The Cinque Terre is a colorful collection of fishing villages in Italy, along what is known as the Italian Riviera. In recent years, it’s become so popular, that for those looking for a bit quieter, less-touristed and perhaps more authentic experience, I generally recommend staying in one of the other nearby towns, just a short train or ferry ride away.
Understandably, there are travelers who will stay in one of the five villages. This overview of the Cinque Terre will provide more information on each town. Today I’ll be sharing some tips. Twenty Dos and Don’ts that will help you have a smoother, more enjoyable visit.
10 Cinque Terre Don’ts
1. Don’t take a day trip to the Cinque Terre. You need at least 2-3 days to see it.
2. Don’t bring a car. You won’t need it. If you must drive to the area, you can leave a car at the parking garage at the La Spezia train station.
3. Don’t visit in July or August. It’s hot and crowded.
4. Don’t expect everything to be open in the winter months, many places close up shop and there is no boat service.
5. Don’t just show up in the summer without a room reservation.
6. Don’t expect luxury hotels. The laid back area lends itself mostly to room rentals and apartments.
7. Don’t hike the trails without a pass or paying the required entrance fee.
8. Don’t expect ferries to run in bad weather.
9. Don’t do too much pre-planning. There isn’t that much to choose from here. Just hike, wander, eat, enjoy the views. Repeat.
10. Don’t worry too much about picking the right town to base yourself. All are within a few minutes train ride of each other. The only exception might be Corniglia, which is the sleepiest town and has no harbor, so it’s not accessible by boat.
10 Cinque Terre Do’s
1. Do buy a Cinque Terre card. This allows you unlimited access to all five villages on train and trails.
2. Do make sure to take some ferry trips between villages, or what I like to call the scenic route. The views from water are breathtaking.
3. Do know the train and boat schedule. You certainly don’t want to be forced to hike back or be stranded because you missed the last train of the day.
4. Do plan on hiking from village to village. If you want an easy walk do the via dell’Amore between Riomaggiore and Manarola.
5. Do visit the TI (tourist information) in each village for maps, ferry times, info about trail closures.
6. Do pack light. Them thar hills are steep, you don’t want to be carrying lots of heavy bags.
7. Do bring good, comfortable shoes for this area. You’ll need them. Fashionistas, this is not the place for stilettos!
8. Do enjoy lots of local seafood, pesto and Sciacchertà wine, all local specialties.
9. Do try to fit in a day trip to Santa Margherita Ligure, Portofino or Portovenere if you’re staying more than three days and boats are running.
10. Do NOTHING. Yes, nothing. Just take time to relax and stare at the landscape and out to sea.
If you need help with your Cinque Terre plans, click here to see how I can help.