Cinque Terre Italy 26

Italy: a weekend in the Cinque Terre villages

To the point Discover our complete travel guide to Cinque Terre in Italy and our tips for saving with points!

Cinque Terre is located in the Liguria region of north-western Italy, on the Mediterranean coast. These cliffside villages are only connected by hiking trails or train.

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The Cinque Terre National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is made up of five villages, in order from south to north:

  • Riomaggiore
  • Manarola
  • Corniglia
  • Vernazza
  • Monterosso

Les Guides de Voyage Ulysse has a guide specifically dedicated to Cinque Terre($0.99 PDF version!):

Cinque Terre - Credit cards for this trip

Here are three excellent credit cards that will allow you to apply your points to any travel purchase (airfare, lodging, train, etc.):

Cinque Terre - The five villages

Riomaggiore

The first of the villages. Highlights include the beautiful basilica of San Giovanni Battista, the church of Santa Maria Assunta and Riomaggiore castle.

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For those who love hiking, the Via dell’ amore is one of the best known for its panoramic views. This path can take you on foot to the village of Manarola.

Manarola

Manarola is said to be the oldest and 2nd-smallest village. The steep cliffs are impressive, and the streets of this village are colorful. Take a break and lose yourself in the narrow streets.

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Take a look at the pretty village church. For the more sporty, there’s a sea access for jumping off the rocks or relaxing on the warm rocks.

Unlike some other villages, there is a small port of call for small boats. It was here that we boarded Dario’s private boat, who owns the Rayo Verde Tour company, which I highly recommend. I’ll tell you more about it below!

Corniglia

The smallest and most perched village, with no access to the sea, but with splendid views. The village is more agricultural.

The bravest will climb the almost 400 steps to the top. You can see its Genoese tower or the Church of St. Peter.

corniglia stairs

Vernazza

One of our favorites with my friends. I loved losing myself in its narrow, flower-filled streets, galleries, boutiques, Italian specialties and relaxing on the quayside of the little port. Some will try a swim in the small creek.

Monterosso

A fortified village, it’s one of the largest, separated by a rocky outcrop that juts out into the sea. You will find the most beautiful beach of all the villages, very large. As a result, it is very busy.

Beautiful views from every corner of the village, friendly stores, laurel lined alleys, I suggest the “Slurp!” ice cream parlour, which offers delicious artisanal ice creams.

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History of the 5 villages

Apart from the fact that each village has its own particularity, there’s always a church, usually linked to a convent.

The dwellings are colorful tower-houses, typical of the Genoa region, accessed via narrow streets and staircases. And the vine is cultivated in terraces, maintained by dry stone walls.

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These lands, initially inhabited by peasants, were far from everything. It was necessary to carve, model the steps and access to its villages by sea or land. I’ll leave you to imagine the work accomplished by these inhabitants, who started from nothing and whose houses have been handed down from generation to generation.

corniglia braces

These villages were only connected by rail in 1870. Since then, the area has continued to attract tourists and has become so popular that a sustainable development plan has been put in place to minimize human impact on the park’s biodiversity.

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In 1960, there were up to 8,000 inhabitants spread over the five villages. With the arrival of tourists, the work of the vineyard was partly abandoned in favor of the transformation of their homes into guest houses or the installation of stores and restaurants on the first floor.

I suggest you try the local specialties: focaccia from La Cambusa (Manarola), cantuccini with pistachio or lemon, fried cones(Il Pescato Cucinato in Riomaggiore).

Cinque Terre - Getting there with points

To get to Cinque Terre, connections are available between Canada and several nearby cities: Rome, Milan, Venice and Nice.

Use your Aeroplan points. According to Air Canada’s points predictor, a minimum of 35,000 points is required for a one-way economy flight from Montreal to Nice. Check the value of your points; sometimes it’s better to pay for your ticket in cash.

Not familiar with Aeroplan? Our beginner’s guide is for you. You’ll learn that all major banks offer credit cards in partnership with Aeroplan, allowing you to earn Aeroplan points on your daily spending.

