Cinque Terre lies along a beautifully rugged stretch of coastline in the Italian Riviera, and looks like it’s ripped straight from a picture book. The five villages boast vibrant terraces overflowing with blooming bougainvillea, fishing boats painted in bright blues and reds, and steep cobblestone streets where the smell of pizza intermingles with the fresh Mediterranean air. But seriously, it smells like how I imagine heaven to be. Strolling through the streets, enjoy the fusion of nature, sea, and Italian culture that you can only find in Cinque Terre. One of the best ways to see these villages is by hiking Cinque Terre (or at least parts of it!)
My first glimpse of Cinque Terre. As soon as I laid eyes on the village, I knew I was in love (but really, if I could marry a place, Manarola would be near the top of my list.) The colorful buildings perched on the side of a cliff can only belong in a fairytale. If you need a break, hop on a wine tour of the Italian Riviera. You can meet the winemakers, plus sample some of their produce with snacks!
To get to Corniglia, I climbed 382 verrrrryyyyyy steep stairs, and I definitely felt every one of them. Hiking Cinque Terre is a bit of a sweat fest. It probably didn’t help that temps were over 90 degrees that day…(I threw on a baseball hat to try and pass myself of as slightly less of a hot mess.) In town, I rewarded myself with a lunch of fresh fish and pasta, completing negating any exercise points I gained from climbing the stairs. FYI—totally worth it. Every time you get a chance to eat in Italy, take it! (At least that was my motto, which may explain why those shorts felt a bit tighter by the end of the trip…)
The hike from Corniglia to Vernazza took about 90 minutes and let me soak in the Italian sunshine and picturesque views. Approaching Vernazza from above, I got a bird’s eye view of the village, complete with a lively main square, quaint boutiques, and calm bay housing dozens of fishing boats. This was probably my favorite town, and a great spot for photo ops!
Monterosso is one of the larger villages, and boasts a rocky beach along the shores of the town. This was not my cup of tea, but I’m also super spoiled by Florida’s white sand beaches. It has the most resort-like feel with a paid beach with rows of blue and white striped umbrellas. If you’re really in the mood for the beach, keep walking toward town where you can enjoy the beach for free.
I boarded a boat in Monterosso to take me back to Riomaggiore, the first village from La Spezia. I would definitely recommend taking a boat at least sometime during your visit, so you can enjoy the views approaching the town from the water. This was the part where I took approximately 20564574389 pictures… Riomaggiore is home to dozens of restaurants and gelaterias that radiate mouthwatering smells of pizza, garlic, and cheese. I enjoyed a cup of dulce de leche, put my feet up, and soaked in the views of the Mediterranean. If you’re up for it, Riomaggiore also offers a food & wine tasting of the local delicacies.
Cheap flights: I’d recommend checking out Momondo (this is by far my fave!). They scan tons of different travel discount sites and let you filter by cheapest, best, and shortest. Another good one to check out is eDreams.net —they frequently feature special flight deals. You can easily reach Cinque Terre from Florence. The easiest way is probably via a guided tour from Florence. This one includes all transportation (even a boat ride!) plus lunch.
Hotel Deals: My top choice is probably Priceline.com—I’ve found some insanely cheap and beautiful hotels. Other sites I check are Expedia.com and the Hilton(for points). If you’re looking to avoid hotels and go the hostel route, I recommend Hostelworld . They have thousands of properties listed, as well as tons of ratings and reviews. Note that if you want to just to do a day trip to Cinque Terre, that’s totally doable. You can drive or take a tour from Florence and be back in the city that night!
Rental cars: Depending on where you’re going, definitely shop around. I usually check out Priceline.com(again, I know, I love them!), CarRentals.com, and Sixt. Sixt offers some awesome deals on premium and luxury rentals!
There you have it—why hiking Cinque Terre should be on everyone’s bucket list (I’ll be back again someday). Enjoy your trip!
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