The hidden gems of what to see, eat and things to do in Cinque Terre, Italy and why you need to go there.
I’ve traveled all across Italy from Milan to Rome and Florence to Venice, but nothing quite compares to Cinque Terre, Italy. A lot of the bigger cities crawl with people 24/7 but they dwarf in comparison to the charm and magic of Cinque Terre, Italy. I’ve never been one to be speechless. However, when I was standing on the edge of a cliff over Riomaggiore, I had no words. There’s a magic about Cinque Terre, Italy that doesn’t compare to anywhere else in the world. I’m sharing my favorite parts about each city and where we ate because the food is enough of a reason to go haha!
Things to Do
A big reason Cinque Terre, Italy should be on your bucket list is because there’s something there for everyone. Each one of the cities have their own unique charm. I’ll share some of our favorite things from each of the cities and which ones stood out the most to me.
Out of all the cities in Cinque Terre, Italy, I think Riomaggiore is my favorite. On our first day, we spent half of Christmas day exploring the town. There was NO ONE there which I liked since the hustle and bustle of Rome became overwhelming at times. It’s the first city from La Spezia and the train station is very easy to navigate. Some of the other ones are NOT easy (but we will get into that later haha). There’s two sections of the town. We hiked up the first one and once you get up to the overlook, there’s a small pathway that leads down to the marina and some rocks overlooking the ocean. It’s semi-difficult to navigate since the railings are really rusty but the view is so worth it!
From the marina, we hiked up to the city square, All the houses are painted in pastel colors which makes for beautiful pictures. Our pictures here turned out amazing and the sunset was UNREAL! If you need a spot to watch the sunset, pick this city because it’s the prettiest out of all of them.
Manarola is the most popular city in Cinque Terre, Italy for good reason. The colorful houses and amazing views are unreal. Add in delicious seafood and you’re set! If you’re a seafood lover, this is the city for you! However, we are not and struggled to find a place that sold anything other than seafood spaghetti. Despite our food trial, the trail leading up to the overlook gave us a 360 degree view of the city. It’s by far the most crowded of any other place but the pictures are worth it! We could’ve spent all night here.
Corniglia is probably the smallest city in all of Cinque Terre, Italy. This city is the hardest to navigate since the train station spits you out at the bottom of the cliff and you have to climb (A LOT of) stairs to actually get to the city. There’s no other way up so it isn’t the most accessible. However, I appreciated being able to burn off some of my endless amounts of pizza and pasta haha. AND the views are stunning just like the other cities in Cinque Terre, Italy.
I LOVED Vernazza! It’s an adorable fishing town with a marina and tons of grapes everywhere. If you get a chance to go, walk down to the marina and spend the afternoon down by the water. There’s a ton of places to go eat and walk around. We also went on a hike up by the old church. There’s a view of the entire city that’s absolutely breathtaking!
Monterosso al Mare
Monterosso al Mare is the smallest of the cities in Cinque Terre, Italy. We didn’t spend a ton of time there but the beach is so relaxing. There’s a ton of rocks to walk out on and it would be the perfect place to lay out in the summertime. It’s an adorable little town with a lot of spots to fish and swim in Cinque Terre, Italy.
Place to Stay
I wanted to share one of the best Cinque Terre hotels because we loved our hotel so much! Here’s our experience:
Cinque Terre Hotels
My family loved staying at Firenze al Continental. There aren’t a lot of Cinque Terre hotels but this is the BEST place to stay if you are looking to visit Cinque Terre, Italy. It’s the main city of La Spezia where you can take the train to visit all of the five cities of Cinque Terre, Italy. I would recommend staying in La Spezia over any of the Cinque Terre cities because lugging suitcases up the side of a cliff would be absolute misery. We stayed on the third floor and it was by far our favorite hotel on the entire trip. The staff gave us directions and a ton of help and laid out an incredible breakfast on the top floor every morning with a view of the entire city. We all wish we could’ve stayed there the entire trip!
Food to Eat
Cinque Terre Restaurants
La Bottega Del Fritto (chain)
We visited four of the cities in Cinque Terre, Italy. We went to Vernazza and loved the adorable town! You can walk down the entire city and see two other cities from where you are. On our way back to the train station, we got chips (fries) at La Bottega Del Fritto and they were DELICIOUS! They give you your French fries in a little cone with a stick so you can stab them and eat without getting your hands dirty. The fries tasted equal parts crispy on the outside to soft on the inside. I could’ve eaten three more cones!
After we devoured our fries, we walked across the street to the Gelateria Vernazza. It has some of the best gelato in all of Italy! I got chocolate and stracciatella (chocolate chip) and it came with a little waffle chip on the top. It was a nice treat from all the walking around.
I’m almost positive this is the name but it’s in La Spezia right down the street from our hotel. They make incredible neopolitan pizza and it’s absolutely delicious! Beware that the servers only know broken English so make sure to point to what you want on the menu if you don’t speak Italian. My sister asked for a #12 which is a ham and cheese calzone and got a #21 which was a pizza covered in eggplant, artichokes and bacon with a PUMPKIN sauce. A bit of a stretch from a basic calzone! Haha. Taz got the Diavola (pepperoni) and I got margherita which are much safer options.
Cinque Terre, Italy should be on your bucket list if you love adventure, delicious food and traveling off the beaten path. I loved the chance to explore and discover new places that I had never seen before in pictures or posted all over Instagram. I could’ve spent an entire month exploring the coast of Cinque Terre, Italy and I can’t wait to go back one day. If you have any other questions about my trip or some suggestions of what else to do, feel free to reach out!