The Only Itinerary You’ll Need to Visit Cinque Terre

September 22, 2023

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Nestled along the picturesque Italian Riviera, Cinque Terre is one of the best places to visit in Italy. Did you know that Cinque Terre is a national park and a UNESCO World Heritage site? Cinque Terre consists of a collection of five colorful coastal villages that offer breathtaking views, charming streets, and a unique cultural experience. It’s no secret, we absolutely loved our trip to Cinque Terre!

While it’s ideal to spend several days exploring this beautiful region, if you’re short on time, a well-planned day trip can still provide you with a taste of the beauty and charm Cinque Terre has to offer. In this guide, we’ll take you through the 5 unique villages, recommend places to eat, stay, and recommend an itinerary. Furthermore, we’ll highlight the best places to visit in Cinque Terre and the spots for capturing those Instagram-worthy photos.

Enjoying the scenic beauty of Cinque Terre, Italy, with colorful coastal villages in the background.
We loved our photoshoot in Magical Vernazza, Cinque Terre

Plan Your Itinerary: To make the most of your Cinque Terre itinerary, it’s essential to plan in advance. Start by deciding which villages you’d like to visit and the best spots to take photos at in Cinque Terre. The five villages of Cinque Terre (Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore) are all enchanting and have their own vibes.

We recommend to spend at least 2-3 days in Cinque Terre. While it’s possible to visit all five villages in one day, slow travel will help you experience the magic of these five villages. We’ll start off by sharing the 5 villages and what you can expect from each one:

1. Manarola

Scenic view of Manarola, the picturesque village often regarded as the most beautiful in Cinque Terre, Italy.
Manarola, often regarded as the most romantic village in Cinque Terre, is truly enchanting.

The captivating beauty of Manarola has earned it a reputation as the most picturesque village in Cinque Terre. To kickstart your exploration, consider beginning your day with a magical sunrise at the cliffs in Manarola.

In our experience, we generally love starting our day early in the morning to catch the sunrise and experience the magic of these towns without the crowds. On this particular day, we started our day at sunrise (7am) and explored the colorful streets, ventured out to visit the picturesque harbor, and captured memorable photos of the iconic view from the Nessun Dorma viewpoint. Following this, we took a delightful break to absorb the gorgeous city views, and then we had a delicious Italian breakfast at a local café, Da Aristide. This provided us with the energy we needed, as we savored a cappuccino and fresh pastries, to prepare ourselves for the adventures that lay ahead. Here’s a sneak peak of the gorgeous views at 7am below:

2. Vernazza

Captivating view of Vernazza, a picturesque coastal village in Cinque Terre, Italy.

Up next, it’s time to explore Vernazza! To get there, you can take a short train ride (approximately 10 minutes) from Manarola to Vernazza, which is another enchanting village of Cinque Terre. Once you arrive, you’ll have the opportunity to explore the narrow alleys and charming squares of Vernazza. Consider taking a leisurely walk along the harbor promenade, where you can admire the colorful boats and fully immerse yourself in the coastal atmosphere. Don’t forget to plan a photoshoot while you’re in Vernazza; after all, it’s one of the most picturesque villages in the region.

After exploring the colorful streets, we would recommend taking lunch here. There are plenty of food options available across the alleys. You can enjoy a mouthwatering pizza or pesto based foccaccia bread (our favorite!) at a local trattoria overlooking the sea. You can also indulge in regional specialties like trofie al pesto (handmade pasta with pesto sauce) or fresh seafood dishes. We’ve suggested some vegetarian friendly options in the summary.

Enjoying a moment with a friendly cat in the picturesque setting of Cinque Terre, Italy.

If you are considering a photoshoot in Cinque Terre, we would highly recommend booking this Airbnb photoshoot experience with David. While David was an excellent photographer, he also helped us show how to navigate the local neighborhood for secret photoshoot spots we never would have known.

