Let’s begin with the most basic question! What are the 5 towns of Cinque Terre? If you didn’t know, before you get into this article about the best things to do in Cinque Terre Italy, make sure you read through the next paragraphs carefully! Beyond the five towns, we’re discussing what is Cinque Terre known for, and why are so many people trying to get there year after year? You will see some great Cinque Terre things to do based on personal experiences, and well, we are based in Italy, so we might know more than many of those who write about this beautiful area! Cinque Terre is a dream place, and once you get there, if you don’t believe me, you will believe yourself! Let’s see the best things to see in Cinque Terre italy, and let me answer those questions too!
15 best things to do in Cinque Terre
So, again back to the questions! Let’s start with what region is Cinque Terre in? Cinque Terre is in the region of Liguria, Italy. Then, what are the 5 towns of Cinque Terre? The towns of Cinque Terre are (counting from south to north) Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, and Monterosso. These towns can be all reached by train, car (hard), and over the tracking trails too.
Now, the next question is: what does Cinque Terre mean? Since there are five towns in Cinque Terre, the number 5 in Italian is cinque, and terre means lands. So Cinque Terre means literally Five Lands. Now, to discover these 5 lands, you don’t need much time. You can have done all the Cinque Terre Italy things to do in one day if you’d like. However, this area is so beautiful, and so much can be missed off the best things to do in Cinque Terre Italy if you don’t spend at least two days, that we really recommend planning for more than a day!
1. Sunset in Riomaggiore
We are covering in our article the best places to stay in Cinque Terre. However, if you are on a really low budget, we always recommend finding accommodation in La Spezia, since that’s cheaper. Now, we’re going to list the best things to do in Cinque Terre Italy going town after town. As mentioned, you can see all the best things to do in Cinque Terre in June, or any other month if you take the train between the towns.
There are literally 5 minutes between most of the stops. When I listed what are the 5 towns of Cinque Terre, I started with Riomaggiore. The reason for this is, that when we’ve first been to Cinque Terre, we arrived in Riomaggiore late afternoon, and my first experience in this stunning town was watching the sunset of the rocks in the sea in Riomaggiore.
Such an incredible view, with those beautiful, colorful houses, fisherman coming and going in small boats, the sunset above the sea, right near the cliffs of Cinque Terre. This is honestly one of the best things you could do in Riomaggiore! And in the 2nd point, you’ll get an extra tip for this sunset watch, but first, I’d also like to point out that there are plenty of great restaurants in Cinque Terre, especially in Riomaggiore for dinner after sunset!
2. Street Food in Riomaggiore
As I mentioned above, we’re coming up with an extra tip for your sunset watch in Riomaggiore! Please, however, make sure you’ll be careful if you’re listening to us now for this tip since if your hands are full, it can be really dangerous to climb on the rocks in the sea. So, without further do, one of the best Cinque Terre Italy things to do is to get street food!
In Riomaggiore especially, they’ve got fish street wrapped up and you can take it away and have it while enjoying the beautiful sunset. You can also find plenty of places for pizza slices, panini, and since we’re in Liguria: Focaccia! But we’ll get back to the focaccia later! In any case, if you’re in Riomaggiore, and if you like the fish, make sure you get yourself some fish street food!
3. Views in Corniglia
While Corniglia is the smallest town out of the five, if you’re asking what to see in Cinque Terre, I will still suggest going visit Corniglia too! This one will be a quick stop, and the town is further up from the seaside, but it’s absolutely beautiful, and it’s really worth stopping by! Even if you hop off the train for half an hour, that’s already a great time to spend in Corniglia!
But of course, if you want to stop by for drinks or to eat, you should do that too! One of the top things to do in Cinque Terre is to stay somewhere where you can have a full view of these beautiful colorful houses. And also, if you’re looking for things to do in Cinque Terre in May, you can even take the tracking trail from here.
Manarola is probably one of the most beautiful cliffside towns you’ll ever see. Even down on the Amalfi Coast, Id easily compare Manarola to Amalfi, at least! So one of the best things to do in Cinque Terre Italy is definitely visiting Manarola! In this town calculate to spend a bit more time, and hike up to the upper part of the town for not only beautiful views, but to explore the colorful tiny streets of this cliffside marvel.
One of the best things to see in Cinque Terre Italy is definitely the town itself. We also recommend here to explore the vineyards and taste some local wine before you head to the next place! And also, starting by the sea, there’s a sidewalk along the cliff that takes you to this viewpoint from where you could see Manarola just in the above picture. We’ll speak about this more in the next point!
