Right after I went to Portofino and walked back to Santa Margherita Ligure, I was having a dilemma whether I should continue my journey to Cinque Terre. Cinque Terre has been my absolute dream destination ever since I can remember. Whenever I’m on Pinterest, Cinque Terre always pop-up and I never not pin it to my Travel board. It was around 2pm and I was traveling alone. Which means I can walk super fast without anyone holding me down. And I did it, I purchased the train ticket to Cinque Terre.
The downside of this unplanned, spontaneous trip to Cinque Terre is that I cannot visit all five villages. I was lucky enough to visit two out of five. I made sure that it’s the village that I really want to see. I chose Manarola and Riomaggiore. The village Manarola and Riomaggiore is next to each other, which made it easier transport wise.
How to Get to Cinque Terre?
I went to Cinque Terre by train. It is probably and possibly the easiest way to reach this paradise. The terrain of Cinque Terre is mostly mountainous and small streets (mainly for pedestrians). I can only think of those small Italian cars (not the sport ones ofc!) that can go through this narrow streets.
In train station, try to find official staff and ask them on how to get to Cinque Terre. Since I stayed in Milan, I took train to Genoa then to Santa Margherita Ligure. I went to Portofino first and explore around those little gem. After that, I took a train to Riomaggiore.
I saw a cruise package from Portofino to Cinque Terre, but it’s only open for business during busy season. Busy season is normally summer. Last time I went there, it was April and certainly not summer yet. I truly believed it will be so spectacular if you take cruise (or private boat) to Cinque Terre.
Based from the Cinque Terre map, Riomaggiore is the furthest village (if you come from Santa Margherita Ligure direction). I decided to go to the furthest and go my way up to Manarola and other villages if I have time (which I didn’t). Riomaggiore is similar with Corniglia and different than the other three villages. It’s situated more in the mountain than in the cliff/coast. It still touch with the sea but most of the houses are located in the between two mountains.
Talking from photography perspective, it is quite difficult to get aerial photo if you don’t have drone or helicopter. However, Riomaggiore is very much alive. What do I mean by alive? There are children playing, the elders chatting, and villagers doing their daily stuff. Compared to Manarola, it is less touristy in some area which I’m glad and give me a little peace of mind.
It’s the prettiest village of Cinque Terre so far that I’ve visited. Bare in mind that I only visit two out of five only. The picture of Manarola (on the internet) is the one that made dream of Cinque Terre. I don’t know what makes Manarola beautifully addicting. Is it the colourful building? Or the buildings that situated in the cliff? The location in between mountain and sea? I took picture of this village hundred time with my camera and it’s never enough! It is effortlessly photogenic!
I took a train from Riomaggiore to Manarola because the trail between the two villages was close. The train station in Manarola and Manarola is not in the same location. You have to go through a tunnel to go to Manarola. Or if you came by boat, you will go straight to the village. Manarola seems to have more tourists than Riomaggiore. Along my walk to get the amazing view of Manarola, it’s full of souvenir shops and restaurants. There’s a trail to get the amazing view of Manarola. I’m sure you will stop along the way to admire the view. But don’t stop until you reach the very top for the best view (there’s a kid’s playground and you can go a little bit higher).
What to do in Cinque Terre?
I’d say it depends on seasonality. I went there around early April (same time with when I went to Portofino) and the weather was perfect. Cinque Terre was not too hot or windy or cold in April. Of course there will be more activities during summertime because summer is great to do water activities.
Try to get that postcard-esque photo as a souvenir if you’re trying to save money while traveling. For that extra, go for the sunset and any picture you take will be amazing. It is more memorable if you capture it yourself and adds that personal value to yourself. I’m also thinking to sell the prints of Manarola because it is just so beautiful and I hope people will buy it (#IAmUnemployed). If you somehow interested, send me an email 😀
Fake posed or candid for your social media. Tell the world that you went to this unbelievable paradise. Do it with no shame and take out those selfie-stick! I usually get this shy feeling and don’t want people to look at me weirdly and judge me. But then I think, when will I go back here again?! Carpe Diem!
Go hike around from village to village if you have more than one day in Cinque Terre. The order of the village is: Monterosso Al Mare – Vernazza – Corniglia – Manarola – Riomaggiore. Cinque Terre is actually a protected national park and UNESCO World Site Heritage (no surprise there). There are maps in each train station of villages and you can take it as your guide. Cinque Terre villages are connected and you can hike from one to another. There’s a walking trail called love walk or Via dell’Amore and sadly it was closed during my time there. The elevator also out of business and makes everyone have to hike up and down a pied.
Don’t get me started with food. Pasta, pizza, focaccia, gelato, seafood (cause Cinque Terre is by the sea), wine, and other local delicacies that can be souvenirs to bring home. I bought to-go calamari from Il Porticciolo in Manarola. Seafood from Cinque Terre must be delicious because of it location.
p.s.: So you reach the bottom of this post. Just wanna wish you a great day/night and I’ll be posting more travel posts! <3