Located on the Ligurian Coast, Le Cinque Terre (the five villages) are some of Italy’s most fabled seaside towns. Delightfully rustic with crystal-clear water and beautiful scenery makes them a popular destination for swimming, hiking and relaxation – and they’re photographer’s dream. The Cinque Terre are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and include these five coastal villages: Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso al Mare.
The towns are easy to reach by public transportation from La Spezia train station and their small size makes them perfect for a weekend getaway. There are beautiful hiking routes that link the villages: we love the trail from Vernazza to Monterosso, and the footpath from Vernazza to Corniglia (see more info here on the most popular hikes in the Cinque Terre). You can also hop on a train or ferry to travel between the villages.
Monterosso al Mare is the largest town, with a long stretch of sand and beach clubs, while Corniglia is set up in the hills and is the only town without a beach. You’ll be rewarded, though, if you hike down to Corniglia’s little cove which has large rocks for sunbathing. Vernazza is the most popular town (and arguably the most photographed) along with Manarola.
There are many towns close to the Cinque Terre that are worth exploring, including Portovenere and Portofino in the north – two chic destinations along the coast. Sestri Levante, Bonassola and Camogli are equally charming but with more of a more local flair.