Things to Do in Cinque Terre
The biggest and most visited of the five villages comprising Italy’s famed Cinque Terre, Monterosso al Mare draws sunseekers to its sandy beach and scenic seafront promenade. The town’s comparatively flat terrain makes its two halves—the historic Old Town and the modern center—easy to get around on foot, while the surrounding hills abound with dreamy lookouts and medieval monuments.
Perched on a rocky promontory, riddled with caves, and lapped by startlingly blue waters, Cinque Terre’s village of Manarola is the epitome of romantic. Its charms include sea-view restaurants serving ultra-fresh anchovies, a picturesque waterfront promenade, and a rugged Italian Riviera shore dotted with swimming holes—all this and small enough to explore in a single morning.
Arguably the most picturesque—and steepest—of all the Cinque Terre villages, Vernazza is indeed a striking sight: snaking narrow lanes and a crescent-shaped harbor are framed by forested peaks and glittering Mediterranean waters. Visitors can stroll the scenic waterfront, snap photos of the charming pastel-colored buildings, and explore a medieval castle before heading down to the sandy beach for a refreshing swim in the sea.
Cinque Terre National Park (Parco Nazionale delle Cinque Terre) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site full of postcard-worthy landscapes: sweeping sea cliffs dotted with sandy coves, brightly painted villages clinging to steep terraces, and forested plateaus blooming with wildflowers. Stretching some 4,300 acres (1,740 hectares) along northern Italy’s rugged Italian Riviera, the park dazzles visitors with breathtaking views of the Mediterranean coastline.
Pint-sized Corniglia might be the smallest of Italy’s Cinque Terre seaside villages, but what it lacks in size, it makes up for in dramatic scenery and rustic beauty. Climb the dizzying 365 steps to the clifftop hamlet and you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views over the neighboring villages and a cluster of charming shops, cafés, and restaurants.
Riomaggiore is photogenic from every angle, thanks to its jumble of multicolored buildings cocooned between dramatic sea cliffs and fronted by an expanse of blue ocean. The largest and southernmost of northern Italy’s five Cinque Terre villages, Riomaggiore is the place for romantic promenades, sipping coffee in traditional cafés, and bird watching along the rocky shores.