3. Riomaggiore

Time to explore Riomaggiore! The southernmost village, Riomaggiore, welcomes travelers with its charming fishing port and the picturesque Rio Maggiore stream that flows through the town. Wander up the Via dell’Amore to Manarola for a leisurely walk with mesmerizing coastal views, or explore the narrow alleys of Riomaggiore’s historic center, discovering local shops and quaint cafes. As the sun sets, the village comes alive with a warm glow, creating a magical atmosphere perfect for capturing unforgettable moments. Wander through the narrow streets and admire the vibrant houses that cascade down the hillside. Lastly, there are tons of amazing local vendors, cafe’s for a coffee and snack.

4. Monterosso al Mare

Monterosso al Mare: The largest of the Cinque Terre villages, Monterosso al Mare welcomes visitors with its beautiful sandy beach and crystal-clear waters. Wander through the historic center, dotted with charming boutiques and delightful eateries, offering fresh seafood and traditional Ligurian dishes. Don’t miss the chance to explore the medieval Aurora Tower, offering panoramic views of the town and the sparkling Mediterranean sea.

5. Corniglia

Stunning view of Corniglia, a picturesque village perched atop cliffs along the coast of Cinque Terre, Italy.

Perched atop a rocky promontory, Corniglia offers a more serene and tranquil ambiance compared to its vibrant neighbors. Reach the village through a scenic walking trail, and you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking vistas of the surrounding vineyards and terraced hillsides. Enjoy the authentic atmosphere of Corniglia’s quaint streets, where you can savor local delicacies like anchovy bruschetta and freshly made pesto.

Is One Day Enough in Cinque Terre?

Deeshen and Jade enjoying the scenic beauty near Cinque Terre, Italy.
We love Cinque Terre! Our couples photoshoot in Verzanna, Cinque Terre

One of the most common questions from people considering a day trip to Cinque Terre is whether or not one day in Cinque Terre is enough time to justify the hassle of traveling to the villages–and we feel it’s not. One day in Cinque Terre is simply not enough to fully immerse yourself in this enchanting destination. With five distinct villages, each offering its unique charm and breathtaking vistas, there’s a wealth of experiences to be savored. The last thing you’d want is to rush up and down the village hills covered in sweat.

Spending 2-3 days (or at least one overnight stay) allows you to explore the hidden gems, indulge in local delicacies, and embark on scenic hikes through terraced vineyards, all while embracing the laid-back coastal lifestyle. Optimal time in Cinque Terre grants you the opportunity to appreciate the slower pace, connect with the friendly locals, and soak in the mesmerizing landscapes, creating cherished memories that will linger long after your visit.

What are the best Cinque Terre villages to visit if I only have one day?

If you can’t spend more than one day to visit all 5 villages, our top two favorite Cinque Terre villages are hands down – Manarola and Vernazza. Manarola and Vernazza are the two most beautiful villages in our humble opinion! They have the best views, photogenic backdrops, colorful streets, hiking, and best food options. We recommend staying longer so you can see both the sunrise and sunsets in Cinque Terre, and walking around the villages in the early hours is like walking in a storybook!

Jade guiding Deeshen during a photoshoot amidst the picturesque landscapes of Cinque Terre, Italy.
Golden Hour / Sunrise in Manarola, Cinque Terre
Stunning evening view of Manarola, one of the enchanting villages in Cinque Terre, Italy, with colorful buildings lit by warm sunset light.
Evening View of Manarola, Cinque Terre

On the hand, if you’re a beach bum who loves spending all day sun tanning at the beach, adding Monterosso al Mare to your itinerary will be the best choice. It all depends on how you’d like to spend your time.

Book Your Cinque Activities here:

It’s no secret, we love booking our travel activities on Get Your Guide! They have a very generous 24 hour cancellation policy in case you need plans to be flexible.

Summary One Day Itinerary for Cinque Terre (From Sunrise to Sunset)

Sunrise at Manarola:

  • Start your day early to catch the magical sunrise at the cliffs in Manarola, the most romantic village in Cinque Terre.
  • Enjoy the tranquility of the village before the crowds arrive and take in the breathtaking coastal views.
  • Explore the colorful streets and picturesque harbor, capturing iconic photos from the Nessun Dorma viewpoint.

