Cinque Terre is one of the most well-known and famous places to visit in Italy, for good reason! The area is just. absolutely. stunning! Cinque Terre commonly confuses tourists because it is actually five villages set into the cliff side (not a single town) and is surrounded by Italy’s smallest national park.
I planned a beautiful overnight stay with my partner, who was visiting me in my student exchange city of Bologna. We traveled from Bologna by train to Riomaggiore, which is the first town in the row of seaside villages of Cinque Terre. In my travel GoPro video above you can check out what we got up to in Riomaggiore. Our trip was on the first weekend of October and even though it was so late in the year, we still able to swim! It was our last swim of the summer, which was very fitting for such an exciting mini adventure.
Where to stay?
Riomaggiore – I chose to stay in Riomaggiore because it makes a good base for exploring Cinque Terre. It has a really good ‘local’ feel and the accommodation is more affordable than, for example Monterosso, which is one of the more tourist driven towns of the area. The village of Riomaggiore has a long history, back to the 13th century to be exact, so the architecture reflects this medieval style.
We stayed in a really beautiful apartment, with super friendly, helpful hosts. It was called Scorci Di Mare. It was literally right on the port, as you can see in the photo above, which just made our trip even more special. Our hosts even stored our bags the next day, which was a really important part of making the most of our stay. I made sure that our tickets departed from Riomaggiore so we could pick up our bags and then get to the train in plenty of time.
TIP: Try not to take over-sized baggage because you will definitely regret it! The towns of Cinque Terre have to be the steepest and most hilly place I have ever been apart from the Swiss Alps. I usually try to only travel with a small carry on wheely bag, one that fits inside the plane with you.
Don’t miss the beautiful small beach, named Fossola, which is located on the south side of the Riomaggiore marina. Walk past the beautiful view-point, around the corner go and take the stairs. We were able to swim here in early October on our trip, even though it was a little cold at first, once we dived in, the water was so lovely and refreshing.
If you take a walk up the hill from the port, you will discover the fabulous winding streets and medieval feel of Riomaggiore. There are amazing vistas of the vineyard covered hills, the valley below and the adjacent town of Manarola.
TIP: Purchase some supplies and enjoy a sunset picnic near the Castello di Riomaggiore.
Don’t forget you can always catch the train to other towns for dinner and to explore (always check the most current train timetable). If you plan on hiking, check the routes and plan your stay around that but if you just want to see the sights and have a small amount of time, Riomaggiore makes a great base. There is a ferry which also runs between the towns, weather permitting. Unfortunately, when we were there, the seas were too rough for the boats to run but I think taking the ferry would be a wonderful way to discover a different angle of Cinque Terre.
What not to miss?!
- Hiking – Discover some stunning sea vistas one of the many hikes in Cinque Terre. After all Cinque Terre is surrounded by a national park! One easy walk is the Via Dell’ Amore. The Lover’s Lane links Riomaggiore and the neighboring village of Manarola, and is only around one kilometre long. This route could be a lovely activity for sunset but is known to be very busy in peak times, so maybe change it up and go for a sunrise walk instead. The lane can be closed for periods of time due to landslides. Unfortunately it was closed when we were there so we walked up into the hills of Riomaggiore and explore the Castello instead. You can actually plan to see all five of the towns by hiking along the famous trails, I would love to do this next time.
- Corniglia – This is the only village of Cinque Terre that doesn’t have direct access to the sea because it is set 100 m into the hillside. So yes, that means STAIRS, 377 of them to be exact. Corniglia is one of the more overlooked town in favor of Montorosso (which was actually my least favorite one). To get access to the tucked away village, you must either hike there on the trail OR go by train and climb the Lardarina stairway. The reason I liked it was because it was one of the more quieter towns with a really romantic and historic feel, probably because it is an ancient Roman settlement. Corniglia is known for its amazing vineyards and you will not be disappointed.
- Monterosso al Mare – A stroll along the water front of Monterosso is a must. If it’s a nice day, pack your swimwear because there is a huge beach to enjoy as well as 100s of pictures to take! If you continue walking right around the corner, you will find a little village where you can find plenty of local souvenirs and an impressive marble church. As this is the most touristy town, I would recommend exploring Monterosso but not staying here.
Cinque Terre Eats?
Foods of the Liguria region of Italy, where Cinque Terre is situated, include focaccia, pesto, ravioli, fresh anchovies and of course, wine! In Riomaggiore, Veciu Muin serves fresh food at a good price. Make sure you order pesto, pesto, pesto!!
The small restaurant A’ Caneva, in Cornigila, is definitely one to put on the list. We enjoyed the most fresh swordfish salad as well as pesto focaccia. Sciacchetrà is a dessert wine of the region, which is enjoyed with a biscuit. This dessert cookie is dipped in to the wine, it soaks up all the delicious honey colored liquid gold.
When you are taking that walk in Monterosso al Mare, make a stop at the Il Massimo della Focaccia and sample some freshly baked goods, like the apple muffins.
Check out Baskets Life Travel for more on the beautiful food of Cinque Terre!
You should consider adding a stay in one of the villages of Cinque Terre, whether you have 2 days or 2 weeks because you won’t regret it! Weather it’s for the wine, food or the views, you will make memories you will treasure. Hope you found this helpful, feel free to leave a comment below.