How to visit the picturesque Cinque Terre: the ultimate guide
Cinque Terre is one of these little gems not far from France, where it’s good to have a break.
Even if I took no real time to prepare my trip, a quick message on one of my Facebook group gave me the best tips I could dream of.
I urgently needed a place for hiking and Cinque Terre is perfect for this.
You will find in this article the information you need to prepare your trip and the answers to the questions commonly asked.
1. Where is Cinque Terre located on a map?
The Cinque Terre area is situated in the North-West of Italy, not far from Genova and the French border.
It is a coast on the Italian Riviera, part of the Liguria Region.
It comprises 5 villages. “Cinque” means Five in Italian and French.
2. What are the Cinque Terre villages?
“Cinque Terre” means five lands.
The five villages, their coastline and surrounding mountains are called “Cinque Terre National Park”.
The park is listed in the Unesco places.
The five villages are:
If you want to learn more about each village, read the article of Amy, Connection along the Cinque Terre.
3. How to travel to Cinque Terre?
You can reach Cinque Terre by air or train.
I strongly recommend not to go by car.
Which airport to get to Cinque Terre?
The closest airports are Genoa, Pisa and Florence.
The major airport is Milan.
From each of these cities, you can easily catch a train to Cinque Terre.
Which train station to get to Cinque Terre?
Each village has its own railway station, on the line from Sestri Levante to La Spezia.
You can reach Sestri Levante by train from Genova.
Pisa, Lucca, Florence and Milan are also easily reachable by train from Cinque Terre.
4. How to tour Cinque Terre?
As I previously said, I strongly advise you to take the local transportations.
Of course, the best way to go from a village to another one is hiking. But you will certainly not want to walk the same path to return. That’s why you will certainly travel by train or boat.
Cinque Terre with train
It only takes a few minutes from a village to the next one.
If you travel off season as we did, be aware that there’s only one train each hour.
Even if you want to go farther, on the line to Sestri Levante and even Genova, the train stops in each village or town along the way.
That makes traveling by train in and close to Cinque Terre very easy.
Each station has its ticket machine, and you can buy your ticket both by credit card, banknote or coin.
You can buy the Cinque Terre card as it comprises the price of the park’s entrance, the train in Cinque Terre and the wifi.
In November, this card is not available as the paths are free of charge.
If you travel during the touristic season, I recommend you to read the article of Kerri, that will explain everything you need about the entrance fees and train passes.
Cinque Terre with boat
What is better than traveling by boat and enjoying the view on the villages after a long hike?
Again, it’s only possible during the touristic season and we couldn’t do it.
Cinque Terre with or without a car
If I were you, I would leave the car at home.
The roads between the villages are small and dangerous, with a lot of curves.
Moreover, it’s impossible to park in the villages and you will have to walk one kilometre to reach your place.
Cinque Terre by bus
Except if you want to go to the remote villages in the hills, you won’t need to take the bus in Cinque Terre.
Portovenere, at the south of Cinque Terre, can only be reached by bus. It’s the line from / to La Spezia.
5. Hotels in Cinque Terre and where to stay there and around?
You can stay in one of the five villages to enjoy the atmosphere on evening without too many tourists.
You will often find an accommodation with sea view or on the beautiful village.
Be aware that the prices in the villages are higher than outside, except in Portofino.
I’ll write an article on my favourite stays in Cinque Terre and around. We have stayed in Cadimare, close to La Spezia for two nights (sea view). Then we have spent two nights in Riomaggiore (village view but very bad guesthouse). The next two nights were in Monterosso (no view but a warm welcome) and finally two nights in Framura (sea view and warm welcome).
If you decide to stay outside the Cinque Terre, you can easily reach it by train within a few minutes.
The villages outside Cinque Terre also offer a lot of nice hikes.
6. What to eat in Cinque Terre Italy?
Check this article to know the specialities of Cinque Terre (food and drinks).
I ate the trofie al pesto several times. In Monterosso, I tried the delicious white and black linguinis with the white local wine.
Don’t forget that Italy is certainly the last country in the world to add a fee called “coperto” for the table (1, 2, even 3€ sometimes).
7. When to visit Cinque Terre?
Cinque Terre is overcrowded during Summer. It’s also too hot if you want to hike.
The best time to go is certainly May-June and September-October.
November can be rainy and we were lucky as we had no rain. Most of the restaurants and guesthouses are closed.
8. Why go to Cinque Terre?
There are many reasons to visit these little gems: the beautiful villages, the sea and beaches, the hiking facilities, the food and wines, the quiet life, the good climate, etc.
Each Cinque Terre village has its own tourist office at the train station so that it’s really easy to get all the information you need.
If you want to hike, I suggest you buy the Cinque Terre guide. You will find it in the tourist centre and you will get the trails (name, duration, map). If like me you hike outside the park, you will find a lot of boards with the local map and trails. The trails are perfectly marked and you will regularly see a sign or red mark. It’s just impossible to get lost if you follow the tracks.
I hope I gave you all the information you need to prepare your next trip to Cinque Terre.
I’ll write two or three other articles about the area: our hiking experience, the accommodation and the places to visit around.
Do you also have some tips and advice for the travellers who visit Cinque Terre?
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Stephanie Langlet is called Indie, the female Indiana Jones by her French readers.
She helps the travellers to feel comfortable outside of their comfort zone and to travel closer to the people and culture.
She is a Trip Planner and a Hospitality and Management Consultant.
Fond of the Tribes and Minorities, she’s specialised since 2012 in the tribes and festivals of Central India and have collaborated with Chhattisgarh Tourism Board to promote it. She’s often interviewed by the Indian medias.
In 2015, she was recognised as one of the Top 6 foreign bloggers about India by Holidify, and as an influencer for Chhattisgarh by Chhattisgarh Tourism Board.
She also runs her own guesthouse in the south-west of France, from May to October.
From November to April, she will be in India to work on a social guesthouses project with her Indian associates.