The Cinque Terre is one of Italy’s most beloved destinations. This detailed guide covers 50 key travel tips to help you plan an unforgettable trip to this Italian gem. With first-hand insight you won’t find anywhere else, you’ll uncover everything from where to stay in the Cinque Terre, to key Cinque Terre packing tips and Cinque Terre hiking tips, to what to avoid, and more. Get your trip planning underway today with the ultimate Cinque Terre guide! #cinqueterreitaly #cinqueterretips #5terre

50 Key Cinque Terre Tips for First-Time Visitors: The Ultimate Guide

Last Updated on December 19, 2021

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The Cinque Terre is one of Italy’s most beloved destinations. This detailed guide covers 50 key travel tips to help you plan an unforgettable trip to this Italian gem. With first-hand insight you won’t find anywhere else, you’ll uncover everything from where to stay in the Cinque Terre, to key Cinque Terre packing tips and Cinque Terre hiking tips, to what to avoid, and more. Get your trip planning underway today with the ultimate Cinque Terre guide! #cinqueterreitaly #cinqueterretips #5terre

50 Key Cinque Terre Tips for First-Time Visitors: The Ultimate Guide

Last Updated on December 19, 2021

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Despite my initial impulse to divulge a handful of key Cinque Terre tips, as soon as I starting writing, I realized I had a lot to say.

For a relatively small region of Italy, there’s actually quite a bit to know as you put together your Cinque Terre itinerary. Fortunately, I intend to share all of my insight – from the planning to the exploration – without sparing any of the down-and-dirty details.

Here are my best Cinque Terre tips, from what you can’t miss to what you should actively avoid on your first visit.

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The Cinque Terre is one of Italy’s most beloved destinations. This detailed guide covers 50 key travel tips to help you plan an unforgettable trip to this Italian gem. With first-hand insight you won’t find anywhere else, you’ll uncover everything from where to stay in the Cinque Terre, to key Cinque Terre packing tips and Cinque Terre hiking tips, to what to avoid, and more. Get your trip planning underway today with the ultimate Cinque Terre guide! #cinqueterreitaly #cinqueterretips #5terre

Pre-Travel Cinque Terre Tips

1. Consider Traveling During the Shoulder Season

Without a doubt, the Cinque Terre is a seasonal destination. As is typical with many coastal Italian places, it’s busiest in the summer and quietest in the winter.

Ideally, the best time to visit the Cinque Terre is in the shoulder season (March – May or September – October).

While spring is preferable to summer in terms of crowds, do keep in mind that April and May have the highest likelihood of rain.

Personally, I’d recommend traveling in late September. This is what my husband and I did and we found it to be ideal.

Although September can still be pretty busy in terms of crowds, it’s more manageable than in the peak summer season (mid-June to mid-September). Plus, daily temperatures are much more comfortable than in the sweltering summer months and the water is still suitable for swimming.

In addition, if you’re lucky, you may get something of a price break in the fall, whereas you’ll pay a premium during the summer.

Without hesitation, I’d say winter is the worst time to visit, as it can get pretty cold and you’ll find very little to do here.

While I’m generally all for crowd-free environments, many of the restaurants shut down during the winter months. In addition, many popular tours and activities are on hiatus during this time, so a winter experience would be severely limited.

2. Don’t Expect (or Try) to See it All in One Day

A common mistake I see a lot of people make is trying to squeeze everything into a day trip.

While it’s definitely possible to see each of the five towns in a single day (and many people do), you’ll be missing out on the full Cinque Terre experience.

Part of the joy of visiting the Cinque Terre is to savor the quiet mornings, hike, enjoy the views, and really absorb the experience. For obvious reasons, this is much more challenging to do in a single-day timeframe.

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Ideally, I’d recommend dedicating a minimum of three nights to your Cinque Terre trip. This is the perfect amount of time to see everything at a reasonable pace while leaving room in your itinerary to explore other areas.

3. Plan On Not Having a Car

In case you’re not already aware, the Cinque Terre is a pedestrian-only destination and cars are not allowed in the towns.

(Although you may notice some vans during your stay, these are exclusively commercial vehicles dropping off food and other supplies.)

Since you won’t be able to drive in the towns, my recommendation is to not tether yourself to a vehicle for the duration of your stay in the Cinque Terre.

Although some people keep a rental car in a lot outside of the towns, I’d advise against this, as parking can be pricey.

Instead, I think it’s much easier to avoid having a car altogether so that you won’t have to burden yourself with the logistics of where to keep it, pay for parking, etc.

That said, you’re going to need to plan how you’ll get to the Cinque Terre, which I’ll cover in the next point.

4. Decide What Major City You’ll Travel In From

In addition to not being able to drive in the Cinque Terre, there are also no airports in the five villages, so you can’t fly in directly.

Instead, the most convenient way to travel here is by train, which you can take from any of the major neighboring Italian cities.

The first part of your train journey will be from your starting city to La Spezia Centrale. From there, you’ll switch to a local train heading into whichever village you decide to stay in.

And, to help you take the guesswork out of where to stay, I’ve covered the best Cinque Terre town to base yourself in depending on your travel style.

Here’s a brief overview of train travel times from the closest major Italian cities:

  • Genoa to Cinque Terre: Approx 1 hour
  • Florence to Cinque Terre: Approx 2 hours
  • Pisa to Cinque Terre: 45 min – 90 min
  • Milan to Cinque Terre: 3 – 3.5 hours
  • Rome to Cinque Terre: 3 – 4 hours

5. Check Current Travel Restrictions Before You Depart

While I look forward to the day when I can skip over this section in my Cinque Terre tips, the reality is that travel just isn’t the same as we remember it from “way back in the day,” circa 2019.

Therefore, I strongly encourage you to check the CDC website as well as the Italy Tourism Board to familiarize yourself with current travel rules and restrictions before booking your trip.

Trust me, I’ve been there and done that this year when I lost out on a two-week trip to Croatia and Montenegro due to an unforeseen airport incident.

Fortunately, however, that whole debacle led my husband and I to the Cinque Terre just a few months later, so I really can’t complain!

That said, do make sure to keep on top of travel restrictions, as they’re always evolving…

Accommodation-Related Cinque Terre Tips

6. Pick One Town to Base Yourself In

When I was first planning our trip to the Cinque Terre, I originally considered picking a few different towns to stay in, hiking between them, and jumping around.

However, I ultimately decided against that idea and I’m really glad I did!

Honestly, if you’re staying for three or less nights, it makes more sense to pick one town as your base and then visit the other towns from there.

That said, making the decision of where to stay is often easier said than done! Personally, I struggled with this decision for quite awhile before settling on Vernazza.

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So if you’re also feeling indecisive – or you just want a better idea of what each of the villages are actually like – be sure to check out my guide to each of the Cinque Terre towns.

7. Choose Between Convenience & Cost-Savings

As with most things in life, you can usually save time or save money – but not both.

In regards to planning your Cinque Terre accommodations, you can either stay in one of the five villages directly or on the outskirts. This decision will ultimately be about what’s more important to you: convenience or cash.

So here’s the rub.

Staying in the Cinque Terre isn’t inherently cheap. For one, it’s a tourist destination and for another, apartments are limited.

That said, part of what you’re paying for by staying in one of the five towns is the convenience factor. You’ll wake up in your chosen village and you’ll start the day without a lot of hassle.

Personally, staying in the Cinque Terre directly was a no-brainer for me, as I knew I wanted to be in the heart of it all. I also loved the added benefit of having Vernazza “all to myself” in the early mornings before the late-morning tourist crowds arrived.

Alternatively, if you’re looking to save some cash, you can stay on the outskirts of the Cinque Terre in La Spezia. Here, you’ll likely be able to find a larger place for less.

However, the downside of staying in La Spezia is that you’ll have to take the train into the towns each day.

While both options are totally doable, it will ultimately come down to what your priorities are and how much you’re willing to spend.

8. Book Your Stay Early

If you ultimately decide to stay in one of the five towns, you’ll need to plan ahead. Ideally, you want to book your Cinque Terre accommodations a few months in advance.

While this may seem excessive, trust me when I say, it will be challenging – if not impossible – to book something if you wait until the last minute.

Keep in mind that the villages aren’t particularly large and tourist demand can be quite high. In addition, with the possible exception of Monterosso, you’ll ultimately be deciding between apartments (not major hotel chains) and there’s not a lot of rooms to go around.

Unsurprisingly, the majority of properties tend to book up quite quickly here, so you don’t want to miss out.

In addition, while La Spezia usually has more to offer, accommodations can book up quickly there as well, particularly in the peak summer months.

9. Expect Self-Catering Apartments Over Upscale Resorts

The majority of the Cinque Terre offers cozy, apartment-style accommodations. This is not the destination for luxury resorts and fancy spas.

However, the one potential exception here is Monterosso al Mare, the northernmost Cinque Terre village. As the largest town area-wise, the beachy village of Monterosso has the bandwidth for larger properties and resorts, if that’s more your speed.

However, if you’re looking to stay in any one of the other four villages – Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, or Riomaggiore – you’re going to need to adjust your expectations.

That said, I personally enjoy “living like a local” while I’m traveling, so I was quite at home in our Vernazza apartment.

The Cinque Terre is one of Italy’s most beloved destinations. This detailed guide covers 50 key travel tips to help you plan an unforgettable trip to this Italian gem. With first-hand insight you won’t find anywhere else, you’ll uncover everything from where to stay in the Cinque Terre, to key Cinque Terre packing tips and Cinque Terre hiking tips, to what to avoid, and more. Get your trip planning underway today with the ultimate Cinque Terre guide! #cinqueterreitaly #cinqueterretips #5terre

10. Coordinate the Check-In Carefully with Your Apartment Host

Being that most of the properties in the Cinque Terre are apartments and Airbnbs, you shouldn’t expect a lobby nor a doorman.

Instead, you’ll need to arrange to get your room key in advance.

While this sounds simple enough (and realistically, it is), it was definitely a different check-in procedure than I’d ever experienced.

From our experience (and those that I’ve read from other travelers), this will often mean arranging a place to meet your host when you arrive.

