When people visit a coastal town in Italy, they usually go to the Amalfi Coast or Postiano. We went to visit the cute fishing villages of Cinque Terre instead and had a fun time hiking, exploring, looking at the colorful homes and eating seafood.
Cinque Terre is an area on the Italian Riviera coastline with 5 towns. Cinque Terre means five towns in Italian. All the towns are pretty small, but have clusters of colorful houses, coastline views, fishing boats and delicious seafood. You can go to each of them by quick 10 minute train rides (which is what we did) or if you’re ambitious, you can actually hike to each of them. You can also take a boat to each town if you want as well. Because we only had a day there, we were able to to check out only 3 of the 5 towns.
The 5 Villages from North to South
- Riomaggiore – One of the towns with the most colorful houses. One of the best view is from the water.
- Manarola – There are trails to hike, rows of colorful houses and and restaurants with great views. Come here in the day for the busy town and stay for the sunset when everything clams down as everyone sits by the coasts and watches the sunset.
- Corniglia – This village is surrounded by vineyards and terraces and is the only village that’s not directly next to the sea.
- Vernazza – There are so many shops and restaurants and even some harbor side dining. There are a lot of pretty vineyards weaved into the town and a few trails to get to the top of the cliffs for amazing views.
- Monterosso – Come here for the only village that has an actual beach.
Where we stayed
Cinque Terre is pretty expensive to stay in since it’s so small, so we stayed at a hostel (La Casa di Venere) in Riomaggiore. It was nice because it was right in the center of town and very convenient to the train station (less than a 10 minute walk). The host was very accommodating and waited for us to check in when we took a late train in. The actual hostel itself could use some work though. The walls are super thin and you can hear everything outside (like the clock tower early in the morning!) My biggest complaint was the bathroom. The actually bathroom itself was a decent size, but the shower was SO small! I’m not big (5’3” girl) and I found the space a little uncomfortable to take a shower in. The piping is not great and you might end up with a cold shower despite how hot you turn it. Also the faucet to our sink felt like it was going to break off at any minute. The beds are what you would expect at a hostel (hard, thin sheets, flat pillows), but if you are only here for a couple of night or less, want something affordable and is fairly low maintenance, this place is definitely convenient.
Where we went
We got in around 9:00PM and really only had time for dinner so we had one day to explore the next day before we left for our next city. We were able to explore Riomaggiore (where we stayed), Vernazza and ended with a sunset and dinner Manarola.
Dinner upon arrival
For dinner, we went to a restaurant that our hostel host recommended: Vecui Muin. We got the bruschetta (I would pass on this – tastes like the free bread with a little bit of olive oil and tomatoes on it), anchovies (recommend – fresh, salty and tangy), trio of gnocchi (fun to try all the sauces, and a salami pizza (cheese was so melty!).
To start our first full day in Italy, we explored this small, but really pretty town. We grabbed breakfast (I got a ham and cheese focaccia and a cappuccino) and walked around a little (there was mostly just restaurants), and then went near the water where saw the best view of colorful homes.
Compared to Riomaggiore, there are so many more shops and of course restaurants. We decided to do some hiking instead and went from one side of town to the other – climbing up and down the many trails and stairs, weaving in and out of alleyways to see amazing views of the town. When we were tired, we had a seafood lunch and gelato by the harbor.
Views that were worth the hike:
Stairs and alleyways:
Seafood pasta (great seafood flavor!) at Gianni Franzi Vernnaza next to the water:
Manarola was another town with great views of the cute terrace houses. We went exploring here as well (so many uphills and stairs!) and wanted to grab drinks and watch the sunset, but the place we were planning to go to was closed! We decided to grab drinks somewhere else and just watch the sunset instead, which was a good plan B. After the sunset, we climbed the many stairs to get to a restaurant for another seafood meal. The view would have been amazing if it wasn’t so dark, but we were glad we ended with a great meal anyways.
Afternoon snack of calamari, salami and cheese, and a Spritz (popular Italian apertif of prosecco and aperol):
Watching the sunset:
Seafood dinner at Trattoria Dal Billy of anchovies and squid ink pasta. Both were delicious.
I loved the time I spent here. I love the slow place of just exploring, seeing amazing views, eating delicious meals and enjoying the relaxing, non-city like environment. We got lucky with warm sunny weather that wasn’t too hot as well. I would definitely recommend bringing a water bottle (free water fountains) and your most comfortable shoes because it will be a lot of walking, uneven roads and stairs!
Check out my other Italy posts
Things you should know: Random things to know before visiting Italy
Lucca: What do to in Lucca, Italy
Pisa: Day trip to Pisa, Italy
Florence: What to see and do in Florence, Italy
Rome: What to see and do in Rome, Italy
Milan: Half a day in Milan, Italy