The ultimate guide to visiting 5 Terre National Park

Cinque Terre National Park is one of the most famous spots in Italy and a Unesco World Heritage site since 1997. Located in the north-west of Italy, along the rocky and jagged coast of the Riviera di Levante in Liguria, this fascinating and unspoiled place boasts wonderful landscapes among lush terraced hills, vineyards and cliffs overlooking the incredibly clear sea. It is also a paradise for outdoor activities lovers as it offers a network of nature trails that connect 5 beautiful villages (the so-called Cinque Terre) in the Park itself. Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso, villages perched on the cliffs and with colourful housing built in the typical Ligurian style, will literally leave you speechless.

Cinque Terre, Manarola view from the ''blue path''
Cinque Terre, Manarola view from the ”blue path”
  • WHEN TO GO AND HOW LONG

The right period to get the most out of Cinque Terre and its hiking trails is from April to October. If you also want to enjoy the sea and maybe relax on the beautiful beach of Monterosso, June to September are the best months. Anyway, take in mind that July and August are the hottest and crowded month. Winter is cold and quite rainy; therefore, most of the activities are often closed, but, if you don’t mind, it’s the right period to enjoy the Cinque Terre with no crowd.

The villages of the Cinque Terre can be visited in a whole day, starting early in the morning from Riomaggiore or Monterosso and dedicating to each one maximum 2 hours. Our suggestion is absolutely to spend here at least two/three days and calmly visit the villages and its nature trails.

Vernazza view, Cinque Terre
Vernazza view from the blue path, Cinque Terre
  • HOW TO REACH 5 TERRE NATIONAL PARK

The easiest and useful way to reach Cinque Terre is undoubtedly by train. You can also get there by boat from La Spezia (or Portovenere, Levanto, Sestri Levante) and move throughout always by boat. We don’t suggest using the car because it is pretty tricky to find a car park over there and the road is curvy. If you choose to travel by car, you can leave it in La Spezia or other cities before/after Cinque Terre (like Chiavari or Sestri Levante) and get there by train.

1) By Train

There is a train every 30 minutes, and each ride among Cinque Terre railway stations costs 4 Euro (exactly between La Spezia and Levanto).  It is worth buying the “Cinque Terre Card + Train“. The card costs 16 Euro for 1 day, 29 Euro for 2 days, and 41 Euro for 3 days.

It enables to you: 2° class access to regional and fast trains, access to the Park area, guided visits according to the program (check the list of activities at the “Info-Point” inside the Cinque Terre railway stations), bus service within the villages and their hamlets, free use of pay toilet, free wifi hot spot in the ParkPark. You can buy the card at each “Info-Point” located in Cinque Terre railway stations or other ticket offices along the railway before getting there (La Spezia, Levanto, Sestri Levante). You can also buy your ”Cinque Terre Card” on the official website clicking here.

Cinque Terre Card + Treno
Cinque Terre Card + Train

2) By Boat

There is a boat service managed by Navigazione Golfo dei Poeti that links the villages (excluding Corniglia because it is perched on a high hill). The daily ticket costs 35 Euro (hop on-off), and you can start from La Spezia harbour (Porto Mirabello) or Portovenere village. The one-way daily ticket around Cinque Terre costs 26 Euro. If you want to have just a single ride between two villages, the cost of the ticket depends on the route (ex: Riomaggiore – Manarola 7 Euro round trip; 5 Euro single ride).

The harbour of La Spezia is just 20 minutes walk from La Spezia railways station. You can buy your ticket at the ticket office of the Company that is close to the pier (Passeggiata Morin, Thaon di Revel pier). We also suggest a stop in Portovenere because it is as beautiful as Cinque Terre villages. Anyway, in case you decide to take the train, we also recommend having at least one ride on the boat because it’s worth seeing the villages from the sea as well. The boat service runs from 30th March to 26th October. Check the official site of the Company below because the rules are subject to change due to the Covid-19 restrictions.

Cinque Terre, Riomaggiore and its coloured houses perched on the slopes
Cinque Terre, Riomaggiore and its coloured houses perched on the slopes
  • WHERE TO SLEEP IN 5 TERRE NATIONAL PARK

The villages offer a good choice of accommodations as Hotels, Guest Houses or ”Room for Rent”. During summer (it’s the high season) the average price is between 60 Euros and 100 Euros for a double room (even more). It depends on where you want to stay. If you do not find accommodation that is right for you, you can also stay in La Spezia.

Click below on the town to see accommodations:

Cinque Terre, Vernazza view from the pier
Cinque Terre, Vernazza view from the pier
  • WHERE TO EAT

Throughout the villages, you can find restaurants, baker’s shop, mini markets, take away and coffee bars. The average expense in a restaurant is about 15 Euros for a main course, whereas in a baker’s shop or take away it’s around 5 Euros. Don’t miss to taste the typical flat crispbread of Liguria region called “Focaccia” and sip a glass of the local “Sciacchetrà” wine.

Below is a selection of our favourite restaurants in 5 Terre

Cinque Terre, Riomaggiore railways station - lining the cliff you can notice the Blue trail first part
Cinque Terre, Riomaggiore railways station – lining the cliff you can notice the Blue trail first part
  • NETWORKS PATHS THROUGH THE 5 TERRE VILLAGES

A dense network of paths links the villages and hamlets throughout spectacular views, cliffs, vineyards and green hills. It is necessary to wear suitable clothes and take care along the exposed points. Access to the paths is free, excluding the one called nr. 592.

