The Cinque Terre National Park was founded in 1999, at that time as the first Italian national park, but today it is the smallest national park wit the surface of 3800 ha. It is situated in the province of La Spezia, Liguria in the northern Italy. The 5 medieval cliff-side towns in the territory of Cinque Terre are Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso al Mare and they’ve been included in UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997.
- Riomaggiore – the village located in southern part of the national park, famous for its bell towers. Riomaggiore also has an ancient stone castle so don’t miss the opportunity to visit it. The main street in Riomaggiore, Via Colombo, is the prototype of typical Italian lifestyle, full of of cafes, bars, restaurants and ice-cream shops. There are several food shops in Riomaggiore so you can stock up on food and beverages before hiking.
- Manarola – The next village is Manarola which is famous for its caves and underwater rocks. There is also a small swimming area and a pier from which you can dive into crystal clear blue sea. If you are a fan of fresh fish, try anchovies with lemon and olive oil, the specialty of Manarola. If you happen to visit Cinque Terre during Christmas holidays, make sure to check out, the biggest Nativity scene in the world.
- Corniglia – the smallest of 5 villages and the only one that doesn’t have its own port but it has a nudist beach Guvano which is quite difficult to reach since you need to walk through 1 km long tunnel with no lightning, so if you want to visit this secret gem, don’t forget to bring a torchlight. Considering the fact that Corniglia is situated on top of the hill, you can reach it only by climbing 365 steps from the train station, or by bus.
- Vernazza – many people consider Vernazza the most beautiful of all Cinque Terre villages because of its picturesque landscape. Don’t miss out on taking a swim on one of two beaches in Vernazza. You can also visit the medieval Belforte Tower for a panoramic view of the town and coast, but you will have to pay a small entrance fee of 1.50€
- Monterosso al Mare – the biggest and the oldest village divided into 2 parts: the old and the new village. The two biggest beaches are located in Monterosso, the first one at Monterosso Fegina (new part of the village) and it is the only sand beach, and the second beach is situated in the old town.
The entrance fee for Cinque Terre National Park – Cinque Terre Card (one day) is 7.50€ for the adults and 4.50€ for children and it includes:
- unlimited use of park buses; the one which includes use of trains costs 16€ (10€ for children)
- access to all trekking paths
- Wi-fi Internet connection
What to do at Cinque Terre National Park?
Cinque Terre National Park has numerous paths intended for trekking and hiking (more than 120 kilometres!) among which the most famous one is Sciacchetrail (named after famous dessert wine of Cinque Terre – Sciacchetrà), 47 kilometres long and it starts and ends in Monterosso, and it extends throughout the whole park. It is recommended for expert hikers only, so it is necessary to have proper hiking equipment. The other, Blue (Sentiero Azzuro) trail is also very popular because it connects all the villages and it is built by the coast so you have the breathtaking view on Ligurian sea (hence the name of the trail).
Swimming: The swimming path starts in town of Vernazza and it is 700m long and it is perfect for swimming, snorkeling and kayaking. During the summer, Cinque Terre Swimming organizes swimming competitions and non-competitive events, with the purpose of promoting the water sport activities of Cinque Terre National Park.
Kayaking: Don’t hesitate to explore the caves and waterfalls of Cinque Terre by kayaking since they are hard to reach and renting a kayak is the best option to visit these hidden nature gems. You can find rent a kayak services which offer them for 5€/hour.
By car: We recommend not going by car to Cinque Terre because it is the worst option and some of the villages are very hard to reach by car, and therefore you should leave it parked on a parking lot or in a garage (Riomaggiore and Monterosso) which will cost you 23€/day. So, if you can, avoid coming by car, but just in case you have to, here are some of the possible routes:
- from La Spezia, take the A12 road and then turn to Levanto exit and follow the signs to Cinque Terre. The ride will take around 40 mins
- from Florence and Pisa, you should first go to the north side of La Spezia and then turn to Via Litoranea which will take you to the national park
By train: Taking a train to Cinque Terre is probably the best option of getting there since the villages are very well connected by rail.
- From Genoa – there are numerous regional and intercity trains by Trenitalia which go to the villages of Cinque Terre every day and the ticket costs from 6,90€ to 9,90€, depending on the line
- From Pisa – there is direct intercity line to La Spezia and once you get there, take a train to Cinque Terre which is included in the price of the ticket to the national park (check the schedule of trains from La Spezia)
By bus: You can get to La Spezia from Pisa by bus for 10€ (one-way ticket) and from there take a bus to Cinque Terre included in the ticket for the national park (Cinque Terre Card). If you don’t buy the card, the single bus fare costs 4€.
Don’t worry of getting left without a room since there are numerous hotels, hostels, B&B’s and apartments throughout the whole national park. It is up to you which village you prefer to stay in. For more info about accommodation, check Cinque Terre Tourist Association’s website.