24 hours in the Cinque Terre: what to see and how to get to the National Park of Italy
The Cinque Terre National Park (or “Park of Man” because of its man-made terraces) is one of the smallest national parks in Italy, which consists of five picturesque villages (Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, Monterosso al Mare) stunning nature and sea views. The park has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1997, along with the city of Portovenere and the islands of Palmaria, Tino and Tinetto.
Travellizy Team has prepared a one-day route for you that will help you quickly find the most beautiful places of the Cinque Terre.
How to get to the Cinque Terre
Most travelers get to the city of La Spezia by train or bus, and from there they go to explore the Cinque Terre. You can also travel directly by train from Milan to Monterosso al Mare or from Genoa to Riomaggiore.
The first village of the Cinque Terre (from the side of La Spezia) is Riomaggiore. Near the station there is an information center, where you better immediately take a map and train schedule. Then walk through the long tunnel and decide where to go next: if you turn left - you'll get to the main street of the city, if you go straight - you'll see the fishing pier. It is on the fishing pier, where the most popular view for a photo in Riomaggiore is.
Then you should go to Manarola. You can also get to the historic center of the village from the railway station through a tunnel. From Piazza della Chiesa, which is located on a hill, you can see the whole village, but many go directly to the embankment by the sea. From the right side of the promenade, there is a walking path that leads directly to the terrace of Punta Bonfillo - the most popular place for photos with a magnificent landscape, that offers a view of the bright houses.
The highest village of Cinque Terre
Corniglia is the smallest and tallest village of Cinque Terre. Some travelers avoid it, because Corniglia is located on a rock and many people are afraid, that the road from the station to the city is 382 steps up, but the panoramic view of the entire coastline and the special atmosphere compensate for these efforts. You can get from the station to the center by bus, but this route will take more time, since it doesn't run so often.
Then, you should go to the village of Vernazza, which is noted by many tourists as the most beautiful one in the Cinque Terre. From the railway station to Piazza Marconi, where the main tourist life takes place, you can walk directly along Via Roma, the main street of Vernazza. Side streets lead to a maze of narrow and steep alleys, where you can find amazing sea views at every turn, and the Doria Castle offers the most memorable one.
Monterosso al Mare - the largest village in the Cinque Terre - is divided into two districts: Fegina is rather modern and full of beaches, and the historical center called Monterosso Vecchio. If you turn to the right from the station, you will find yourself in the heart of modern Fagina, where there are many private beaches and a promenade. If you turn left and go along the embankment and through the tunnel, then you will find yourself in Monterosso Vecchio in 10-15 minutes.
There are three ways to move between the villages of the Cinque Terre: by train, by ferry (from April to October) and by walking along special paths.
By train to Cinque Terre
For a comfortable journey by train, you need a Cinque Terre Card - it is both transport and tourist services. It gives you the right to unlimited travel between the villages of Cinque Terre (from La Spezia in the south and Levanto in the north), access to hiking trails along the route, access to Wi-Fi at train stations, guide escorts with excursions (only in high season), discounts to some museums in La Spezia.
For comparison, a regular ticket costs € 4 and if you plan to visit all 5 villages, the card will pay off the expanses right away, and it will also save you time, which you could spend waiting in a queue for buying and punching tickets.
Important information! If you buy a Cinque Terre Card on the spot, then on the back you need to write down your name and surname (in the family card, only the name). You must have a valid ID document with you. The card must be punched before boarding the train, the validity period is before midnight.
On a ferry to Cinque Terre
Ferries are not connected with the Cinque Terre National Park, therefore they are not covered by the Cinque Terre Card. But unlimited tickets are also available for ferries to move between 5 villages of Cinque Terre - their cost is € 35 for one day and € 27 for half a day. It's a great option for those who also plan to visit the town of Portovenere and the nearest islands. Schedule and other rates can be found at website.
Walking routes to Cinque Terre
If you decide to go the route on foot, you will need a Cinque Terre trail map, which includes access to the park area, use of pay toilets, guide escort (if there is a group), travel on ATC buses, discounts on some museums in La Spezia.
Some trails are closed, so it is better to check up-to-date information in advance on Cinque Terre National Park official website or in the information centers on the spot. The best time to go hiking is spring or early autumn.
Also for the hiking version, the Parco Nazionale delle 5 terre plus (iOS) / Pn5t plus (Android) application may be useful to you, but it is in Italian.
The Cinque Terre National Park really impresses with its uniqueness and is constantly in the TOP-10 places in Italy, so every year, more and more travelers go to see this beauty with their own eyes. And Travellizy Team wishes you to go on a new Italian adventure as soon as possible!