The Cinque Terre villages make up some of Italy’s most breathtaking coastline. Though they are not the undiscovered hamlets they used to be in the 60s, the unique atmosphere and slow, sun-drenched lifestyle amongst vineyards and olive groves have managed to survive. Rugged yet romantic, the 5 towns of Cinque Terre have the power to awaken and inspire even the most jaded of spirits. Each village has its perks and advantages. So, before you set out to visit the Cinque Terre towns, you better learn about what they have to offer!
Riomaggiore is the southernmost, as well as the largest, of the five towns. In fact, it serves as the unofficial capital of Cinque Terre. The village's colorful houses clinging to a steep ravine and leads to a tiny harbor charm all who visit it. Every Cinque Terre travel guide will recommend catching a glimpse of the village when flooded in the warm glow of a sunset. Paired with a glass of local wine on board of a ship, it is undoubtedly one of the most romantic of sights you’ll ever see. After you enjoy an array of small local shops, restaurants and the beach, hike the Via dell’Amore to Manarola. It's claimed to be one of the best walks in Cinque Terre. Hiking really is the best way to get from one town to the next.
Manarola is the oldest and second smallest of the towns! The vineyards that encircle it are the main source of Cinque Terre’s rich wine, Sciacchetrà. Besides that, Manarola’s bustling waterfront promenade and main street feature delightful reminders of everyday village life. Resting fishing boats and drying laundry are a common sight. Hike up Punta Bonfiglio to enjoy a refreshing drink and fabulous views of the horizon any hour of the day.
Crowning the top of a 100m-high rugged cliff, Corniglia is the only of the Cinque Terre villages which lacks beach access to the sea. Nevertheless, steep steps wind up from the rocky cove and its waterfront train station. The town’s quiet, tangled streets lead you to a vast and breezy sea-view terrace. It’s the only existing vantage point that allows you to photograph all five villages at once.
Vernazza’s tiny harbor is the only secure landing place in all of Cinque Terre. In fact, this was the reason behind the creation of this settlement. However, today, it is Piazza Marconi with its amphitheater of pastel houses facing the sea that brings people to this humble corner of the world. The village’s typical trademark narrow lanes (caruggi) rise almost vertically from the square. They are the gateways to the maze of stairs and tiny terraces with vast blue sea views greeting you at every turn.
If you love to swim and chill on the beach, then Monterosso should rank high on your Cinque Terre travel itinerary. It's the only one of the villages featuring a proper strip of a sandy beach. Famous for its yellow lemon trees and tasty anchovies, served practically off the boat; it’s the westernmost of the towns. It is also the one most easily accessible by car which makes it a great starting point for your exploration of Cinque Terre villages.