The UNESCO World Heritage site, Cinque Terre (pronounced as CHINK-weh TAY-reh) on the Italian Riviera coastline, has recently become a popular tourist destination in Italy and one of the most photographed too.
Cinque Terre, which means the land of five towns, consists of five glorious fishing towns: Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso al Mare. In each of the 5 towns, colorful houses and vineyards cling to steep terraces; harbours are filled with fishing boats and restaurants with delicious seafood specialties.
The most frequent way to visit this place is a day trip from Rome, Florence, Milan or Pisa. There are also several local tour companies organizing combined day trips to Cinque Terre and Pisa from Florence and Rome.
So, if you just have only one day to explore, you really can’t afford to waste time and that’s why knowing the exact spots to photograph from can be very useful! In this post I share all my tips for getting there and capturing this magical place!
Getting To Cinque Terre
I was travelling solo in Italy this summer for 2 weeks, and I was most excited to discover Cinque Terre. Thankfully cars are banned in the National Park and there is a 19th-century railway line cut through a series of coastal tunnels which connect all the five towns. There are ferries going from village to village; and there is a walking trail too.
To go to Cinque Terre, you have to get to a place called La Spezia. And if you are not driving, and are not interested in an organized tour, like me, then train is the best option (check the train timings in advance on websites like GOEURO).
From La Spezia train station, you can buy the Cinque Terre Rail Card which gives you full day unlimited access to the train line connecting the Levanto – Cinque Terre – La Spezia line. My recommendation is to take the train and go to the last town Monterosso and make your way back to Riomaggiore, from there it’s a 5 mins train ride to La Spezia.
Here are the best spots for photography in the order of travelling route:
Photo Spot 1: Walking Trail From Monterosso To Vernazza
The route is wonderful, providing panoramic views of the Mediterranean Sea all along the trail.
Towards the end of the walking trail, before the decent, you will get the top view of Vernazza town.
Photo Spot 2: Vernazza Harbour
Photo Spot 3: Manarola To Corniglia Walking Trail
Take the train from Vernazza to Manarola and then walk in the direction of Corniglia (away from Manarola). You will get to some elevation while walking on the hills along the terraced vineyards and will notice Manarola town to your left.
Keep walking until you can’t see the Manarola town anymore and it lies behind you; then, you should find another connecting trail that leads you back to the town through a church/cemetery, and the town is again to your left. The cemetery is an excellent spot for pictures.
Then from the cemetery, make your way to the harbour, through the restaurants (all this while, Manarola town should be to your left).
Find the exact location here.
Photo Spot 4: Manarola Harbour
The walking trail leading to Manarola harbour is completely concrete and protected by railing and can’t be missed (you can see it from a distance too) And along the trail you get the postcard pictures you dreamed of!
Find the exact location here.
Photo Spot 5: Riomaggiore
Take the train from Manarola to Riomaggiore. The best shot of this town is from the line of rocks on the harbour. You can also take the step’s up (to the left of the harbour) and get some top views. Despite the huge population of tourists visiting this place every day, Cinque Terre has successfully maintained its rural, laid back vibe and has not fallen prey to urbanization yet!
Find the exact location here.
Where To Stay in Cinque Terre, Italy
There are so many beautiful places to stay in Cinque Terre. When looking for your hotel it is really important to check you have convenient access to the 5 towns to make exploring as easy as possible. Better yet, stay in one of the colourful towns. Of course this is more expensive but totally worth it if you have the budget!
- Grand Hotel Portovenere This gorgeous hotel is situated right on the Portovenere’s seafront with a panoramic terrace to enjoy your Italian cup of coffee and fresh pastries. You can also indulge in Cinque Terre specialists at the onsite restaurant that serves incredible fresh fish. Rooms are modern but respectful of their historical setting. A stay here is undoubtedly unforgettable.
- Park Hotel Argento Located only 800m from the train station, all 5 Cinque Terre villages are easy to access from this hotel. The wellness centre has a sauna, Turkish bath and incredible massages on offer. The terrace has a hydro-massage pool, perfect for relaxing after a long day of walking around the villages of Cinque Terre.
- Hotel Al Terra Di Mare Surrounded by olive trees and vineyards, this eco-friendly hotel has excellent views of the sea and is a great base to explore the five villages of Cinque Terre. This hotel is a short distance from the train station. The hotel provides a free shuttle to the train station and nearby town, so you can explore as much as you desire.
- Stella Della Marina In the centre of Monterosso, this hotel is right at the start of the famous Cinque Terre walking trail. Perfect for those wishing to do lots of walking. However, it is also only 700 meters from the train station for those who would prefer the train option. A unique feature about this hotel is that it is only a few steps from the beach, allowing you to have a beach day and relax.
Find the best price on hotels in Cinque Terre, Italy.
Suggested Tours around Cinque Terre
- Cinque Terre: Ferry and Tour of Porto Venere and Vernazza Explore both the towns of Porto Venere and Vernazza. A relaxing tour and a great way to learn about the towns most important landmarks.
- From Monterosso: Cinque Terre Kayak Tour Walking around the towns is beautiful. However, experiencing Cinque Terre from the sea gives you an entirely new perspective of these colourful quaint Italian towns. This Kayak tour is a unique way to explore Cinque Terre and a great way to spend a day in this beautiful part of Italy coastline.
- Manarola: Authentic Pesto Making Class in Cinque Terre Spend your day with a local chef learning the secrets of how to make traditional Ligurian pesto. Feast on your food with locals at the end of the class and have a traditional Italian experience
Summary Of The Best Photo Spots In Cinque Terre
We hope this article has inspired you to visit one of Italy’s most colourful towns and helped you to discover it’s most photogenic spots! Please share your own tips or questions about visiting Cinque Terre with our readers in the comments below.
Our Top Places To Stay in Cinque Terre, Italy
- Grand Hotel Portovenere
- Park Hotel Argento
- Hotel Al Terra Di Mare
- Stella Della Marina
- Find the best price on hotels in Cinque Terre, Italy
- Sign up to AirBnB with this link and receive a US $35 off your first booking
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