These cards offer a wide range of travel benefits, including :

Once there, you’ll need to rent a car or take the train to your destination. From Nice, the distance is around 3 h 30 by road with tolls, or 5 h 30 by train.

For our part, we landed in Nice, then rented a car with my friends to the town of La Spezia.

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The Italian local train is the fastest means of locomotion, connecting every village. Use Google map: the application tells you when the train is due to arrive and which number to take. Some are express, so pay attention.

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An unlimited day pass, the Cinque Terre Card Train, allows you to travel on the national park network to Levanto in 2nd class, more easily. You can buy it at the station counter. I did not seen it on the automatic terminals.

Don’t forget to stamp your train ticket before boarding. Trains run until about midnight.

Be careful, in summer, the villages are crowded and so are the trains. No cars are allowed in the villages.

Cinque Terre - Accommodation with points

There are several ways to find accommodation. You can choose your accommodation in La Spezia, along the train line, in Levanto to the north, or in one of the villages to soak up even more of the beautiful atmosphere.

You can choose between hotels, Airbnb, or guesthouses. Book early: availability goes fast and prices soar. We’ve got a game plan that tells you how to save on your Airbnb rentals with points.

airbnb italy spezia

For this trip, I used my American Express CobaltMD Card to pay for the entire Airbnb reservation, with my Membership Rewards points as an account credit: 10,000 points = $100.

Cinque Terre - Activities

Trekking - Pass

For hiking lovers, there is the Cinque Terre Card Trekking. It provides access to eco-friendly minibuses, hiking trails and Wi-Fi internet.

The blue trail links the five villages. The trail is divided into four sections. Be sure to check whether the path is open; landslides can occur with rainfall, leading to the closure of certain sections.

Hikes can vary from about 20 minutes to several hours. Hiking boots are essential, as you may be refused access if you don’t have them!

By boat

From the sea, you can appreciate these surprising landscapes, sculptured by nature and man. From here, you can see the contrast between the terraced vineyards and the layered rock. Beautiful!

We chose the private boat option with my three friends. We had little time on site and wanted to enjoy the most beautiful view of the sea. Our Airbnb host had left us a reference, that of Dario, Rayo Verde Tour company and we were not disappointed!

Dario is a local who lives in one of the villages. He picked us up at the little port of Manarola. For 2 hours, we were treated to some of the most beautiful and historic views of Cinque Terre.

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The icing on the cake: all this with a glass of Prosecco in hand! Dario will take you on a tour of three coves in general.

I do not recommend tour boats (Consorzio Marrittimo 5 Terre Golfo des Poeti”): they are not reputed to be on time.

Many tourists wait for them in the sunshine. They’re full and don’t stop for viewpoints, just there to make water cab. Also, they don’t always make all the stops depending on weather conditions.

You can also book :

Invitation to get lost!

Lose yourself in the narrow streets of the villages to appreciate the architecture of the houses, the ochre, pink or yellow colors, and observe the horizon from the heights of these sometimes steep staircases.

You’ll discover attractive letterboxes, vertically-designed gardens and lighting effects. The villages are full of life, invaded by tourists of course, but you quickly get :

  • to shop for local produce,
  • to look for memories for our returns,
  • to taste the Italian wonders of ice cream, pasta, frying cone, etc.
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Conclusion

To fully appreciate your stay, I suggest three days. La Spezia is also a great place to take a stroll. Enjoy the Come Te restaurant’s beautiful terrace, where everything is homemade – a delight, and what can I say about the desserts!

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Browse our article on Italy to complete your trip planning:

How can I visit the Cinque Terre villages?

The Italian local train is the fastest means of locomotion, connecting every village.

What's the most beautiful spot on Cinque Terre?

Manarola, with its beautiful narrow streets, is the oldest village in the Cinque Terre.

What are the five villages of Cinque Terre?

Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore are the five villages of the Cinque Terre. The site is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Come to discuss that topic in our Facebook Group!
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Audrey
Mother of two young children, pharmacist, travel hacker's wife and frequent traveller, Audrey shares her advices and destinations recommendations on milesopedia.

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