Can you visit the five villages of Cinque Terre in one day without rushing?
Yes, you can. But, the tips are to stay near Cinque Terre and to check the train timetable carefully.
Last March I had a wonderful day trip to Cinque Terre from La Spezia so I would like to share my plan with you.
Located in the Province of Liguria, Cinque Terre is considered the Heaven of Italy. The five villages making up Cinque Terre (meaning: five lands) are Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Corniglia, Vernazza, and Monterosso al Mare.
My friend and I stayed at a modern Airbnb apartment near the train station in La Spezia, one of the main towns in Liguria. I highly recommend staying there because it is much cheaper than staying in Cinque Terre, and it only takes 5-10 mins to get to Riomaggiore.
The first thing we did at La Spezia’s train station was to buy a Cinque Terre card, which included unlimited train rides, bus transfer, wifi connection, and access to trekking paths. It cost around 13 euros, and it was worth it.
08:15 – Take the train to Riomaggiore (1) from La Spezia
The most popular attraction here is the picturesque walking path from Riomaggiore to Manarola. The path has a poetic name: Via dell’Amore (the Way of Love). Unfortunately, the path is closed until 2018.
10:24 – Take the train to Manarola (2) from Riomaggiore
In my opinion, Manarola has one of the most breathtaking views in Cinque Terre. That’s why I wanted to come back to Marnarola at sunset time but the view was not as spectacular as I expected – it was not very sunny during the day unfortunately.
11:58 – Take the train to Corniglia (3) from Manarola
Corniglia was the cutest town of them all.
Lunch – My initial plan was to have lunch at A Cantina da Mananan but it was closed so we had lunch at Bar Pan e Vin instead.
For desserts, we got some amazing gelato from Alberto Gelateria. The flavours cherry and ginger + green apple were perfect together.
14:00 – Walk to Vernazza (4) following The Blue Path
Once in Cinque Terre, do at least one walking trail.
The path from Corniglia to Vernazza is the easiest trekking path, and it takes about 90 minutes. However, it took us almost 2 hours because we had many breaks to take pictures. It was not a super easy walk so comfortable shoes and plenty of water are highly recommended.
Vernazza is the most romantic and tranquil town in Cinque Terre.
16:34 – Take the train to Monterosso al Mare (5) from Vernazza
Monterosso al Mare is deal for swimming because it has a nice beach. Other than that, it is not as charming as other towns in Cinque Terre.
I got some paintings of Riomaggiore from a street artist in Monterosso.
18:20 – Take the train to Manarola from Monterosso al Mare
I wanted to watch sunset from the restaurant Nessun Dorma (meaning “no one sleeps” by the way).
Dinner – Again, my plan did not work out due to the weather and the off-season period. It was getting cold and windy so it was not ideal to dine outside at Nessun Dorma. Also, they did not serve food that day because the chef did not come.
We had very good seafood pasta at Il Porticciolo instead.
20:32 – Take the train to La Spezia from Manarola
Should you visit Cinque Terre offseason?
Yes, you should. The best advantage of visiting Cinque Terre offseason is that you can avoid crowds. Also, accommodation prices are often reasonable.
However, keep in mind that the weather in March is unpredictable – its chance of raining is 50%. Most of the businesses are closed, and there are no ferry tours.
I remember the first time I went to Venice, I did not enjoy my time so much because of the August heat and the unbelievable crowds. So I would visit places offseason again if I can. After all, I do not travel just to see, but more importantly… to feel.