How to Spend 1 Day in the Cinque Terre
Largely unknown to tourists until a decade ago, the five pastel villages clinging to the Ligurian Coast known as the Cinque Terre have become one of the most popular destinations in Italy. An overnight stay is ideal, allowing you to savor the region in peace after the crowds have left, but if you only have one day, here’s how to spend it.
Morning: A Day on the Trail
The postcard-perfect coastal villages of Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore have been largely untouched by the passage of time, primarily because they were cut off from the outside world for most of their history. Set between the Mediterranean and Liguria’s steep coastal peaks, the villages are difficult to reach by land, and the easiest way to travel between them is via local train or on the scenic trail that skirts the coast. Explore the villages one by one this morning on a guided hiking day trip or a tour that includes train passes and guided walks through the villages.
Afternoon: Head to the Water
The Cinque Terre are crowded most of the year, but numbers swell in the summer months, and by midday, the tiny lanes and coastal footpath can get overrun. Escape the hordes on land by heading out to sea on a private or shared half-day boat tour along the coast, and enjoy the photogenic views of the villages from the water, access to tiny hidden beaches, and stops to swim in the waters off the Cinque Terre National Park. Active travelers can opt for a kayaking experience along the coast, or you can hire a deck chair and umbrella and while away the afternoon on one of the Cinque Terre’s many pretty beaches.
Night: Sunset on the Coast
Even if you are only visiting the Cinque Terre for a day, stay into the evening hours so that you can experience this enchanting stretch of coastline without the relentless crowds. As the sun begins to wane, the villages empty of tourists and become quiet and charming. Take a peaceful walk through the pedestrian-only village centers or along the deserted footpaths, stop for an aperitivo and a slice of traditional focaccia in a tiny local bar, or take in the view from the water on a sunset sail along the coast.