Cinque Terre is a coastal region in the northwest of Italy and consists of five colorful villages: Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, and Monterosso al Mare. The area is a National Park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visiting Cinque Terre feels like walking right into a postcard. I’ve seen many beautiful pictures from this famous Italian coastal landscape before coming here, but nothing compares to seeing these dreamy villages in real life. I completely fell in love with Cinque Terre and all of its charming colorful towns. For me, Cinque Terre is one of the most incredible places in Italy and definitely a bucket list destination! Therefore, I decided to share our 4-day Cinque Terre itinerary alongside some helpful tips on how to make the most of your Cinque Terre trip in case you are planning to visit this magnificent region.
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4 Days in Cinque Terre – Quick Tips
Best Places to Stay | La Spezia ($), Manarola ($$), Riomaggiore ($$), Vernazza ($$)
Best Time to Visit | April, May, September, October
How to Get Around | Train, Hiking, Ferry
Top Places to Visit | Riomaggiore, Manarola, Vernazza, Monterosso al Mare, La Spezia
Secret Tips | Corniglia, Porto Venere
Best Tours & Experiences | Cinque Terre Boat Trip, Wine Tasting & Walking Tour, Traditional Food Tour
Stay Connected | Get your Europe eSIM
Keep reading for my complete Cinque Terre travel guide…
Best Time to Visit Cinque Terre
The best time to visit Cinque Terre is from April to May and from September to October. During these months, the weather is mild and pleasant, and the crowds are a bit smaller compared to the peak season in July and August. The spring season is particularly beautiful, with wildflowers blooming all over the hills, and the sea is calm and perfect for swimming. Moreover, during the low season, you can find better deals on accommodation, and it’s easier to get around the villages without the crowds. However, keep in mind that some shops and restaurants might be closed in the off-season, so plan accordingly. We visited Cinque Terre once in May and once in September and would recommend visiting rather at the beginning of the season than at the end.
How to get around in Cinque Terre?
The easiest and fastest way to travel around the villages in Cinque Terre is by train. Trains are running frequently between the five villages and the travel time is only 4 – 6 minutes. We got a Cinque Terre train card for 2 days for 33€. The card also includes access to all hiking trails, the use of the National Park buses, free WIFI, and free access to toilets.
Other ways to get around in Cinque Terre are:
- By Car: I wouldn’t recommend visiting Cinque Terre by car because it’s hard to reach the villages and to find parking spaces + they are really expensive.
- Hiking: takes a couple of hours and offers breathtaking views, but not all trekking paths are open at the moment (please check if all hiking sections are accessible before visiting).
- By Ferry: 37€ for a daily ticket, you can enjoy panoramic views from the sea.
Our 4-day Cinque Terre Itinerary
Day 1: La Spezia
During our Cinque Terre visit, we stayed in La Spezia, which is a charming town very close to Cinque Terre and offers many accommodation options for every budget. We stayed in a lovely apartment, called My Way (click here to check prices & availability for this apartment). The beautiful, stylish apartment is within walking distance to the train station and to the city center of La Spezia. Therefore, we decided to spend the first day exploring La Spezia itself.
We really loved the historical old town with its charming colorful buildings and the small dreamy alleys and courtyards. It’s a great place to wander around and get lost. The main pedestrian and shopping street is Via del Prione. It’s a good starting point to explore La Spezia. From there you can get to one of the major landmarks of La Spezia: Castello di San Giorgio, which is overlooking the town. You can reach the castle by walking up a series of stairs or by taking an elevator.
Other historic sights in La Spezia worth visiting are Chiesa di Nostra Signora della Neve and Basilica of Santa Maria Assunta, which are both beautiful churches with a remarkable architecture.
Next to the historic center, we also loved the Waterfront of La Spezia. It’s a great area to enjoy a long walk by the water with a fantastic scenery. At the waterfront, you can also find Parco Giardini Pubblici, a beautiful public garden with many different trees and flowers. It’s the perfect place to relax from sightseeing.
From the waterfront, you can walk over Ponte Thaon di Revel (bridge) to Porto Mirabello to enjoy great views of the waterfront and the historic town of La Spezia from this modern white bridge. We watched a beautiful sunset there. It was the perfect way to end our first day in La Spezia.
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Day 2: Riomaggiore & Manarola
We started the second day early and took one of the first trains from La Spezia to Riomaggiore (click here to check out accommodation options in Riomaggiore). I definitely recommend arriving in Cinque Terre before 9 AM because all the villages get very crowded between 10 AM – 5 PM. In Riomaggiore, we started our day at the famous viewpoint right at the harbor, which offers breathtaking views over the colorful village. This spot was one of my favorite places in the entire region. The view is priceless (see below)! The rest of the morning we spent wandering through the charming alleyways until we took the train to Manarola to be there before lunchtime.