When I booked Tagià in Vernazza, for instance, the host reached out to me via email to coordinate the details of our check-in. We ended up communicating through WhatsApp and arranged to meet at a shop in town so my husband and I could retrieve our room key.

Generally, there will be instructions about the room key logistics when you book, so always read the fine print and make sure to keep the lines of communication open with your host before you arrive.

On the other hand, if the check-in instructions aren’t explicit on the apartment listing, make sure to ask your host ahead of time to avoid any snafus.

The last thing you want is to be standing in the center of town with a bunch of luggage and nowhere to check in!

11. Try to Snag an Apartment with a Balcony

If at all possible, try to land an apartment with a balcony.

While there are plenty of decent places without them, a balcony can really make your Cinque Terre experience that much more special.

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Not only is this a nice setting for a meal, but it’s also a huge plus to have this little slice of heaven to yourself when you wake up with your cup of morning coffee.

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It can also be a perfect spot to escape to on a crowded day when you still want to be outside but prefer to be removed from the chaos.

12. Prepare to Sacrifice Some Privacy if You Stay in One of the Five Villages

While I fully support the notion of booking your stay directly in one of the five towns, I did want to mention the privacy factor in these Cinque Terre tips.

The villages are small and the streets within them tend to be narrow, with apartments sitting quite close to each other. As a result, you may feel that a bit of your privacy is lost during your stay.

For instance, as much as I adored our apartment in Vernazza, there were a couple of times when I felt the need to close the shutters as hikers crossed back and forth just a few feet from our bedroom window.

You should also consider the noise factor as well. While you’ll probably be out and about in the afternoons when tourists peak, you may have to reckon with some morning noise. Since hikers tend to get an early start, you may hear people talking and shuffling about in front of your windows if you decide to sleep in.

While none of this should make or break your experience, it wasn’t something I’d considered initially and I do think it’s worth noting!

13. Don’t Expect Great Wifi – Or Any!

Another factor I wasn’t anticipating (although I probably should’ve, in retrospect) was the terribly poor Wifi experience in the Cinque Terre.

While you may get lucky depending on where you stay, my husband and I were essentially without reliable internet for the duration of our stay.

Although I’m all for “getting off the grid,” this made things challenging for me as a travel blogger, as I’d otherwise be sharing the best Cinque Terre Instagram spots behind the scenes.

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In addition, it was also challenging to do any travel-related research (like looking up train times, restaurants, activities, etc.) while we were staying in the Cinque Terre.

Unfortunately, there’s really not a great way around this, as the Cinque Terre is mountainous with old buildings and tends to lack modern infrastructure.

That said, my best advice would be to just come prepared for that. Frankly, if I had considered this in advance, I would’ve planned accordingly.

Ideally, anticipate not having any WiFi while you’re here and prepare to go off the digital grid. For instance, you’ll want to download any maps, train schedules, and other travel information you may need in advance.

Also, if you have any work deadlines that involve the internet, you’ll want to make sure to take care of those before you arrive.

In addition, if your service provider doesn’t offer an international plan, you may want to purchase an international SIM card.

Packing-Related Cinque Terre Tips

14. Avoid Overpacking

This is one of those Cinque Terre tips for all the suitcase-stuffers out there! As much as you may be tempted to fill your largest suitcase to the brim with all of your cute Italy outfits and twelve pairs of shoes, resist the urge to overdo it.

Frankly – and I say this as a content creator who cares how she looks in pictures – this is not the place to be glam.

In reality, you’ll be miserable lugging a heavy suitcase around in the Cinque Terre. The majority of villages are steep with uneven walkways and many, many steps.

Did I mention there are a lot of steps?

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Yes, stairs are basically unavoidable in the Cinque Terre (unless you’re planning to stay in Monterosso, which is my recommendation for anyone with limited mobility).

However, even there you’ll get tired of lugging around your luggage. And since this is not a luxury destination, don’t expect a bellboy to hop in and help you out, either.

General Rule of Thumb: Only bring whatever you can carry on your own back (or hold in your own hands).

15. Pack Layers

One of the biggest surprises for me about the Cinque Terre was how cold it gets at night. (Granted, we were here in late September, so I imagine this changes a bit depending on the season.)

That said, regardless of the season, you’ll have to reckon with wind, especially if you’re hanging out around one of the town harbors. Trust me when I say, this wind can really pick up in the evening, and when the sun goes down you’ll definitely feel it.

While I was foolishly anticipating mild evenings, I found myself reaching for my jean jacket more often than not.

Although I just finished telling you not to overpack, you do want to pack smart, and by that I mean bring layers and at least one light jacket.

16. Pack Sneakers & Prepare for Uneven Terrain

As I mentioned earlier, the Cinque Terre is the place to get your daily steps in! Even if you’re not hiking, you’re going to want a good, sturdy shoe to support you on the cumbersome streets. This is not the spot for stilettos!

FUN FACT: Flip-flops are outright banned on the hiking trails (and for good reason). Make sure you have sneakers (or at least solid, supportive sandals with a strap to enclose your feet) for hiking.

That said, even if you want to go the hiking sandal route, I recommend packing a pair of sneakers as well, as it’s a good idea to have a close-toed option.

Cost-Related Cinque Terre Tips

17. Prepare Your Own Meals to Save Money

While the Cinque Terre isn’t the cheapest destination by any means, there are still plenty of things you can do here without spending money. For instance, you won’t need to pay to enter the towns themselves and there are a number of free footpaths that you can follow.

In addition, staying in an apartment with a kitchen means that you can prepare your own food to cut costs if you wish. (This is my favorite argument for snagging a balcony because you can eat outside!)

For instance, the kitchen at our Tagià apartment was equipped with a stovetop, oven, and refrigerator, which was definitely a bonus.

18. Try Grab & Go Lunch Options

In addition to meal prepping, there are also plenty of options for a grab-and-go lunch in the Cinque Terre.

For instance, I’ll shamelessly admit that my husband and I lived on focaccia while we were here.

While it may not seem like a substantial enough lunch, there are actually a bunch of focaccia varieties (and other spin-offs) you can try.

My favorite is kind of like a giant “Hot pocket.” These can be stuffed with anything from olives, to roasted peppers, to meats and cheeses.

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Plus, with all of the beautiful scenery, it won’t be hard to pop a squat and enjoy a bite. I personally loved people watching with our little lunch along the Vernazza harbor.

19. Come Prepared with Cash

If you’re one of those travelers who always comes prepared with cash, this will be an obvious one for you.

However, I’m typically not one of those people, so if you’re not either, you’ll want to make sure to have some on you for this trip.

For one, the trail heads only accept cash, so if you don’t have the Cinque Terre Card (which we’ll discuss later), you can’t pay with a credit card.

Plus, it just makes more sense to have cash here, especially if you plan on purchasing souvenirs in shops that don’t accept credit cards or have minimums.

Hiking-Related Cinque Terre Tips

20. Hike at Least One Trail

Hiking is one of the best experiences to have in the Cinque Terre – and also one you definitely won’t want to miss.

Plus, as intimidating as it may seem, you don’t have to be a professional (or even super athletic) to do one.

Instead, the trails offer a range of difficulties so if you’re under-confident in your abilities, you can still totally get out there and have a great time.

Although I personally relish a good hike, I’d consider it a must-do activity here even if I wasn’t a fan of it.

Why?

For one simple reason: You will miss out on the Cinque Terre’s most spectacular views if you don’t hike.

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Now, don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of nice Cinque Terre views to be had within the towns themselves, but they frankly pale in comparison to the ones you’ll discover while hiking.

That’s because the hikes will put you above the villages, giving you an unrivaled birds-eye perspective. Trust me when I say, these are the views that people visit the Cinque Terre for and they simply can’t be replicated at the ground level.

21. Expect the Hike from Monterosso al Mare to Vernazza to Be the Most Challenging

Speaking of views, the ones you’ll find while hiking from Monterosso al Mare to Vernazza are spectacular.

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And trust me, the views keep getting better as you go!

The Cinque Terre is one of Italy’s most beloved destinations. This detailed guide covers 50 key travel tips to help you plan an unforgettable trip to this Italian gem. With first-hand insight you won’t find anywhere else, you’ll uncover everything from where to stay in the Cinque Terre, to key Cinque Terre packing tips and Cinque Terre hiking tips, to what to avoid, and more. Get your trip planning underway today with the ultimate Cinque Terre guide! #cinqueterreitaly #cinqueterretips #5terre
The Cinque Terre is one of Italy’s most beloved destinations. This detailed guide covers 50 key travel tips to help you plan an unforgettable trip to this Italian gem. With first-hand insight you won’t find anywhere else, you’ll uncover everything from where to stay in the Cinque Terre, to key Cinque Terre packing tips and Cinque Terre hiking tips, to what to avoid, and more. Get your trip planning underway today with the ultimate Cinque Terre guide! #cinqueterreitaly #cinqueterretips #5terre

I’ve actually dished all of the deets about the best Cinque Terre views separately, so make sure to check that out before you go!

In any case, you’ll definitely need to earn the visual rewards here, as the hike from Monterosso to Vernazza is considered to be the most challenging. It took us about 90 minutes to complete and I’m not going to lie, I was definitely tired when it was over.

The biggest challenge of this particular hike is its steep climbs. In fact, there’s actually one staircase in particular that comes up just after the accordion players that really had my bottom barking.

(Yes, there’s really a duo of accordion players who you’ll likely come across on this hike. They’ve apparently been playing here for years!)

PRO TIP: Bring some spare change with you while hiking so that you can tip these dedicated musicians who create a wonderful hiking ambiance for everyone!

While we didn’t end up completing any more hikes other than this one (with the exception of starting the hike from Vernazza to Corniglia), I’m completely confident they’d be a literal walk in the park since we experienced the “worst” of them.

22. Purchase a Cinque Terre Card

If you’ve started researching the Cinque Terre, then you’ve probably heard about the coveted Cinque Terre Card.

Technically, there are actually two cards: the Cinque Terre Trekking Card and the Cinque Terre Train Card. Think of the these cards as your tickets to freedom while visiting the five towns.

The Cinque Terre Trekking Card grants you access to all of the footpaths, whereas the Cinque Terre Train Card gives you combined access to all of the hiking trails as well as unlimited train travel on all express trains in the Cinque Terre.

