cinque terre vernazza beach

Visiting Cinque Terre, Italy

One of the most dreamed about vacations in Italy: Cinque Terre. While the Amalfi Coast captures hearts in the South of Italy, Cinque Terre is the go to spot for Northern Italy when seeking gorgeous views, lemon trees, sea cliffs and clear water. Here is what you should know when visiting Cinque Terre.

First, What are the Cinque Terre?

Cinque Terre is actually an area that encompasses 5 towns, lining the Ligurian Coast, just above the border with Tuscany. They are Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, and Monterosso al Mare. Each town is connected by beautiful hiking paths (averaging about 3km between each) that pass through cliffside “heroic” vineyards, olive and lemon groves.

The oldest towns are Manarola and Vernazza, but all five were referred to as the Cinque Terre since the 11th century. They were simple seaside villages under the Republic of Genoa. All towns were then fortified with defense towers to protect the Republic from invaders from the Sea. Then, in reality, the Cinque Terr fell out of most people’s minds, economic decline, and a new train line allowed for residents to escape to more promising cities. It wasn’t until the 1970s that people began visiting Cinque Terre again and developing tourism.

manarola cinque terre

Visiting Cinque Terre- Staying over night?

In reality Cinque Terre can be done in a day, or in a few days, it all depends on if you want to walk, just take a dip in the sea, and what your budget is.

Things to know right away: This zone is NOT cheap. However, you can choose to stay at La Spezia, or Levanto, both located on either end of the train running through the Cinque Terre. You will most likely find cheaper options here. Inside the Cinque Terre, all the towns are fairly small so have limited accommodations as it is, and those that there are quite pricey.

If budget isn’t too much of a problem, then really all the towns are perfectly suited for staying over! Every town has a small swimming area and plenty of restaurants. I would say Vernazza has the most accessible “Beach” with sand or Rocks, place to grab shade, and showers.

Manarola has a great swim spot, but it doesn’t have a “beach” to lay out on. Corniglia has a long beach, but with 0 shade, Monterosso al Mare has a long sand beach, but more spots are private so you will need to pay for a chair and umbrella.

Visiting Cinque Terre- Things to keep in mind

BRING WALKING SHOES. This warning is located all around the park before the paths, yet I have managed to see people in flipflops, heels, flats.. No. Bring Sneakers at least. They don’t need to be hardcore hiking boots, but at least gym shoes.

Of course you can also go about visiting Cinque Terre and never go for a hike, that is up to you. But the walk is really worth it, it is a gorgeous spot. and walks between the towns are only about 1.5/2 hours.

Take advantage of wine tasting! Cinque Terre has a number of unique wines produced only there, so check out some of the Enoteche offering small tasting of 3 to 4 wines.

Be aware of rocks (if you have some form of water shoes, it is worth it to bring them). The coast is fairly rocky and if you plan on climbing up around the rocky beaches, it is better to have some small protection.

cinque terre swimming