Cinque Terre: All You Need to Know

Researching information to plan the perfect visit to Cinque Terre can be overwhelming.

Since our mission at BeautifuLiguria is to make travellers experience the Italian Riviera as a local, we have gathered the questions that are frequently asked by visitors: here is our complete guide with every answer you need for your Cinque Terre trip.

How do you pronounce the name?

Few visitors get this right before (or during) their trip, so let’s start from how to pronounce Cinque Terre 😊.

It’s something along the lines of CHInkweh TErreh, where the capital letters symbolize the accent. The “h” at the end is mute.

You can hear the correct pronunciation here.

What does Cinque Terre mean?

Cinque means ‘five’ and Terre means ‘lands’.

Therefore, Cinque Terre means Five Lands, denoting the 5 villages that make up this territory.

This is why, sometimes, the name is shortened as ‘5 Terre’.

Cinque Terre landscape

What are the five villages that compose the Cinque Terre?

From west to east, the villages are: Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore.

Where are the Cinque Terre located?

The Cinque Terre villages are in the region of Liguria in the northwest of Italy.

Liguria is bordered by Tuscany and Emilia-Romagna to the east, France to the west and Piedmont to the north.

Specifically, the Cinque Terre are coastal villages that overlook the Ligurian Sea in the province of La Spezia, which is close to the Tuscan border.

Can you see the Cinque Terre in one day?

It’s possible but it’s not ideal, because you would only get a superficial impression of a territory that is full of history and traditions.

Although the five villages are not far from one another and the distances can quickly be covered by train or boat, each has its own characteristics that deserve to be felt, tasted and experienced through Slow Travel.

Cinque Terre sea and village

So, how many days do you need to visit Cinque Terre? What is there to do?

If you want to go beyond the tourist postcards and experience the Cinque Terre as a local, you need a stay of at least two nights.

This way, in addition to admiring the famous landscapes, you can enjoy activities such as hiking or biking along the best trails of the Cinque Terre National Park, visiting heroic vineyards and tasting local wines, joining a cooking lesson to learn typical recipes, sailing in a traditional Leudo.

But if you are really short of time and still want to get in touch with the most authentic spirit of this area, we have a solution: an orientation tour in which one of our expert and passionate insiders will be there for you for 3 hours. Besides discovering the best of the Cinque Terre, you will have tons of personal recommendations and in-the-know info to make the most of your day.

Where should you stay in Cinque Terre?

They are so beautiful and unique that it is difficult to choose which is the best village where to stay!

But we are locals and we can help you to make this tough choice: here is our guide to choose your favourite village while here is how to choose the best accommodation in Cinque Terre.

What is the best time to visit Cinque Terre?

The ideal seasons depend on your interests.

For example, spring and autumn are ideal for hiking; summer is best for boat tours away from the crowds (hiking is a definite no-no in July and August); winter is for the romantics…

For more ideas and tips, read When to go to Cinque Terre? Here are the best periods to visit.

Cinque Terre by boat

Transport tips: How do you reach Cinque Terre?

The train is the best means of transport to get to the Cinque Terre: each of the five villages has its own train station, connected with large cities like Genoa (Liguria’s capital) and La Spezia (cruise port).

There is also the popular ferry that runs at scheduled times from the end March until the beginning of November, stopping in 4 villages (just not in Corniglia since it has no water access).

The ferry also stops in Portovenere and La Spezia. Renting a private boat is a great option for a more exclusive experience (read more about boat trips here).

It is worth to rent a car in Cinque Terre?

No, because these towns do not allow cars to transit and they have virtually no parking spaces!

Learn more about car rentals in the Italian Riviera.

What are the closest airports to Cinque Terre?

The closest airports are Pisa and Genoa.

Pisa’s Galileo Galilei Airport is about 95km (59mi) away from Riomaggiore, while Genoa’s Cristoforo Colombo Airport is about 100km (62mi) away from Monterosso.

Thanks to the well-organized railway network, you can reach the Cinque Terre easily from the airports in Rome and Milan too.

What can you eat in Cinque Terre?

Locally produced food includes the silver-bright acciughe (anchovies), the extra virgin olive oil with the Protected Designation of Origin, a variety of aromatic herbs, and juicy lemons.

Typical dishes include stuffed mussels, traditional rice pies, fish fritters, the farinata pancake and – of course – pasta al pesto.

Read more about What to eat in Cinque Terre.

Trofie al pesto

Are there typical wines produced in Cinque Terre?

The most unique and prestigious wine is called Sciacchetrà: it is made with dried grapes grown in local vineyards.

This sweet wine has the D.O.C. quality label, just like the other famous local wine, known simply as Cinque Terre.

Do you need a private guide in Cinque Terre?

Not necessarily, although with a private guide you can experience the Cinque Terre avoiding tourist traps and without wasting time.

But keep in mind that not all guides are the same.

Your safest bet is to choose a local expert insider for an authentic experience in Cinque Terre, someone who is native of Liguria and who is really passionate about the territory and its history, like BeautifuLiguria.

How far is Cinque Terre from Florence?

Many tourists see the Cinque Terre as an extension of their Florence trip because, as mentioned earlier, the villages are easy to reach by train.

The distance between Florence and Riomaggiore is of about 160km (99mi) and the train ride takes about 2 hours and a half.

At BeautifuLiguria we do not recommend combining Florence-Cinque Terre as a day trip: spend at least one or two nights in 5 Terre to make the most out of your visit in Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso.

What destinations can be easily combined in a Cinque Terre trip?

Some amazing destinations in Liguria include Genoa, Portofino and San Fruttuoso to the west and/or the Gulf of Poets just east of Cinque Terre.

Outside of Liguria, we recommend the Valdorcia area in Tuscany off the beaten path, and the foodie regions of Emilia Romagna and Piedmont.

Cinque Terre view

Why are Cinque Terre famous?

The Cinque Terre are famous for their amazing natural landscape and colourful fishing villages perched on dramatic cliffs.

UNESCO added the Cinque Terre to its list of World Heritage Sites because of their cultural landscape of great scenic and cultural value.

“The layout and disposition of the small towns and the shaping of the surrounding landscape, overcoming the disadvantages of a steep, uneven terrain, encapsulate the continuous history of human settlement in this region over the past millennium”.

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