I had wanted to see Cinque Terre for a while and having a few days to fill my itinerary whilst on a trip to Milan and Lake Como I decided to give it a go. What are the Cinque terre? A collection of 5 little towns: Riomaggiore, Manarola, Vernassa, Corniglia and Monterosso.
I had just one full day for it, and I can say it is more than enough, as the towns are quite small and you can check them out really quickly! The only reason to stay more is if you are doing it all through footpath and making a hiking trip out of it – which looks awesome!!!! There is not a lot of hotels in the Cinque Terre itself so the best thing I think is staying in the surrounding areas, and taking the train to the towns. S. Marguerita Ligure has plenty of hotel options at all sorts of prices. A friend of mine stayed at Moneglia, which is halfway between the Portofino/Rapallo/SML area and Cinque Terre, and highly recommended it. I decided to stay in Portofino, as I also wanted to check it out, and thought it would be easier staying there. Useful things when planning your trip, these links:
- train schedule between the Cinque Terre
- Train website to get your all other train schedules
- footpath descriptions in case you are going for the hikes
- Ferry schedule between the towns
- map of the area:
What was my extended day schedule (and a suggested day schedule)? I arrived at night at around 9pm to my hotel in Portofino, the fabulous Hotel Splendido. Woke up early with a fabulous room view of Portofino at dusk!
It was then time to start my Cinque Terre/Portofino Adventure. I took the early 8:30am train from S. Marguerita Ligure to Riomaggiore, which takes a bit over an hour. Did a walk around the small town, with its great colorful building.
After that I wanted to take the Via dell’Amore to Manarola. I unfortunately could not take the path as it was closed due to landslides, but it should be the first option if you are going!. What did I do then? I got the 15 Euro ferry day pass and got on my first boat of the day, the 10:35 to Manarola, where I had my necessary coffee stop. Some picture highlights of Manarola:
In Manarola, I took 12:00am ferry to Vernassa. The good thing of taking the ferry for the Manarola – Vernassa journey, is that even if you don’t go directly to Corniglia (and you might not want to as you need to go up the station by a footpath known as Lardarina that has 377 stairs or take one of the hiking trails), you get to see it from the sea, which is its most beautiful angle. Corniglia picture highlights from the boat:
In Vernazza, I had lunch at Gambero Rosso in Piazza Marconi. Amazing rissoto, great view. (and it might be a good idea to reserve a table if you are a few people, as it gets packed) . I did a little walk around the town, waiting for the next means of transportation out.
My next move was easier by train (the ferry takes a long lunch break!), so I took the 2:29pm train to Monterosso. This is definitely the most developed town, and definitely where you should stay if staying in Cinque Terre. If you feel like lying in the beach this is the place to do so.
I took a stroll around, and decided that since I didn’t want to do a beach day out of it, I took the 3:30 train back to Rapallo, which is also very close to Portofino (8 min cab ride). This gave me plenty of time to explore Portofino by day, as I had only been able to see it at night . Some picture highlights.
Next day some hotel pool and back to Milan. Highly recommend taking the FrecciaBianca to Milan, it doesn’t have that many options during the day, but the train is sooo much better than the others. Here are some of the morning views of Portofino from the hotel (including some of my two favorite italian things for lunch: bellini and fragolini di bosco with gelato)