Until 1990 these were only fishing villages. Today they are one of the most famous coastal landscapes in the world: the Cinque Terre has been through a few changes over the years, but are ever gorgeous as you’d imagine. From 1999 it is a National Park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with up 3 million people a year visiting to walk, boat and train their way through its dramatic cliffs and pretty coastal villages.
Without forget the italian food and wines, naturally.
What and where is the Cinque Terre
Many people think the Cinque Terre like one place, but it’s actually a stretch of Ligurian Riviera coastline made up of five villages – the Five Lands or Cinque Terre in Italian. Running from north to south the villages are Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore. Every village have some beautiful hamlet, like Prevo, the magical place where we are, right in halfway between Corniglia and Vernazza along the famous Blue Path (Sentiero Azzurro in italian).
Each one of the five villages is a beauty and different from others, with pastel buildings and amazing sea views.
The Cinque Terre is located just south of Genoa in north-west Italy. It’s within easy reach of the airports at Genoa, Pisa, Rome, Florence and Nice, and there’s a train connection between La Spezia and Levanto which stops at each of the villages.
How much time I need to visit Cinque Terre
If you are tight on time you could visit Cinque Terre in one day by starting early and walking straight through from one end to the other. There are a lot of day tours available or you can just take the train or boat from one village to the next with an hour in each.
But it would be a real shame, and you’d be mis sing out on the best time of day. Between 10am and 4pm the villages are rammed with day-trippers but come the evenings things calm down and there’s much more of a relaxed feel.
The best would be to spend three or four days visiting the Cinque Terre slowly to do it justice. That’d give you time to explore each village, do a couple of half-day walks and a boat trip along the coast. The villages have a different atmosphere at different times of day, so staying for a few days would give you time to decide on your favourite and go back for sunset or dinner, or maybe for swim the day after.
If you’ve got more time, there are plenty more walks you can do, or you could travel further afield and visit the neighbouring towns of Portovenere, Levanto, Bonassola, Framura or La Spezia.
When’s the best time to visit the Cinque Terre?
Best time to visit Cinque Terre is all the year, each season has its strengths and weaknesses. The high season is from Easter until October.
May and September are two good months for visiting the Cinque Terre, with warm days and less people than in peak season. Or if you want to risk the off-season you can get a bargain and have the paths to yourself, but it can rain, especially around November, and in that case hiking trails will be closed.
Where should I stay in the Cinque Terre?
Staying in one of the five villages means you don’t have to travel in each day and can soak up the atmosphere in the evenings.
But remember the villages are crowdy: there aren’t many hotels except in larger villages Monterosso and Riomaggiore, so it’s mostly guesthouses and apartment rentals, and many time you cannot see the sea.
We offer accomodations in Prevo (rooms, apartments and Villas), a quiete hamlet of Vernazza, with breathtaking seaview, but some people prefer to stay in the village, with the crowd.
Tastes are tastes, to each his own :o)
The villages are close together that there isn’t one that’s in a better position than the others. We don't suggest moving around and staying in a couple of different villages because you can get easily.
Monterosso is the furthest north and the largest of the villages. It’s the easiest to access and it is get busy, probably because it’s also the only Cinque Terre village with a proper beach and seafront promenade. Monterosso has a resort feel.
At the other end of the Cinque Terre is Riomaggiore, another of the larger villages with a gorgeous setting and coloured houses set around the harbour.
Vernazza and Manarola are both smaller and for many people are the most beautiful.
Manarola is surrounded by vineyards and Vernazza has a tiny beach. Both have mostly self-catering accommodation.
Corniglia is the central village of Cinque Terre. It’s the smallest village and the hardest to get to. No sea access and a huge flight of 365 steps to get to the train station. It is the quietest – especially in the evenings – and its position high up on the rocks means you get great views.
How hard are the Cinque Terre hikes?
For centuries, until 1960,the only way you could get between the Cinque Terre villages was on foot, and it’s still the best way to get around, with hundreds of gorgeous sea views. There are coastal and hillside paths to choose.
You don’t need to be Superman but do need to be in healthy comfortable walking uphill and have good walking shoes. The distances aren’t huge, but it can take longer than you’d guess from the distance as it’s so hilly. It is better start early or late if you don't want to meet many walkers.