Breakfast at a Local Café:

  • After witnessing the sunrise, head to a local café, like Da Aristide, for a delightful Italian breakfast.
  • Savor a cappuccino and indulge in fresh pastries or local specialties to energize for the adventures ahead.

Explore Vernazza:

  • Take a short train ride from Manarola to Vernazza, another enchanting village of Cinque Terre.
  • Wander through narrow alleys and charming squares, admiring colorful boats at the harbor.
  • Plan a photoshoot amidst the picturesque backdrop of Vernazza’s coastal beauty.

Lunch in Vernazza:

  • Enjoy a leisurely lunch at a local trattoria, such as Batti Batti’ Focacceria, offering some of the BEST mouthwatering pizza in Italy! If you prefer a sit-down lunch, enjoy a leisurely lunch at a local trattoria with vegetarian-friendly options, such as Ristorante Vulnetia or Il Pirata delle Cinque Terre.
  • Savor regional specialties like trofie al pesto or indulge in the delicious pesto-based focaccia bread.

Hike to Corniglia:

  • Embark on a scenic hike from Vernazza to Corniglia through the famous Via dell’Amore (Lover’s Walk).
  • Experience mesmerizing coastal views and the romantic ambiance of the trail.
  • Arrive in Corniglia and explore the charming village perched atop a rocky promontory.

Relax and Savor the Atmosphere:

  • Take a moment to relax and soak in the serene atmosphere of Corniglia.
  • Visit the Church of San Pietro, offering panoramic views of the surrounding vineyards and terraced hillsides.

Explore Riomaggiore:

  • Head to Riomaggiore, the southernmost village, and wander through its charming fishing port and historic center.
  • Stroll along the picturesque Rio Maggiore stream that flows through the town.
  • Capture unforgettable moments as the sun sets, creating a magical ambiance in Riomaggiore.

Dinner in Riomaggiore:

  • Choose a cozy restaurant in Riomaggiore, like Il Grottino, known for its delightful vegetarian-friendly menu.
  • Enjoy dishes like vegetable risotto, grilled vegetables, and pesto pasta, all made with fresh local ingredients.

Sunset at Manarola:

  • Return to Manarola to witness the captivating sunset over the village.
  • Capture the golden hues as they cast a warm glow on the colorful houses and the Ligurian Sea.
  • Reflect on a day filled with enchanting experiences and cherish the memories of Cinque Terre.
  • Return to your Hotel to enjoy a restful evening

Note: This itinerary can be flexible based on your preferences and pace. It’s recommended to wear comfortable walking shoes, carry sufficient water, and check the train schedule for seamless transportation between villages. Enjoy your unforgettable day in the magical Cinque Terre!

Jade posing gracefully in front of the picturesque backdrop of Manarola, Cinque Terre, Italy

Where to Eat in Cinque Terre

It’s food time! Savor the flavors of Cinque Terre with its delectable vegetarian-friendly cuisine. From quaint trattorias to seaside gems, this charming Italian destination offers a variety of restaurants catering to seafood lovers and vegetarian preferences. Delight in the region’s fresh produce, aromatic herbs, and traditional dishes, all while enjoying the picturesque views of the Mediterranean coastline. Below are our top 6 vegetarian friendly spots in Cinque Terre.

Top 6 Vegetarian-Friendly Restaurants in Cinque Terre

  1. Batti Batti’ Focacceria: Our favorite food stops in Cinque Terre is this little Focacceria! Stop by this hole-in-the wall Focacceria for some of the pizza slices in Italia! You heard right – we followed our noses and it led us here. It’s takeout only. Don’t forget to ask them to heat up your slice.
  2. Ristorante Da Aristide: A family-run restaurant in Vernazza, known for its warm hospitality and an array of vegetarian options, including delicious homemade pasta dishes and flavorful vegetable medleys.
  3. Il Pirata delle Cinque Terre: This cozy eatery in Monterosso specializes in seafood, but also offers an excellent selection of vegetarian dishes, such as stuffed zucchini blossoms and fragrant vegetable risottos.
  4. Trattoria dal Billy: Located in Manarola, this charming trattoria boasts a quaint garden terrace and serves mouthwatering vegetarian dishes like focaccia, vegetable soups, and hearty gnocchi.
  5. Ristorante Miky: Situated in Monterosso, this restaurant offers a fusion of Italian and international flavors, with an emphasis on fresh local ingredients, perfect for vegetarians seeking diverse culinary experiences.
  6. Ristorante Il Grottino: Tucked away in the scenic village of Corniglia, this restaurant surprises diners with its delectable vegetarian-friendly menu, featuring pesto pasta, grilled vegetables, and delightful vegetable tarts.