Personally, I recommend getting the combination card to cover all of your bases.

However, regardless of which card you get, you’ll need to validate it before you use it at the green stamp machine located on the way to the platform at the train station. All single-day cards are valid until midnight.

Here’s a brief overview of the Cinque Terre Card costs as of 2021:

Adults (12 – 69 years): 7,50EUR for a single day, 14,50EUR for 2 days

Children (4-12 years): 4,50EUR for a single day, 7,20EUR for 2 days

Keep in mind that these prices are not reflective of train costs as well. For more details including the additional train costs as well as the cost for families, groups, and seniors, check out this Cinque Terre Card information page.

Alternatively, you may wish to skip the cards altogether and purchase a one-way train ticket between two villages for 4EUR per journey.

However, if you plan to use the train at least twice and hike at least one coastal path in a day, it’s definitely a better value to get the Cinque Terre Train Card. 

23. Purchase Any Provisions You’ll Need the Day Before You Hike

In addition to getting a Cinque Terre Card, you’ll also want to come prepared with any food and drinks you may want while hiking, particularly if you’re doing a full-day hike.

I recommend going to one of the village markets and picking up these items the day before.

Reason being, you’ll want to get an early start for hiking and the stores may be closed when you’re ready to start the day.

Each of the villages have small grocers and convenience stores that stock snacks, water, and other items you may need.

24. Protect Yourself from Sun Exposure

Most of the trails are open to the elements, so expect to have a lot of sun exposure while hiking.

This is yet another reason I’d advise against visiting the Cinque Terre in the peak summer months, as the heat from the sun can be pretty severe.

However, regardless of when you decide to visit, I recommend coming prepared with skin protection in the form of sunscreen, sunglasses, a hat, and anything else you may need to feel comfortable.

25. Start Hiking in the Morning

One of the best ways to beat the heat (and the crowds) is to start hiking early in the morning.

While the timing will depend on how much of an early bird you’re willing to be, if you can start your walk around sunrise, that would be ideal.

Plus, since early birds reap the benefit of less crowded trails, you’ll likely finish your hike sooner than you otherwise would starting later in the day (as you won’t have to navigate around others and wait to get your photos).

This means you’ll have more time in your day for all of the other exciting things on your Cinque Terre to-do list!

26. Be Prepared to Show Your Cinque Terre Card on the Trails

While you’re free to hike any trails that are open at your leisure, you should be prepared to show your card at the start of a new trail.

As you begin a new hike, you’ll come across a little ticket booth hut where you’ll need to display it, so I suggest having it ready.

Also, in case you forget to purchase a ticket in advance, you can get one there if you have cash.

27. Expect Some Hiking Trails to Be Super Narrow

If you’re a bit claustrophobic, you’ll definitely want to get an early start on the hiking trails.

The reason for this is that many of the trails are narrow enough where walking single file will be necessary.

As a general rule of thumb, proper hiking etiquette is to let people who are coming from the opposite direction pass (within reason) before forging ahead.

28. Consider a Guided Hiking Experience

While you can certainly go on an independent adventure, you may wish to try a guided half-day or full-day hiking experience instead.

Joining a private hiking group with an expert guide is a great way to learn about the villages and the surrounding region while taking in some of the most spectacular scenery this area has to offer.

Train-Related Cinque Terre Tips

29. Keep an Eye on Your Belongings at the Train Station

Similar to other busy areas in Europe, you’ll want to keep a careful eye on your belongings at each of the village train stations.

As you’ll hear in the train station announcements, pickpockets are common in the Cinque Terre and the train station is one of the most popular spots for them to hang out.

Don’t go into panic mode or be overly paranoid, but do your best to keep any belongings close to your person, conceal any camera gear, and don’t leave backpacks open, etc.

Also, unless you’re arriving or departing the Cinque Terre, I’d limit the personal belongings you carry around to help mitigate risk.

30. Pay Attention to Any Station Announcements

In addition to remaining alert while on the train platform, you’ll want to pay close attention to any station announcements as well.

My husband and I actually missed our stop to Vernazza because we (presumably) missed an announcement.

Fortunately, the train we were on only ended up taking us three stops past it to Riomaggiore, but by the time we caught another train back in the opposite direction, we lost about 30 minutes.

31. Be Mindful of the Train Schedule

I’d also suggest picking up a printed train timetable from your “home base” train station when you arrive. A timetable is free and it can’t hurt to have.

This can really come in handy when WiFi is being wonky (as I mentioned earlier) and you need to figure out your train journey back after a hike, for example.

It’s also better to have a general sense of when the trains are running. Otherwise, you can be standing on the platform for a good stretch of time (not to mention making yourself an easy target for pickpockets).

32. Don’t Rely on the Ticket Machines to Work Perfectly

As with many things in Italy, don’t expect everything to work perfectly.

The ticket machines at the train stations, in particular, can be a bit finicky. We had a bit of trouble using one of the machines in Vernazza (and also noticed other travelers struggling with it as well).

The good news is, if you’re at the station anywhere from mid-morning to the evening, you should be able to go inside the ticket booth and sort out any issues with a train station attendant.

33. Expect Each Village’s Train Station to Be Different

Something I never thought about before visiting the Cinque Terre was how each village’s train station would be laid out.

If I had to guess, I would’ve expected them to all be pretty similar, but that couldn’t be further from reality.

For instance, Vernazza arguably has the most user-friendly train station. You literally exit the platform, walk down a single flight of stairs, and voila! You’re in the town.

Conversely, Riomaggiore has the least user-friendly train station, in my opinion. Once you arrive at the station, you’ll then need to walk down a long, dark (and seemingly endless) tunnel before you pop out near the harbor.

And then there’s Corniglia, which is its own thing entirely. Once you arrive at that train station, you’ll either need to hike up over 350 steps or catch a shuttle bus that will take you up the massive hill into town.

As you can see, each train station experience is unique, so it’s helpful to be aware of that. Just because you can easily hop into one town doesn’t mean you’ll be able to do that at the next.

Food-Related Cinque Terre Tips

34. Download the Nessun Dorma App in Advance

If you’ve ever seen the popular Cinque Terre photo spots on Instagram, then you’re probably already familiar with Nessun Dorma.

This ridiculously popular restaurant has gained quite a bit of social media fame due to its Insta-famous view of Manarola.

Although I wasn’t sure if it would live up to the hype, I can honestly say my husband and I are very glad we snagged a table there. Not only is the view postcard-perfect, but we really enjoyed the food, too!

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That said, since the restaurant has become so popular, it can be tricky to get a table here if you don’t know what you’re doing.

You see, it’s not the sort of place where you can book a reservation days, weeks, or even months in advance. In fact, the restaurant doesn’t accept traditional reservations at all.

Instead, you’ll need to download Nessun Dorma’s proprietary app, which you can get for free in the app store.

PRO TIP: I recommend downloading the app before you arrive so you won’t have to worry about finicky WiFi and you can score a place in line right away.

Here’s how the Nessun Dorma “reservation” system works:

1. You’ll first need to download the Nessun Dorma app (ideally before you arrive).

2. When you arrive in Manarola (and are within walking distance of the restaurant), open up the app and “que” your party in the virtual line.

3. Once there are five or less people ahead of you, you can head up the stairs to the restaurant and wait to be seated.

Here’s what it will look like when you’re in the virtual que:

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Although the app is definitely not the standard way of making a reservation, I actually think it’s quite a clever idea on the restaurant’s part, as it ensures they don’t miss out on any business!

35. You Must Try the Pesto

While we’re on the topic of food in the Cinque Terre, I obviously have to make a plug for the pesto.

FUN FACT: Did you know that the Italian Riviera is considered the home of pesto? This is because the basil – pesto’s foundational ingredient – thrives in the local climate.

As a pesto lover, I can honestly say the Cinque Terre version was probably the best I’ve ever had – and trust me, I’ve had a lot! Honestly, my mouth is watering just remembering it.

The Cinque Terre is one of Italy’s most beloved destinations. This detailed guide covers 50 key travel tips to help you plan an unforgettable trip to this Italian gem. With first-hand insight you won’t find anywhere else, you’ll uncover everything from where to stay in the Cinque Terre, to key Cinque Terre packing tips and Cinque Terre hiking tips, to what to avoid, and more. Get your trip planning underway today with the ultimate Cinque Terre guide! #cinqueterreitaly #cinqueterretips #5terre

You can find pesto pretty much everywhere in the Cinque Terre, so I wouldn’t necessarily recommend one restaurant over another.

However if/when I have the chance to return to this wonderful region, perhaps I’ll do a taste test and report back with a comparison piece!

That said, the dish I shared above was from one of the restaurants along Vernazza’s harbor and it definitely hit the mark!

We also really enjoyed the pesto that came on our bruschetta at Nessun Dorma. 

36. Don’t Forget to the Try the Regional Wine, Too

Cinque Terre is known for its white wine. This variety can best be described as dry and aromatic with green apple notes.

If you’d like to learn more about the regional wine, visit the best vineyards, and sample some different varieties, I recommend doing a wine tour.

The tour I’ve shared below, in particular, also includes a tour of the villages, so you can get a full overview of the region.

37. Take a Food Tour

It’s no secret that people visit Italy from all over the world for the delicious food!

So whether you’re a foodie or you simply wish to experience the culinary scene on another level, a food tour will be right up your alley.

Depending on which tour you choose, you may also have the opportunity to tour the neighborhood markets and learn how to shop like a local!

Honestly, if I had more time to plan our trip, I definitely would’ve joined one of these fun tours myself.

38. Consider an Authentic Dining Experience at a Local’s Home

Imagine having the opportunity to sample the regional flavors from the comfort of a real local’s home?

Well, if you’re the type of foodie who likes to immerse yourself in the authentic culture of a destination, then this next activity will be just what you’re looking for.

This four-course dinner will give you the unique opportunity to experience Italian hospitality at is finest – from within someone’s home!

In addition to sampling tried-and-true recipes that have been perfected over generations, you’ll also have the chance to make lifelong memories with local Italian families.

Please do let me know if you decide to give this a try, as I’d love to hear about your experience!

39. Wander Off the Beaten Path to Find Hidden Restaurant Gems

Even if you don’t have the chance to do a food tour, you’ll have your pick of the litter when it comes to restaurants in the Cinque Terre.

While there’s certainly no shortage of food establishments, I’d recommend venturing off the beaten path beyond the obvious choices.

For instance, after wandering in the different villages, we found some really neat places tucked into the corners of alleyways and perched over hidden cliffs that we never would’ve known were there if we hadn’t explored!

40. Don’t Expect Extensive Breakfasts

One of the biggest letdowns for me in the Cinque Terre – and in Italy in general – was the breakfast (or the lack thereof).

As a destination that is so often touted for its food, I naturally expected breakfast to be something of an affair as well.

However, it seems that the standard start to the day is little more than an espresso and a cigarette. While this is not unlike Paris, at least France is home to the beloved croissant!

Frankly, I still can’t quite put my finger on what an iconic Italian breakfast food would be (at least not from the Cinque Terre).

Please feel free to correct me if I’m wrong here, but I found the breakfast options to be a bit lacking compared to other places in Europe.

Tour-Related Cinque Terre Tips

41. Book Tours in Advance So You Don’t Miss Out

Since the Cinque Terre has become such a popular tourist destination, you’ll want to book your tours in advance, the same as with your accommodation.

If you’re basing yourself in the Cinque Terre, you may wish to consider a guided tour from here with insightful commentary from a local guide.

Alternatively, while I don’t necessarily condone squeezing the Cinque Terre into a day trip, I’m aware that you may not have the luxury of time in your itinerary.

In this case, it may be in your best interest to book a tour from one of the neighboring cities.

For instance, there’s a bunch of guided day tours available from Florence, a popular jumping off point for the Cinque Terre.

Tours From Florence:

Alternatively, if you plan to base yourself along the outskirts of the Cinque Terre in La Spezia, there are some great tour options from there as well.

Tours From La Spezia:

Photography-Related Cinque Terre Tips

42. Bring a Wide Angle Lens

If I was only able to bring one lens to the Cinque Terre, I’d probably choose our 20mm wide angle lens.

Given all the narrow streets and tight spots around the various harbors, a wide angle lens will usually be your best bet for capturing the landscapes in full.

The Cinque Terre is one of Italy’s most beloved destinations. This detailed guide covers 50 key travel tips to help you plan an unforgettable trip to this Italian gem. With first-hand insight you won’t find anywhere else, you’ll uncover everything from where to stay in the Cinque Terre, to key Cinque Terre packing tips and Cinque Terre hiking tips, to what to avoid, and more. Get your trip planning underway today with the ultimate Cinque Terre guide! #cinqueterreitaly #cinqueterretips #5terre

To get a behind-the-scenes look at everything we shoot with, you can check out my travel blog camera and all of our photography gear.

43. Prepare for a Sunrise Mission if You Want Photos without Crowds

As I’ve mentioned several times, the Cinque Terre is a tourist-centric destination. So unless you’re traveling here in the winter (which I don’t recommend), you’ll likely have to reckon with something of a crowd (even in the shoulder season).

I don’t know about you, but I’m definitely one of those people who hates when there’s a lot of other people in my photos. This generally means that my husband and I are waking up early on our travels to get “the shot” before the crowds take hold.

Well, unfortunately, the Cinque Terre is certainly no exception to this rule. In fact, the earlier you’re willing to pull yourself out of bed for photos here, the better.

The Cinque Terre is one of Italy’s most beloved destinations. This detailed guide covers 50 key travel tips to help you plan an unforgettable trip to this Italian gem. With first-hand insight you won’t find anywhere else, you’ll uncover everything from where to stay in the Cinque Terre, to key Cinque Terre packing tips and Cinque Terre hiking tips, to what to avoid, and more. Get your trip planning underway today with the ultimate Cinque Terre guide! #cinqueterreitaly #cinqueterretips #5terre

This is yet another reason I recommend staying in one of the five towns directly, as you can essentially roll out of bed, throw some clothes on, and start capturing those irresistible Cinque Terre Instagram spots.

(If you stay in La Spezia, on the other hand, you’d need to take the train into the towns, which means you’d need to wake up even earlier.)

Early mornings are especially critical if you want to shoot along one of the famous harbors, like in Vernazza or Riomaggiore. Trust me when I say, the harbor areas can start filling up with crowds as early as 8AM!

44. Anticipate Windy Conditions While Shooting by the Harbors

Another thing to keep in mind while shooting by the harbors is the wind factor.

I was quite literally blown away by how windy it can get here!

In fact, one of the sections of Vernazza harbor was actually roped off one morning due to the high tide. Not to mention, the wind definitely wasn’t helping things! In fact, the water levels got so high that waves were crashing onto the platform (an area that was bone-dry the day prior).   

45. Expect Early Morning Delivery Trucks While Shooting

The curse of the influencer life is waking up at the crack of dawn to avoid people – and then having to deal with delivery trucks, instead.

Seriously, ask me how many times this has happened to me…

On second thought, don’t! It will only depress me.

In any case, since the Cinque Terre strives to be a pedestrian-friendly destination, delivery trucks tend to make their rounds in the wee morning hours (a.k.a when us early birds are trying to snap a decent photo).

The Cinque Terre is one of Italy’s most beloved destinations. This detailed guide covers 50 key travel tips to help you plan an unforgettable trip to this Italian gem. With first-hand insight you won’t find anywhere else, you’ll uncover everything from where to stay in the Cinque Terre, to key Cinque Terre packing tips and Cinque Terre hiking tips, to what to avoid, and more. Get your trip planning underway today with the ultimate Cinque Terre guide! #cinqueterreitaly #cinqueterretips #5terre

Unfortunately, there’s really not too much you can do about this other than to know what you’re up against and then plan accordingly. For instance, it’s never a bad idea to scope out a photo spot the day prior to study some alternative angles in case you need to get creative!

In addition, you can get the inside scoop on what to expect at these photo-worthy locations in my guide to the best Cinque Terre Instagram spots.

46. Research & Scout the Best Cinque Terre Photo Spots in Advance

Speaking of scoping out views, the Cinque Terre is definitely one of those destinations you’ll want to research in advance if you’re planning to take a lot of pictures.

(The good news is that I’ve written a detailed photo guide to the Cinque Terre to help you do just that!)

Without having a sense of where the best lookout points are and how to find them, you can waste a lot of time and miss some real gems.

While some spots will jump out at you (such as this postcard-perfect view of Manarola you may recognize from Nessun Dorma), others won’t be as obvious if you don’t know where to look.

The Cinque Terre is one of Italy’s most beloved destinations. This detailed guide covers 50 key travel tips to help you plan an unforgettable trip to this Italian gem. With first-hand insight you won’t find anywhere else, you’ll uncover everything from where to stay in the Cinque Terre, to key Cinque Terre packing tips and Cinque Terre hiking tips, to what to avoid, and more. Get your trip planning underway today with the ultimate Cinque Terre guide! #cinqueterreitaly #cinqueterretips #5terre

For now, I’ll simply encourage you to stay tuned for my follow-up photo guide!

47. Leave the Drone at Home!

While I wish I could wow you with some drool-worthy drone photography from this incredible destination, unfortunately I cannot.

That’s because drones are prohibited in the Cinque Terre National Park!

If you weren’t aware, the five towns that make up the Cinque Terre are actually part of a National Park – and one of the UNESCO world heritage sites to boot!

While you cannot fly a drone within Cinque Terre National Park, exceptions are granted for flights in the unpopulated areas (outside of the actual towns) for pilots who obtain authorization and hold a permit from the Italian Civil Aviation Authority (ENAC).

Fortunately, however, you can still capture the marvelous views with a trusty camera and some handy gear.

General Cinque Terre Tips

48. Avoid Congregating Along Main Streets in the Middle of the Day

Since mid-day crowds tend to take over the five towns (with the possible exception of Corniglia, as it’s the most remote), you’ll want to avoid main streets at this time.

Trust me, the harbors are no picnic in the afternoons either, but at least there you’ll be able to spread out a bit more than you would in a narrow street.

Frankly, I’d much prefer to be hiking, swimming, eating lunch, or enjoying a fun tour on the outskirts of town during this time – anywhere but in the center of town!

49. Expect Each of the Villages to Have a Different “Personality”

Just as people and puppies have different personalities, so do each of the five Cinque Terre villages!

While it may seem like seeing one town is like seeing them all, that couldn’t actually be further from the truth.

Despite the pictures you may have seen circulating around on social media, the towns are not cookie-cutter. While there are definitely some similarities and common themes such as bustling harbors and colorful facades, that’s basically where the similarities end.

You’ll get a much better sense of the best Cinque Terre town for you and which village you’d personally jive with the most in my accompanying guide.

50. Visit Every Town!

Finally, if I could give you just one tip for visiting the Cinque Terre, it would be to visit each of the five towns!

You’ve probably heard a lot of opinions being tossed around about which town to avoid (it’s usually Corniglia), and frankly, it’s a lot of hogwash.

If you really want to do this trip justice, you should see all of the towns for the full context.

Plus, when you have the full overview, you may be surprised by what you discover you like. For instance, I was pretty convinced I wouldn’t like Corniglia based on what I’d read online, and it’s actually one of my top favorites!

In any case, I hope these 50 tips were helpful for you as you plan your Cinque Terre itinerary. This beautiful region is one of my absolute favorites and it’s my goal to arm you with the knowledge you need to plan the trip of a lifetime.

Speaking of planning, check out my other Cinque Terre guides before you go:

Have you had the opportunity to visit this amazing slice of Italy before? What are some of your best Cinque Terre tips that I left out? Let me know in the comments below!

