Conquering Cinque Terre: How to Get Around

Adventure Travel, Backpacking & Trekking, Cinque Terre, Destinations, Extras, Ideas, Italy, Wildlife & Animals — By on August 4, 2011 at 6:00 am

By Heather Drost

Tucked away on the coast of northern Italy are five quintessential Italian towns, formally known as Cinque Terre or the Five Lands. The coastal cliffs are lined with miles of rugged hiking trails, and have been alluring hikers who long to see some of the most picturesque views in Italy.

Among the thousands of miles of trails is Cinque Terre’s most famous attraction, the Sentiero Azzuro, or the Blue Trail. This five-hour hiking trail connects the “Five Lands” – Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore – with semi-difficult pathways.

With breathtaking views, great cuisine, and fabulous beaches, it is no wonder Cinque Terre has turned into a major destination for hikers young and old. Hikers of all skill-levels and ages can walk the beaten pathway from one town to the next, and experience the activities each beachfront town has to offer.

Here’s the breakdown on these towns:

Riomaggiore is home to the famous Via Colombo, where travelers can find a variety of bars, gelaterias, and alimentari shops where visitors can stock up on local fruits, cheeses, and other yummy groceries for the hike.

Manarola is a small town filled with boats. There is a small rocky area nestled between the various fishing and motorboats where locals and visitors can catch a quick dip in the ocean.

Corniglia is the smallest of the five towns and has a stone beach that provides hikers with easy access to the water.

Vernazza is a maze of those cliché Italian cobblestone streets. Whether you are coming from Monterosso or Corniglia, hikers approach the town from above. Hikers get a great view of the bright yellow and pink buildings that stagger the horizon. For those visitors looking to spend the night in Cinque Terre, Vernazza has a lively night scene.

Monterosso is considered as the “touristy” town with large hotels and a white sandy beach surrounded by cafes and restaurants.

Here are three additional tips on how to make the most of your trip to Cinque Terre, particularly with transportation:

Getting Around

Railway: Thousands of years of erosion and rock pressure have made it difficult to reach Cinque Terre by car. Instead, visitors typically arrive by train. There is one railway that connects each town and provides the less adventurous travelers an easy, carefree way to hop from one town to the next. The down side to taking the train is you miss out on the views and the chance to meet fellow hikers.

Hiking: For the true adventurers the Sentiero Azzuro is the only way to get from one town to another. The day pass costs five Euros and can be purchased at any starting point of the trail (typically people start in Riomaggiore or Monterosso). Each stretch of the hike varies in difficulty, with the toughest part being the two-mile uphill trek on a narrow dirt path. Don’t less this scare you off. The trail can easily be accomplished by inexperienced hikers of all ages.

Ferry: For those who prefer a less physical, but more scenic route, the ferry is the ideal way to see the sights. The ferry allows visitors to see the rocky coastline and take in the crystal blue waters without having to hike on narrow, rocky paths. The downside to taking the ferry is it does not stop in the smallest town, Corniglia.





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    1 Comment

  • I recommend any Italian trip include Cinque Terre because it one of the few places in Italy that is also very chilled out. It has the “pack your own lunch vibe” that seaside towns in Italy sometimes lack. Also, the absence of vehicle traffic in the villages make it a travellers paradise of walking, browsing, lounging on great beaches and sitting on stone walls just people watching. You can rent some amazing self contained apartments with private balconies for half the price you’d pay in Florence or Rome.
    I love talking about Cinque Terre. I also lived in the region for two years and like to help people plan little trips there.
    Nice Post Lost Girl! I heard about your site from attending TBEX in Vancouver.