13 must-do things to do in Cinque Terre

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Want to discover Italy’s picturesque villages? Discover the 13 things you can’t miss when visiting Cinque Terre!

Located in Liguria, the natural region of Cinque Terre is world-renowned for its breathtaking scenery, traditional culture and the authenticity of its people. Nestled within it, the five villages of Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore are the essence of this UNESCO World Heritage site.

Picturesque cottages, water sports, impressive architecture, sumptuous beaches and much more await you in this little corner of paradise. So for those of you who can’t wait to discover this magnificent region, Generation Voyage offers you the 13 must-do things to do when visiting Cinque Terre.

1. Hike along the magnificent trails

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Photo credit: Shutterstock – Magnus Kallstrom

One of the best ways to visit Cinque Terre and discover the surrounding countryside is by hiking. With or without a guide, beginners or experienced hikers, the trails of Cinque Terre are accessible to all, and offer the chance to discover memorable places.

If you don’t know where to start, we recommend the Sentiero Azzurro (Azure Trail) from Vernazza to Monterosso. This 3.7 km hike, which takes less than an hour and a half to complete, will take you through the typical vegetation of the region and a breathtaking view of the Mediterranean.

2. Relax on the region’s most beautiful beaches

Fegina beach in Monterosso al Mare

La plage de Fegina à Monterosso al Mare

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Clement Horvath

How can we begin a top list of must-do things to do when visiting Cinque Terre without mentioning the splendid beaches that inhabit it? Fegina beach in Monterosso al Mare is probably the most famous in Cinque Terre, and it’s easy to see why. Bordered by turquoise waters and nestled in an idyllic setting, this private beach is the stuff of dreams.

As well as being the largest beach in Cinque Terre, Fegina beach is also home to « il Gigante », the magnificent statue of the god Neptune. Standing 14 meters tall, this Neptune reminds us of the Roman Empire and the importance of Roman mythology in Italian history.

The beach in the center of Vernazza

La plage du centre de Vernazza

Photo credit: Shutterstock – leoks

Just a stone’s throw from Vernazza’s main square, this beach is probably the best surrounded of the Cinque Terre. Surrounded by the church of Santa Margherita d’Antiochia, the Doria castle and the town center, you can contemplate Vernazza’s architecture while swimming.

What’s more, you can enjoy water sports such as kayaking and snorkeling to visit Cinque Terre by sea.

The other beaches of Cinque Terre

  • Spiaggione beach in Corniglia
  • Fegina beach in Monterosso
  • pebble beach in Vernazza

3. Explore Cinque Terre by boat

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Photo credit: Shutterstock – marako85

There are many ways to visit the Cinque Terre, but one of the best is by boat. If you decide to board a cruise ship, you’ll leave from

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to discover the beauty of the Riviera Levante coastline. You’ll also discover places that are kept almost secret, and are difficult to access from the mainland.

Would you like to take the helm or learn how to become a real sailor? Rent a boat, with or without a skipper to help you, and discover the magnificent maritime paths of the Cinque Terre at your own pace. Perhaps you’ll discover some hidden spots that only you know about?

4. Kayaking in Riomaggiore and Manarola

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Photo credit: Shutterstock – Mikhail Varentsov

Another great way to visit Cinque Terre from the sea is to rent a kayak. You’ll have the chance to discover the region’s magnificent landscapes in a whole new way. The effort you put in during your exploration – yes, it does take a bit of arm-twisting – will soon be rewarded with a breathtaking view of the villages.

Although all the trails you’ll take promise unforgettable memories, we recommend you take the route from Riomaggiore to Manarola. This 1.5 km trail takes less than half an hour to complete, even for beginners. You’ll admire the breathtaking heights of these two villages, just waiting to be explored.

5. Diving in Vernazza

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Photo credit: Shutterstock – Subphoto.com

As one of the least polluted areas of the Mediterranean, the Cinque Terre region is the perfect place for a first dive. The richness of its marine flora and fauna makes it an exceptional site. From groupers to moray eels and barracudas, the species that inhabit the Cinque Terre are just waiting to be discovered.

In Vernazza, several diving clubs offer services for all levels. Please note, however, that as the diving spots are located on protected natural sites, you’ll need to follow strict rules designed to help tourists discover the region while respecting the environment.

6. Paddle along the Cinque Terre coast

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Photo credit: Shutterstock – Kuznetcov_Konstantin

A sporty yet relaxing way to visit the Cinque Terre, paddleboarding promises a most original way to discover the region. Standing on a board and armed with a paddle, cruise along the coast of the Italian Riviera, exploring unique panoramas at your own pace. Escape for a few moments to contemplate the colorful villages and Mediterranean vegetation that surround them.

7. Discover the marine life by snorkeling

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Photo credit: Shutterstock – Arthur C.C. Hsieh

Not quite ready for a first dive, but still want to visit the Cinque Terre by sea? Snorkeling is THE solution. Put on your flippers, snorkel and goggles and discover the most beautiful sea trails in Cinque Terre. You’ll discover a marine fauna that’s far from shy, and will give you an unforgettable experience.

8. Visit the Cinque Terre National Park

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Photo credit: Shutterstock – Olga Gavrilova

Italy’s smallest national park, the Cinque Terre National Park is nonetheless one of its most impressive. Classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997, it is also the most densely populated and the only Italian national park known for the beauty of its villages.

