Exploring Italy’s Cinque Terre

The Cinque Terre is a popular tourist attraction on the North West coast of Italy. Its quaint villages and cooling swimming spots are a favourite for people travelling through Italy. The villages are small, unique and colourful, linked together by picturesque winding tracks…  

But be warned! This track isn’t built for a casual stroll, so if hiking isn’t your thing then opt for the train or ferry to travel between the villages!

This guide will give you all the essential advice and tips needed to help you to conquer the great Italian coast that is the Cinque Terre. 

What is the Cinque Terre?

The Cinque Terre (or the 5 Terre) is a coastal region made up of five villages that run along the North West coast of Italy. These villages are small and tucked into the edges of the rugged mountain. Full of quirky gift shops, local food stores, cafes and restaurants, every village is different so it’s worth stopping at each and every one. The villages are: Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso.

The five villages are joined by a track that spans 11kms in total, along narrow paths, up steep hills, sharp descents and rocky landscapes. If you plan to hike the Cinque Terre it is best to start from the furthest village, Riomaggiore and end in Monterosso. This way round the track is slightly easier on the legs, but if you fancy a challenge then why not tackle it back to front! 

Cinque Terre

How to get to the Cinque Terre:

Depending on where you are coming from, it is easy to travel to and from the Cinque Terre. There is plenty of reasonably priced accommodation available in the villages themselves or in the nearby towns. 

To get to the Cinque Terre you can travel by train or ferry, which provide a regular and efficient service. It is suggested not to drive or bring a car as parking spaces are limited and there are no roads within the villages themselves.

What to Wear…

As the seasons change so may your wardrobe for the Cinque Terre! However here is a list of items that are essential when visiting the Cinque Terre:

Shoes – On your feet it is recommended that you wear sneakers, hiking boots or outdoor/adventure sandals. The track is tricky and unstable in some parts so having the right footwear is important. 

Clothes – Throughout summer wear clothes that are light, comfortable and breathable. It can get very hot while up in the bushy track so you want to be wearing as little as possible due to the heat. Even in the winter months you will get hot whilst hiking, so taking light layers are the best idea. 

Optional – Some optional items may be sunglasses, sunhat, raincoat or swimming togs if you plan on taking a dip. 

Cinque Terre

What to Pack:

Swimming Gear – If you aren’t already wearing your swimming togs, pack them! As each village is on the coast there are multiple swimming holes that you can use to swim in. The waters are crystal clear and are a great way to cool off.

Sun Protection – Parts of the track are shaded however others are directly under the sun (as are the beaches at the Cinque Terre). Therefore it’s recommended to pack some sun protection, rather than ending up looking like an over cooked lobster!

Water – Packing plenty of water is essential when you’re exploring the Cinque Terre. There are plenty of water taps throughout the villages so you can refill your bottles en route. If you are doing the hike, remember to stop often and drink plenty. 

Money – Of course, walking around the villages themselves is totally free, however to use the walking track between the villages costs a small fee of between 5-10 euros. We would suggest budgeting a little extra here, as some freshly baked focaccio or an icy cold gelato will go down a treat… 

Snacks – The Cinque Terre can be a very long day especially, especially if you decide to hike all the way! Pack a few snacks to keep your energy levels up.

The Cinque Terre is a must visit for anyone visiting Italy. Why? Stunning views. Challenging hiking. Crystal clear waters. Traditional Italian architecture. Cooling gelato… Need we go on?

Laura Bushby
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This article was written by Kiwi graduate Laura Bushby, who is currently running away from adulthood by backpacking her way around Europe! She writes honest and light hearted travel posts on her blog, Mingas on Tour.

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