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 of Italy, along the fantastic Liguria rocky coast, this charming and uncontaminated place offers a network of paths joining different 5 beautiful villages, built in the typical style of Liguria houses, and its hamlets. Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza (pic of the cover) and Monterosso are a treasure of Italian heritage.

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 the hiking trails is from April to October. If you like enjoying the sea as well and have a swim in the clear sea of Liguria Coast, June to September are the best months. Anyway, take in mind that August is the hottest and full month. Winter is cold and quite rainy; therefore, most of the activities are often closed.

The villages of Cinque Terre can be visited in a whole day, but if you like having some hiking or thoroughly enjoy this Italian wanders, we suggest to stay at least 2 days. It depends on your needs and on time you could spend there, but, in our opinion, 3 days are perfect for visiting the villages, exploring some trails, having a boat trip and finally relaxing on the long beach of Monterosso.

Cinque Terre, Manarola main street
Cinque Terre, Manarola main street

How to reach 5 Terre

The easiest and useful way is surely 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 to use the car because it is pretty tricky to find a car park over there (if you choose to travel by car, you can leave it in La Spezia or other cities before/after Cinque Terre 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). If you decide to spend there only 1 day, it is worth buying the “Cinque Terre Card + Treno“. The card costs 16 Euros for 1 day and 29 Euros for 2 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 at the “info point” inside the railway stations), bus service within the villages and their hamlets, free use of pay toilet, free wifi hot spot in the park. 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.

Click here to see the trains timetable.

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 Euros (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 Euros. If you want to have just a ride, the cost of the ticket depends on the route (ex: Riomaggiore – Manarola 7 Euros RT; 5 Euros single ride).

The harbour of La Spezia is just 20 minutes walk from the Railways Station. You can buy your ticket at the ticket office close to the pier (Passeggiata Morin, Thaon di Revel pier). We also suggest a quick stop in Portovenere because it is as beautiful as Cinque Terre villages. Anyway, we also recommend having at least one ride with the boat because it’s worth seeing some villages from the sea. The boat service runs from 30th March to 26th October. Click here to see the schedule of the boat service and the fares. 

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

There are many accommodations as Hotels, Guest Houses or ”Room for Rent”. During the 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. 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 dish whereas in a baker shop or take away it’s around 5 Euros. Don’t miss to taste the typical flat and crisp bread of Liguria region called “Focaccia” and sip a glass of the famous local “Sciacchetrà” wine.

A selection of our favourite restaurants

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

Network Paths through the 5 Terre Villages

A dense network of paths linking the villages and its hamlets throughout spectacular views, cliffs, coasts, and crops. It is necessary to wear suitable clothes and take care along the exposed point. The most famous and popular is 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, most famous and most visited trail of all the Cinque Terre (total length is 12 km). If you want to walk through the path, you have to buy the “Cinque Terre Card” (1 day 7,50 Euros) or the “Cinque Terre Card + Train”. The other paths are free of charge. Along the ”Blue Path” there is some checkpoint at the beginning of each section where the Rangers should check your ticket. Unfortunately, at the moment, some parts of that trail are closed.

Information about the “Blue Trail” sections

  • Riomaggiore – Manarola: It is the shortest of the five and most know as the ”love path” but at the moment is closed and there is a gate just a few meters from the railway station (opening around 2020).
  • Manarola – Corniglia: Also, this part at the moment is closed because of a rockslide (opening late 2019). Anyway, you can walk along the coast for a stretch of the path and then go back. If you want to reach Corniglia by walk, you can climb the hill (starting from the church of San Lorenzo) heading to Volastra hamlet, then from here get to Corniglia (around 1.30 minutes) It’s also interesting to take the bus to Volastra (included in both Cinque Terre cards) and go downhill through the terraced vineyards to Manarola (around 30 minutes).
  • Corniglia – Vernazza: The path crosses the hills and forest not close to the coast. The highest part is around 100 meters above sea level. The length is 3450 meters, and it takes about 1 hour and 40 minutes. Difficulty: Low.
  • Vernazza – Monterosso: The first part is along the coast where you can stare at the Vernazza view, 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. Difficulty: Low/Medium.
  • Map of Monterosso trails;
  • Map of Vernazza trails;
  • Map of Riomaggiore trails;
  • Map of Manarola trails;
  • Map of Corniglia trails.
Cinque Terre, Corniglia and its beautiful coloured'' tower-houses.''
Cinque Terre, Corniglia and its beautiful coloured” tower-houses.”

Sea and water activities 

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. If you like going to the beach, the best place is Monterosso, with its long beach and clear sea. 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. For more info check Cinque Terre National Park website.

Private boat tour and other activities

In Vernazza, Riomaggiore and Manarola, you’ll also find locals offering private sunset boat tours or boat tour in general. Alternatively, you can also check the web Platforms Viator and GetyourGuide that provide tours and activities around Cinque Terre National Park.

Cinque Terre, the bustling Monterosso beach
Cinque Terre, the bustling Monterosso beach

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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