DISCOVERING CINQUE TERRE
Updated: Jul 29, 2019
If you have never heard of Cinque Terre or have never seen it, you may not know the name means 5 cities. Cinque Terre is comprised of 5 beautiful cities that sit on the mountain side, overlooking the Mediterranean Sea! The cities are: Riomaggiore, Manarola. Corniglia, Vernazza, and Monterosso!
I have been to Cinque Terre now twice, and still there is always something to discover! The first time I visited, I stayed in a nice hotel in La Spezia (the bigger town before you hit the 5 cities). Personally, I wouldn’t have chosen a hotel, simply because I wanted a more cultural experience, but given that it was a school trip…I had no choice. Though, the second time I went, I chose my own Airbnb that was off the tourist track!
The second time around, I learned far more than the first. I discovered that the cities change the train fee during the more busier months. I discovered there are more cities beyond Cinque Terre, that still give you easy access to them, without being flooded with tourists. I discovered the best beach location on The Mediterranean Sea! I discovered there aren’t many street artists, or art shops in Cinque Terre. I discovered that most of the cities are the exact same, and only one has a true sand beach. I discovered that the hiking trail form Levanto to Monterosso is completely free!
#1. The first time I visited Cinque Terre the train price varied from each location. If you wanted to go from the first city (Riomaggiore) to the last city (Monterosso), it may be like 5 Euro for that one ride. Then each city in between there was about 1.20-2.20 Euro each stop. Today, each ride…no matter how far you’re going, is 4 Euro. That’s such a rip off! It’s a 5 minute or less ride, for 4 Euro each.
I would suggest buying the Cinque Terre Treno Card (click link for more information), which for adults ranges from 13-16 Euro a day for unlimited rides. Although, I swear I remember seeing them for 21 Euro a day because of the boost in tourism.
Another thing to add, even though there will be a timetable per train, the trains are normally always late.
#2. When I was looking at Airbnbs close to Cinque Terre, the prices were up the wall. I didn’t want to stay in a hotel or hostel like place, and yet most of the availability on Airbnb were very similar. So I decided to look beyond the cities, and I found the city Levanto which is right behind Monterosso. The Airbnb we stayed in was only 55 Euro for the night. Our host provided food for us for dinner, breakfast, and snacks, as well as bikes to traveling around the city with! Our Airbnb was tucked up in the mountains, about 15 minutes from the sea.
My friend and I really wanted to hike one of Cinque Terre’s trails during the day, and we found out that there is a 3 hour trail that leads from Levanto to Monterosso (which is where we wanted to end up if we took the Vernazza trail). The difference between the two, is that the trails that are physically in Cinque Terre cost around 8 Euro to help with the maintenance, where as this trail was completely free!
If you’re a hiker, I would highly suggest this trail. Last time I went from Vernazza –> Monterosso and it was extremely crowded. On this trails, I believe I saw maybe 8 passing people.
#3. One would assume, since Cinque Terre is based on the sea, that every city would have a beach. That’s true. Every city does have their own little beach. Although, only one has an actual sand beach, the kind that Americans are used to! That city is Monterosso! Monterosso beach is very packed with tourists, (think Florida during Springbreak), that they even have there own cabanas and tents set up.
Since, many people don’t wander farther than the cities themselves, they would never discover that Levanto’s beach is much bigger, less crowded, and more relaxing! I spent a good chunk of my afternoon at this beach, and I really wish I had stayed longer.
If you do however, decide Monterosso beach is the beach for you, there are couple things you don’t want to miss!
– Seafood Cones! Most of the cities offer seafood cones, but I highly suggest trying yours in Monterosso. One tip: you need to get this during the day/afternoon. They catch the seafood fresh each morning, and by the end of the day, there is none left…so you’ll really miss out on some good fish! There is a little shop right next to the Monterosso train stop, called something “Street Food”. This is where I got my cone. Normally they have examples of the cones on their counter top, so that’s a give away! I have never tried anchovies, but theses were freaking awesome!
– Bucket Margaritas! Now, this is an American tourist attraction, most girls on my first time trip here HAD to have these Margs. A little walk down from the Street Food place, is a tiki styled patio to your left. This is were the Margaritas live! In the last two years, they changed the price from around 10 Euro for the Large to 13-15 Euro. The Large is perfectly big enough to share for two. After our long hike, this is where we reloaded with some grub and booze.
#4. If you’re looking for some good artwork, it’s slim pickings. Which, if you’re traveling from Rome or Florence and use to seeing the beggers and street artists, you may assume that Cinque Terre would be quite similar. Yeah, I thought the same. WRONG! I searched for two days for more artwork. There is one art gallery I believe in Riomaggiore that I found, but it was crazy expensive… I’m solely talking for my personal budget, the artwork was definitely worth the price quoted. I did however find one street artist who was very very skilled! I mean yo, this guy was a blessing from God because I had been prayin’ hard. I found him in the square, after you pass through the tunnel, in Monterosso.
Random TIP: If you see the first strip of land when getting off the train, that’s not the only restaurants that Monterosso has. Turn to your left/keep walking straight and you should see a tunnel at the top of the small hill. Walk through it, and enjoy! There are so many more shops and restaurants per your choosing!
#5. Don’t forget about the magical hole in the wall in Vernazza! I accidentally missed this the second time around, darn! It’s a hole that leads you to Vernazza’s private little beach! This beach has little tiny shells and other great qualities! May be great for a midnight date! For all my claustrophobic friends, the hole at the beginning may seem a bit narrow and impossible to walk threw. If you squat just enough, the hole eventually becomes more spacious and easy to walk through.
I hope these TIPs were good for you! Enjoy your trip, or future trip to the beautiful towns of Cinque Terre!