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The Cinque Terre is one of Italy’s most beloved destinations. This detailed guide covers 50 key travel tips to help you plan an unforgettable trip to this Italian gem. With first-hand insight you won’t find anywhere else, you’ll uncover everything from where to stay in the Cinque Terre, to key Cinque Terre packing tips and Cinque Terre hiking tips, to what to avoid, and more. Get your trip planning underway today with the ultimate Cinque Terre guide! #cinqueterreitaly #cinqueterretips #5terre
The Cinque Terre is one of Italy’s most beloved destinations. This detailed guide covers 50 key travel tips to help you plan an unforgettable trip to this Italian gem. With first-hand insight you won’t find anywhere else, you’ll uncover everything from where to stay in the Cinque Terre, to key Cinque Terre packing tips and Cinque Terre hiking tips, to what to avoid, and more. Get your trip planning underway today with the ultimate Cinque Terre guide! #cinqueterreitaly #cinqueterretips #5terre
The Cinque Terre is one of Italy’s most beloved destinations. This detailed guide covers 50 key travel tips to help you plan an unforgettable trip to this Italian gem. With first-hand insight you won’t find anywhere else, you’ll uncover everything from where to stay in the Cinque Terre, to key Cinque Terre packing tips and Cinque Terre hiking tips, to what to avoid, and more. Get your trip planning underway today with the ultimate Cinque Terre guide! #cinqueterreitaly #cinqueterretips #5terre

Despite my initial impulse to divulge a handful of key Cinque Terre tips, as soon as I starting writing, I realized I had a lot to say.

For a relatively small region of Italy, there’s actually quite a bit to know as you put together your Cinque Terre itinerary. Fortunately, I intend to share all of my insight – from the planning to the exploration – without sparing any of the down-and-dirty details.

Here are my best Cinque Terre tips, from what you can’t miss to what you should actively avoid on your first visit.

This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, I will earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Read the full disclosure here.

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The Cinque Terre is one of Italy’s most beloved destinations. This detailed guide covers 50 key travel tips to help you plan an unforgettable trip to this Italian gem. With first-hand insight you won’t find anywhere else, you’ll uncover everything from where to stay in the Cinque Terre, to key Cinque Terre packing tips and Cinque Terre hiking tips, to what to avoid, and more. Get your trip planning underway today with the ultimate Cinque Terre guide! #cinqueterreitaly #cinqueterretips #5terre

Pre-Travel Cinque Terre Tips

1. Consider Traveling During the Shoulder Season

Without a doubt, the Cinque Terre is a seasonal destination. As is typical with many coastal Italian places, it’s busiest in the summer and quietest in the winter.

Ideally, the best time to visit the Cinque Terre is in the shoulder season (March – May or September – October).

While spring is preferable to summer in terms of crowds, do keep in mind that April and May have the highest likelihood of rain.

Personally, I’d recommend traveling in late September. This is what my husband and I did and we found it to be ideal.

Although September can still be pretty busy in terms of crowds, it’s more manageable than in the peak summer season (mid-June to mid-September). Plus, daily temperatures are much more comfortable than in the sweltering summer months and the water is still suitable for swimming.

In addition, if you’re lucky, you may get something of a price break in the fall, whereas you’ll pay a premium during the summer.

Without hesitation, I’d say winter is the worst time to visit, as it can get pretty cold and you’ll find very little to do here.

While I’m generally all for crowd-free environments, many of the restaurants shut down during the winter months. In addition, many popular tours and activities are on hiatus during this time, so a winter experience would be severely limited.

2. Don’t Expect (or Try) to See it All in One Day

A common mistake I see a lot of people make is trying to squeeze everything into a day trip.

While it’s definitely possible to see each of the five towns in a single day (and many people do), you’ll be missing out on the full Cinque Terre experience.

Part of the joy of visiting the Cinque Terre is to savor the quiet mornings, hike, enjoy the views, and really absorb the experience. For obvious reasons, this is much more challenging to do in a single-day timeframe.

The Cinque Terre is one of Italy’s most beloved destinations. This detailed guide covers 50 key travel tips to help you plan an unforgettable trip to this Italian gem. With first-hand insight you won’t find anywhere else, you’ll uncover everything from where to stay in the Cinque Terre, to key Cinque Terre packing tips and Cinque Terre hiking tips, to what to avoid, and more. Get your trip planning underway today with the ultimate Cinque Terre guide! #cinqueterreitaly #cinqueterretips #5terre

Ideally, I’d recommend dedicating a minimum of three nights to your Cinque Terre trip. This is the perfect amount of time to see everything at a reasonable pace while leaving room in your itinerary to explore other areas.

3. Plan On Not Having a Car

In case you’re not already aware, the Cinque Terre is a pedestrian-only destination and cars are not allowed in the towns.

(Although you may notice some vans during your stay, these are exclusively commercial vehicles dropping off food and other supplies.)

Since you won’t be able to drive in the towns, my recommendation is to not tether yourself to a vehicle for the duration of your stay in the Cinque Terre.

Although some people keep a rental car in a lot outside of the towns, I’d advise against this, as parking can be pricey.

Instead, I think it’s much easier to avoid having a car altogether so that you won’t have to burden yourself with the logistics of where to keep it, pay for parking, etc.

That said, you’re going to need to plan how you’ll get to the Cinque Terre, which I’ll cover in the next point.

4. Decide What Major City You’ll Travel In From

In addition to not being able to drive in the Cinque Terre, there are also no airports in the five villages, so you can’t fly in directly.

Instead, the most convenient way to travel here is by train, which you can take from any of the major neighboring Italian cities.

The first part of your train journey will be from your starting city to La Spezia Centrale. From there, you’ll switch to a local train heading into whichever village you decide to stay in.

And, to help you take the guesswork out of where to stay, I’ve covered the best Cinque Terre town to base yourself in depending on your travel style.

Here’s a brief overview of train travel times from the closest major Italian cities:

  • Genoa to Cinque Terre: Approx 1 hour
  • Florence to Cinque Terre: Approx 2 hours
  • Pisa to Cinque Terre: 45 min – 90 min
  • Milan to Cinque Terre: 3 – 3.5 hours
  • Rome to Cinque Terre: 3 – 4 hours

5. Check Current Travel Restrictions Before You Depart

While I look forward to the day when I can skip over this section in my Cinque Terre tips, the reality is that travel just isn’t the same as we remember it from “way back in the day,” circa 2019.

Therefore, I strongly encourage you to check the CDC website as well as the Italy Tourism Board to familiarize yourself with current travel rules and restrictions before booking your trip.

Trust me, I’ve been there and done that this year when I lost out on a two-week trip to Croatia and Montenegro due to an unforeseen airport incident.

Fortunately, however, that whole debacle led my husband and I to the Cinque Terre just a few months later, so I really can’t complain!

That said, do make sure to keep on top of travel restrictions, as they’re always evolving…

Accommodation-Related Cinque Terre Tips

6. Pick One Town to Base Yourself In

When I was first planning our trip to the Cinque Terre, I originally considered picking a few different towns to stay in, hiking between them, and jumping around.

However, I ultimately decided against that idea and I’m really glad I did!

Honestly, if you’re staying for three or less nights, it makes more sense to pick one town as your base and then visit the other towns from there.

That said, making the decision of where to stay is often easier said than done! Personally, I struggled with this decision for quite awhile before settling on Vernazza.

The Cinque Terre is one of Italy’s most beloved destinations. This detailed guide covers 50 key travel tips to help you plan an unforgettable trip to this Italian gem. With first-hand insight you won’t find anywhere else, you’ll uncover everything from where to stay in the Cinque Terre, to key Cinque Terre packing tips and Cinque Terre hiking tips, to what to avoid, and more. Get your trip planning underway today with the ultimate Cinque Terre guide! #cinqueterreitaly #cinqueterretips #5terre

So if you’re also feeling indecisive – or you just want a better idea of what each of the villages are actually like – be sure to check out my guide to each of the Cinque Terre towns.

7. Choose Between Convenience & Cost-Savings

As with most things in life, you can usually save time or save money – but not both.

In regards to planning your Cinque Terre accommodations, you can either stay in one of the five villages directly or on the outskirts. This decision will ultimately be about what’s more important to you: convenience or cash.

So here’s the rub.

Staying in the Cinque Terre isn’t inherently cheap. For one, it’s a tourist destination and for another, apartments are limited.

That said, part of what you’re paying for by staying in one of the five towns is the convenience factor. You’ll wake up in your chosen village and you’ll start the day without a lot of hassle.

Personally, staying in the Cinque Terre directly was a no-brainer for me, as I knew I wanted to be in the heart of it all. I also loved the added benefit of having Vernazza “all to myself” in the early mornings before the late-morning tourist crowds arrived.

Alternatively, if you’re looking to save some cash, you can stay on the outskirts of the Cinque Terre in La Spezia. Here, you’ll likely be able to find a larger place for less.

However, the downside of staying in La Spezia is that you’ll have to take the train into the towns each day.

While both options are totally doable, it will ultimately come down to what your priorities are and how much you’re willing to spend.

8. Book Your Stay Early

If you ultimately decide to stay in one of the five towns, you’ll need to plan ahead. Ideally, you want to book your Cinque Terre accommodations a few months in advance.

While this may seem excessive, trust me when I say, it will be challenging – if not impossible – to book something if you wait until the last minute.

Keep in mind that the villages aren’t particularly large and tourist demand can be quite high. In addition, with the possible exception of Monterosso, you’ll ultimately be deciding between apartments (not major hotel chains) and there’s not a lot of rooms to go around.

Unsurprisingly, the majority of properties tend to book up quite quickly here, so you don’t want to miss out.

In addition, while La Spezia usually has more to offer, accommodations can book up quickly there as well, particularly in the peak summer months.

9. Expect Self-Catering Apartments Over Upscale Resorts

The majority of the Cinque Terre offers cozy, apartment-style accommodations. This is not the destination for luxury resorts and fancy spas.

However, the one potential exception here is Monterosso al Mare, the northernmost Cinque Terre village. As the largest town area-wise, the beachy village of Monterosso has the bandwidth for larger properties and resorts, if that’s more your speed.

However, if you’re looking to stay in any one of the other four villages – Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, or Riomaggiore – you’re going to need to adjust your expectations.

That said, I personally enjoy “living like a local” while I’m traveling, so I was quite at home in our Vernazza apartment.

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10. Coordinate the Check-In Carefully with Your Apartment Host

Being that most of the properties in the Cinque Terre are apartments and Airbnbs, you shouldn’t expect a lobby nor a doorman.

Instead, you’ll need to arrange to get your room key in advance.

While this sounds simple enough (and realistically, it is), it was definitely a different check-in procedure than I’d ever experienced.

From our experience (and those that I’ve read from other travelers), this will often mean arranging a place to meet your host when you arrive.

