Cinque Terre, the dreamy chain of five fishing villages extending along the northern portion of the Italian Riviera, has long been one of Italy’s most striking destinations. And with its jumbled, pastel-hued homes hugging the cliffside above sparkling blue Mediterranean waves, it’s not hard to see why!
To help you experience the very best of Cinque Terre, we are revealing some of the best kept secrets of this colourful corner of Italy.
Meet the villages …
Unlike the other four villages, Monterosso is a low-lying town with direct beach access, making it the perfect holiday spot! The beach is lined with holiday-goers lounging under brightly coloured umbrellas and the town is bustling with travellers enjoying the region’s famed white wines and locals looking to escape the city for a few days.
The largest and easternmost town, Riomaggiore is generally bustling with locals, fishermen heading out for the day’s catch, or travellers stopping through to see and experience the magic for themselves.
The only town without direct access to the sea, Corniglia sits at the heart of the five villages and is the most difficult to reach. The town is perched on a hilltop, surrounded by terraces used to grow wine.
Surrounded by grapevines, Manarola is renowned for its local wine. It is widely considered both the oldest and also the most peaceful of the five villages.
This low-lying town once lacked the iconic beach it has today. Boats would dock to the side of the buildings, as they still do in Venice. Now, colourful wooden boats fill the small harbour and charming cafes line the cobbled main street.
Secrets Revealed …
- Instead of hiking the popular Sentiero Azzuro, the pathway linking the villages, check out the Sentiero Rosso, a path that circles the ridgeline above the five villages. Or, skip the hiking trails altogether and opt for a kayaking adventure to see the towns from below, rather than from above.
- Enjoy a cliffside cocktail at Nessun Dorma in Manarola.
- Take a water taxi to visit the nearby island of Palmaria to explore the marble caves.
- The best souvenirs? Olive oil and pesto! The region is famed for them.
- Our three suggestions for foods to try in Cinque Terre:
- Sciacchetra – this local dessert win can cost up to €10-12 for a glass, but it is worth the splurge!
- Focaccia bread – always freshly baked, there are many focaccia bakeries along the main streets.
- Anchovies – even if they aren’t your favourite, try them again in Cinque Terre! They are caught and served on the same day.
Interested in travelling through Italy? Check out our post on the ‘6 Cities in Italy you can’t pronounce (but really need to visit)’