We’ve all heard of dreamy Venice, magical Florence and ancient Rome, but the time has come to set our sights upon the dramatic Cinque Terre in Italy. It’s astounding scenery and laid-back lifestyle makes it one of the best places to visit in Italy.
Cinque Terre literally translates to five lands and it’s made up of five small towns and lies on the western coast of Italy in the Liguria region. Millions of tourists flock every year to the colourful towns of Cinque Terre that appear to rise out of the Mediterranean Sea, sandwiched between terraced agricultural land and beautiful rugged landscapes.
A day trip from Florence is a popular way to visit these charming towns but to fully absorb and indulge in everything it has to offer a three-night stay is recommended. The best time to travel here would be between the months of May to August.
If you are wondering what to do in the dazzling villages of Cinque Terre, then keep on reading for we have a specially curated list just for you!
This small picture-perfect fisherman town boasts a pretty harbour and some of the most incredible views on this planet.
Let’s look at some of the most fascinating places to see and things to do in Riomaggiore.
Visit Fossola Beach
This beach lies to the southeast of the Riomaggiore Marina and is small, pebbly, rugged and charmingly secluded. Be prepared for more rocky beaches than sandy beaches during your travels around Cinque Terre. A swim in the crystal-clear pleasant waters is sure to wash away your weariness from walking around all day in the hot sun.
Watch the sunset
A must during your Italy vacations especially on your trip to Cinque Terre is a slice of pizza, a bottle of vino and you perched on rocks by the harbour watching the magical colours of the sky light up the village during the golden hour.
Devour seafood in a cone
Delicious fried calamari on sticks in a cone is a treat for your taste buds and one you will not regret trying while here. Head to Mamma Mia or Tutti Frutti for this well priced delectable snack that you can eat on the go.
For those adventure seekers, go cliff diving with the locals
If you notice – by the harbour during peak season, you will see young locals on nearby cliffs bravely jumping into the water. Watch where they do it from and follow suit if you dare. Get ready to dive head first into what will guarantee to be the highlight of your Italy vacation.
Hands down, Manarola is a beautiful place in Italy and a tourist favourite. How could you not be drawn to this magnificent area complete with houses in stunning shades of pastel perched perfectly on a rock above the sea. Can you believe that only 450 people in Manarola?
Here is a comprehensive list of the best things to do during your stay in Manarola:
Admire the view from Punta Bonfiglio
This prized viewpoint is on the pathway out of town heading towards Corniglia. Stop at this rocky promontory and put your photography skills in action taking that once in a lifetime picture of this village that will have it be looking like its straight out of a fairy tale
Walk to the Piazzale Papa Innocenzo IV and explore the vineyards above town
One of the top Italy tourist attractions is a small piazza at the northern end of Via Discovolo that holds a bell tower which was once used as a defensive lookout. If you are up for a steep walk, from Via Rollandi nearby you can escape the crowds and hike through vineyards to the top of the mountain. The view of the terraced vineyards set against the shimmering sea is worth the effort.
Relish a meal or drinks with a spectacular view
There are several restaurants that overlook the harbour from where the views are iconic paired with drool-worthy platters, bruschetta and wine for the ultimate Italian experience.
This town is unique amongst all the others in that it has been built on a cliff over the sea rather than by the sea. The only way to get to Corniglia is by climbing over 350 stairs or taking a shuttle bus. You will be rewarded with a calm and serene environment. Explore its narrow streets between multi-coloured buildings, hiding stores and shops selling lip-smacking food and other items.
It is worth spending time in Corniglia. These are things one can do here:
Climb the 350 odd steps to Corniglia
As mentioned before and an Italy travel tip to keep in mind is that the only way to get to town is to climb over 350 stairs or take a shuttle bus which is rather inconsistent. Expect to be winded by the time you get to the top, but the journey is what counts with superb views throughout. This experience is truly quintessential.
Swim in the waters at Guvano Beach
The most famous and one of the best beaches in Italy, Corniglia is Guvano Beach. This beach is legendary but is quite nearly impossible to access by foot. Walk down to the marina instead and enjoy the cool water from there.
Sights and attractions are few in Corniglia, but there are many pretty churches that one can visit.
The Church of St Peter is a must see, built over a pre-existing building in 1334 and having elements of Baroque, Ligurian and Gothic style. Stroll to the square that houses the Oratory of the Disciplinati of Saint Catherine.
Hike to Vernazza
For all those hiking enthusiasts, during your time in Cinque Terre, you will surely embark on one if not many hikes. For those wish to only go on a single hike, the one from Corniglia to Vernazza should be your priority and has the best panoramic views of the towns below.
Roam through pastel streets in this paradise town, relax by the gorgeous harbour and hike through some of the best trails in Cinque Terre. No wonder this village is one of the most famous places in Italy that always has an influx of visitors throughout the year.
Here are a few things to do in Vernazza:
Explore Castello Doria
The oldest surviving castle in Cinque Terre, Castello Doria offers some superb views of the town, vineyards and the sea. It lies in ruins today except for the circular tower bang in the centre of the esplanade. The only way to get here is by walking up the narrow steep staircase from the harbour.
Sunbathe on sandy beaches
Vernazza is the only village to have a sandy beach which is easily accessible. Sure, you might have to brush shoulders with a few more people than you would like, but it beats having to lie on hard rocks to soak in the sun.
Stroll through Piazza Marconi
The main square in Vernazza is Piazza Marconi which is right by the harbour and hosts a whole bunch of eateries. Don’t forget to visit the Church of Santa Margherita d’Antiochia whose bell tower is a distinctive sight.
Monterosso al Mare
Being the largest town amongst the five, Monterosso al Mare boasts an old town, new town, sandy beaches and long promenades which give it an almost resort vibe. Despite being awfully touristy, it is still a lovely town with numerous things to do.
Let’s see what they are:
Shop for souvenirs
Looking to take some souvenirs home for friends and family? Monterosso has several options for shopping to stock up on olive oil, pesto and wine to take back home with you!
Ready for an experience like no other? Paraglide from the top of a hill behind Monterosso and land on the beach.
Laze at the beach
Grab an umbrella and a towel and spread yourself out on the beach relaxing and unwinding by the Italian Riviera.
Visit the many churches
The Church of San Giovanni Battista will leave you speechless with its striking façade made of green and white marble that looks like stripes with a rosette window.
Also, visit the Church of Saint John the Baptist and the Oratory of the Confraternita dei Bianchi.
Some of the other things you can do at Cinque Terre are:
Cinque Terre from the ocean is an incredible sight and a tour on the ocean will have you leave with a new outlook and appreciation for the colourful homes that have been built in the steep hills.
Take part in a cooking class
Food is an integral part of Italian culture and the best way to learn more about it is by taking an Italian cooking class where they will teach you everything from pesto to traditional cooking methods.
A visit to Cinque Terre can be as relaxing or as active as you please. Spend a few days here exploring and uncovering all its secrets and hidden spots for an unparalleled experience. With all this information at your fingertips about Cinque Terre, start planning and start packing!
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