5. Aperitivo at Nessun Dorma, Manarola
Right, so I’m sure most of you who have Instagram have seen at least one of these Aperitivo plates with the view of Manarola in the background, haven’t you? One of the absolutely best Cinque Terre things to do is having an Aperitivo (5-7 pm) in Manarola at this amazing restaurant called Nessun Dorma. Let’s be honest, when we visit Italy (and I’m saying we because I wasn’t always living in Italy either), we all want to feel like we are in a movie, in a painting where Italy always seems perfect and beautiful.
Well, even if reality is not exactly as we like to paint the country, it is definitely a place where you can at any time feel like you’re in a fairytale. Especially by visiting places like Nessun Dorma. This is an especially lovely idea for those who are looking for things to do in Cinque Terre in June since you can enjoy the warmth while having delicious Aperitivo and stunning views over Manarola! And Aperitivo is a must-do anyway while you’re in Italy!
6. Lunch in Vernazza
Vernazza is another of my favorite towns in Cinque Terre, and for many reasons. The first and most important of the Vernazza Cinque Terre Italy things to do is lunch! There are plenty of great lunch spots in the town, and by the sea too. Even though those by the sea are more tourist places, in Vernazza I believe we can skip for a second traditional spots, and rather go somewhere where you’ve also got stunning views, right?
So when you ask what to see in Cinque Terre’s beautiful town, Vernazza, I suggest the seaside. And what better way to enjoy those views than if you’re doing it while you eat some delicious Italian dish? We’re continuing with Vernazza in the next point! You can also walk out on the harbor, and climb onto the rocks in the sea to see the town from an even more stunning point of view!
7. Street Market in Vernazza
This might not be interesting for all of you, but those who are at least a little bit like me will love the street market in Vernazza! There are so many beautifully painted ceramics that I couldn’t count, and indeed this makes it hard to pick as well! However, the point is, that the streets of Vernazza are real gems! On the main road leading down to the seaside, you’ll have plenty of shops and stands on the street!
These mostly offer handcrafted items, soaps, and more ceramics. You could get street food, pizza, or sandwiches as well since there are plenty of street food bars along the way. Also, if you’re looking for some summer outfits, Vernazza has plenty of cute boutiques to check! Shopping on the main street of Vernazza, and the street market is definitely one of the best things to do in Cinque Terre Italy!
8. Sentiero Azzurro from Vernazza to Monterosso
We’ll discuss the Blue Trail (Sentiero Azzurro) in another point too, but we specifically wanted to highlight the most beautiful part, from Vernazza to Monterosso. When you ask for Cinque Terre things to do, the tracking trail connecting the towns should always be on your list. Especially if you’re looking for things to do in Cinque Terre in May, because in May it’s not so hot yet!
One of the best things to see in Cinque Terre Italy is Vernazza from the Sentiero Azzurro. Basically, what you need to do is to go down to the seaside and look for the Sentiero Azzurro sings. Make sure you’re taking the trail that goes to Monterosso since the trail is continuing south to Manarola. You will be led by signs through tiny, beautiful alleyways in the town until you arrive up on the hill. It’s not an easy hike if it is hot outside, especially if you’re not used to doing hikes.
But it’s not a hard one either. There are some ups that will put your lungs to work, but we’ve seen even couples in their 70s’ who were doing the trail. Of course, one of the most important things is always safety! You’d be going on a skinny trail pretty high. If you look on one side, there’s a cliff, on the other side down is the sea. This tracking trail is absolutely worth it, the incredible views you’ll have along the way are for a lifetime!
9. Beaches on Monterosso
After that hike between Vernazza and Monterosso, the first thing you will see from the distance is the long seaside of the town. Okay, it’s not that long, but compared to what we’ve seen in the other four towns, the beaches of Monterosso are definitely huge. One of the best Cinque Terre things to do is to come to the beach in Monterosso after that hike.
We personally did last year the Sentiero Azzurro from Vernazza to Monterosso in the middle of the day. It took about 1.5 hours, and it was in June. Arriving at Monterosso drag us right away down to the beach, and straight in the beautiful water here. Spending time in Monterosso, and coming to the beach here is one of the best things to do in Cinque Terre in June! And when it comes to the question of what is Cinque Terre known for, well the beaches of Monterosso are definitely on top of the list!
10. Street Market and Aperitivo in Monterosso
One of the top things to do in Cinque Terre, as I have already mentioned is eat! Do a stroll on the streets of Monterosso, and explore the local shops and the beautiful things they offer. Once you’ve discovered the historic center and its shops, make sure you stop by a place like Enoteca International where they have an appetizer menu.
When you ask what is Cinque Terre known for, we can give you an answer that’s true for the whole region of Liguria! Did you know that the delicious Pesto is originating from this region? Well, with that I have also answered you why you should stop by a place to have appetizers. And for an appetizer, definitely try the Bruschetta with Pesto. At Enoteca Internazionale, they had Bruschetta with Pesto and tomatoes. That was just incredible!
11. Renting a Boat in Cinque Terre
We’re publishing this article only one day before I personally am heading for a boat trip in Cinque Terre. One of the absolute best things to do in Cinque Terre Italy is to rent a boat. If someone in your group has a license for a boat, that’s always the best, since at least you can have a private trip with friends only. If not, there are plenty of boat trip companies in the area, and you can rent a boat that comes with a captain.
This is more enjoyable of course for everyone, since you all can just enjoy your time, and admire the beautiful seaside of Liguria, the Italian riviera’s southern shore. Cinque Terre is beautiful from the ground already, so imagine how beautiful it is to see all these small cliffside towns from a boat, not so far from the ground! I promise it’s definitely one of the best things to see in Cinque Terre Italy is literally Cinque Terre, from the sea!
12. Explore Portovenere
Right, so we’ll be cheating now in regard to the Cinque Terre things to do since Portovenere is outside the area of Cinque Terre. However, if you’re staying more days in Cinque Terre, you’d want to know not only what to do in Cinque Terre, but what’s worth visiting around it, right? Portovenere is by far one of the most amazing and beautiful coasts of the Liguria region.
After Cinque Terre and Portofino, Portovenere is another coastal town in Italy that’s absolutely beautiful and worth visiting! It’s also more affordable than Portofino! Just south of La Spezia, Porto Venere also consists of more towns and islands. The three villages, Fezzano, Le Grazie and Porto Venere, and the three islands of Palmaria, Tino and Tinetto. Porto Venere is also part of the UNESCO Heritage Sites, just like Cinque Terre. A really beautiful destination that you can add to your Italy itinerary if you’re looking for day trips from Florence by car.
13. Eat Pesto and Focaccia
As I have already mentioned at the Aperitivo in Monterosso, one of the most important Cinque Terre Italy things to do is eat Pesto. Since Pesto is originating from Genoa, the capital city of the Liguria region, this region is where you should never skip eating Pesto. And not only pesto! The other delicious food from Liguria is the Focaccia.
Focaccia is probably one of my favorite bread types that they make in Italy since it’s simple, it’s tasty, and it is the perfect pairing with any appetizer. In Liguria, they make the Focaccia somewhat different than in other regions. And as always, every dish is the best to be tried in their region of origin. So if you want to know what to do in Cinque Terre, go on a hunt for Focaccia!
14. Blue Trail
Now, we already spoke about the Blue Trail (or Blue Path) which in Italian is called Sentiero Azzurro. This is by far one of the top things to do in Cinque Terre! The Blue Trail goes through all the 5 towns, connecting them with a trail that’s made in and on the cliffside. When you want to see spectacular panoramic views, and you ask what to see in Cinque Terre, we say Blue Trail.
The trail goes by the sea almost the whole way from Riomaggiore to Monterosso al Mare. Today however one part from Riomaggiore to Manarola is closed, as well as the whole part between Manarola and Corniglia. It’s expected to reopen these two parts in 2023-2024 after finishing works on them to be safe again. However, from Corniglia to Vernazza is fully open, and as we’ve mentioned it’s also open between Vernazza and Monterosso.
Watersports these days became more affordable and more interesting to many. It’s not only the jetski now, but kayaking and paddleboarding became big favorites, and not only for just a few people. So therefore one of the best things to do in Cinque Terre Italy is definitely trying watersports!
Maybe there’s something you’re already familiar with, but maybe there’s something you’d want to try new, like waterskiing? Watersports are a great idea also for those who want to see what are the best things to do in Cinque Terre in June. Now, as you can imagine in most towns these watersports are impossible, but in Monterosso, you can find some fun activities!
Wrapping up the 15 best things to do in Cinque Terre Italy
Now that we’ve been through all the questions about what does Cinque Terre mean, and what to do in this beautiful area, we’d like to suggest checking the best beaches in the Italian Riviera, as well as other great options to visit around Cinque Terre, such as Portofino, or Tuscany in a whole. Maybe you’re interested after seeing all the best things to see in Cinque Terre Italy in some mountain views and lakes? Check the best things to do at Lake Como, and Lake Garda too!