When I booked Tagià in Vernazza, for instance, the host reached out to me via email to coordinate the details of our check-in. We ended up communicating through WhatsApp and arranged to meet at a shop in town so my husband and I could retrieve our room key.

Generally, there will be instructions about the room key logistics when you book, so always read the fine print and make sure to keep the lines of communication open with your host before you arrive.

On the other hand, if the check-in instructions aren’t explicit on the apartment listing, make sure to ask your host ahead of time to avoid any snafus.

The last thing you want is to be standing in the center of town with a bunch of luggage and nowhere to check in!

11. Try to Snag an Apartment with a Balcony

If at all possible, try to land an apartment with a balcony.

While there are plenty of decent places without them, a balcony can really make your Cinque Terre experience that much more special.

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Not only is this a nice setting for a meal, but it’s also a huge plus to have this little slice of heaven to yourself when you wake up with your cup of morning coffee.

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It can also be a perfect spot to escape to on a crowded day when you still want to be outside but prefer to be removed from the chaos.

12. Prepare to Sacrifice Some Privacy if You Stay in One of the Five Villages

While I fully support the notion of booking your stay directly in one of the five towns, I did want to mention the privacy factor in these Cinque Terre tips.

The villages are small and the streets within them tend to be narrow, with apartments sitting quite close to each other. As a result, you may feel that a bit of your privacy is lost during your stay.

For instance, as much as I adored our apartment in Vernazza, there were a couple of times when I felt the need to close the shutters as hikers crossed back and forth just a few feet from our bedroom window.

You should also consider the noise factor as well. While you’ll probably be out and about in the afternoons when tourists peak, you may have to reckon with some morning noise. Since hikers tend to get an early start, you may hear people talking and shuffling about in front of your windows if you decide to sleep in.

While none of this should make or break your experience, it wasn’t something I’d considered initially and I do think it’s worth noting!

13. Don’t Expect Great Wifi – Or Any!

Another factor I wasn’t anticipating (although I probably should’ve, in retrospect) was the terribly poor Wifi experience in the Cinque Terre.

While you may get lucky depending on where you stay, my husband and I were essentially without reliable internet for the duration of our stay.

Although I’m all for “getting off the grid,” this made things challenging for me as a travel blogger, as I’d otherwise be sharing the best Cinque Terre Instagram spots behind the scenes.

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In addition, it was also challenging to do any travel-related research (like looking up train times, restaurants, activities, etc.) while we were staying in the Cinque Terre.

Unfortunately, there’s really not a great way around this, as the Cinque Terre is mountainous with old buildings and tends to lack modern infrastructure.

That said, my best advice would be to just come prepared for that. Frankly, if I had considered this in advance, I would’ve planned accordingly.

Ideally, anticipate not having any WiFi while you’re here and prepare to go off the digital grid. For instance, you’ll want to download any maps, train schedules, and other travel information you may need in advance.

Also, if you have any work deadlines that involve the internet, you’ll want to make sure to take care of those before you arrive.

In addition, if your service provider doesn’t offer an international plan, you may want to purchase an international SIM card.

Packing-Related Cinque Terre Tips

14. Avoid Overpacking

This is one of those Cinque Terre tips for all the suitcase-stuffers out there! As much as you may be tempted to fill your largest suitcase to the brim with all of your cute Italy outfits and twelve pairs of shoes, resist the urge to overdo it.

Frankly – and I say this as a content creator who cares how she looks in pictures – this is not the place to be glam.

In reality, you’ll be miserable lugging a heavy suitcase around in the Cinque Terre. The majority of villages are steep with uneven walkways and many, many steps.

Did I mention there are a lot of steps?

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Yes, stairs are basically unavoidable in the Cinque Terre (unless you’re planning to stay in Monterosso, which is my recommendation for anyone with limited mobility).

However, even there you’ll get tired of lugging around your luggage. And since this is not a luxury destination, don’t expect a bellboy to hop in and help you out, either.

General Rule of Thumb: Only bring whatever you can carry on your own back (or hold in your own hands).

15. Pack Layers

One of the biggest surprises for me about the Cinque Terre was how cold it gets at night. (Granted, we were here in late September, so I imagine this changes a bit depending on the season.)

That said, regardless of the season, you’ll have to reckon with wind, especially if you’re hanging out around one of the town harbors. Trust me when I say, this wind can really pick up in the evening, and when the sun goes down you’ll definitely feel it.

While I was foolishly anticipating mild evenings, I found myself reaching for my jean jacket more often than not.

Although I just finished telling you not to overpack, you do want to pack smart, and by that I mean bring layers and at least one light jacket.

16. Pack Sneakers & Prepare for Uneven Terrain

As I mentioned earlier, the Cinque Terre is the place to get your daily steps in! Even if you’re not hiking, you’re going to want a good, sturdy shoe to support you on the cumbersome streets. This is not the spot for stilettos!

FUN FACT: Flip-flops are outright banned on the hiking trails (and for good reason). Make sure you have sneakers (or at least solid, supportive sandals with a strap to enclose your feet) for hiking.

That said, even if you want to go the hiking sandal route, I recommend packing a pair of sneakers as well, as it’s a good idea to have a close-toed option.

Cost-Related Cinque Terre Tips

17. Prepare Your Own Meals to Save Money

While the Cinque Terre isn’t the cheapest destination by any means, there are still plenty of things you can do here without spending money. For instance, you won’t need to pay to enter the towns themselves and there are a number of free footpaths that you can follow.

In addition, staying in an apartment with a kitchen means that you can prepare your own food to cut costs if you wish. (This is my favorite argument for snagging a balcony because you can eat outside!)

For instance, the kitchen at our Tagià apartment was equipped with a stovetop, oven, and refrigerator, which was definitely a bonus.

18. Try Grab & Go Lunch Options

In addition to meal prepping, there are also plenty of options for a grab-and-go lunch in the Cinque Terre.

For instance, I’ll shamelessly admit that my husband and I lived on focaccia while we were here.

While it may not seem like a substantial enough lunch, there are actually a bunch of focaccia varieties (and other spin-offs) you can try.

My favorite is kind of like a giant “Hot pocket.” These can be stuffed with anything from olives, to roasted peppers, to meats and cheeses.

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Plus, with all of the beautiful scenery, it won’t be hard to pop a squat and enjoy a bite. I personally loved people watching with our little lunch along the Vernazza harbor.

19. Come Prepared with Cash

If you’re one of those travelers who always comes prepared with cash, this will be an obvious one for you.

However, I’m typically not one of those people, so if you’re not either, you’ll want to make sure to have some on you for this trip.

For one, the trail heads only accept cash, so if you don’t have the Cinque Terre Card (which we’ll discuss later), you can’t pay with a credit card.

Plus, it just makes more sense to have cash here, especially if you plan on purchasing souvenirs in shops that don’t accept credit cards or have minimums.

Hiking-Related Cinque Terre Tips

20. Hike at Least One Trail

Hiking is one of the best experiences to have in the Cinque Terre – and also one you definitely won’t want to miss.

Plus, as intimidating as it may seem, you don’t have to be a professional (or even super athletic) to do one.

Instead, the trails offer a range of difficulties so if you’re under-confident in your abilities, you can still totally get out there and have a great time.

Although I personally relish a good hike, I’d consider it a must-do activity here even if I wasn’t a fan of it.

Why?

For one simple reason: You will miss out on the Cinque Terre’s most spectacular views if you don’t hike.

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Now, don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of nice Cinque Terre views to be had within the towns themselves, but they frankly pale in comparison to the ones you’ll discover while hiking.

That’s because the hikes will put you above the villages, giving you an unrivaled birds-eye perspective. Trust me when I say, these are the views that people visit the Cinque Terre for and they simply can’t be replicated at the ground level.

21. Expect the Hike from Monterosso al Mare to Vernazza to Be the Most Challenging

Speaking of views, the ones you’ll find while hiking from Monterosso al Mare to Vernazza are spectacular.

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And trust me, the views keep getting better as you go!

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The Cinque Terre is one of Italy’s most beloved destinations. This detailed guide covers 50 key travel tips to help you plan an unforgettable trip to this Italian gem. With first-hand insight you won’t find anywhere else, you’ll uncover everything from where to stay in the Cinque Terre, to key Cinque Terre packing tips and Cinque Terre hiking tips, to what to avoid, and more. Get your trip planning underway today with the ultimate Cinque Terre guide! #cinqueterreitaly #cinqueterretips #5terre

I’ve actually dished all of the deets about the best Cinque Terre views separately, so make sure to check that out before you go!

In any case, you’ll definitely need to earn the visual rewards here, as the hike from Monterosso to Vernazza is considered to be the most challenging. It took us about 90 minutes to complete and I’m not going to lie, I was definitely tired when it was over.

The biggest challenge of this particular hike is its steep climbs. In fact, there’s actually one staircase in particular that comes up just after the accordion players that really had my bottom barking.

(Yes, there’s really a duo of accordion players who you’ll likely come across on this hike. They’ve apparently been playing here for years!)

PRO TIP: Bring some spare change with you while hiking so that you can tip these dedicated musicians who create a wonderful hiking ambiance for everyone!

While we didn’t end up completing any more hikes other than this one (with the exception of starting the hike from Vernazza to Corniglia), I’m completely confident they’d be a literal walk in the park since we experienced the “worst” of them.

22. Purchase a Cinque Terre Card

If you’ve started researching the Cinque Terre, then you’ve probably heard about the coveted Cinque Terre Card.

Technically, there are actually two cards: the Cinque Terre Trekking Card and the Cinque Terre Train Card. Think of the these cards as your tickets to freedom while visiting the five towns.

The Cinque Terre Trekking Card grants you access to all of the footpaths, whereas the Cinque Terre Train Card gives you combined access to all of the hiking trails as well as unlimited train travel on all express trains in the Cinque Terre.

Personally, I recommend getting the combination card to cover all of your bases.

However, regardless of which card you get, you’ll need to validate it before you use it at the green stamp machine located on the way to the platform at the train station. All single-day cards are valid until midnight.

