Cinque Terre: A Travel Guide

Michele Carbone cinque terre

Directly translated to Five Lands, Cinque Terre is an area in the Liguria region of Italy comprised of the five coastal villages of Manarola, Riomaggiore, Vernazza, Monterosso, and Corniglia; all of which sit just north of the Tuscan border. With so many places to go in this Italian territory, planning a trip can seem overwhelming.

The first step in mapping out your visit here is choosing a village to call your area of residence. Though they are all very close to one another (anywhere from a five to twenty minute train ride between each), you’ll want to do a little research beforehand to decide which town you’ll enjoy the most.


Lined with a large number of boats, Manarola is made up of a main street and a harbor where visitors are allowed to swim. Offering some of the freshest seafood you can find, restaurants and bars alike offer anchovies right from the sea, olive oil, olives, and fresh bread for all diners. This is a great spot for enjoying a late afternoon sunset with a drink in hand.


The southernmost town of the five, Riomaggiore is a bustling town where you can hear church bells on a regular basis, a stunning castle, and a beautiful scene of lights cascaded over the water as small fishing boats depart for their daily anchovy excursion. The heart of this town lies on the main street where visitors can find restaurants, bars, cafes, and gelaterias. Bar & Vini is a great destination for those searching for a scenic meal, as it is perched along the side of the mountain overlooking the sea.


Vernazza is a maze of streets leading to one main street, and is arguably one of the most visually appealing towns in Italy. Comprised of waterfront restaurants, a harbor, and a lively beach, the nightlife here is bustling. The classic, brightly painted homes and buildings here add a touch of history while maintaining their true beauty.


The northernmost village of Cinque Terre is Monterosso, and is divided into two towns; the new town, and the old town. The new town consists of apartments, hotels, a large beach, and restaurants and cafes, while the old town is a little more laid back, much like its name. Here, visitors can quietly shop amongst the various boutiques and admire the stunning views.


The smallest village of the five, this beautiful town resting upon the ocean cliffs requires a bit of a hike to reach. Visitors are able to choose between climbing 365 steps (one for each day of the year), or taking a bus from the Cinque Terre National Park, driving visitors both there and back. What may seem like a chore to reach, Corniglia offers some of the most incredibly beautiful architecture set upon the cliffs of the Ligurian Sea.

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