Italy is one of those countries with an endless amount of beautiful places to explore. I myself have been to Italy three times and have yet to see everything I want to see! The picturesque coastal area of Cinque Terre had long been on my list of places to visit, and on my most recent trip to Europe, I knew I just had to squeeze it in!
Unfortunately with so many amazing places to visit in Italy, Cinque Terre rarely gets more than a day or two on most Italy travel itineraries. If you only have a short amount of time, here’s how to visit Cinque Terre in one day!
The Five Towns
The name Cinque Terre (pronounced “Cheen-Kway Tare-ray”) means Five Lands in Italian. The time is derived from the five small towns that make up the area of Cinque Terre. If you use your time wisely visiting Cinque Terre in one day, you should have no problems visiting all five towns.
The southern-most town in Cinque Terre is Riomaggiore. Often the starting point for those exploring Cinque Terre, this town does not disappoint. With towering colorful houses that meet on either side of a small harbor, Riomaggiore is sure to charm its visitors. There are lots of great restaurants and hotels in Riomaggiore, and there is even a stretch of rocky beach area on the southern part of the city.
Traveling north, Manarola is the next town up from Riomaggiore. It’s much smaller than its neighboring town, but just as charming! The beautiful color patterns of Cinque Terre continue here, with buildings sporting bright yellows, pinks and greens. The harbor in Manarola is larger, and there’s a small area where you can jump into the Mediterranean Sea for a swim. Hike up to the viewpoint on the northern end of the harbor for beautiful views over Manarola!
Corniglia is the smallest of the Cinque Terre
Insider Tip: Don’t want to do the hike up to town from the train station? You can also take the minibus into town. The fee is €2,50 each way for the bus, but if you’ve purchased a Cinque Terre Card with Transportation, the bus is free. Keep reading for more information on the pass!
Vernazza is a beautiful town in Cinque Terre that is the favorite of many visitors. There are many souvenir shops and restaurants here, along with the chance to dine along the harbor with views of the Mediterranean Sea. There is a small beach area where you can swim in the harbor as well. I highly recommend doing the first portion of the Vernazza to Monterosso hike, as the viewpoint over Vernazza is stunning and worth the climb!
Insider Tip: Vernazza tends to get fairly crowded during the day. If you visit in the late afternoon/evening, most of the large tourist groups will be gone.
Monterosso Al Mare
Insider Tip: Don’t leave your belongings unattended at the beach! There are several people who walk around trying to sell their wares. Avoid the beach during peak times to have a less interrupted beach visit.
Cinque Terre in One Day: Travel Tips
Doing all of Cinque Terre in one day is an undertaking, but definitely worth it! In order to fit in all the highlights of Cinque Terre, there are a few things you can do to make the most of your time. Here are my tips for seeing Cinque Terre in one day!
Stay in Cinque Terre
In order to maximize your time in Cinque Terre, you’ll want to stay overnight in one of the towns. That way when you wake up, you can stroll out the door and begin your day. If you don’t stay in Cinque Terre, you risk losing your time by waiting for the train to take you into town. I recommend staying in either Riomaggiore or Monterosso Al Mare, to make your day’s transit a bit easier.
There are many boutique hotels throughout Cinque Terre, but I recommend checking out some of the cute listings on
Insider Tip: You can get $40 off your first AirBnb booking here!
This should go without saying, but the earlier you start your day, the more time you’ll have to explore Cinque Terre. If you’re wanting to fit a few hikes into your day’s schedule I’d definitely recommend starting no later than 8:00 in the morning. Starting early will give you plenty of time to visit all the towns, stop for delicious meals and treats, and even have some beach time!
Buy a Day Pass With Transport
The first thing you’ll want to do is to purchase your Cinque Terre National Park Pass. This pass allows you access into the National Park and its hiking trails. You can also purchase the pass online, before your trip to Cinque Terre.
Even if you don’t plan on hiking, the pass with added transportation is still worth it. Each time you board the train to a new town in Cinque Terre, the cost runs between €2-4. But purchasing the Cinque Terre Card + Treno will cost you €16 for unlimited train use throughout the day. After riding the train one way to each town, you’ve almost made up the whole cost of the ticket.
In addition, the pass gives you a unique login and password to use the wifi at each of the train stations throughout Cinque Terre.
Insider Tip: The Cinque Terre card is only good until midnight the day of purchase. So make sure to buy it first thing in the morning, to get the most use out of it. IMPORTANT: Don’t forget to validate your ticket before boarding the train, to avoid fines!!
The majority of businesses I came across in Cinque Terre only took cash as payment. You will need to have enough Euros to pay for your food, park pass, and any souvenirs you’ll want. In the off chance that you do run out of cash, there’s no need to worry. There are plenty of ATMs in Cinque Terre.
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Bring a Reusable Water Bottle
Being on the go in Cinque Terre for the day, you’ll undoubtedly need to keep up your hydration! Luckily, there are several public water fountains the towns which supply free drinking water to everyone. Bring a reusable water bottle and top up throughout the day with water from these fountains!
I like to use this water bottle by LifeStraw. The straw inside filters out 99.9999% of waterborne bacteria and parasites, so even if you’re nervous about the water in Italy, this water bottle makes it completely safe to drink!
Don’t Forget To Eat
I mean…you are in Italy. Don’t let a full day of hiking and sightseeing stop you from taking in some amazing food. Treat yourself to some delicious gelato throughout the day. Grab a slice of pizza or two! And for dinner? Try some fresh-caught seafood from the Mediterranean or homemade pesto pasta! Lemons are also grown in this region, so don’t pass up the chance to taste some refreshing lemon drinks to wash it all down!
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End With a Sunset
Sunsets in Cinque Terre are absolutely stunning. Watching the sun set over the Mediterranean Sea while sitting on the cliffs of Riomaggiore has to be one of my favorite memories from Cinque Terre. I recommend going down to the cliffs about an hour before sunset, and just enjoy. You can even bring a pizza and a bottle of wine and make it a full evening event!
Cinque Terre Hiking Tips for
Even if you’re not a hardcore hiking lover, you can still enjoy Cinque Terre and its beautiful scenery! The hiking trails from town to town are the most popular in the area, but many will take you more than an hour to hike through the hills and dirt pathways.
If you only have one day in Cinque Terre, odds are you won’t be able to fit in all the hikes and the towns. But you could certainly do one or two
Wear Comfortable Shoes
The trails between towns take you both into the mountains and along the coast list. Most are not paved and you will encounter many hills, so it’s important that you have some decent footwear. Don’t risk breaking your ankle by trying to do these walks in flimsy sandals.
The sun beats down on Cinque Terre and it can get very hot on the trails. Please please please don’t forget to bring along water and keep yourself hydrated as you hike through Cinque Terre. As I mentioned before, many towns have public drinking fountains with clean water, so you can refill your bottle throughout the day.
Check to See What Trails Are Open
In order to help preserve these beautiful trails and the National Park, there are usually one or two trails that get closed for a period of time. The morning of your day in Cinque Terre, stop by an official information center and see what trails are closed for the day. This way you won’t be disappointed when you get to a trailhead and find it closed!
It’s hard to pass up the opportunity to experience the beautiful towns of Cinque Terre, Italy. Even if you have to squeeze it into your itinerary, it’s still worth visiting. Cinque Terre is easily accessed by train from Italy’s major cities of Genoa, Florence, Milan, and Pisa, so if these are on your itinerary, make some room for Cinque Terre too!
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I’ve only been to Vernazza but I absolutely loved it and can’t wait to visit the other towns. On my train out of the city, our train car had 2 police come on to check everyones tickets and some people didn’t validate and got fined!