Here’s a brief overview of the Cinque Terre Card costs as of 2021:

Adults (12 – 69 years): 7,50EUR for a single day, 14,50EUR for 2 days

Children (4-12 years): 4,50EUR for a single day, 7,20EUR for 2 days

Keep in mind that these prices are not reflective of train costs as well. For more details including the additional train costs as well as the cost for families, groups, and seniors, check out this Cinque Terre Card information page.

Alternatively, you may wish to skip the cards altogether and purchase a one-way train ticket between two villages for 4EUR per journey.

However, if you plan to use the train at least twice and hike at least one coastal path in a day, it’s definitely a better value to get the Cinque Terre Train Card. 

23. Purchase Any Provisions You’ll Need the Day Before You Hike

In addition to getting a Cinque Terre Card, you’ll also want to come prepared with any food and drinks you may want while hiking, particularly if you’re doing a full-day hike.

I recommend going to one of the village markets and picking up these items the day before.

Reason being, you’ll want to get an early start for hiking and the stores may be closed when you’re ready to start the day.

Each of the villages have small grocers and convenience stores that stock snacks, water, and other items you may need.

24. Protect Yourself from Sun Exposure

Most of the trails are open to the elements, so expect to have a lot of sun exposure while hiking.

This is yet another reason I’d advise against visiting the Cinque Terre in the peak summer months, as the heat from the sun can be pretty severe.

However, regardless of when you decide to visit, I recommend coming prepared with skin protection in the form of sunscreen, sunglasses, a hat, and anything else you may need to feel comfortable.

25. Start Hiking in the Morning

One of the best ways to beat the heat (and the crowds) is to start hiking early in the morning.

While the timing will depend on how much of an early bird you’re willing to be, if you can start your walk around sunrise, that would be ideal.

Plus, since early birds reap the benefit of less crowded trails, you’ll likely finish your hike sooner than you otherwise would starting later in the day (as you won’t have to navigate around others and wait to get your photos).

This means you’ll have more time in your day for all of the other exciting things on your Cinque Terre to-do list!

26. Be Prepared to Show Your Cinque Terre Card on the Trails

While you’re free to hike any trails that are open at your leisure, you should be prepared to show your card at the start of a new trail.

As you begin a new hike, you’ll come across a little ticket booth hut where you’ll need to display it, so I suggest having it ready.

Also, in case you forget to purchase a ticket in advance, you can get one there if you have cash.

27. Expect Some Hiking Trails to Be Super Narrow

If you’re a bit claustrophobic, you’ll definitely want to get an early start on the hiking trails.

The reason for this is that many of the trails are narrow enough where walking single file will be necessary.

As a general rule of thumb, proper hiking etiquette is to let people who are coming from the opposite direction pass (within reason) before forging ahead.

28. Consider a Guided Hiking Experience

While you can certainly go on an independent adventure, you may wish to try a guided half-day or full-day hiking experience instead.

Joining a private hiking group with an expert guide is a great way to learn about the villages and the surrounding region while taking in some of the most spectacular scenery this area has to offer.

Train-Related Cinque Terre Tips

29. Keep an Eye on Your Belongings at the Train Station

Similar to other busy areas in Europe, you’ll want to keep a careful eye on your belongings at each of the village train stations.

As you’ll hear in the train station announcements, pickpockets are common in the Cinque Terre and the train station is one of the most popular spots for them to hang out.

Don’t go into panic mode or be overly paranoid, but do your best to keep any belongings close to your person, conceal any camera gear, and don’t leave backpacks open, etc.

Also, unless you’re arriving or departing the Cinque Terre, I’d limit the personal belongings you carry around to help mitigate risk.

30. Pay Attention to Any Station Announcements

In addition to remaining alert while on the train platform, you’ll want to pay close attention to any station announcements as well.

My husband and I actually missed our stop to Vernazza because we (presumably) missed an announcement.

Fortunately, the train we were on only ended up taking us three stops past it to Riomaggiore, but by the time we caught another train back in the opposite direction, we lost about 30 minutes.

31. Be Mindful of the Train Schedule

I’d also suggest picking up a printed train timetable from your “home base” train station when you arrive. A timetable is free and it can’t hurt to have.

This can really come in handy when WiFi is being wonky (as I mentioned earlier) and you need to figure out your train journey back after a hike, for example.

It’s also better to have a general sense of when the trains are running. Otherwise, you can be standing on the platform for a good stretch of time (not to mention making yourself an easy target for pickpockets).

32. Don’t Rely on the Ticket Machines to Work Perfectly

As with many things in Italy, don’t expect everything to work perfectly.

The ticket machines at the train stations, in particular, can be a bit finicky. We had a bit of trouble using one of the machines in Vernazza (and also noticed other travelers struggling with it as well).

The good news is, if you’re at the station anywhere from mid-morning to the evening, you should be able to go inside the ticket booth and sort out any issues with a train station attendant.

33. Expect Each Village’s Train Station to Be Different

Something I never thought about before visiting the Cinque Terre was how each village’s train station would be laid out.

If I had to guess, I would’ve expected them to all be pretty similar, but that couldn’t be further from reality.

For instance, Vernazza arguably has the most user-friendly train station. You literally exit the platform, walk down a single flight of stairs, and voila! You’re in the town.

Conversely, Riomaggiore has the least user-friendly train station, in my opinion. Once you arrive at the station, you’ll then need to walk down a long, dark (and seemingly endless) tunnel before you pop out near the harbor.

And then there’s Corniglia, which is its own thing entirely. Once you arrive at that train station, you’ll either need to hike up over 350 steps or catch a shuttle bus that will take you up the massive hill into town.

As you can see, each train station experience is unique, so it’s helpful to be aware of that. Just because you can easily hop into one town doesn’t mean you’ll be able to do that at the next.

Food-Related Cinque Terre Tips

34. Download the Nessun Dorma App in Advance

If you’ve ever seen the popular Cinque Terre photo spots on Instagram, then you’re probably already familiar with Nessun Dorma.

This ridiculously popular restaurant has gained quite a bit of social media fame due to its Insta-famous view of Manarola.

Although I wasn’t sure if it would live up to the hype, I can honestly say my husband and I are very glad we snagged a table there. Not only is the view postcard-perfect, but we really enjoyed the food, too!

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That said, since the restaurant has become so popular, it can be tricky to get a table here if you don’t know what you’re doing.

You see, it’s not the sort of place where you can book a reservation days, weeks, or even months in advance. In fact, the restaurant doesn’t accept traditional reservations at all.

Instead, you’ll need to download Nessun Dorma’s proprietary app, which you can get for free in the app store.

PRO TIP: I recommend downloading the app before you arrive so you won’t have to worry about finicky WiFi and you can score a place in line right away.

Here’s how the Nessun Dorma “reservation” system works:

1. You’ll first need to download the Nessun Dorma app (ideally before you arrive).

2. When you arrive in Manarola (and are within walking distance of the restaurant), open up the app and “que” your party in the virtual line.

3. Once there are five or less people ahead of you, you can head up the stairs to the restaurant and wait to be seated.

Here’s what it will look like when you’re in the virtual que:

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Although the app is definitely not the standard way of making a reservation, I actually think it’s quite a clever idea on the restaurant’s part, as it ensures they don’t miss out on any business!

35. You Must Try the Pesto

While we’re on the topic of food in the Cinque Terre, I obviously have to make a plug for the pesto.

FUN FACT: Did you know that the Italian Riviera is considered the home of pesto? This is because the basil – pesto’s foundational ingredient – thrives in the local climate.

As a pesto lover, I can honestly say the Cinque Terre version was probably the best I’ve ever had – and trust me, I’ve had a lot! Honestly, my mouth is watering just remembering it.

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You can find pesto pretty much everywhere in the Cinque Terre, so I wouldn’t necessarily recommend one restaurant over another.

However if/when I have the chance to return to this wonderful region, perhaps I’ll do a taste test and report back with a comparison piece!

That said, the dish I shared above was from one of the restaurants along Vernazza’s harbor and it definitely hit the mark!

We also really enjoyed the pesto that came on our bruschetta at Nessun Dorma. 

36. Don’t Forget to the Try the Regional Wine, Too

Cinque Terre is known for its white wine. This variety can best be described as dry and aromatic with green apple notes.

If you’d like to learn more about the regional wine, visit the best vineyards, and sample some different varieties, I recommend doing a wine tour.

The tour I’ve shared below, in particular, also includes a tour of the villages, so you can get a full overview of the region.

37. Take a Food Tour

It’s no secret that people visit Italy from all over the world for the delicious food!

So whether you’re a foodie or you simply wish to experience the culinary scene on another level, a food tour will be right up your alley.

Depending on which tour you choose, you may also have the opportunity to tour the neighborhood markets and learn how to shop like a local!

Honestly, if I had more time to plan our trip, I definitely would’ve joined one of these fun tours myself.

38. Consider an Authentic Dining Experience at a Local’s Home

Imagine having the opportunity to sample the regional flavors from the comfort of a real local’s home?

Well, if you’re the type of foodie who likes to immerse yourself in the authentic culture of a destination, then this next activity will be just what you’re looking for.

This four-course dinner will give you the unique opportunity to experience Italian hospitality at is finest – from within someone’s home!

In addition to sampling tried-and-true recipes that have been perfected over generations, you’ll also have the chance to make lifelong memories with local Italian families.

Please do let me know if you decide to give this a try, as I’d love to hear about your experience!

39. Wander Off the Beaten Path to Find Hidden Restaurant Gems

Even if you don’t have the chance to do a food tour, you’ll have your pick of the litter when it comes to restaurants in the Cinque Terre.

While there’s certainly no shortage of food establishments, I’d recommend venturing off the beaten path beyond the obvious choices.

For instance, after wandering in the different villages, we found some really neat places tucked into the corners of alleyways and perched over hidden cliffs that we never would’ve known were there if we hadn’t explored!

40. Don’t Expect Extensive Breakfasts

One of the biggest letdowns for me in the Cinque Terre – and in Italy in general – was the breakfast (or the lack thereof).

As a destination that is so often touted for its food, I naturally expected breakfast to be something of an affair as well.

However, it seems that the standard start to the day is little more than an espresso and a cigarette. While this is not unlike Paris, at least France is home to the beloved croissant!

