3 Days in Cinque Terre
One of my favorite places in Italy? The cute coastal villages of Cinque Terre.
To get the most out of your visit, I highly recommend staying for 2 to 3 days. Perhaps 2 full overnight stays and 1 full day.
While there may not be much to see in the way of sights, you’ll exhaust yourself hopping from town to town all in one day. Each Cinque Terre village is meant to be savored, leisurely and with lots of delicious gelato and pasta so try breaking up your visit.
Below is a sample itinerary for how you might spend your days.
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Cinque Terre Itinerary
Day 1: Arrive in Vernazza
Afternoon: Arrive in Vernazza in early afternoon and grab a taste of the sea with some stuffed mussels and fresh foccacia.
After a quick siesta, head down to the harbor for some great people watching and sunbathing. After a swim and some gelato, head up to the castle for great views over the town.
Evening: End the day with dinner at Al Castello, a fabulous restaurant inside the Vernazza castle.
Overnight: Hotel Santa Marta
Day 2: Hiking & Sightseeing
Morning: Wake up early to beat the cruise day trippers and hike the pathway connecting Vernazza to Monterosso. About 10 minutes into the hike, look over your shoulder and admire the stunning overhead view of Vernazza! Continue on for about 2 hours until you reach the largest of the Cinque Terre villages, Monterosso al Mare.
Afternoon: Grab a gelato to cool down and head to New Town to stake out an umbrella on the beach. Spend the afternoon playing in the waves and grab some local pesto pasta for lunch.
Evening: Head to Riomaggiore for dinner. Grab an extra large pizza to share and picnic on the harbor rocks for unbelievable postcard-perfect views while you watch the sun set. Take the train back to Vernazza in the evening.
Day 3: Saving the Best for Last
Catch the ferry for a different perspective of Cinque Terre’s beautiful cities. Disembark at Manarola and head left from the harbor for the most breathtaking and dramatic views of the town on a small pathway jutting out into the sea.
Take a gazillion photos and make sure to look back every couple feet or so for an even more epic view. Continue on the walking path up through the children’s playground and cemetery to arrive back into the main town.
Head up to see Manarola’s church and grab a snack of fried anchovies if you’re hungry. Head back to Vernazza to pack up and grab a leisurely lunch Italiano style before departing the Cinque Terre!
Where to Stay in Cinque Terre
I would recommend staying in either Vernazza or Monterosso. Vernazza is smaller and more picturesque, with some great restaurant options on the harbor. Monterosso is larger, with a proper beach and has even more restaurants in addition to many lodging options.
1 | Santa Marta in Vernazza has recently renovated rooms with air conditioning (a rarity in Cinque Terre!). Private bathrooms, in-room TVs and comfortable, clean rooms make this one of the better new options in Vernazza.
Check current rates and availability here
2 | Hotel Palme is a lush, secluded property on Monterosso’s hill with a beautiful view and short walk to the beach. Rooms are clean and light filled, some come with balconies.
Check current rates and availability here
Read more: Where to Stay in Cinque Terre
Enjoy! Let me know in the comments if you have any questions about itinerary planning for Cinque Terre!
Visiting Italy – Trip Planning Checklist
There's so much to see and do in Italy that you can visit again and again and still discover new sights. I recommend concentrating on the big 4 cities (Rome, Venice, Milan & Florence) if it's your first time and then coming back to explore either Northern Italy or Southern Italy in more depth.
Go | Flight prices from the US to Italy are highly seasonal. You can set a fare alert here to be notified of discounts. Every fall & winter, I've seen great deals to Milan. One word of caution: avoid Alitalia at all costs!
Getting Around | A convenient way to explore Italy is via high speed train. You can search train schedules and book online here. Buy your tickets in advance to save on fares. Make sure to validate your ticket on the platform!
It also helps to speak a little Italian. Brush up on your Italian language skills with Rosetta Stone. You can take 10% off with promo code CJBT10.