With its impressive cliffs, breathtaking hiking trails, exceptional flora and fauna and breathtaking views, the National Park is a must-do activity when visiting the Cinque Terre.

9. Discover local gastronomy

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Italian gastronomy is renowned the world over, and the traditional cuisine of Cinque Terre is a major contributor to this reputation. As rich and simple as we like it, Cinque Terre cuisine goes straight to the essentials, to the delight of gourmets.

Specialties include focaccia, a bread generously browned with olive oil and herbs; pesto, a delicious basil and parmesan sauce that accompanies pasta; and anchovies, so much a part of Cinque Terre gastronomy that they are celebrated every year.

10. Celebrate local festivals

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Photo credit: Flickr – Daniel PERRIES

With a proud identity, traditions live on in the villages of Cinque Terre, and many local festivals are celebrated every year. Attending a local festival is the perfect way to see the traditional side of Cinque Terre.

The most famous is the Monterosso Lemon Festival, when the village dresses in yellow from head to toe to pay tribute to the lemon, a fruit widely grown in the village. Anchovies are also celebrated. Indeed, it’s hard not to find a dish based on this fish in the village’s restaurants, such is its popularity.

Other religious festivals are also celebrated throughout the year. On June 24 in Riomaggiore, villagers celebrate San Giovanni, the patron saint of the village. On the second Sunday in May, Vernazza celebrates the Festa del Cristo, with religious processions and special culinary delights.

11. Visit the most beautiful churches

San Pietro church in Corniglia

L'église San Pietro à Corniglia

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Electric Egg

Italy is a country where religion plays an important role, and churches are an integral part of its architectural and cultural heritage. Among the many churches in the Cinque Terre, the church of San Pietro in Corniglia is one of the most picturesque.

Built between 1334 and 1341, this church is the epicenter of the village of Corniglia and the rhythm of its days. Its Baroque architecture and impressive vaulted ceilings bear witness to the grandeur of Italian architecture.

Other churches

Because the Cinque Terre is populated by so many magnificent churches, here’s a list of must-visit churches:

  • the church of Santa Margherita di Antiochia in Vernazza
  • San Francesco church in Monterosso
  • San Giovanni Battista church in Riomaggiore
  • San Lorenzo church in Manarola
Read also about the Cinque Terre guide :

12. Stroll through village centers

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Photo credit: Shutterstock – Marco Fine

There’s no better way to visit the Cinque Terre than to stroll through its picturesque villages. The villages of Monterosso al Mare, Corniglia, Vernazza, Riomaggiore and Manarola offer a real Italian change of scenery, with small stores selling local produce, charming little streets and local restaurants.

13. Enjoy the best views

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Photo credit: Shutterstock – JeniFoto

As we said earlier, the Cinque Terre boasts several breathtaking vantage points from which to observe the region’s most beautiful landscapes. One of the most famous is the panoramic view of Manarola. From this vantage point, you’ll have a sumptuous view of the whole village and its colorful houses.

There are many other viewpoints from which you can observe the most beautiful landscapes of Cinque Terre. Here is a non-exhaustive list of the most famous:

  • the sanctuary of Nostra Signora di Reggio in Vernazza
  • panoramic views of Manarola
  • the Santa Maria belvedere in Corniglia
  • the Old Mill tower in Corniglia

How to get to Cinque Terre

By plane

To visit Cinque Terre, you may decide to fly. There are three main airports in the region, all within easy reach. The closest is Pisa’ s Galileo Galilei international airport, around 80km from Cinque Terre. The airports of Genoa-Christophe-Colomb and Florence-Peretola, meanwhile, are 100 and 180 km away. To find the best flights for your travel dates and the best prices, we recommend you consult a flight comparator.

From your landing point, you can rent a car and drive to Cinque Terre in less than two hours.

By car

To reach Cinque Terre by car, take the A12 freeway from Genoa and exit at La Spezia. Continue for 15 minutes on the SP370 and you’ll finally arrive in Cinque Terre.

Once you’ve arrived, be careful where you park your car, as the Cinque Terre has had an anti-car policy for some years now. Village centers and places of interest are best reached on foot.

By boat

To get directly to the villages of the Cinque Terre, you can take the many shuttle buses that link them (except Corniglia, which has no direct access to the sea) to the surrounding towns. The nearest towns to the Cinque Terre by sea are La Spezia, Porto Venere and Levanto.

By train

If you choose to visit Cinque Terre by train, you can take the regional lines from Genoa or Pisa, which will take you directly to the heart of the village of your choice. In fact, each Cinque Terre village has its own train station. These regional trains are very frequent during the summer season, making the train a very practical way of getting to Cinque Terre.

Where to stay in Cinque Terre

There are a wide variety of accommodation options for visiting Cinque Terre. These depend on the type of holiday you’d like to enjoy and the services you’d like to take advantage of. To make the most of your stay, we recommend staying in one of the five villages, so you’re close to all the most beautiful places of interest.

If you’d like to enjoy an upmarket holiday where stress and the daily grind are a long way off, we recommend staying in one of the region’s magnificent hotels. To find the type of hotel that suits you best, we recommend you visit an online hotel comparator. You’ll find what you’re looking for in just a few clicks.

For a more intimate, authentic stay, and close to local life, renting an Airbnb will be your best choice.

Map of hotels and accommodation – Cinque Terre