Destinations | Italy

Italy – Liguria : visiting the Cinque Terre in one day

15 July 2022

Riomaggiore, Monterosso, Manarola, Corniglia and Vernazza…Unless you come from another planet, you must have already seen a picture of the Cinque Terre. You know what I’m talking about … Five adorable villages with colorful houses overlooking the Mediterranean sea. The classical postcard that comes to mind when thinking about Italy, especially if you live abroad.

We went to the Cinque Terre in August. Not the best time to go for sure because of the hot weather and the crowd. But we just couldn’t spend time in Portofino without a day-trip to the Cinque Terre. 

In this article, we share some of our favorite pics (although we took so many more), as well as some tips to prepare your trip to the Cinque Terre. 

 

What it looks like

 

The Cinque Terre refer to five villages overlooking the sea, on the coast of Liguria (North of Italy). They are called Riomaggiore, Monterosso, Manarola, Corniglia and Vernazza. We chose to focus on three of them : Manarola, Corniglia and Vernazza.

 

Manarola

 

 

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Corniglia

 

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Practical aspects

 

Can I visit the Cinque Terre in one day?

 

It’s ambitious for sure but doable. That is, if you don’t mind rushing a bit and if the weather is not too crazy hot. In one day, and despite the heat and the fact that I was pregnant at the time, we saw three (without rushing).

 

What is the ideal duration of a trip in the Cinque Terre?

 

I would say two days (or more if you decide to hike between each one).

 

Manarola

 

Can you go from one village to the next with your car?

 

No, you’ll have to take the train. But no worries, it’s quite easy to manage and they run very frequently. From Santa Margherita Ligure, it took us one hour in an air conditioned and comfortable train to reach the first village. Then it’s a hop on- hop off situation.The other option is to hike between villages but I probably wouldn’t recommend it in August.

 

Should I go to the Cinque Terre in August?

 

If your only option is August, then yes. It would be a shame to it. The villages are beautiful and we had a great time. That being said, it is clearly not the best time to go because of the heat and the crowd (yes this is a touristic destination). We were lucky to go right after the end of the first lockdown so many foreign tourists were not back in Italy.

 

Which village of the Cinque Terre is the most beautiful?

 

Hard to say because it’s a subjective. Personally, we loved Corniglia, which is high on a cliff. You have to want it though because to reach it you have to climb many stairs in the hot sun (no shade). Not doable with a stroller. There is an alternative (a shuttle bus) but it does not seem to work well or run very often.

Then I would say Manarola, but Vernazza is also very cute.

 

Vernazza

 

In which order should I visit the Cinque Terre?

 

If you are based North of the Cinque Terre, I recommend starting but the one that is furthest – Riomaggiore – and then making your back up to Monterosso stopping by Manarola, Corniglia and Vernazza.

 

Can I go to the Cinque Terre with a baby/toddler?

 

It depends on the age of the child(ren) and the villages you plan to see.

If they are old enough, your kids will probably love riding the train between each village and won’t complain when you stop for a gelato. For the little ones (still going around in a stroller), it’s more complicated and you may end up worrying more about the logistics than enjoying yourself. Manarola and Vernazza are doable. To reach Manarola though, you’ll go down down down (which means that at one point you’ll have to go back up up up so it may be an effort). Corniglia is a no-go if you have a stroller (there is an endless staircase to climb under the sun and the streets are too narrow and full of stairs).

Our daughter is 16 month-old today and clearly, I would wait a few years to visit the Cinque Terre with her.

 

Corniglia

 

If we had to do it again …

 

We would go off-season to hike between the five villages. We would take a bit more time to enjoy the breathtaking views of the vineyards and the sea. It would be a good way to discover the two villages where we didn’t stop this time.

I also wanted to try out the snack bar Nessun Dorma, overlooking Manarola. The view is incredible. However, when we were there, there was a line which was completely insane and I was too hungry to wait under the burning sun. If I ever go again, I’d like to stop there around sunset for aperitivo.

Date of the trip: August 2020

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