Cinque Terre Itinerary 2022 – a complete travel guide for a perfect trip

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

This post is also available in: Português

The Cinque Terre are five fishing villages on the Italian Riviera, Liguria region. The cities 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. For this reason, we prepared this complete Cinque Terre itinerary, a travel guide for a perfect trip in the Cinque Terre.

The Cinque Terre in Italy illuminated by the sun at dusk
Manarola at sunset

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. But first things first on this 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 on Trenitalia website.

  • 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.

The Cinque Terre Pass

You can travel in between the Cinque Terre by trekking or by train. You can drive too, but… (we will talk about that below) so, let’s focus here on trains and trekking. You have two passes you can choose to buy:

  • The Cinque Terre trekking Card
  • The Cinque Terre Treno Card

The Cinque Terre trekking card is just for trekking, whilst the treno card offers you trekking and trains. You could in theory do all the Cinque Terre by foot. However, the trail between Riomaggiore, Manarola and Corniglia are closed due to a recent landslide and they will open again in 2018 after undergoing a security pass. They are still closed, so connection is via train only. That means, from the 4 existing 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! Check the official map here.

Overview of the Cinque Terre with a village on top of the mountain and the sea
View from the trekking

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 the way was through the mountain and not by the sea.

The Cinque Terre Treno Card

The Cinque Terre Treno Card is a day pass that costs € 18.20 (adults) and € 11.40 (children between 4 and 12) 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 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.
In low season (November to December), the cost of the Cinque Terre Pass are cheaper

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 the trekking card, if you don’t plan to take many journeys.

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”

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: €30
  • Children (6 to 11 y.o.): €15

-Afternoon ticket: 

  • Adult: €23
  • Children (6 to 11 y.o.): €15

Check this PDF for the boat timetable and prices. Or see how to rent your boat tour to Cinque terre here.

Cinque Terre by car

If you are planning to drive to Cinque Terre, 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 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

On the other hand, however, Aline Cinelli, a Brazilian-Italian who’s been living in Italy for the past year, 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. 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

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!

Where to stay in Cinque Terre

A view to the sea from a house with another house veranda in front
View of the houses in Cinque Terre

Considering that you are not going to make in one day, find where to stay in Cinque Terre might make a difference. All of the “Five villages” have great infrastructure for tourism, such as hotels, AirBnBs and hostels. As the towns are smalls, the places booked up quite quickly, mainly on high season in Cinque Terre, which is July to September.

The Cinque Terre best village

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

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 visiting, but it was the one which least caught our attention.

Find your accomodation in Monterosso Al Mare here.

Vernazza

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

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.

See where to stay in Vernazza.

Corniglia

"A

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, but they were not working when we were there. Corniglia is really charming and offers awesome views of the blue sea.

Find you accommodation in Corniglia here.

Manarola

Manarola village of the Cinque Terre with some houses on top of a rock and others near the beach at twilight and the moon
Manarola at night with a beautiful moon

This village is also really beautiful, extremely charming and it is worth exploring the region and the ways which surround it, as there are many spots that offer privileged views of the fishing village.

The only downside 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.

See where to stay in Manarola here.

Riomaggiore

The village of Riomaggiore with colourful houses on each side of a hill shaping like V until the beach
Riomaggiore from the boat

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“.

Find where to stay in Riomaggiore here.

Bonus: the Portovenere village

Port of PortoVenere in Cinque Terre with boats moored and houses by the coast
The view of Portovenere

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 visit Portovenere!

See the best deals on accommodation in Porto Venere here.

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

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!

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.

Cinque Terre Itinerary

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 + including checking in a hotel
  • 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

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.

*Also check other cool cities for backpacking in Northern Italy.

And you, have you been to Cinque Terre? Did you like it? What do you recommend?!


* Article originally written in August 2017 and updated on July 2022 *