In Manarola, we made our way from the train station to the panoramic viewpoint over the village and the surrounding vineyards. It’s an easy walk of only a few hundred meters. If you go further up you will find the (probably) most famous restaurant in Cinque Terre, Nessun Dorma, which offers fabulous views over the pastel-colored village. We went there for lunch and I can definitely recommend dining there at least once during your Cinque Terre visit. The food was amazing and the view truly left me speechless. (Tip: Try to arrive one hour before opening to get a good table. When the restaurant opens there will be a long queue already.)
After having lunch, we explored the village and took some more pictures. You seriously cannot take any bad pictures of Manarola as every corner of this village is so photogenic! In the afternoon, we needed some rest and refreshment, so we laid down our towels on a rock next to the harbor and took a swim in the turquoise water. The water is really nice and clear – perfect to cool down! We spent quite a while there swimming, sunbathing, and cliff jumping. It’s a great place to soak in the Italian atmosphere and to enjoy the panoramic views of the surrounding colorful houses. Such a dreamy vibe!
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Day 3: Vernazza & Monterosso al Mare
We started the day early again to arrive in Vernazza before the crowds. In Vernazza, we walked the hiking trail in both directions (first in the direction of Monterosso, afterwards in the direction of Corniglia) for a couple of hundred meters to get the best views over the village. If you want to enter the hiking path you need to have a Cinque Terre Card (in case you don’t have the Cinque Terre train card) and wear closed shoes (sandals etc. are not allowed). The views over Vernazza belonged to my favorite views in Cinque Terre. If you look at the pictures below, I’m sure you can understand why.
— My Travel Photography Gear —
Camera: Sony A7R III
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Telephoto Zoom Lens: Sigma 100-400mm F/5-6.3
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GoPro: GoPro Hero11 Black
Phone: iPhone 12 Pro Max
Camera Tripod: Rollei Compact Traveler No. 1 Carbon
Phone Tripod: Lammcou Tripod
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We kept exploring the village and the harbor (which has a small beach) in the morning and because we really loved the vibes and atmosphere in Vernazza, we decided to come back here later after our planned visit to Monterosso al Mare.
Monterosso al Mare is the largest of the five villages in Cinque Terre and features many hotels (click here to check out hotels in Monterosso al Mare), restaurants, shops, and beaches. After arriving in Monterosso, we first walked along the beautiful seafront promenade. I really liked all the cute colorful umbrellas at the beach.
After taking a stroll through the village (don’t miss the church of San Giovanni Batista!) and having some gelato, we decided to rent two lounge chairs with an umbrella at one of the beaches which cost 30€ per day. It was great to relax for a while and to take a refreshing swim.
After relaxing at the beach we took the train back to Vernazza to enjoy the evening and the magical sunset at the beach/harbor there. For me, Vernazza unites the best features of all five villages: a charming rustic harbor (like Riomaggiore), magnificent views of pastel-colored houses (like Manarola), a sandy beach (like Monterosso), and high viewpoints (like Corniglia). Therefore, Vernazza is probably my favorite village of Cinque Terre (closely followed by Manarola).
Note: we skipped visiting Corniglia for this 4-day Cinque Terre ititnerary, but if you have enough time, I would recommend to make a short stop in Corniglia to see a more authentic and less crowded side of Cinque Terre.
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Day 4: Sailing in Cinque Terre
On our last day in Cinque Terre, we went sailing. It was absolutely incredible to see all the colorful villages from the sea perspective. We started our sailing trip at Porto Mirabello in La Spezia. From there we went to Porto Venere, circled around the three islands of Palmaria, Tino, and Tinetto, followed by all five villages of Cinque Terre.
We stopped to have lunch in front of Riomaggiore, which offered the most amazing scenery. I couldn’t imagine a better view for an Italian lunch at the sea! After that, we made another stop in front of Monterosso al Mare to swim in the crystal clear water surrounding our sailing yacht. It was such a great experience that I will never forget.
On our way back to La Spezia we not only soaked in a lot of sun on the deck but also as much of the dreamy and unique atmosphere of Cinque Terre as we could. Exploring Cinque Terre on a saliling yacht was definitely one of the highlights of our Cinque Terre trip and the best way to end our vacation with a bang! I can highly recommend doing a boat trip in Cinque Terre!
If you also want to do a boat tour in Cinque Terre make sure to check out these tour options:
- Full-Day Cinque Terre Sailing Tour from La Spezia
- Cinque Terre Full-Day Boat Tour from La Spezia
- Sunset Boat Tour from La Spezia to Portovenere & Palmaria Island
Looking for more Italy travel guides or want to combine your 4 days in Cinque Terre with visiting some other beautiful Italian regions? Click HERE or select one of the blog posts below!
- Amalfi Coast – Travel Guide & Best Things to Do
- Tuscany – Travel Guide & Best Things to Do
- Best Day Trips Around Florence without a Car
- 3 Days in Lake Como: A Complete 3-Day Itinerary
- Best Places to Visit in Puglia
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