The Blue Path (Sentiero Azzurro or Blue Trail in italian) starts from Monterosso and takes around two hours to reach Vernazza and another two to carry on to Corniglia. From Corniglia to Manarola you have to take the high route via Volastra – it takes around three hours and involves some serious climbs but the views at the top through the vineyards are well worth it.
Then from Manarola you can walk on to Riomagiorre in around 90 minutes, though there’s another big climb to start.
As well as the main walks there are quieter hill paths, like from Portvenere to Levanto. There are also shorter sanctuary walks run steeply uphill from the villages. And even if you’re not hiking there are lots of hills and steps in the villages.
Do I need a permit?
To walk on the Blue Path from Monterosso to Corniglia you need a Cinque Terre Card. You can get them in villages and from huts at the start of each section of the path. If you’re walking between Corniglia and Riomaggiore you must take the hill path so don’t need a permit.
Click here for all infos about Cinque Terre Card.
How do I get around the Cinque Terre?
The Cinque Terre is a National Park and vehicle traffic is restricted to residents only in the villages. It is better to avoid taking a car because the roads are narrow and winding with sheer drops. If you are driving around, you can park in La Spezia or Levanto then catch the train into the Cinque Terre.
In Prevo, instead, where we are, you can arrive by car and park it in our private parking, for free.
The trains are the easiest way to get to and around the Cinque Terre, running between La Spezia and Levanto and stopping at each village. You can also connect to Genoa, Pisa, Rome and other cities. It only takes about five minutes from one village to the next. Click here for all infos about Cinque Terre Trains
You can visit Cinque Terre by ferry or boat: there is a ferry connecting the villages (other than Corniglia which doesn’t have a harbour) with Portovenere, La Spezia and Levanto. The views from the sea are amazing.
if you don't like the idea of taking the boat with hundreds of other tourists and are looking for a more relaxed experience, you can made a sailing trip or private boat tours.
Where to eat in Cinque Terre: Restaurants & Pubs
In Cinque Terre there are many restaurants and pubs, I suggest you to read some reviews online to choose your.
In Vernazza Il Pirata made the best pastries in the Cinque Terre. You can come here for breakfast, lunch, or an early dinner, but we recommend visiting for breakfast. Pull up a chair on their patio and enjoy as many pastries as you can stomach. The peach and apple pastries are fantastic as are the chocolate-filled croissants.
For a romantic dinner I suggest Ristorante Belforte, high above the sea in one of Vernazza's remaining medieval stone towers is this unique spot serving delicious Cinque Terre cuisine.
In Riomaggiore Rio Bistrot is one of the best Cinque Terre restaurants not only for their breathtaking views but for the amazing and noteworthy food. This upscale restaurant serves Italian cuisine and seafood that’s incredibly fresh and flavorful. The menu here is known to change but we recommend any dishes that involve fresh pesto, focaccia, and anchovies. Make a reservations ahead of time, the restaurant is small.
In Monterosso one of the more popular is Ristorante Miky. Come here for a nice lunch or dinner out if you’re in the mood for seafood. Everything on the menu is fantastic, but the showstoppers include the anchovy sampler appetizer where you can sample several varieties of fresh anchovies all prepared differently. Order any pasta dish that speaks to you and ask to have it covered and torched with a homemade bread crust.
In Manarola the best is Trattoria Dal Billy. You’ll need a reservation and some good walking shoes to get into this Manarola restaurant. The seafood starter appetizer is an absolute must, with 12 different small plates of fresh, uniquely-prepared seafood specialties, both hot and cold. Dal Billy has views that will make you never want to leave the Cinque Terre and food that will release enough endorphins to last the entire weekend.
In Corniglia many locals eat in Food and Sea Restaurant, great food and great service.
Spread across two floors of an old village house, the old-fashioned Il Pirun is named after the odd-looking wine pitcher that allows thirsty customers to drink right from a narrow spout. There's a full menu of unfussy fare: spaghetti with clams, pesto gnocchi, octopus salad – fine accompaniments to the good wine selection.