One Perfect Day in the Cinque Terre

by Bianca @ Italian Fix

one day cinque terre

Are you heading to the Cinque Terre just for one day?

Here are my best tips for your upcoming sprint.

Secretly, I do think the Cinque Terre warrants more time. But let’s just work with what you’ve got my friend.

What to do in the Cinque Terre for 1 DAY:

If it’s hot and sunny

  • For swimming: Jump in the water at my favorite swimming spots: a) the marina in Manarola b) the beach in Riomaggiore c) the beach in Bonassola (definitely go here if the water is rough at the other two places, or you prefer a sandy beach and more space). In Bonassola, I like to splurge 20 euros and rent a sun lounger and an umbrella. FYI: Italy has many private beaches so you can lounge in comfort with chairs, umbrellas, food, drink, and showers. It’s a VERY easy luxury to get used to. That is, after you get over resenting the fact that many of the prettiest Italian beaches are a pay-to-play situation.
  • For eating: See my recommended restaurants in my sister post, What to Do in the Cinque Terre.
  • For chilling out with a view: The outside bar Nessun Dorma at Punta Bonfiglio in Manarola is a heart-skipper.
  • For wandering: Just village hop. The trains frequently run all day, and no you can’t pick a “bad one” so just roll with it.

If it’s raining

  • For afternoon sipping: Discover grappa! It’s a spirit made from the skins, pulp, seeds, and stems of grapes left over from the wine-making process. Grappa is for sipping slowly, like a good tequila (don’t drink it like a shooter). They have a massive grappa list at Enoteca da Elisio in Monterosso, which is super cozy in the rain.
  • For channeling your inner Italian Stallion: If you’re traveling with your love, when is the last time you booked a hotel … just for the day? Warning: Racy idea ahead that will impress (the pants off) your partner. Your action plan: Check in to a hotel (avoid the ones that are out of the way). Leave the hotel and go buy snacks, candles, and prosecco. Head back to the hotel. Open the wine, light the candles and see what happens. The snacks are if you decide you never want to leave.
  • For foodies: Book a cooking class. I love this place.
  • For artists/creatives/photographers/connectors: Visit the home of an amazing collector. It may be the most fascinating thing you’ll do in Italy. Email The Archivio della Memoria at collettivoparisse@gmail.com for private appointments by donation.
  • Get wet: You won’t melt. Just wander around any of the villages. Monterosso, Vernazza and Levanto have the most action.

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If you’re there for the hiking

  • In 15 minutes: The famous Via dell’Amore is closed until further notice (current as of February 2018). An alternative small stroll is the promenade of Monterosso.
  • In 45 minutes: From Riomaggiore to a church (with an amazing view to all the five villages and the French coastline) and back down again. Follow the trail from the top of the village to the Santuario di Nostra Signora di Montenero.
  • In 1 hour: Hike the steep trail from Manarola to Volastra. If you want to keep going you can do the next section I chat about below, or take the bus back down to Manarola.
  • In 1.5 – 3 hours: Hike the high trail from Volastra to Corniglia. It will take you 1 -1.5 hours. You can keep going to Vernazza — it will take you about three hours in total to go from Volastra to Corniglia to Vernazza (including a visit to the village of Corniglia). This is my fave day hike, and since it’s harder to access than the lower trails, it’s less crowded (I might have ruined that now).
  • For 5+ hours: Riomaggiore to Portovenere on foot, and then ferry back (ferries run during peak season). This plan is for the adventurous soul. Bring a map. It’s gorg-e-ous!

If you’re traveling with kids

  • For playing: Head to the piazze or the parco giochi in each town (ask the locals). The parco giochi in Manarola has an incredible view.
  • For a beach day: Go to the sandy beach in Bonassola (which is just a half an hour train ride out of the Cinque Terre). This one has a playground for kids right on the sand.
  • For strollers: Monterosso (officially the “Cinque Terre”), Levanto (close) or Bonassola (close) are the most stroller friendly villages. I think Bonassola is the best kid-friendly spot and it’s popular with Italian vacationers (but totally under the radar to foreign travelers).

More tips

My other (sizzlin’) Cinque Terre advice is here (currently enjoyed by 20,000 peeps a month)

Your turn

Leave a comment: Have you been to the Cinque Terre for one day? What’s your favorite memory? Or leave a question and I’ll do my best to help.

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