Cinque Terre means crystal clear waters, laid-back coastal towns, picturesque coastlines lined with colorful homes, amazing hikes and great food.
If you are planning an Italy honeymoon, definitely consider this destination.
Intro to Cinque Terre, Italy
Cinque Terre is a term for a group of 5 coastal towns in northern Italy.
They include (from north to south) Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore.
Each town is unique, but when deciding on where to stay it’s hard to go wrong. We stayed in Riomaggiore in an apartment located in the marina, just steps away from the water!
We were booking last minute and reached out to Martha to rent her apartment. It was already booked, but she arranged for us to stay at another Cinque Terre apartment nearby.
Rio, as the locals call it, has everything you need including several restaurants, cafes, shops, post office and a laundromat.
Since it is further south, it tends to be less crowded than the more popular towns. Watch out for the B&Bs and hotels saying they are in Cinque Terre but are not actually in the 5 coastal towns.
Getting around Cinque Terre
It is very easy to get from village to village in Cinque Terre once you arrive.
There is a train that is simple to use and comes regularly, costing 4 euros each way. There are also ferries that go from village to village.
Hiking from town to town is also possible (more on that later). This area is not car friendly, but if you do hire a car in Cinque Terre, plan to leave it parked at wherever you are staying.
Things to do in Cinque Terre, Italy
Go on a boat tour of Cinque Terre
One of the highlights of our 3 week Europe trip was our boat tour of Cinque Terre.
We scheduled a 2.5 hour tour with Daniele, the owner and tour guide at Enjoy Cinque Terre for 60 euros including drinks. We departed on a small boat with three other couples in a small, but sufficient boat from the Manarola marina.
We laid on the bow of the ship as Daniele showed us all five towns and shared the town’s history and customs while keeping us laughing with one-liners and funny stories.
Along the way back, we stopped at two places to swim. This is a perfect time to ask for recommendation or information about the areas since Daniele has lived there all his life.
Go to the Beach
I think I was a fish in my last life, so the first thing we had to do after checking in was to head to the beach.
While we were there, we went to four different Cinque Terre beaches that were all very clean with amazingly clear water.
The beach in Riomaggiore is just south of the marina. It is very rocky, but we really enjoyed it.
Monterossa has two different beaches. They are both public beaches where anyone can lay down a towel and enjoy the water.
Private beaches are also present, where for a cost of 20 euros a day or 15 for a half day you can take advantage of a beach umbrella, two beach chairs and access to showers, changing rooms and bathrooms.
Verenzza has a sandy beach on the opposite coast of the marina that was created after a catastrophic flood in 2011.
If you have not tried Italian gelato yet, it is denser and sweeter than ice cream, creating a more concentrated flavor that’s hard not to love.
We enjoyed gelato both in Riomaggiore at a small Gelato place in the marina at sunset and in Monterosa at a place right outside the train station on a hot day.
Honestly, I don’t think you can go wrong wherever you choose to get Gelato.
Enjoy the food
One of the best things to do in Cinque Terre is to eat.
Cinque Terre is full of great seafood and traditional Italian food.
Just walking down the street you will find large cones of fried seafood that make a great snack or small meal. Not only is the seafood fresh, but also pretty cheap.
Our favorite meal was at Il Pirata delle Cinque Terre located in Vernazza.
For our entrees, we had a grilled vegetable salad and seafood risotto. For dessert, we had their Panna Cotta that was covered in various fresh fruit.
Do some shopping
Sprinkled throughout all of the towns in Cinque Terre are local shops with all sorts of things to buy.
If you are a fan of truffles, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, wine or other typical Italian products this is a perfect place to pick a few things up.
I was surprised at the reasonable prices that were a half or a quarter of the price I was used to paying in the US. I left with balsamic glaze, truffle salt and a refillable oil and balsamic vinegar pourer.
Monterossa has the most shops, but Riomaggiore has several as well.
Go for a hike
One morning we hiked from Riomaggiore to Manarola, the next town over.
The hike took about an hour and it was not easy.
There was a very steep hike up and a very fast decent, but the views made it worth it. Not only do you have a great view of Riomaggiore as you leave the town but also a view of the ocean the entire hike and vineyards along the way.
This is just one of the many hikes available to you in Cinque Terre.
The top rated hike in Cinque Terre is from Monterossa to Vernazza and will take you around two hours or more. Regardless of the trail, make sure you take water, a snack and wear walking shoes.
I also recommend contacting where you are staying to ask them for recommended hikes based on the town you are staying in.
Several outdated websites recommend hiking from Riomaggiore to Manarola saying it is an easy 10-minute hike. The trail they are talking about is actually closed and the hike we took is not for the faint of heart.
If you are going on one of the trails considered part of the Cinque Terre National Park you will need to buy a pass at the entrance or train station.
Consider the following best selling tours for Cinque Terre
Plan your trip to Italy
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Dan Bagby is an avid traveler, majored in International Studies at the University of Utah and has a slight obsession with digital marketing. He currently works as the SEO Analyst for Whole Foods Market and has started to combine his love for digital marketing and travel on his blog, HoneymoonAlways.com. You can connect with him on Twitter and follow the evolution of his blog on Instagram and Facebook.