Immerse yourself in the authentic tastes of Cinque Terre at these exceptional restaurants, each offering a delightful culinary journey for vegetarian travelers.

Where to Stay in Cinque Terre

We absolutely adored our Airbnb in Manarola, Cinque Terre. We choose this Airbnb for its gorgeous views, unique architecture, and we wanted to plan a photoshoot at sunrise in Manarola. To see a tour, check out our Instagram live recording of this Manarola airbnb. It was a 10/10 star experience and one of the most unique airbnb stays we’ve ever had!

What are the Best Hotels to Stay in Cinque Terre?

Experience the epitome of luxury in Cinque Terre with these top 5 Airbnb and hotel options. Nestled along the stunning Italian Riviera, these accommodations offer unparalleled comfort and breathtaking views of the Mediterranean coastline. From charming boutique hotels to stylish coastal villas, immerse yourself in the beauty of Cinque Terre while indulging in world-class amenities.

Top 5 Airbnb and Hotels Stay in Cinque Terre:

  1. Belmond Hotel Splendido: A lavish 5-star hotel with a rich history, offering luxurious rooms and suites, a sparkling infinity pool, and Michelin-starred dining options.
  2. Villa Accini Hotel: A boutique hotel with elegant rooms, boasting a panoramic terrace and a tranquil garden. Perfect for unwinding after a day of exploring.
  3. Airbnb: Stunning Sea-View Apartment: A contemporary apartment with a private balcony overlooking the sea, providing a relaxing retreat in the heart of Riomaggiore.
  4. Grand Hotel Portovenere: Situated just outside of Cinque Terre, this upscale hotel offers spacious rooms with sea views, a rooftop restaurant, and easy access to nearby attractions.
  5. Airbnb: Charming Villa in Monterosso: A picturesque villa nestled amidst lush greenery, featuring a sun-kissed terrace and close proximity to the beach and hiking trails.

Indulge in the luxurious comfort of these top-tier accommodations, each providing an unforgettable experience in the enchanting landscape of Cinque Terre.

Things We Wish We Knew Before Visiting Cinque Terre

1. If you’re debating whether you should spend the night at Cinque Terre, or try to trek it out all in one day and jet to another city – Stop. Book that overnight stay and enjoy slow traveling in Cinque Terre.

2. All the Cinque Terre towns are very hilly. If you have someone in your party with mobility issues, consider staying within 5-minute walk of train stations. Book your hotel in the village that you want to wake up to sunrises and sunsets in. You’ll thank yourself later!

3. There are no Ubers or cabs allowed on the streets, so you’ll have to hike up with your luggage. It was one of the steepest luggage hikes in our Italy trip, and we definitely wished we packed lighter.

4. It’s a seafood town, so be sure to scout out food options ahead of time, if you have dietary preferences (vegetarian, vegan, etc). We picked our top vegetarian restaurants above.

5. Download these 19 Apps for your Italy Trip.


Cinque Terre is a MUST-STOP place to add to your Italy itinerary. Explore the enchanting Cinque Terre villages, a cluster of five picturesque coastal towns nestled along the Italian Riviera. Each village exudes its unique charm, from the pastel-hued houses of Vernazza to the dramatic cliffs of Riomaggiore. Explore narrow streets, savor local cuisine, and immerse in UNESCO World Heritage site’s timeless beauty.

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Our favorite romantic pose in Cinque Terre

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