ULTIMATE GUIDE: PORTOVENERE TO CINQUE TERRE ITINERARY

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The Ligurian coastline is one of the most beautiful in Italy, and this is where the Cinque Terre National Park is located, a magical place where ancient villages of colorful cottages overlook the sheer cliffs overlooking the sea.

In this article we tell you about our 4-day itinerary, which followed the Ligurian coast, starting from Portovenere and passing through the Cinque Terre villages, from Riomaggiore, Corniglia, Manarola and Vernazza to Monterosso!

Visit Cinque Terre following our itinerary!

Although it is the smallest region in Italy, Liguria is extraordinary. Its narrow, elongated shape winds for about 350 km along the Ligurian Sea, and it is enriched by picturesque villages that look like something out of a painting. The Ligurian coast holds deep emotional significance for us, and we spent three days exploring the coast from Portovenere to Monterosso, the Cinque Terre location closest to France.

The Cinque Terre is a region comprising of five towns along the coast, namely Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, and Monterosso.

The Cinque Terre constitute a national park that has an area of nearly 4,000 hectares and is one of the smallest national parks in Italy, but, at the same time, densely populated. The villages that make up the Cinque Terre are beautiful towns that have developed thanks to the cultivation of vines for the production of excellent Italian wines. Given the conformation of the land, man built the so-called “ciàn,” terraces of land where vineyards were made, supported by stone walls. 

This is the reason why the Cinque Terre National Park is unique and has been included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites: in this place, nature and man merge to create a wild and natural landscape, but with a strong human presence. 

It is worth noting that Portovenere, although not part of the Cinque Terre, served as a great starting point for our itinerary and is a special, romantic and enchanting place. In this article, we will share our four-day itinerary, hoping it will inspire you to plan your vacation and discover this extraordinary area of Italy!

Cinque Terre Itinerary DAY 1 – Portovenere

On the first day of our itinerary, we departed early in the morning and arrived in Portovenere at lunchtime.

The afternoon was dedicated to exploring the town, starting from the picturesque promenade of Via Calata Doria, which offers a spectacular view of the island of Palmaria, an integral part of the Natural Park.

We ventured to the promontory of Arpaia and Byron’s Caves, immersing ourselves in the romantic atmosphere that inspired the famous poet. Amidst the ruins leading to St. Peter’s Church and along the descent to the sea, we explored Byron’s Caves. We paused on the rocks to admire the surrounding landscape and the movement of the waves crashing on the rocks and cliffs.

After exploring this fascinating area, we ventured through the quaint uphill streets that led us to the ruins of the Doria Castle. The castle is positioned on top of a hill, from which one of the most striking views of the Ligurian Sea can be enjoyed.

The evening ended with dinner at a restaurant that offered a magnificent view of the sea.

Itinerario cinque terre - Notte tra i vicoli illuminati di Portovenere - cinque Terre itinerary

Night in the alleys of Portovenere

Itinerario cinque terre - Vista sul mare da una finestra delle rovine delle Grotte di Lord Byron a Portovenere - cinque Terre itinerary

Sea view from the ruins of the promontory of Arpaia

Itinerario cinque terre - Mare mosso nell'atmosfera romantica delle Grotte di Lord Byron a Portovenere - cinque Terre itinerary

Byron's Caves

Cinque Terre itinerary DAY 2 – The Infinity Trail from Portovenere to Riomaggiore, the first of the Cinque Terre

On the second day of out itinerary to visit Cinque Terre, we set out early in the morning to hike the impressive Sentiero dell’Infinito (Infinity Trail) that connects Portovenere to the first of the Cinque Terre, Riomaggiore. This 13 km path winds along the coast through forests and vineyards, offering extraordinary views.

Allow me a brief personal anecdote: the reason for our affection for this place lies along this very trail, where, during a brief stop to recover energy, I received my (long-awaited) marriage proposal!

Regarding the trail itself, it takes approximately half a day to complete, factoring in breaks to admire the view and take photos. The elevation gain is around 500 meters, and since the terrain is unpaved, we recommend wearing sports shoes or hiking boots and bringing an ample supply of water.