Frankly, I still can’t quite put my finger on what an iconic Italian breakfast food would be (at least not from the Cinque Terre).

Please feel free to correct me if I’m wrong here, but I found the breakfast options to be a bit lacking compared to other places in Europe.

Tour-Related Cinque Terre Tips

41. Book Tours in Advance So You Don’t Miss Out

Since the Cinque Terre has become such a popular tourist destination, you’ll want to book your tours in advance, the same as with your accommodation.

If you’re basing yourself in the Cinque Terre, you may wish to consider a guided tour from here with insightful commentary from a local guide.

Alternatively, while I don’t necessarily condone squeezing the Cinque Terre into a day trip, I’m aware that you may not have the luxury of time in your itinerary.

In this case, it may be in your best interest to book a tour from one of the neighboring cities.

For instance, there’s a bunch of guided day tours available from Florence, a popular jumping off point for the Cinque Terre.

Tours From Florence:

Alternatively, if you plan to base yourself along the outskirts of the Cinque Terre in La Spezia, there are some great tour options from there as well.

Tours From La Spezia:

Photography-Related Cinque Terre Tips

42. Bring a Wide Angle Lens

If I was only able to bring one lens to the Cinque Terre, I’d probably choose our 20mm wide angle lens.

Given all the narrow streets and tight spots around the various harbors, a wide angle lens will usually be your best bet for capturing the landscapes in full.

The Cinque Terre is one of Italy’s most beloved destinations. This detailed guide covers 50 key travel tips to help you plan an unforgettable trip to this Italian gem. With first-hand insight you won’t find anywhere else, you’ll uncover everything from where to stay in the Cinque Terre, to key Cinque Terre packing tips and Cinque Terre hiking tips, to what to avoid, and more. Get your trip planning underway today with the ultimate Cinque Terre guide! #cinqueterreitaly #cinqueterretips #5terre

To get a behind-the-scenes look at everything we shoot with, you can check out my travel blog camera and all of our photography gear.

43. Prepare for a Sunrise Mission if You Want Photos without Crowds

As I’ve mentioned several times, the Cinque Terre is a tourist-centric destination. So unless you’re traveling here in the winter (which I don’t recommend), you’ll likely have to reckon with something of a crowd (even in the shoulder season).

I don’t know about you, but I’m definitely one of those people who hates when there’s a lot of other people in my photos. This generally means that my husband and I are waking up early on our travels to get “the shot” before the crowds take hold.

Well, unfortunately, the Cinque Terre is certainly no exception to this rule. In fact, the earlier you’re willing to pull yourself out of bed for photos here, the better.

The Cinque Terre is one of Italy’s most beloved destinations. This detailed guide covers 50 key travel tips to help you plan an unforgettable trip to this Italian gem. With first-hand insight you won’t find anywhere else, you’ll uncover everything from where to stay in the Cinque Terre, to key Cinque Terre packing tips and Cinque Terre hiking tips, to what to avoid, and more. Get your trip planning underway today with the ultimate Cinque Terre guide! #cinqueterreitaly #cinqueterretips #5terre

This is yet another reason I recommend staying in one of the five towns directly, as you can essentially roll out of bed, throw some clothes on, and start capturing those irresistible Cinque Terre Instagram spots.

(If you stay in La Spezia, on the other hand, you’d need to take the train into the towns, which means you’d need to wake up even earlier.)

Early mornings are especially critical if you want to shoot along one of the famous harbors, like in Vernazza or Riomaggiore. Trust me when I say, the harbor areas can start filling up with crowds as early as 8AM!

44. Anticipate Windy Conditions While Shooting by the Harbors

Another thing to keep in mind while shooting by the harbors is the wind factor.

I was quite literally blown away by how windy it can get here!

In fact, one of the sections of Vernazza harbor was actually roped off one morning due to the high tide. Not to mention, the wind definitely wasn’t helping things! In fact, the water levels got so high that waves were crashing onto the platform (an area that was bone-dry the day prior).   

45. Expect Early Morning Delivery Trucks While Shooting

The curse of the influencer life is waking up at the crack of dawn to avoid people – and then having to deal with delivery trucks, instead.

Seriously, ask me how many times this has happened to me…

On second thought, don’t! It will only depress me.

In any case, since the Cinque Terre strives to be a pedestrian-friendly destination, delivery trucks tend to make their rounds in the wee morning hours (a.k.a when us early birds are trying to snap a decent photo).

The Cinque Terre is one of Italy’s most beloved destinations. This detailed guide covers 50 key travel tips to help you plan an unforgettable trip to this Italian gem. With first-hand insight you won’t find anywhere else, you’ll uncover everything from where to stay in the Cinque Terre, to key Cinque Terre packing tips and Cinque Terre hiking tips, to what to avoid, and more. Get your trip planning underway today with the ultimate Cinque Terre guide! #cinqueterreitaly #cinqueterretips #5terre

Unfortunately, there’s really not too much you can do about this other than to know what you’re up against and then plan accordingly. For instance, it’s never a bad idea to scope out a photo spot the day prior to study some alternative angles in case you need to get creative!

In addition, you can get the inside scoop on what to expect at these photo-worthy locations in my guide to the best Cinque Terre Instagram spots.

46. Research & Scout the Best Cinque Terre Photo Spots in Advance

Speaking of scoping out views, the Cinque Terre is definitely one of those destinations you’ll want to research in advance if you’re planning to take a lot of pictures.

(The good news is that I’ve written a detailed photo guide to the Cinque Terre to help you do just that!)

Without having a sense of where the best lookout points are and how to find them, you can waste a lot of time and miss some real gems.

While some spots will jump out at you (such as this postcard-perfect view of Manarola you may recognize from Nessun Dorma), others won’t be as obvious if you don’t know where to look.

The Cinque Terre is one of Italy’s most beloved destinations. This detailed guide covers 50 key travel tips to help you plan an unforgettable trip to this Italian gem. With first-hand insight you won’t find anywhere else, you’ll uncover everything from where to stay in the Cinque Terre, to key Cinque Terre packing tips and Cinque Terre hiking tips, to what to avoid, and more. Get your trip planning underway today with the ultimate Cinque Terre guide! #cinqueterreitaly #cinqueterretips #5terre

For now, I’ll simply encourage you to stay tuned for my follow-up photo guide!

47. Leave the Drone at Home!

While I wish I could wow you with some drool-worthy drone photography from this incredible destination, unfortunately I cannot.

That’s because drones are prohibited in the Cinque Terre National Park!

If you weren’t aware, the five towns that make up the Cinque Terre are actually part of a National Park – and one of the UNESCO world heritage sites to boot!

While you cannot fly a drone within Cinque Terre National Park, exceptions are granted for flights in the unpopulated areas (outside of the actual towns) for pilots who obtain authorization and hold a permit from the Italian Civil Aviation Authority (ENAC).

Fortunately, however, you can still capture the marvelous views with a trusty camera and some handy gear.

General Cinque Terre Tips

48. Avoid Congregating Along Main Streets in the Middle of the Day

Since mid-day crowds tend to take over the five towns (with the possible exception of Corniglia, as it’s the most remote), you’ll want to avoid main streets at this time.

Trust me, the harbors are no picnic in the afternoons either, but at least there you’ll be able to spread out a bit more than you would in a narrow street.

Frankly, I’d much prefer to be hiking, swimming, eating lunch, or enjoying a fun tour on the outskirts of town during this time – anywhere but in the center of town!

49. Expect Each of the Villages to Have a Different “Personality”

Just as people and puppies have different personalities, so do each of the five Cinque Terre villages!

While it may seem like seeing one town is like seeing them all, that couldn’t actually be further from the truth.

Despite the pictures you may have seen circulating around on social media, the towns are not cookie-cutter. While there are definitely some similarities and common themes such as bustling harbors and colorful facades, that’s basically where the similarities end.

You’ll get a much better sense of the best Cinque Terre town for you and which village you’d personally jive with the most in my accompanying guide.

50. Visit Every Town!

Finally, if I could give you just one tip for visiting the Cinque Terre, it would be to visit each of the five towns!

You’ve probably heard a lot of opinions being tossed around about which town to avoid (it’s usually Corniglia), and frankly, it’s a lot of hogwash.

If you really want to do this trip justice, you should see all of the towns for the full context.

Plus, when you have the full overview, you may be surprised by what you discover you like. For instance, I was pretty convinced I wouldn’t like Corniglia based on what I’d read online, and it’s actually one of my top favorites!

In any case, I hope these 50 tips were helpful for you as you plan your Cinque Terre itinerary. This beautiful region is one of my absolute favorites and it’s my goal to arm you with the knowledge you need to plan the trip of a lifetime.

Speaking of planning, check out my other Cinque Terre guides before you go:

Have you had the opportunity to visit this amazing slice of Italy before? What are some of your best Cinque Terre tips that I left out? Let me know in the comments below!

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The Cinque Terre is one of Italy’s most beloved destinations. This detailed guide covers 50 key travel tips to help you plan an unforgettable trip to this Italian gem. With first-hand insight you won’t find anywhere else, you’ll uncover everything from where to stay in the Cinque Terre, to key Cinque Terre packing tips and Cinque Terre hiking tips, to what to avoid, and more. Get your trip planning underway today with the ultimate Cinque Terre guide! #cinqueterreitaly #cinqueterretips #5terre
The Cinque Terre is one of Italy’s most beloved destinations. This detailed guide covers 50 key travel tips to help you plan an unforgettable trip to this Italian gem. With first-hand insight you won’t find anywhere else, you’ll uncover everything from where to stay in the Cinque Terre, to key Cinque Terre packing tips and Cinque Terre hiking tips, to what to avoid, and more. Get your trip planning underway today with the ultimate Cinque Terre guide! #cinqueterreitaly #cinqueterretips #5terre
The Cinque Terre is one of Italy’s most beloved destinations. This detailed guide covers 50 key travel tips to help you plan an unforgettable trip to this Italian gem. With first-hand insight you won’t find anywhere else, you’ll uncover everything from where to stay in the Cinque Terre, to key Cinque Terre packing tips and Cinque Terre hiking tips, to what to avoid, and more. Get your trip planning underway today with the ultimate Cinque Terre guide! #cinqueterreitaly #cinqueterretips #5terre