Note from Travelling Jezebel: This article about things to do in Cinque Terre was written by Elena Pappalardo from the blog The Carry-On Chronicles. As I’m working on another project at the moment, I have a little less time to write, and so when Elena kindly offered to write a post all about the beautiful Cinque Terre, I jumped at the chance!
I hope that you enjoy her work 🙂
12 Best Things to Do in Cinque Terre
With its spectacular landscapes and delicious cuisine, visitors will find plenty of wonderful things to do in Cinque Terre.
The five picturesque fishing villages of Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore line the coast of the Italian Riviera in the northern region of Liguria.
To kick off a memorable trip to this beloved destination, here are a dozen ways to enjoy the best of the Cinque Terre.
1. Visit the Postcard-Perfect Harbours
Millions fall under the Cinque Terre’s magnetic spell each year and the town harbours are one of the main draws.
In fact, many decide on the best Cinque Terre town to stay in based on the harbour that attracts them most – a solid strategy for capturing photos without crowds!
The most popular harbour areas are in Riomaggiore, Manarola, and Vernazza. Here, visitors come to savour the stunning scenery, enjoy a bite to eat, and even swim in the warmer months!
2. Hit the Hiking Trails
The five villages of Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, and Monterosso al Mare make up Cinque Terre National Park, a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site
With all of the natural beauty here, one of the top Cinque Terre tips is to take advantage of the numerous hiking opportunities.
Fortunately, there are a variety of hiking trails to choose from for a range of fitness levels, with the Sentiero Azzurro being the most well-known. Commonly referred to as the “Blue Trail,” this popular pathway consists of four sections and connects all five towns.
Those who are up for a challenge – with spectacular views as the reward – may wish to try the hike from Monterosso to Vernazza.
3. Indulge in the Regional Specialties
It would be such a waste to come to Italy without indulging in all of the delicious food, and the Cinque Terre is no exception.
Seafood lovers, in particular, will be quite satisfied with the various marine offerings here, such as fried seafood cones.
One of the lunches of choice, these fried-calamari-stuffed cones sell like hotcakes from popular vendors like Tutti Fritti, Mamma Mia, and Pescato Cucinato.
In addition to fishy favourites, the Cinque Terre is also considered the best place for fresh pesto, as the Italian Riviera is one of the prime producers of basil.
Plus, the melt-in-your-mouth focaccia is a must-try as well (although don’t tell people from Bari that!).
4. Snag a Table at the Iconic Nessun Dorma in Manarola
While food is being discussed, Nessun Dorma certainly deserves a plug.
This increasingly popular restaurant specialises in generous charcuterie boards, fresh appetisers, and tasty aperitifs. It’s easily one of the highlights of Manarola, providing stunning views over the harbour.
Hungry patrons will need to download the Nessun Dorma restaurant app to digitally queue up for a highly-coveted table here!
5. Take a Cooking Class
For a deeper dive into the local cuisine, foodies will relish the opportunity to join one of the cooking classes offered in the Cinque Terre.
From pesto making to homemade pasta preparation, to perfecting the art of tiramisu, there’s surely something to tantalise the taste buds!
6. Shop for Savoury Souvenirs
There’s truly no better souvenir than one you can eat.
Fortunately, with all of the wonderful shops that line the Cinque Terre villages, travellers can take a taste of this special region home with them!
Visitors can choose from a mouth-watering selection of take-home treats, including pesto, olive oil, homemade pasta, lemon-infused products, and more.
7. Sample the Region with a Wine Tasting
One of the most visually fascinating aspects of the Cinque Terre is its steeped landscape.
These long-standing terraces are home to vineyards that supply the region with grapes for a tasty, dessert-style white wine known as Sciacchetrá.
In addition to enjoying a tasting, wine connoisseurs should definitely take the Manarola Vineyard Walk, a dirt pathway that runs along grape vineyards over the town.
8. Experience Life at Sea
Exploring the region by boat is definitely one of the best things to do in Cinque Terre.
Boaters can enjoy an unmatched perspective of the five towns while at sea, whether renting a private boat, joining a kayaking tour, or enjoying a romantic sunset cruise.
9. Admire the Beautiful Churches
The Cinque Terre is home to a variety of fascinating churches with a rich history, such as Monterosso’s San Giovanni Battista that dates back to 1307.
Other well-known churches in the area include the Church of Saint John the Baptist in Monterosso, the Church of St. Margaret of Antioch in Vernazza, and the Oratory of the Disciplinati of Saint Catherine in Corniglia.
10. Climb the Belforte Tower at Doria Castle in Vernazza
From Vernazza’s gorgeous harbour area, travellers can climb up to the fascinating Belforte Tower.
One of the final remains of the Doria Castle ruins, the tower offers splendid panoramic views over the town, provided visitors don’t mind the steep climb and the nominal fee of 1.50 EUR to enter!
11. Go for a Dip at Spaggia Fegina in Monterosso al Mare
While the Cinque Terre has a variety of beaches sprinkled throughout its five villages, many of them are small and rocky.
However, Spiaggia Fegina in Monterosso al Mare is in a league of its own. This stunning sand beach is the largest in Monterosso – and in the Cinque Terre overall.
Don’t be surprised to see sunbathers swarm here in summer, as it’s the most precious spot in town!
12. Hunt Down the Best Sunset Spots
The five villages are truly a photographer’s playground, especially around sunset, so it’s no wonder that one of the best things to do in Cinque Terre is scope out the most photogenic sunset spots!
Although the harbours tend to top the popularity list at golden hour, they can get pretty crowded, especially during peak season.
Fortunately, those looking to avoid these main gathering areas can enjoy a spectacular sunset view from the Azure Trail (Vernazza to Corniglia and/or Vernazza to Monterosso).
12 Wonderful Things to Do in Cinque Terre | Final Thoughts
Once one of Italy’s best-kept secrets, the five villages have become one of the top summer destinations along the Mediterranean.
For this reason, travellers will most likely enjoy this compilation of things to do in Cinque Terre during the shoulder season, whether in the mid-spring or early autumn.
About the Author
Elena Pappalardo is the voice behind The Carry-On Chronicles, a travel blog centred around storybook destinations and off-the-beaten-path gems throughout Europe and the United States.
You can find her on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest!