1. Visit the 5 Villages
The reason you’re going, or at least thinking of going to Cinque Terre is to see the 5 villages dot along the coastline. So here’s a brief description of each one (in order from La Spezia):
This is the most visited as it is the village that is closest to La Spezia. Riomaggiore has one main street running through the middle with a rocky harbour and beach, castle and some very nice restaurants and bars.
Manarola: Manarola also has one street running through the middle of the town with a harbour area. In the harbour you can sunbake and swim but it isn’t the least bit “beachy”, just concrete and rocks to lie on, however the water is crystal clear and gorgeous. There is a beautiful lookout point where you can take some nice photos of the town and is very popular at sunset.
Corniglia: Corniglia likes to be a little different with the village situated up high on the cliffs looking out to the ocean below. There are 365 steps to get from the sea to the town centre but it is worth it for a little peace and quiet.
Vernazza: Rumored to be the most beautiful of the five villages, Vernazza is very photogenic being back on the waterfront. There is also one main street through town, a castle, old ruined fortress walls and a church that was built on the water. This is the best place to sit at a bar on the waterfront with a drink in hand while watching the sunset.
Monterosso al Mare: Monterosso al Mare is the largest of all five villages being mostly flat. There are several streets that make up the Old Town and has the biggest beach of all the villages.
2. The Blue Path
The Blue path is the most recognized hiking path, that travels from one end of the Cinque Terre to the other through the 5 stunning villages along the cliffs and colourful harbors. The path is 12km long and reaches a height of 500metres. The whole trip is marked by blue and white stripes and will take you around 5 hours to complete. To hike along the Cinque Terre’s paths you will need to visit an information centre in the town you start at to purchase a National Park pass called the ‘Cinque Terre Card’ and to check that all the paths are open.
3. Go to the beach!
If you want to jump into the beautiful blue waters and cool down from the summer heat, then there’s somewhere to swim no matter where you are along the Cinque Terre. However the beaches differ quite a lot between sand, stones and pebbles. Monterosso has the most famous beach out of the 5 villages with beautiful white sand, umbrellas and sunbeds to enjoy, but with a pebbly shore. There are also beaches of pebbles and stones in Corniglia and Riomaggiore and stone beaches in Vernazza and Manarola. If you want to take your kit off and hit the coast’s nudist beach, head to Guvano which is located between Corniglia and Vernazza.
4. Via dell’Amore
The famous ‘Way of Love’ is a short walk, linking up the two villages Riomaggiore to Manarola that overlooks the sea. The path gets its name because after WWII it became a secret point for boys and girls to meet from the two towns. You might see a cluster of padlocks under the tunnel near Manarola from the new tradition of lovers closing a padlock together. From time to time the path closes for safety reasons, so check out the nearest information centre to check it is open before embarking on the walk.
5. Visit Portovenere
Portovenere is not too far from the Cinque Terre on the edge of La Spezia Bay. From Portovenere you are greeted with some of the best views of the coastline. Portovenere is an ancient village with narrow streets, a Roman temple to Venus that was converted to the church of San Pietro and a beautiful fortress. Definitely the place to go for the dramatic scenery the coastline has to offer and also a great place to watch the sunset.