like it? What do you recommend?! Tell us, I look forward to hear your experience over there too!

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* Article originally written in August 2017 and updated in Abril 2024 *