The Cinque Terre region was not to be missed on my road trip to Italy this year. The five villages of Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso, have their own special charm and for centuries were only accessible on foot via footpaths or by sea. Nowadays they can also be reached by train within a few minutes. If you want to visit Cinque Terre, you should first consider whether you want to stay overnight in the villages themselves or whether you would prefer to stay in La Spezia. The car must be left there anyway. I decided to stay in La Spezia and explore the villages from there by train as well as on foot. But now to my highlights and the best photo spots.
The first of the five villages is called Riomaggiore. The view of the red house directly on the sea is particularly famous. The harbour offers a view of the piled up house facades, shifting against each other, in all possible shades of colour. In front of it there is a bathing bay with coarse pebbles. The most beautiful photo backdrops can you find on the rocks in front of the spaggia. Riomaggiore is also the starting point of the most famous hiking trail in Cinque Terre, the Via dell’Amore, also known as the Love Trail, a footpath with breathtaking panoramic views, carved into the rock along the cliffs and linking Riomaggiore with Manarola. The walk takes about 30 minutes, but unfortunately during our visit in July 2020 the Love Trail was closed for safety reasons.
The second village in Cinque Terre is Manarola, again characterised by its unique architectural style and colourful houses. You will find the most beautiful view on the way to the probably most hyped restaurant in all Cinque Terre, the Nessum Dorma. Since we were already in Manarola in the morning and the restaurant doesn’t open until 12:00 o’clock, we decided not to have lunch there. But if you want to eat at the Nessum Dorma, I recommend to queue already at 11 am for the best place. Because already at 11:30 a.m. an endless queue formed. From Manarola we set off on foot in the direction of Corniglia, this hiking trail is free of charge and was also easy to walk with normal sneakers. It leads through vineyards and the woods and also offers a wonderful panorama. The walking time is 1,5 hours and it is also suitable for not so passionate hikers.
I can definitely recommend the hike, you don’t need any hiking equipment, but you should certainly take enough water with you in summer.
Corniglia was the last village we visited on our road trip. Afterwards we took the train back to La Spezia. Our little hike led us there from Manarola. Corniglia is the only village in Cinque Terre which is not directly at the sea but on a rock 100m above the water level. A long staircase with 377 steps leads to the station. The village is quieter than the others, in any case you should not miss a gelati.
The most picturesque village in Cinque Terre is Vernazza. There are some nice photo spots to discover. Because the coloured houses form a colourful mosaic and have been built into the rocks. In Vernazza there is also a small sandy beach. Vernazza can be reached in 1,5 hours by walking from Monterosso. From Vernazza it is also possible to reach Corniglia in 1,5 hours by walking, you have to buy a walking pass. You can find this photo spot on the way to the official hiking trail to Corniglia.
This view can be found before the start of the path to Monterosso. We took the train to Vernazza. Restaurants for lunch can be found along the busy road. There is also a medieval castle, which you can also discover for 1,50 Euro.
Monterosso is the perfect village in Cinque Terre for a beach day. It has the most beautiful and longest beach. There are public beach compartments free of charge and for the rent of a sunshade and 2 sunbeds we paid 20 euros. It is worth comparing the prices. The northernmost of the villages is also the biggest with its 1700 inhabitants. On my picture here you can see the new part of Monterosso with hotels and beach. But behind a small tunnel there is the old town, which is dominated by the remains of the castle and in this part there are also the typical narrow, high houses and the narrow streets, the so called “carruggi”.
The five villages of Cinque Terre are part of the UNESCO World Heritage and are definitely worth a visit. Even if you only have one day available, you can visit all five villages by train. In addition to the train ticket, there is a Cinque Terre map, which also includes the hiking trails.