The Perfect 2 to 3 Days in Cinque Terre Itinerary


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While most people tend to go to the Amalfi Coast while searching for the famously beautiful views of the Italian seaside, Cinque Terre is a fiercely charming competitor located in the Liguria region and rugged Italian Riviera. Translating to “5 Towns,” this area is a gorgeous and colorful collection of 5 towns lining the coast and it should take up about a minimum of 2 to 3 days in Cinque Terre to experience this corner of Northern Italy fully. Continue reading below to design your own Cinque Terre itinerary.

How Many Days in Cinque Terre?

Deciding how many days to spend in Cinque Terre depends on a few factors; how much time you have to begin with, your interest in each particular town, and whether you’d want or not want to visit all 5 cities making up the Cinque Terre National Park. 

If you’re interested in spending a little time in each of the 5 towns, 3 days in Cinque Terre would be ideal. 

For travelers who’d prefer just to see the most popular towns, Cinque Terre in 2 days would probably be sufficient. 

If you’re someone looking to spend at least a day in each town and maybe go on a day trip nearby, a week minimum is how long you’d want to plan for your trip. 

Beautiful Riomaggiore
Beautiful Riomaggiore

Getting To and Around Cinque Terre

The most convenient way to reach Cinque Terre is by train. So if you’re flying into one of the major cities in Italy that’s nearby, you’ll want to make your way to the central train station of the city that you’ve flown into. 

From there, you’ll take the most convenient train to La Spezia, the second largest city in the Liguria region (after Genoa) that also sits around the corner from Cinque Terre. From La Spezia, take the Cinque Terre Express in the direction of Levanto, (when you leave, you’ll go the other direction towards La Spezia). 

The Cinque Terre Express runs through each of the centers of the 5 towns, making it super easy to travel between them. The time it takes between towns varies from 5 to 15 minutes, making each trip a quick one. With trains running about 4 times every hour, you also don’t need to worry if you miss a train. You can view schedules and book tickets here.

If you know that you’ll be traveling between the towns frequently on your trip or you’ll be staying outside of the Cinque Terre, you have the option to purchase the Cinque Terre Card. The card allows for unlimited access to the Cinque Terre Express as well as entry to any of the many trails and paths within the Cinque Terre. 

There are three ways of getting around Cinque Terre, by train, by boat, and by foot. Depending on your Cinque Terre itinerary, you may want to just get around by one mode of transport or a combination. 

If you choose to get around by train, the Cinque Terre Express is your only option. For those that are interested in more of a physically demanding trip, you can hike between each town. The distance between all 5 towns is 7.5 miles and consists of various routes depending on where you’re going to and from. 

Many of the pathways are quite rugged so it’s important to be prepared with the correct clothing and shoes. If you choose this way, it’s going to give you some of the most breathtaking views of the coast and is completely worth it.

The final way to travel between the towns is by boat. This is likely the most scenic way but is also going to be the most expensive. The cost will vary depending on where you’re starting and going to and there are even options for sailing tours that cover a number of towns. If it’s within your budget, try to at least take one boat ride during your Cinque Terre Itinerary. 

If you’re someone that likes to travel by car, it’s extremely important to note that cars are prohibited within the towns so you won’t be able to travel within or between the Cinque Terre by car.

Manarola Train Station
Manarola Train Station

2 to 3 Days in Cinque Terre Itinerary

Whether you’re looking to spend the day lounging at the beach, eating vibrant pesto in its homeland, or getting lost in alleys dating back to the 11th century, you’re bound to have an unrivaled trip to the UNESCO World Heritage site of the Cinque Terre. 

This itinerary follows 2 to 3 days in Cinque Terre where you’re free to alternate the towns you visit depending on the length of your trip and where you’d most like to see. 

Day 1 – La Spezia, Riomaggiore & Manarola

La Spezia

Your time in Cinque Terre will begin in the city of La Spezia, which in itself is also quite an interesting city to spend some time in. 

