A good plan is key to any visit, no matter where! It saves time, a lot of nerves and negative emotions. In the following lines I will try to give you some important guidelines when planning a visit to Cinque Terre!
Where to stay?
We start with the overnight stay! The prices for accommodation in the five villages are relatively high, so I recommend you to avoid them… Besides this main reason, carrying luggage through the narrow streets is difficult… Many people choose Monterosso, which is not a bad option. I recommend you spend the night in La Spezia. The most common in this area are rooms with shared bathroom. For the first time we decided on this option, booking one very close to the train station (LINK). The place was very clean and comfortable. It’s a little difficult with the bathroom, in terms of not always being free, but it’s not fatal. Two nights cost us about 120 euros for two people! The location next to the station is a huge advantage!
How many days do we need?
Cinque Terre requires a minimum of 1 full day if a train is used between the villages… In this case the minimum number of nights is two, one from the previous day and one after the all-day tour of the park. Most accommodations in the region are after 2 p.m. You can use the afternoon for a pleasant walk around La Spezia, there is definitely something to see. The city looks very colorful and nice, but unfortunately we didn’t have time to see it…
We decided to fill the day with a trip to Santa Margherita Ligure and Portofino, something I highly recommend. We had pre-booked a ticket from La Spezia to Santa Margarita at 14:38 (arrives at 15:44). Prices are between 6-9 euros one way. For the return train we buy an open ticket on the spot from the station in La Spezia. The schedule showed us that the latest possible time for picking up was 11:30 pm, but we didn’t wait for it and caught the train at 9:12 pm with the idea of having dinner in La Spezia. For timetable and tickets ➡ Trenitalia.
*Purchased online tickets don’t need validation! They are valid until 3 hours after the departure time of the train for which you purchased it. That is, if you miss your train, you can safely catch the next one. Open tickets purchased on the spot must be validated when entering the station… from the machines. They are valid for 3 hours from the time of validation, in the same way as purchased online.
Eating in La Spezia
I mentioned to you that we have decided to have dinner at La Spezia, I will show you our choice. We stopped at Bella Napoli! Because of the proximity to our place to spend the night and the late hour, but also because of the good looking food, decent prices and a very cozy garden in the backyard! We liked the choice, delicious pizzas and large portions of pasta!
Travel through the villages
The main options for traveling around Cinque Terre are two – train and on foot! If you have only one day… you can forget about the second option. It will be difficult to cross even just one of the paths. If you have more time and you are positioned in the area, then it is worth taking a walk in the national park. You can follow the current condition of the footpaths HERE. Currently only two of them are open: Monterosso -> Vernazza and Vernazza -> Corniglia. The first is one of the most impressive and if you want to go only one of the paths, then the choice should fall on it. One tip – go it back, from Vernazza to Monterosso. That’s how we had planned it (in the end there was no time left), because it saves some quite steep climbs.
The ideal travel option is Cinque Terre Card! It can be purchased from any station. You can buy it online too, but there is no difference in price and it makes no sense. You can find information about the card HERE. With it you can move freely on the sidewalks and get on the trains undisturbed. For trains you will receive a detailed map with the schedule by hours on the spot, but you can also find it online HERE. They move very often, but with slight delays. Precisely because of the delays you can get on the wrong train and from Monterosso, instead of Manarola, get off at La Spezia… As happened to us…
In what row to visit them?
The row of the visit is one of the most important things for a good plan in Cinque Terre! In order to be able to do it of your choice, you need to answer 3 questions. Where do I want to have lunch? Where do I want to meet the sunset and have dinner? Where do I want to walk while there aren’t the most tourists? And the answers will arrange the middle point of the day, the last and the first!
I arranged the questions according to my desired interests. For me, Manarola was the place where you had to have lunch and feel the atmosphere of Nessun Dorma… I don’t regret! Riomaggiore and its port were the coveted destination for a romantic dinner at sunset. We stayed for a walk in Vernazza in the morning, while the crowds of tourists were gone. We included the rest of them, Monterosso second and Corniglia fourth. The route became is Vernazza ➡ Monterosso ➡ Manarola ➡ Corniglia ➡ Riomaggiore.
What shouldn’t be missed?
Time has always been a factor in visits to certain places and it isn’t always enough… For Cinque Terre compromises with it are difficult… But there are places you can’t miss! The three villages – Riomaggiore, Manarola and Vernazza are a must! Including the most beautiful panoramic views there, which I have described in detail in the article for each one. Without them… it’s as you haven’t been here… Take the opportunity to admire one of the views… with a glass of wine in hand!
The pleasant surprise
One of the villages was a complete fog for us! We didn’t know what to expect from it and we didn’t give it enough time… I can definitely point it out as a pleasant surprise. Corniglia has a fascinating rural atmosphere. Due to the distance from the sea, here you can enjoy peace and quiet. It is definitely worth a little more time, at least for a coffee in the charming Toragio Square.
Budget for Cinque Terre
The budget is one of the main things when planning a trip! It is strictly specific according to the individual capabilities of each. I will try to give approximate prices of the main things for two people with a two-day stay in the Cinque Terre area:
➡ Overnight stays two nights – around 130 euro
➡ Lunch – around 10 euro (something on foot)
➡ Transport La Spezia -> Santa Margherita Ligure -> La Spezia – around 30 euro
➡ Transport Santa Margherita Ligure -> Portofino -> Santa Margherita Ligure – 12 euro
➡ Gelato / coffee / water – around 15 euro
➡ Entrance to Brown Castle (Portofino) – 10 euro
➡ Dinner Trattoria Pizzeria Bella Napoli – 25 euro
➡ Cinque Terre Card – 32 euro
➡ Breakfast – look for overnight with breakfast ❗
➡ Gelato / coffee / water – 20 euro
➡ Doria Castle (Vernazza) – 3 euro
➡ Lunch Nessun Dorma – around 35 euro
➡ Dinner from Il Pescato Cucinato (at the port of Riomaggiore) – 15 euro
Total: 337 euro (or 84,25 euro per person per day).