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3 day Cinque Terre Itinerary

12 Apr, 2024

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Eva Mitchell

Dreaming of visiting the colourful seaside villages of the Cinque Terre? We have got you covered with the perfect 3 day Cinque Terre Itinerary plus optional extra activities in case you are seeking a faster paced holiday.

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Tim & I stayed in the stunning Vernazza in June 2023 and found it to be the perfect location to hike the picturesque coastline, swim in the salty Mediterranean Sea, and indulge in delicious local Italian food. Oh and of course, we can’t forget the main reason we came here, to see the colourful Cinque Terre villages! 

In this 3 day Cinque Terre itinerary, you will visit all five cinque terre villages with plenty of time to relax and to take in the stunning surrounds.


How to get to the Cinque Terre

The easiest way to get to the Cinque Terre is by train via La Spezia. We booked our train tickets on Omio which was super easy and affordable.  

We were coming from Florence, so decided to stop in at Pisa for a few hours on the way to the Cinque Terre. When we arrived in Pisa, we dropped our suitcases at a Radical Storage stop by the Pisa Train station and explored Pisa hands-free. If you really want to see the leaning tower of Pisa, I highly recommend working in a Pisa stop-over on the way to the Cinque Terre. Apart from the leaning tower of Pisa there isn’t a lot else to see there so I wouldn’t waste an entire day or night in Pisa if you are on a tight schedule.  

Where to stay in the Cinque Terre 

You have the option from any of the five villages:  

  • Riomaggiore: this is probably the village that springs to mind when you think of the Cinque Terre. This is the star child, the most vibrant village to photograph from afar.
  • Manorola: a gorgeous village
  • Corniglia: the quietest village which is perched on the hill above the sea.
  • Vernazza: stunning village where you can swim in the calm harbour.
  • Monterosso: this is the biggest and flattest village. 


We opted to stay in Vernazza because it was central to the other villages which meant we could hike to either Monterosso or Corniglia. Vernazza is one of the busiest villages during the day but when late afternoon comes around, the day trippers leave and you get to enjoy this beautiful village in peace. We also liked the fact that we could swim in the harbour just a couple minute walk away from our accommodation. Vernazza turned out to be the perfect village to be based in for our Cinque Terre holiday.  

Because we stayed in Vernazza during our Cinque Terre trip, I have based this 3 day Cinque Terre itinerary on staying in Vernazza.

Where to stay in Vernazza

You will not find many hotels at all in the Cinque Terre towns. It is more of a small town, local vibe here. Your best bet is to find a room using booking.com or Airbnb. There are options to suit all budgets. We stayed in this cute room that was located amongst the maze of paths and stairs within Vernazza. A lovely Italian Nona met us by the seaside and guided us up to our room.  

I would recommend selecting one village to stay in for the entire time. It is easiest to have a base and train or hike from there to the other villages.


When is the best time of the year to visit the Cinque Terre

The best time to visit the Cinque Terre is during the shoulder season, either in June or September. These months can have the odd rainy spell but are still warm enough to swim and cool enough to hike. The shoulder season also means that the villages and the hiking trails are less busy.  

Day 1: Beach day in Monterosso

Pack your sunscreen, togs, towel and sunhat because it’s beach day! 

But not without a little work to get there. Lace up your runners or hiking boots and hit the walking trail from Vernazza to Monterosso. Bring some cash so you can pay for your access ticket to the walking track. There will be a ticket office at each end of the trail. It takes roughly one hour and a half to walk between the two towns including photo stops. We found this trial to be relatively easy and the scenes are just breath-taking!  


Once you have made it to Monterosso, go for a wander around this gorgeous town and grab a gelato to enjoy on the beach. Our favourite Italian gelato flavours are pistachio and cherry! Mmm hmm!  

You will notice that there are two sections to the beach at Monterosso. The paid section is where you will see lines of beach loungers with umbrellas up for hire. The free section is a small sandy section at the start of the beach beside the rocks. We opted to throw our towels down on the free side which we found to be the ideal location for the day.  

When you are ready for lunch, pop along to Il Massimo della Focaccia for a focaccia slice. They are delicious and very convenient to eat on the go.  

After you have spent enough time soaking in the sun and bathing in the salty Mediterranean sea, get changed and make your way back along the walking trail to Vernazza.  

Here's a tip:

If you would prefer a more leisurely day, you can always catch the train between Vernazza to Monterosso and back instead of hiking.

Handy Facilities in Monterosso 

  • Save the world one plastic bottle at a time with the paid water refill station located underneath the bridge that the train passes over. Coins required. 
  • There are paid bathrooms available near the same bridge as above where you can get changed back into your walking clothes.  

By the time you arrive back in Vernazza, I’m sure your tummy will be grumbling. Head up to Pippo a Vernazza to grab a takeaway pasta. Enjoy your pasta down on one of the rocks in the Vernazza harbour as you watch the sunset. If you are feeling like sampling a local delicacy, pop into one of the shops or bars to enjoy a cheeky limoncello.  