You’re also likely going to be thinking about where you should stay during your time in Cinque Terre. The 5 towns of the Cinque Terre are ideal spots for your accommodation but are going to be on the higher end for costs. 

La Spezia is a great option for accommodation if you’re on a budget but still want to be close to the towns. Most places if you stay within the city are within walking distance from the train station to take the Cinque Terre Express.

The San Giorgio Castle in La Spezia is worth a visit as it’s one of the major sites of La Spezia going back to the 13th century as the city’s fortification defence system. Within the castle’s archaeological museum you can find traces of the region’s history going back to the Copper Age and Ancient Rome! 

The Naval Technical Museum in La Spezia is the biggest in Italy and quite interesting even if you aren’t someone inclined towards the Naval world. The museum offers a great insight into the Italian Navy in modern days as well as its history. 

If you’re feeling jet lagged or rather tired, a great place to grab a coffee by the train station in La Spezia is Caffetteria Orefici. Enjoy a hot and creamy espresso with a true fluffy Genovese Focaccia before making your way to Cinque Terre. 

City of La Spezia
City of La Spezia

Riomaggiore

The first town in the Cinque Terre after leaving La Spezia is Riomaggiore. Riomaggiore is known for its lovely pastel buildings perched high on the cliffs that tower over the Mediterranean as well as its magical sunsets almost every night. 

If you’re looking to stay within the Cinque Terre during your trip, Riomaggiore is a great option to have as your base on your Cinque Terre Itinerary.

Old Town of Riomaggiore

The old town of Riomaggiore is quite small but can’t be missed, literally and figuratively. From the train station, you’ll be just a stone’s throw away from the picturesque old town. 

The best way to take in the town is to slowly stroll down Via Colombo and maybe grab an ice cream or pop into one of the many artisanal shops lining the street. 

Fritto Misto

Something that can’t and shouldn’t be missed when spending time on the Italian Riviera, is classic, fresh seafood. One of the most common ways to enjoy salty seafood by the sea in Italy is to eat a various selection of seafood fried and then placed in a cone for your enjoyment.

A great spot for fritto misto in Riomaggiore on Via Colombo is Il Pescato Cucinato. The seafood is all fresh and is likely the spot locals would send you to if you were to ask them for the best fritto misto. 

Old Town of Riomaggiore
Old Town of Riomaggiore
Castello di Riomaggiore

A superb way to get idyllic views from Riomaggiore is from the castle located within the town. From Via Colombo in the old town, you’ll walk to the end of the street and find a staircase that will take you to the top and then to the castle. 

It will take about 45 minutes to reach the top but you won’t regret it once you’re surrounded by the most breathtaking views. The castle itself doesn’t offer much today as it’s pretty much a shell of what was, but the once fortress is still quite interesting to see. 

Manarola

The second town that you’ll visit today, is Manarola. The train from Riomaggiore to Manarola takes no less than 3 minutes and about a 30-minute hike if you’re up for it and the paths are open. 

Manarola is likely the most recognizable of the 5 towns and what some would also call the most romantic. Manarola was built on a high rock over 70 meters above sea level giving it extreme views but also many stairs and inclines! 

If you choose to hike from Riomaggiore to Manarola, you’ll want to take the famously romantic Via Dell’Amore, or “Love Alley”. The Via dell’Amore is likely the easiest part of the entire trail that connects the 5 towns of Cinque Terre. 

So if you’re wanting to hike at least one part of the park, this is the easiest. The trail is only 1 km and offers amazing scenery between towns. 

Via dell Amore
Via Dell Amore
The Marina

With a short time in Manarola, one of the best ways to get a feel of the town and also spend some time relaxing by the sea is to hang out at the Marina. Spend time watching fishing boats be brought into the harbor, sipping granita, and taking in the sweet Mediterranean sun. 

As Manarola doesn’t have many spots to swim, the Marina is also the perfect place to spend some time in the water while taking in the beautifully colorful town from above. 

