Have you ever been to one of those places where you have to pinch yourself? Where you are completely unable to tell if you’re dreaming or physically there?
Well, Cinque Terre is one of those places!
If you manage to disembark your train at Riomaggiore despite the onslaught of tourists packing you back inside, and weave your way down a lengthy tunnel to traverse a bazillion stairs, you’ll be rewarded with the most breathtaking – and not just because of the steps – view of vibrant towns, sea and mountainous vineyards all cumulating in the most amazing horizon.
Now you can see why we pinched ourselves.
Cinque Terre is a UNESCO World Heritage site located on the Italian Rivera coastline, consisting of 5 individual towns – Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, Monterosso al Mare. Hence the name, Cinque Terre = land of 5 towns.
Each town has a personality of its own – with colourful houses, fishing boats and local wine, we can’t chose a favourite! Now that you definitely want to visit Cinque Terre (as if we even had to try and sell it), here are our tips to ensure you love it as much as us!
- The best and easiest way to get around the five towns is by train. Remember, however, that the trains run on ‘Italian time’ so don’t be disappointed if they are late or are randomly cancelled. Whilst the cost is higher at 30euros return, make sure to take the ferry along the coastline at least once. Nothing beats viewing the five towns from the sea!
- Take a dip in the sea at Manarola. With ample photography and view points, take the short walk to the harbour, finding a spot along the boat ramp to settle down. Cliff jumping, swimming and soaking up the sun, combined with a refreshing gelato – trust us when we say you could easily spend the whole day there! When hunger strikes, at the edge of the town there is the most adorable pizza/pasta/focaccia take-away. The family run, made fresh when you order restaurant will make you never want to eat anywhere else for the entire trip! Get the pesto, a regional speciality and thank us later.
- If you love cocktails and nibbles (read: cheese) as much as we do, visit Nessun Dorma. Not only do you get to enjoy amazing food and drink but the view is incredible, especially at sunset. If you’re on a budget, pack a picnic and take the walk up towards Nessun Dorm towards the park at the top, from which you can eat and take in an exquisite sunset.
- To get the quintessential Cinque Terre Insta pic you need to hike from Monterosso to Vernazza. But… as we didn’t bring proper shoes nor do we workout (believing in the ancient mantra that Jim is just a name..), and coinciding with the scheduled upkeep of paths, we unfortunately missed out. We did, however, hike from Manarola to Corniglia which was just as incredible. We saw terraced vineyards, ocean views and the colourful towns without even breaking a sweat.
Articles about Cinque Terra are abundant on the internet. Nowadays, this once secret paradise has transformed into the hot-spot which every sun loving traveller longs to experience.
Instead of allowing yourself to be swallowed by the tourism machine, or even worse, be put off this oasis completely – we offer you our most valuable tip. Invest time into making Cinque Terra unique and individual to you.
One of our favourite things to do was buy a takeway pizza, a bottle of wine and bring it down to the Riomaggiore harbour. Hidden past where the ferry tickets are bought and tucked around the corner is a secluded little cove. As we scampered over the near horizontal cliff face, down towards the lapping ocean, we discovered a Cinque Terra all for our own.
Eat, drink and listen to music whilst the sun fades before your eyes!