Day 2: Village hopping with a bit of action 

Today you will get to witness one of the most iconic towns of the Cinque Terre, that is Riomaggiore.  

Start your day with a train ride down to Riomaggiore. You can purchase a train ticket at the train station kiosk. Pop in and out of the small shops that line the main street of this cute little town. Riomaggiore is the perfect town to snap some photos with the colourful houses. Try this photo op location for that iconic shot!  


Are you ready for some action? Head down to the water to hire a kayak for an hour or two. You can paddle around the coastline and see this vibrant town from the sea. How cool!  

After your kayaking adventure, grab some lunch in Riomaggiore at one of the many cafes or restaurants. FYI we brought one of the famous squid cones and honestly we were pretty disappointed, I wouldn’t recommend wasting your money on one of these.

When you are feeling rejuvenated, get ready to conquer the steep but short hike over the hill to the beautiful Manorola. The alternative trail that runs along the coastline, called the Path of Love, is currently closed until July 2024. If this trail is open when you are visiting the Cinque Terre, I would recommend taking that path instead of the steep one over the hill. The Path of Love is supposed to be one of the most romantic sections of the Cinque Terre trail and the closest path to the sea. 

Take in the views that this stunning town has to offer. Manorola is the ideal spot to enjoy a sunset drink and snacks especially at the famous Nessun Dorma. It is likely you will have to wait for a seat, but it will be worth it. Download the Nessun Dorma app before you arrive. The app has a waiting list system that you need to use to reserve a spot in the waiting list. 


After a few too many Aperol Spritz and delicious bruschetta, make your way back to the train station to return to Vernazza for the night.  

Alternatively, if you would love to indulge in a bit of the local Italian culture, why not take a pesto making class at Nessun Dorma instead. Make it a late lunch by booking the 1:30pm slot. We couldn’t think of a better location for a pesto making class, it’s just stunning!  

Day 3: Hiking and chill with a memorable sunset dinner

Start your day with a treat from the local Vernazza bakery Il Pirata delle 5 Terre. We loved the food here and the team were very friendly and welcoming! You have to try a brioche here! 


Today you will be hiking the scenic trail from Vernazza to Corniglia. This is again a paid access trail so bring money with you to purchase the day pass at the start of the track. Make sure you stop at Bar Il Gabbiano about halfway along the trail for a refreshing lemon granita. It is sweet, sour and icey cold, ideal for a mid-hike refresher!  

Once you arrive in Corniglia, grab yourself a bite to eat. The Terra Rossa wine & food winebar looks like an amazing place to stop at. It is only a few minutes’ walk from where the walking track ends. Unfortunately, it was closed the day we were in Corniglia so if you do make it there, let us know in the comments how good it is!  

After taking in the beautiful sights and sounds of this gorgeous Cinque Terre town, it is time to head back to Vernazza. If you feel like a snack when you make it back to Vernazza, order yourself one of the best focaccia slices in the Cinque Terre from Batti Batti’ Focacceria. The pesto, cream cheese slice is divine!   


Spend your last afternoon of this 3 day cinque terre itinerary relaxing in Vernazza with a swim in the harbour and lounging on the rocks. Vernazza is the perfect place to wind down and relax. 

Tonight is the night to treat yourself! Get dressed up for a romantic sunset dinner. When you are ready, walk up to Restorante La Torre for one of the best dinner views on the Cinque Terre. The sunset is unbelievable here. I would highly recommend ordering the seafood pasta, it was one of the best pasta dishes that I tasted in Italy! 

Here's a tip:

It is best to check if the Cinque Terre hiking route is open or closed here before heading off.

Option extras for the Fast-Paced travellers 

If you are a fast-paced traveller that loves to make the most of each and every travel day, there are plenty of other activities to do in the Cinque Terre. Here are a few activities available on Viator that you could integrate into this 3 day Cinque Terre itinerary.  

I hope you found this 3 day Cinque Terre itinerary helpful for your Cinque Terre visit! Feel free to ask any questions you may have in the comments below, I will do my best to answer them as quickly as possible.

Safe travels 😊  

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A word from the authors

Eva and Tim are the creators behind this world-class travel finance blog.

In 2021 they decided to travel the world for an entire year and begun implementing savings strategies to achieve their goal of long-term travel. By May 2023, they quit their jobs to embark on their year-long adventure, sharing their invaluable practical and achievable savings, planning and travel tips they learnt along the way/with the aim to help others Make Cents of Travel.

You can find Eva & Tim on Tiktok, Facebook and Instagram as Make Cents of Travel.

About Us

Hello, Hola, Ciao! We are Tim & Eva, a couple of kiwis who have spent the last few years saving for and planning our epic year-long adventure around the world. Our goal is to inspire fellow wanderlust souls (just like you!) to Make Cents Of Travel by sharing our experiences and strategies we used to turn our dream of long-term travel into a reality.


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