The Sunset Spot

One of the best look-out points and sunset view spots in all of Cinque Terre is likely from Punta Bonfiglio’s viewpoint in Manarola. Any famous photos from Cinque Terre that you’ve probably seen have likely been taken from here! 

From the seaside point at the Marina, you’ll follow the walkway on the right side that will bring you to the bar, Nessun Dorma. Here you’ll have the perfect opportunity to enjoy an aperitivo or just a drink and watch the sunset on one of the most marvellous spots in the Cinque Terre. 

Sunset in Manarola
Sunset in Manarola

Day 2 – Vernazza & Monterosso 

Monterosso

If you’re following a 2-day Cinque Terre itinerary, this will be the last day of your trip and will bring you to the town of Monterosso. 

Monterosso or Monterosso al Mare is the largest of the 5 towns and is the best town to visit if you’re wanting to spend time lounging at the beach due to its large stretches of sand and crystal clear waters. 

Monterosso is also a great town to make as your base if you’re looking to stay within Cinque Terre during your trip. The town consists of two parts; the old town and the new town. 

The old town is the more “beautiful” part that you’re likely more familiar with and will want to wander around, and the new town consists of the train station, some beaches, and a few car parks.

Fegina Beach

Begin day two of your Cinque Terre itinerary at Fegina beach in Monterosso. Fegina beach is located in the new part of the town and is the largest sandy beach in the town of Monterosso as well as the only sandy beach in Cinque Terre. 

The beach has gorgeous rocks hugging the coast, aquamarine waters, and also probably the cleanest waters of Cinque Terre. Due to its popularity especially in the peak of summer, you’ll want to reserve chairs and parasols ahead of time so you don’t arrive and are without a space. 

If there’s no space upon arrival, continue onward to Spiaggia Il Gigante which is also a great option considering Monterosso is also known for having the best beaches in Cinque Terre.

Fegina Beach in Monterosso
Fegina Beach in Monterosso
Statue of the Giant

Located at the end of Fegina at the beginning of the marina, “il Gigante” or the Giant, is one of the most unique statues and sculptures in Cinque Terre. 

Built from reinforced concrete and iron and 14 meters high, the statue represents Neptune holding the waves of the sea away from the town of Monterosso. Unfortunately, due to allied bombings in 1937, the Giant took a large hit and lost a large part of its makeup. 

Today the body and head of Neptune still stand strong but continue to weather over time due to the water. Due to its fleeting nature, the Giant is quite an interesting feature of the town to visit and take in from the crystalline water of the Mediterranean. 

Old Town of Monterosso

Wandering through the “caruggi” or small colorful alleys of any Cinque Terre town is truly an enchanting experience. Monterosso has one of the most beautiful old town areas of Cinque Terre and should be on your Cinque Terre itinerary. 

While wandering the magical medieval streets of the “borgo antico” or old town, you’ll come across many restaurants, gelato shops, and artisanal souvenir shops if you’re looking to bring home souvenirs either for yourself or others. 

Make sure to stop in the Chiesa di San Giovanni Battista from the 14th century with its unique black and white stripes, unlike any other church design.

Exploring Monterosso
Exploring Monterosso

Vernazza

No 2 days in Cinque Terre are complete without heading to the town of Vernazza. Vernazza is a fortified town with evidence of its existence going back as early as 1048. Vernazza is also known by some to be the most beautiful village in Italy and is worth the visit for you to decide for yourself. 

Santa Margherita d’Antiochia

The church of Santa Margherita was constructed in the 13th century in the typical Gothic-Ligurian style of the time, with an octagonal tower, small arches, and domes. Much of the church was destroyed in later years and then was renovated in 1750 with classic Renaissance architecture. 

The church is located by the small piazza in the center of the town and is interesting to visit with the mix of architecture, as well as the uniquely stunning views as it’s directly on the sea.

Sunset Boat Trip or Dinner on Land

A great way to end the day depending on your budget is to either take a sunset boat trip or enjoy a delicious dinner in Vernazza with sublime views of the town and the sea. 