Upon arriving in Riomaggiore at lunchtime, we refreshed ourselves before exploring the village. We wandered through the alleys among the quaint, colorful houses and reached the vantage point of the Castle, which offered a magnificent view of the sea.

To return to our base, we opted for the train, which quickly brought us back. In the evening, we drove to the fantastic restaurant ‘O chi o a cà toa’ in Fezzano, known for its fixed fish menu with traditional dishes. We highly recommend dining at this restaurant, where the evening is enlivened not only by great food but also by a lively atmosphere.

Itinerario cinque terre - Vista sul Promontorio dell'Arpaia che si getta nel mare a Portovenere dal sentiero dell'Infinito - cinque Terre itinerary

View of the promontory of Arpaia from the Infinity Trail

Itinerario cinque terre - Il sentiero dell'Infinito si snoda su scogliere a strapiombo sul mare da Portovenere a Riomaggiore - cinque Terre itinerary

The Infinity Trail

Itinerario cinque terre - Vista su Riomaggiore e sulla costa ligure dal sentiero dell'infinito - cinque Terre itinerary

View of Riomaggiore and the Ligurian coastline

Cinque Terre Itinerary DAY 3 – Manarola and Corniglia

On the third day, we drove to Manarola, which is considered the most picturesque location. It is so beautiful that it has been selected as the default wallpaper for Windows-based computers. The village’s colorful little houses climb the cliff above a small cove where fishermen’s boats are moored. This location deserves the millions of photos it attracts every year!

We recommend spending your lunch break at one of the eateries overlooking the cove, which offer incredible views of the village and its quaint, colorful houses.

After our lunch break, we got back in the car to head toward Corniglia. Unlike the previous two towns, this village is situated on high ground overlooking the sea. To access the beaches to the east and west of the village from the center, you must descend a long stone staircase (with many steps!) that provides stunning views of the Ligurian coast.

In the late afternoon, we returned to our base, where we dined at a restaurant located in one of the charming alleys of the center.

Itinerario cinque terre - Vista sulle casette colorate di Corniglia che si affacciano sul mare - cinque Terre itinerary

Corniglia

Itinerario cinque terre - Vista dalla terrazza sul mare di Corniglia fino a Manarola - cinque Terre itinerary

View of Manarola from Corniglia

Cinque Terre DAY 4 – Vernazza and Monterosso

On the fourth day of our itinerary to visit Cinque Terre, we drove to Vernazza, a charming village built on high ground that gradually descends to the sea through stairways and alleys surrounded by colorful houses.

In Vernazza, we had the opportunity to reach the top of the Doria Castle, climbing a spiral staircase that led us to the top of the tower. From there, we enjoyed an extraordinary view of the Ligurian coastline, sweeping our eyes as far as Corniglia.

Next, we headed toward Monterosso, where we decided to spend the night. Monterosso is a charming seaside town with a relatively flat profile and a road that runs along the sea, lined with various clubs and stores. We recommend taking a walk up the Salita dei Cappuccini, which leads to the beach located west of Monterosso, winding between the cliff rocks, and continuing to the next cove dominated by the Statue of the Giant.

Our evening in Monterosso ended with a delightful dinner and a pleasant stroll through the charming stone alleys, illuminated by the warm glow of the street lamps.

Itinerario cinque terre - Vista sulle casette colorate di Vernazza nelle Cinque Terre - cinque Terre itinerary

Vernazza

Itinerario cinque terre - Vista sui vigneti e su Monterosso al mare nelle Cinque Terre - cinque Terre itinerary

Monterosso al Mare

We trust that this article has been helpful to you in being able to get an idea of how you can plan your own itinerary to explore the Cinque Terra and may provide you with inspiration to plan your own adventure to discover these exceptional places.

These exceptional and unique places undoubtedly deserve to be explored thoroughly, and we think that four days is the right “minimum” amount of time to be able to visit the Cinque Terre! If you need more information please do not hesitate to contact us, keep following us through our newsletter and social channels, and most importantly… trip to try! 

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