Stay | Book hotels in advance to save, or check here for last minute deals. Many hotels in Italy are older so don't be surprised if even 5 star accommodation feels slightly dated. Opt for a room with a view instead of breakfast, as Italians don't eat breakfast in the same way Americans do and you'll probably be disappointed with their offering.
Alternatively, groups or budget travelers can check out Airbnb.
Protect | Lastly, be sure to visit Italy with travel insurance. Whether you get injured and need to be hospitalized, your phone gets stolen, or a flight delay leaves you with nothing but the clothes on your back, travel insurance will help when you need it most.
A rail strike occurred during our trip, unexpectedly shutting down transportation for an entire day. Get a quote for your Italy trip here.
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I have to admit, I’d never heard of Cinque Terra before. This sounds wonderful and not too far from the UK. We’re planning to take short breaks next year so this sounds ideal. Already booked Verona for Valentine’s Day but this could be a good choice for early Spring. I may be back with questions :-) ✌️❤️
Ah jealous its so much closer for you guys in the UK! Verona is such a romantic choice for vday – that sounds amazing. Yes feel free to let me know if you have questions! Happy planning ?
For the 3 day Cinque Terre Itinerary, when heading to RIomaggiore from Monterosso, do you take the train? Or hike?
I recommend the train! we hiked a small portion but not the entire 5 villages – that would take like 10 hours of straight hiking! also check for 2018, but when i went last year the pretty “lovers lane” pathway from riomaggiore to manarola was closed due to landslides.
So home base is Vernazza?
Which airport would you recommend flying into and then how to get from there to Vernazza
Hi Faith, Yes, we used Vernazza as our home base. Check out my other Cinque Terre and Northern Italy posts for logistical info.
We flew in to Milan and took the train down to La Spezia.
Hi Thank you for your interesting Cinque Terre blog . We are 16 senior from Singapore plan to visit Cinque terre in April 2020. I checked the booking.com there is no hotel that can accommodate our group size. Do you have any recommendation or suggest us to stay at Le Spezia ?
We only want to visit Vernazza and Monterosso as you suggested. Will one day enough? Do you know any local guide ?
Also after Cinque Terre we need to go to Genoa via Santa Margreta to continue our Italian lakes tour. Appreciate if you suggest us to go back to Le Spezia to take a rented coach to Genoa or any advise on this matter.
Thanks in advance Chee Meng from Singapore
Hi Chee Meng, You’ll probably have to split up into 2 or 3 hotels. Most of the accommodation is small apartment buildings that the owners convert into hotels. Or yes, you could look into La Spezia which is a slightly bigger town. I didn’t stay overnight there so don’t have a personal recommendation
You can visit both in 1 day if that’s the only time you have. You can take a ferry from La Spezia.
Hm, Genoa isn’t on the Italian Lakes – are you sure it’s Genoa that you mean? To be honest, I didn’t think Genoa was that great (especially if you’re limited on time). But you can look into the trains to go to Genoa, or hire a driver for the Italian Lakes. Hope that helps!
HI Sher thank for you prompt reply. I read your blog that you suggested to visit Parma cheese and ham factory. When I clink on the link provided by you it shows it is a 4 to 5 hour guided tour at pick up point at The Tourist information office.
I have a question as we have a coach for 12 people. Do you know where can we go direct to the factory and after the end of tour we take the highway to La Spezia.
Chee Meng From Singapore
Are you using a travel agent? For a large party, they can help you set up a personalized guided tour for the parma factories. Most of the factories are family owned and operated so you usually need a local guide to set up a personalized tour, or if you’re traveling for small groups (1-4 people) you can just book the tours that i’ve linked.
No I am not a travel agent we are 6 couples friends that to travel together . I contacted Parma food tours / food valley travel they told me they work with small groups up to 6/8 people per day.
We have limited time may be 4 to 5 hours max. I clinked the link provided by you but the meeting point is at the Tourist information office. We can engage a local guide but we need to go to the factory with our coach so that after the tour we can head for the highway to La Spezia.