Interrailing Europe – Cinque Terre, Italy

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Cinque Terre, Italy

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Just to the left of Pisa on the west coast of Italy, you’ll find the charming area that is Cinque Terre! If you’ve ever seen the iconic photos of the colourful houses by the sea, this is where they are! It’s nothing like I’ve ever experienced in Italy before and it’s a stunning place to visit with amazing food, views and chills! 

How to get there?

After a manic day that started off in Rome, a quick stop off at both Florence and Pisa (if your pushed for time it is possible to do these in a day) we made our journey to Cinque Terre! From Pisa we got the train to La Spezia where we changed to a local train to get to Riomaggiore. The trains are so convienent, cheap and regular which obviously is a travellers dream – we all have budgets and schedules!

 

Where should you go?

Vernazza

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Vernazza is beautiful, and has a lovely harbour type of area where you can relax on the rocks, check out the amazing views or catch a ferry onwards to the other villages. Definitely make you sure you head down to the water, you can get some amazing views and photos, don’t be scared to take a wander down by the rocks (turn right when you get to the water), there’s also a really cute little church there. We spent a couple of hours in the morning in Vernazza just chilling on the rocks and wandering. It was the first one we went to and I’m glad!

Monterosso

Monterosso is probably the largest of them all and you can do loads here, from strolling along the promenade, having ice cream, climbing up the MASSIVE rock in the middle of the water,  and eat! We spent a good couple of hours here and it was lush, we even made some lovely american friends who were also travelling at the top of the rock. If you check out our video at the bottom you’ll see a clip with Fi with a massive langoustine on her pasta, we had a lovely meal here in the centre and there was loads of choice that we couldn’t decide, eventually we got crazy hungry and went to the next place we saw.

 

Corniglia

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Corniglia is the smallest of the 5 villages and is at the stop of a rather large hill you can get some awesome views at the top of this and enjoy the gelato parlours and restaurants right at the top, the lanes are narrow and cute and you’ll see true authenticity in this part of Cinque Terre. If you struggle with walking up hills I would say avoid this one, also if you had to choose one to not visit i’d probably say this one as the walk up to the top takes longer than how long you can stay entertained at the top.

Manarola

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Whenever you google Cinque Terre you will always see the same iconic photo of the colourful houses by the waters edge. If you want to take a similar photo head to Manarola and walk up the cliff to see this! It’s totally gorgeous and you have one of those ‘OMG I’m actually here’ moments. Its worth bearing in mind however, that the iconic photos have been brightened, the houses are obviously super colourful but on an overcast day you may not see the colours as you imagined. We didn’t explore Manarola much other than taking some photos of the iconic view mainly because we were exhausted from our adventures which is a drawback of trying to tackle all of the villages in one day.

Riomaggiore

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This is where I stayed and I absolutely loved it. I’m really glad that we chose Riomaggiore to stay as it was smaller than some of the others but had so much character and plenty of restaurants and bars which for a town that is based on one street was brilliant. When you arrive off the train in Riomaggiore you have to walk down a long blue tunnel to get to the town, when we were walking down it we were treated to the chap in front of us beautifully singing the whole way, it was lovely and so unexpected.

There is one main street in Riomaggiore which is home to lots of different shops & restaurants. You’ll find lots of fruit and veg stores as well as authentic little shops with souvenirs in such as pesto, limencello, soaps, seasonings and pasta so if you want to take a little reminder home of your trip to Cinque Terre this is your best bet so you can remember the flavours of Italy rather than a keyring. When you arrive in the heart of Riomaggiore after the train tunnel turn right down another tunnel and you will be taken down to the waters edge, DO NOT MISS THIS, it is gorgeous and has so much Italian fishing village charm to it, this is also where you will be able to get one of the iconic Cinque Terre views of the colourful houses by the waters edge. It was here that I had one of my favourite meals ever at Dau Cila (Read more here), I really recommend you go here and try the seafood linguine.

There were so many different places to eat that we were actually spoilt for choice, we sampled so much fish it was a dream. One meal we had on the main street of Riomaggiore was a fried seafood platter, wowwwwww it was amazing. It took us forever to eat and there was so much and the most insane selection of fish from squid, prawns and much larger fish (careful of the bones). Also check out Bar Zorza, we had a great time in there with lots of people from Canada, Romania and Germany with some awesome cocktails made by the lovely staff!

How long do you need in Cinque Terre?

So we stayed for 2 nights and had one half day and 1 full day in the area. I would have loved to have stayed for longer, however we did manage to visit all 5 towns in the one full day which yes it was intense but doable! My parents also went on a day trip here and managed to see everything they wanted to see.

When’s the best time to visit?

So I was in Cinque Terre at the end of March/beginning of April, the weather was warm (if not slightly overcast) and we were in dresses and skirts but wore long sleeves in the evening, you are on the coast after all. Its worth noting that alot of cruise ships do excursions to Cinque Terre so don’t be surprised if you see big groups of people with a guide. This can be slightly touristy and have an affect on the calm and autentic vibe of the area but in the evenings its much quieter. I hear that the summer months are busiest for these types of tours!

This definitely is why Cinque Terre are trying to impose a tourist limit to the beautiful area to ensure it doesn’t get overrun with tourists. I’m not sure if this has been enforced but its worth checking before you go.  Read more here:

Is it expensive?

No more expensive or cheaper than the rest of Italy, what you pay is worth it for sure! For example a cocktail in Bar Zorza was around 6/7 EUR. Transport is cheap too!

Check out out video here of our Eurotrip adventure!

I conquered Cinque Terre whilst on a ten day interrailing trip around Europe read more about my adventures and how I saw so much in such little time here

 

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