There are various tour groups and boat companies offering boat tours that lead you around the pristine Cinque Terre coastline that also offer snacks and drinks while on board. If you’re looking for a cheaper option or an option on the land, head to one of Vernazza’s incredible restaurants with memorable views. 

Ristorante Belforte is a favourite but due to its popularity because of its impeccable views and food, reservations in advance are recommended. 

Vernazza - one of the five towns of Cinque Terre
Vernazza

Day 3 – Corniglia or Portofino

If you’re spending 3 days in Cinque Terre, your final day will either be in the 5th and final village of Corniglia, or on a day trip to Portofino, another stunning and well-known town on the Italian Riviera. 

Corniglia

Corniglia is the smallest, middlemost, and also most underrated town located within the Cinque Terre National Park and is perched high on the hilltops. One of the biggest benefits of it being the most underrated town is that there are way fewer tourists and way more space for you to explore. 

Wander the streets of the town, grab an artisanal gelato at Gelateria Corniglia and take in the stunning views in the direction of Manarola from La Torre. In Corniglia, the amount of locals to tourists is a lot higher than in the other towns, so if you’re looking for more of a local feel in Cinque Terre, Corniglia is the town for you. 

Corniglia
Corniglia

Portofino

If on your third and final day in Cinque Terre you’re looking to get out of the area and discover a different part of the Italian Riviera, the town of Portofino is a lovely option. There are no direct trains from La Spezia to Portofino, so you’ll also need to take a bus. 

From La Spezia train station it takes a little over an hour and will cost 7 euros to arrive at Santa Margherita Ligure. From Santa Margherita Ligure you’ll then take the 787 bus to Portofino. The bus ride takes 15 minutes and costs 2 euros in each direction.

Portofino is a fishing village of just around 400 people that sits close to Genoa. While it’s become a bit of a jet-setting destination for the rich and famous, there’s still so much to offer off the beaten path and away from the glitz and glam. 

Although due to its popularity, costs are quite expensive which makes Portofino a great stop for a day trip.

Spend time wandering within the gorgeously colored “Piazzetta” and people-watching with the locals. We can thank the ancient Italian traditions for these colored buildings we have to bring us joy. 

The San Martino Church goes back to 1100 A.C, making it one of the most ancient churches in the region, and inside you’ll find a plethora of gorgeous paintings. 

Before you leave, don’t forget to make the short climb to the ancient Portofino Lighthouse giving stunning views of the Riviera. To this day, the lighthouse is still active with its gatekeeper still in residence! 

Portofino
Portofino

Where to Stay in Cinque Terre

L’Approdo Dell’Ammiraglio – If you’re looking for a good, mid-range base for exploring Cinque Terre, then this cosy guesthouse in La Spezia is an excellent option. They have a number of bright and clean rooms on offer and a great location for exploring the area. Click here to see their availability

Miramare Apartments&Suites – If you’re looking for a suite or a fully-furnished apartment, then this aparthotel in La Spezia is an excellent choice for you. They have a range of different places to choose from and a fantastic location perfect for seeing the beautiful towns of Cinque Terre. Click here to see their availability

La Serra Sul Mare – For those who want to stay within Cinque Terre itself, this luxury hotel in Monterosso is an excellent option. They have a wonderful location within five minutes from the beach, comfortable rooms on offer (all with their own balcony!) and there is even a free shuttle service from the centre of the village. Click here to see their availability

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Cinque Terre hotels!

Each town within the Cinque Terre has an abundance of things to offer. Whether you find yourself in Riomaggiore or Corniglia, there’s certainly going to be something to suit you. You’re bound to have an incredible trip on this breathtaking stretch of the Italian Riviera that makes up Cinque Terre National Park.

Are you planning to visit Cinque Terre? Have any questions about this itinerary? Let us know in the comments!

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Olivia is a writer for The World Was Here First. Originally from Michigan, USA, she is currently living in Athens, Greece exploring Europe and filmmaking. When she’s not travelling or writing, Olivia can be found cooking delicious new recipes from around the world, reading, and spending time outdoors.

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