Are you planning to visit the Cinque Terre for the first time?
In this article, we at BeautifuLiguria share some insider tips for first timers in Liguria’s famous five villages, a handy guide with expert advice on where to stay, when to go and what to do around Cinque Terre.
When is the best time to visit Cinque Terre
The shoulder seasons between April and June and between late September and early November are the best times if you are interested in hiking in an ideal weather with mild temperatures.
But these seasons are also very popular, so you will find lots of tourists around restaurants, hiking trails and other attractions.
For a calmer situation with no queues in spring and autumn, you should travel in early April and late October.
The most crowded months are July and August, so if you can only travel in summer, we recommend booking boat tours that allow you to explore the coastline and swim away from the hustle and bustle.
Winter is ideal for romantic travelers who love the magical atmosphere of the destination without tourists.
The weather can be pleasant, allowing you to go hiking in fantastic trails.
Just keep in mind that most restaurants and shops close for the season.
For more tips, read the dedicated article on “When to go to Cinque Terre?”.
Where to stay in Cinque Terre: villages and accommodation
All the five villages are beautiful and breathtaking, and each has its own feel and character.
Corniglia is the quietest and most isolated of all, while Monterosso is the most crowded and has the greatest number of hotels.
Here is our guide for choosing your favorite village.
The best type of accommodation in Cinque Terre consists of small boutique hotels and charming B&Bs, because they are owned by families with a friendly and personalized approach, and with great expertise of the territory.
Finding excellent accommodation in Cinque Terre can be challenging, particularly in high season, because of the limited amount of quality properties.
If possible, avoid a last-minute research and book in advance.
If you are on a budget or just want a quieter atmosphere, consider nearby villages outside of Cinque Terre like Levanto and Bonassola, or the larger town of La Spezia.
How to reach 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).
Thanks to the well-established railway network, you can reach the Cinque Terre from the nearest airports in Pisa and Genoa, as well as the larger airports in Rome and Milan.
The train is the best transport option.
There is also the popular ferry that runs at scheduled times from the end of March until the beginning of November, stopping in four of the Cinque Terre villages (Corniglia has no water access), in Portovenere and in La Spezia.
If you want a more exclusive experience, you can rent a private boat.
We at Beautifuliguria do not recommend renting a car to reach Cinque Terre, because these towns do not allow cars to transit and they have almost no parking spaces.
Cinque Terre top activities: precious insider tips
Early morning and late afternoon are the best times of the day to go out and explore the Cinque Terre villages on foot and to hike in the national park.
Keep in mind that, with all the steep climbs and descents, hiking here is not always easy.
But the effort is worth it, because from up above you have the most striking views and enjoy nature away from the crowds!
Are you worried about not being fit enough to face the hike?
Don’t be: at BeautifuLiguria we always choose the most suitable path based on the conditions of our Guests and of the weather.
And our local insiders can help you discover hidden trails and avoid paths that are closed due to landslides or maintenance works.
If you want to reach the Cinque Terre by sea, then the cheapest way is to use the large ferry that carries hundreds of passengers who hop on and off the villages of Riomaggiore, Manarola, Vernazza and Monterosso at scheduled times.
Feeling active and adventurous? Set sail with a private kayak excursion!
This is one of the activities that best allow you to understand how the Cinque Terre were born, and it is also one of the most sustainable experiences that travelers can enjoy in the area.
During your winery and vineyard visit, you can meet passionate winegrowers who produce organic and prestigious wines, and you will understand the concept of heroic viticulture.
This is also the perfect setting for a guided wine tasting session!
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 tasted and experienced.
We recommend staying at least 3 nights in Cinque Terre, so that you can really feel the essence of the different villages that you visit and of the activities that you do.
What do you think of our tips for your first time in Cinque Terre?
If you have more questions, have a look at our ultimate Cinque Terre guide with every answer you need for your trip.
More Tips and ideas?