The territory in and around Cinque Terre is so beautiful and unique that UNESCO has included it in its list of World Heritage Sites. But while the villages of Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso have become a destination to be ticked off the bucket list for many travelers, they are in a fragile environment that is not suitable for mass tourism.
So, how can you visit this area in a way that is more sustainable for the locals? And how can you avoid tourist traps?
Here are our tips on Slow Travel through Cinque Terre off the beaten path.
Take your time, stay at least 2 nights
Some tourists want to visit the Cinque Terre with a quick one-day excursion, sometimes reaching the Italian Riviera all the way from Florence or even Rome. Visiting this area is not about seeing famous monuments or entering museums: it’s about contemplating, exploring and appreciating a landscape with a unique nature and sea hamlets that deserve to be “tasted” and experienced.
Avoid large groups
Try not to travel with large and noisy groups that would remove all the poetry from these places with space constraints. It’s great to visit Cinque Terre in small groups of family and friends.
Best times to visit
The least crowded months are from mid-March to mid-May, and October. Also, the weather is usually good during spring and early fall. Summer is extremely hot and not recommended if you would like to hike in Cinque Terre.
Off the beaten path
Monterosso is the village where most hotels are concentrated, therefore it is also the most crowded at night. If you would like a more tranquil or romantic setting, choose your accommodation in one of the other villages. Corniglia is certainly the quaintest and most secluded of all.
If you want to trek, avoid the Sentiero Azzurro and opt for the lesser-known yet beautiful hiking paths.
The best way to explore and respect a destination, its community and the environment, is to meet the locals or to put yourself in their shoes. Don’t just visit the central piazza (square): discover hidden corners and wonderful views by venturing up the stairs and along the tiny, narrow alleys on the sides.
You can also visit the vineyards of local winemakers, who will share their stories and guide you in a delicious wine tasting. Do not miss the heroic vineyards of Cinque Terre: they are unique in the world and are the true essence of the local landscape and history.
Expert insiders and private tours
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.
Another experience that allows you to explore Cinque Terre away from the crowds is to enjoy a private boat tour. You can admire the amazing landscape from a different perspective in total relax, on board a vintage boat. The expert captain will be happy to answer your questions about Cinque Terre, and to provide you with snorkeling masks and even local wine!
Do you want to explore Cinque Terre off the beaten path with one of our insiders? What about choosing one of our “Stay & Experience” proposals for an authentic trip?