Beautiful Cinque Terre in the Italian Riviera

The Cinque Terre is a group of 5 villages located in coastal Liguria province of northwest Italy. These five villages: Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore; are all part of the Cinque Terre National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The 5 villages are mostly located on picturesque cliffs in coastal Ligurian hillside. They are one of the most popular tourist attractions in Italy and well served by roads, trains and cruise ships. Famous Italian culinary inventions from this region include Pesto and Focaccia bread.

View of Ligurian hills from the winding road to Monterosso

Getting In : The 2 main entry points to Cinque Terre are Monterosso di al Mare on the west and Riomaggiore on the east. Both are served well by regional trains on the Pisa to Genoa line. The nearest large city and cruise port is La Spezia. Monterosso has a well organized parking lot by the beach and is connected from the main highway via a mountain road through Levanto.

A scheduled passenger ferry runs between Levanto and La Spezia, stopping at all of the main villages except Corniglia, which does not have a landing point, as it is not located on the coast.

The hillside town of Levanto is the last stop on the drive to Cinque Terre

Our journey started with a drive through the coastal highway from Genoa, then the scenic mountain road via Levanto and ending in Monterosso di al Mare. It has a larger community than the other villages and is almost the size of a small town. Here we took a stroll at the beautiful beach and had a quick lunch on one of the seaside eateries.

Monterosso has the largest beach in Cinque Terre with ample parking and public beach walk
The seaside restaurants of Monterosso are a great place to try local cuisine like Focaccia bread

Next we took the local train for a few minutes to the next village of Vernazza. Walking through the narrow streets of Vernazza and exploring the local shops is a unique experience. The locals are very tourist friendly but be mindful that in the peak season of summer, when the cruise ship tourists arrive, it can get very busy.

The streets of Vernazza end in a picturesque port with a lovely church. There are great photo opportunities in this location.

The streets of Vernazza are lined with shops offering fresh produce and local treats
Vernazza’s scenic boat dock is featured in the Disney film ‘Luca’

From Vernazza we took the local train to the next village of Corniglia. There is no direct boat access to this town and the path to the village from the train station is a steep climb. However, if you have time, you can enjoy the grand ocean and hillside view.

The village of Corniglia is a steep climb from the train station but offers a great view of the coast

After Corniglia, the next train stop is the village of Manarola. There is a lovely town plaza above the main street with a view of hilltop neighborhoods and streets down to the sea. At the edge of town is the famous walking trail between Manarola and Riomaggiore (called Via dell’Amore, “Love’s Trail”). The shorter end of the trail heads toward Corniglia and offers a great viewpoint to see both Manarola and Corniglia from a distance.

Neighborhoods built on cliffs as viewed from the town plaza of Manarola
The village of Manarola is best viewed from a cliff accessible via a 10 mins walking trail

From Manarola, we took the train to the last stop in Cinque Terre – Riomaggiore. This village is one of the largest after Monterosso di al Mare. The boat dock of the village is located at the bottom of a cliff and the path towards it offers a great view of the village and its surroundings.

We posed for pictures by the port of Riomaggiore with the scenic view of the town as backdrop
View of Riomaggiore and the surrounding hillsides from the ferry

An affordable boat cruise of Cinque Terre from Riomaggiore to Monterosso passing by all the villages is a visual treat! The frequent ferry service has the boats coming about every 45 mins during peak hours. You can buy the tickets right by the dock up to a few mins before the boats arrive! Watch the video below to learn more!

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