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3 Days in Cinque Terre, Italy

Whether adding it on to a city tour of Italy or stopping by for a solo visit, Cinque Terre will win your heart. These Italian villages along the Mediterranean are vehicle free and filled with romance.

When We Went

Late April

Pros - less crowds, not too hot, beautiful wildflowers everywhere on the hike between villages

Cons - The Ligurian Sea water was still cold

How We Got to Cinque Terre

Rented a car and drove from Venice to the parking lot above Manarola then hiked into town. - We had beautiful views along the way but next time we would probably take the train instead.  My sister received 3 tickets in the mail once arriving home.  I read about certain driving/parking zones in Italy that only locals are able to use and we tried to watch for those signs but apparently we failed. I don't know where we acquired the tickets as we drove from Venice to Manarola with a day trip to Milan and then on to Tuscany. This site provides more information about parking in case you decide to drive but they also say "Unless you’re on an Italy road trip or you’re a very skilled driver and your travel partners do not get carsick, well, we do not suggest taking this adventure!"

We had beautiful views along the way but next time we would probably take the train instead.

Where We Stayed in Cinque Terre

Manarola - VRBO listing #63494ha - A typical ligurian house with rooftop terrace and stunning Ligurian Sea views

Manarola - Cinque Terre, Italy - We stayed in the skinny red house in the top right.

We loved this location, the rooftop terrace, and that the place we stayed is in pretty much every photo ever posted of Cinque Terre

We disliked the smell of the bottom two levels with the rock.  We weren’t sure if they had just treated it or if it always smells like that but it pretty much made the bottom two levels unusable.  

Rooftop terrace with views of the Ligurian Sea - Manarola, Cinque Terre, Italy

What We Did During Our 3 Day Visit to Cinque Terre

The first day upon arrival we hiked into Manarola from the parking lot above and settled into our home for the remainder of our stay. Just look at these views on our walk up to the apartment. 

That evening we enjoyed dinner overlooking the Ligurian Sea, watched local children play ball and draw with chalk in the square, and enjoyed the sunset from our rooftop terrace.

The next day we were up early and enjoyed lattes and crepes (the fresh squeezed lemon sugar were my favorite) in town before splitting up. My sister and I had plans to hike as much of Cinque Terre as we could. My husband and brother-in-law wanted to drive to Milan to visit the Savinelli Pipe Factory. Remember to assess travel personalities when planning.

My sister and I had plans to hike as much of Cinque Terre as we could.

They thoroughly enjoyed the tour through the Savinelli Pipe Factory and especially enjoyed choosing a souvenir. Chad picked the Leonardo Da Vinci pipe shown below. If you would like to read more about a tour of the Savinelli Pipe Company you can read this article post "Behind the Scenes at Savinelli" by Shane Ireland.

Driving in Milan was very busy and stressful and we recommend the train if possible. However, it wasn't all a loss because we had been contemplating a move across the country from Ohio to Montana. While discussing this on the drive my husband and brother-in-law passed this sign in Italy. That night when my husband shared the photo with me I opened my email to find an offer on our home in Ohio and accepted it. Sometimes God does just give us a sign even in faraway places.

Sometimes God does just give us a sign even in faraway places.

My sister and I successfully hiked from Manarola to Cornigla, Vernazzo, and Monterosso. This took us most of the day and we nearly missed the last train back to the village where we were staying. Be sure to check train times and plan accordingly before heading out. We stopped in Cornigla and Vernazzo for a short time to look around, dip our toes in the sea, grab lunch or a drink, and then continued our hike. We also took time to enter a small church along the hike (I believe it was between Manarola and Cornigla) and look around.

Be sure to check train times and plan accordingly before heading out.


We hiked all day to visit as many villages of Cinque Terre as we could fit in. Here we were a little over half way. We began in the village barely visible in the top right section of land, hiked up to the town on the left, back down to the village visible on the right and are part way to the next village in this photo.

The hikes between villages of the Cinque Terre have a lot of steps and uneven terrain. You will also be ascending and descending quite a bit. If it sounds like a bit much to do all five you can easily just hike one or two and take the train to the others. Just don't forget to validate your train ticket.

The hikes between villages of the Cinque Terre have a lot of steps and uneven terrain.


Vernazza, Cinque Terre, Italy

Riomaggiore - Cinque Terre, Italy

The last day Chad and I took the train to Corniglia and Riomaggiore to explore the villages a bit more. If you plan to visit the village of Corniglia be prepared to hike the steps up from the train station. There are 382 steps or 33 flights of stairs to enter the village.

Fresh lemons are bountiful, this thick crust sausage pizza was very good, latte art - I mentioned our travel personalities love to stop for food right?, musicians in the tunnel to the train, fresh water - bring empty bottles with you to refill, beginning the 382 steps up to Corniglia, character around every bend, gelato, mmmm!

If you plan to visit the village of Corniglia be prepared to hike the steps up from the train station.

What We Ate

Spaghetti aglio e olio with pepperocini - I loved this dish (top left), The fish was very good despite the look of a fish head on the plate, Chad double fisting lemon crepes - Yum, Taglioni pasta with pesto - not my favorite.  This pasta is strange (bottom middle), Gelato is always delicious, The pizza we found by the slice in Corneglia was a thick crust and very tasty.

What We Loved About 3 Days in Cinque Terre

The expansive views on the hike and little churches and wildflowers along the way

The unique but equally beautiful character of the five villages

The drink vendors at various spots along the hike and the little bar on the cliffside between Vernazza and Monterosso

The rooftop terrace overlooking the Ligurian Sea

The lack of cars in the villages. Any place without vehicles is lovely if you just want to stroll peacefully without a care in the world.

Vineyards on the hills of Cinque Terre (top left), Aloe plant - people carve their names in these they are so big and thick (top right), Proud of ourselves for hiking from the village behind us. Little did we know that was just the very beginning, Beware of dog sign along our way made me laugh (middle right), Expansive Ligurian Sea views along the hike, Paddle boat with slide in Monterosso, Cinque Terre, Italy

Wildflowers grow all along the hike between the five villages of Cinque Terre in April, Baby vineyards growing on the hills - that is a pile of sticks behind them not logs, little lizards will keep you company on your hike

What We Disliked During Our 3 Days in Cinque Terre

Hiking to and from the parking area to our accommodations - Definitely pack light and use a hiking backpack instead of a heavy suitcase.

The squat toilets in the train station, although I’m told these are actually better for me.

Know Before You Go

Validate, validate, validate - Click here to learn more about validating train and bus tickets to avoid hefty fines.

Be prepared for a lot of steps - pack light, preferably using a hiking backpack instead of a suitcase.

If you hike between the villages take some cash to buy drinks/snacks from the vendors along the way.

Even though you can drive a car and park in one of the designated lots above the village, we highly recommend taking the train if possible.

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