The path nr. 592 – Blue trail

The most famous and popular path is the nr. 592, better known as the “Blue Path trail” (”Sentiero Azzurro” in Italian). It is divided into 4 parts linking all the five villages of Cinque Terre. The Blue trail is the most accessible and visited trail of all the Cinque Terre (total length is 12 km). If you want to walk through the path, you must buy the “Cinque Terre  Trekking Card” (1 day 7,50 Euro) or the “Cinque Terre Card + Train”. There are some checkpoints at the beginning of each section where the Rangers could check your ticket. Unfortunately, at the moment, some parts of that trail are closed due to safety reasons.

Information about the “Blue Trail” sections

  • Riomaggiore – Manarola – Path nr. 592-1: It is the shortest of the five and most know as the ”love path” but at the moment is closed because of some landslides and there is a gate just a few meters from the Riomaggiore railway station. If you start from Manarola, there is a part of the path nr. 592-1 still accessible.
  • Manarola – Corniglia – Path nr. 592-2: Also, this part at the moment is closed because of a rockslide. Anyway, you can walk along the coast for a stretch of the path where you can enjoy a terrific view on Manarola (pic nr.1) and then go back. If you want to reach Corniglia by foot anyway, you can climb the hill through the vineyards (starting from the church of San Lorenzo) heading to Volastra hamlet. You can avoid this uphill section by taking the bus for Volastra along via Discovolo. The bus stop is shortly after the post office. From Volastra hamlet, follow the path nr. 586 to Case Pianche hamlet and, once there, take the junction along the path nr. 587 to get to Corniglia (total time around 1.30 minutes). If you don’t want to hike for so long, it’s also interesting to take the bus to Volastra (included in both Cinque Terre cards) and go back to Manarola downhill through the terraced vineyards (around 30 minutes).
  • Corniglia – Vernazza – Path nr. 592-3: The path crosses vineyards, hills and forest not close to the coast. The highest part is around 100 meters above sea level. The length is about 4 kilometres, and it takes about 1 hour and 40 minutes. 
  • Vernazza – Monterosso – Path nr. 592-4: The first part is along the coast where you can stare at Vernazza view (pic nr. 2), then through the forest and again along the coast. Close to Monterosso, the path is quite steep. The length is 3600 meters, and it takes around 2 hours.

For detailed information on the trails and walking time and difficulty, check the maps of the Park’s official website divided by village:

Cinque Terre, Corniglia and its beautiful coloured'' tower-houses.''
Cinque Terre, Corniglia and its beautiful coloured ”tower-houses.”
  • SEA AND WATER ACTIVITIES

Diving

Cinque Terre National Park is also a Nature Reserve and Protected Marine Area. If you like diving, there is the “Diving Centre 5 Terre” in Riomaggiore, the only one in the protected area. It also offers canoe rental, snorkelling, and boat trips. Click here for more info about diving.

Beaches

The only village that boasts a long beach with all the services is Monterosso. The other villages have a tiny and short beach (some of them are pebbles beaches) that during the high season is always super crowded. There is a beach on the left side of Corniglia Railway station as well, but it’s nothing special and above all rocky. For more info check Cinque Terre National Park website.

Private boat tour and other activities

In Vernazza, Riomaggiore and Manarola, you’ll also find local people offering private sunset boat tours or boat tour in general and a few tour operators advertising activities in the Park. Alternatively, you can also check the reliable web Platforms Viator and GetYourGuide that provide tours and activities around Cinque Terre National Park managed by the local operators.

Fly with a Drones over Cinque Terre National Park

If you are drone lovers (as we are) take in mind that is strictly prohibited flying with a drone over the Cinque Terre National Park. You first need written authorization from the Park management and ENAC (Italian Civil Aviation Authority). If you decide to fly anyway, the local authorities will report you and seize your drone. Our recommendation is to keep your drone aside not to get into trouble. If you wish to fly there, good luck with the Italian bureaucracy. We tried a couple of time to apply for flying with our DJI Mavic Mini without getting a single reply from the two entities. In the end, we gave up.

Cinque Terre, the bustling Monterosso beach
Cinque Terre, the bustling Monterosso beach
Cinque terre, Manorala main street
Cinque terre, Manorala main street

6 Comments

  1. Your blog is really cool ! It s plenty of interesting pists! Keep going in pal!

  2. Your post is really great! What is the best village to sleep and how long do you suggest to stay there?

    • Cristiano Reply

      Hi Yasmina thank you! We love 5 Terre, we were born just a few km from there! The visit could be done in a day, but we suggest to spend there at least 2 full days without rushing! if you plan to visit during the summer, you can stay for 3 days and enjoy the sea as well. Our favourite village is Vernazza. Enjoy your trip!

  3. Great blog! Very helpful I m visiting 5 Terre in a while! What towns do you suggest to see close to 5 Terre?

    • Cristiano Reply

      Thank you Johara! Pisa is not that far from 5 terre and then you can go to Florence. if you want to visit Liguria region, Sestri Levante, Camogli, Santa Margherita, Portofino and Genova are really nice to visit.

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