As a part of mine and Julianne of Part-Time Passport blog trip to Genoa, Italy, we had also planned a day trip for some exploring of Cinque Terre on the coast. Having spied all the gorgeous pictures of colourful coastal villages clinging to the cliff faces, it was a must visit for us and our time in Italy. Having read up about the five different villages on other travel blogs, we selected the ones we wanted to focus most of our time at as limited to a day to explore. Let me share with you our experience of exploring Cinque Terre, to help you plan a wonderful trip of your own to this amazing part of Italy.
We were staying central so getting the train station of Genoa was super easy. We actually pre-booked our tickets on trainline.com as covers Europe as well as the UK. I couldn’t get over the price of the tickets, in a great way. For an over hour journey, it was €22 rtn in FIRST CLASS per person!! Granted we went on a Monday so might have been more on the weekend. The trains were an absolute delight, clean and tidy. Just remember to validate your tickets before you get on, as you’ll get caught out by the ticket inspector and will have to pay for another ticket on board.
You catch the main train to La Spezia, where you can pick up your 5 Village Train Ticket, like a hop on hop off ticket to explore the villages. Costs €16 each for the day, from the La Spenzia train station, which also allows usage of bus services, (each of the five villages has its own bus connecting the village with the nearest places of interest), entrance to the Blue Path #2 connecting the Cinque Terre’s villages among themselves (for the hikers), free entry to some museums on in the Cinque Terre Park and importantly unlimited travel by train. A part of this ticket cost is part of a tourism tax which helps maintain the hiking paths for future generations and to try to control the levels of wear and tear due to the volume of tourists.
You’ve got your Cinque Terre Card and now what? Head to your first village! Unfortunately, our first train was delayed so were later to explore but still had more than enough time, it took about ten minutes on the train from La Spenzia to Riomaggiore, either download the timetable or pick up a copy from the station. Granted we found they rarely actually came on the scheduled time. But handy to know when to aim for. Our visit was the end of September, but the platforms and trains were still packed with tourists which on a day at 31-degree heat, made it at times quite uncomfortable, especially if you’re on the claustrophobic scale. There are ferries between the villages but on the day weren’t an option so had to bare trains and delays. But completely worth the delays when we stepped off the train to our first village.
As most of the tourists headed to the marina, first of all, we headed up into the town away from them to then work back down to the train station for some breathing room. Bunting fluttering in the breeze and colour chapels tucked away in more secluded corners and alleys.
We found a gelateria to cool down with a scoop or two of pistachio gelato whilst taking in the stunning views of the colourful buildings clinging to the cliff face. You’ll get a good thigh work up, walking up and down the steep steps to the marina, but just means you earn your gelato.
The marina was also lovely to watch the bobbing boats and the busy of the village. Other than the last village we visited, Manarola, we spent the most time in Riomaggiore, so take your time.
Monterosso al Mare
Now we got excited and slightly confused with the village names, and jumped off the train a station early. More of a stretch of beach bars and restaurants than the other villages, which as we weren’t fancying a beach break, we had planned to not visit. But it was an excuse to get an Aperol Spritz in the shade with the waves lapping the shore and giggles of children playing in the sand.
The scheduled trains beforehand were delayed and cancelled with only standing sardine room which meant when we poured out of the train on to the main single road leading to the marina, it was a bit justled walk along the shops. However, the beauty of the village made the journey as a distant memory.
Another stunning marina, where I polished off the pistachio sfogliatella I picked up from the gelateria in Riomaggiore, I just love all those layers and the smooth pistachio cream filling.
A beautiful spot to take a break from the heat and crowds and take in the gentle waves, gorgeous views.
When you look up Cinque Terre, you’re most likely to be greeted with many sun-drenched images of Manarola. A truly beautiful village, with stunning views and streets, to wander through. We had tried to time our visit to be the last village to visit to see the buildings in the golden dusk light and sunset. It’s well worth a stroll to the lookout point, to take in the views back to Manarola, you will have to dodge the many selfie sticks to get a clear view, but trust me it will be well worth it.
While we waited for sunset, we picked the Ristorante Marina Piccola for dinner. On the harbourside, being able to watch the strolling tourists go by, with a glass of chilled white wine in hand. I went for the whole grilled sea bass, which was ridiculously fresh, tender and flavoursome, paired with the views and wine made for a very special evening and way to end our day of exploring.
The fifth village, which we didn’t make it too, has less than 200 residents and a stunning church which, I hope when we return and have more time to explore, can visit as the pictures and views look amazing.
If you’re planning a visit to Cinque Terre, why not extend it and go on a food tour of Genoa?
Which of the five villages would you like to visit?
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