Cinque Terre is a beautiful place to visit. A well-planned trip can allow you to save on time and cost, including accommodation, thus I am writing here to share the tips on how to plan for your travel.
Cinque Terre consists of five villages: Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso al Mare. Browse the internet to get insights on which village that suits your preference.
When to visit
Most travellers prefer to visit in the summer to get the best weather for swimming and lounging on the beach but late Spring is good too. I visited Cinque Terre in early Spring – it was a bit rainy so be prepared.
Airports near to Cinque Terre
The closest airports to travel to Cinque Terre are Pisa, Florence and Genoa. I did mine from Bologna because it was my base during the recent Bologna Children’s Book Fair 2016.
Transfer to Cinque Terre
From any of the airports mentioned above, get to the nearest train station (Centrale) and buy ticket to the village of your preference. Bear in mind that you have to change train more than once. In my case: Bologna-Parma-La Spezia-Corniglia. My train ticket fare from Bologna to Corniglia was €19.15. Ticket for the Florence–Pisa–La Spezia–Corniglia passage costs €14.90. If you take the train from Pisa Centrale, it will just be around €11.40, about an hour ride through the Pisa –La Spezia– your chosen village route.
You can check the train schedule and fee on the Trenitalia website (http://www.trenitalia.com/tcom-en) as well as buy the ticket online. You can either print your ticket or just use your mobile phone and show your booking code to the ticket inspector. If you are not buying online, you can still use the schedules to plan your itinerary and perhaps buy later when you arrive at the train station.
Reminder: Train tickets must be time-stamped at the machine at the train station before boarding the train. If you do not time-stamp the ticket, you could be fined €100 for travelling without having the ticket validated.
Place to stay
From the five villages, I think Corniglia offers the best rate because it is the smallest village in Cinque Terre and less touristy. I stayed at Corniglia Dreams and was given a nice cosy apartment for three persons at a fair rate of €160 for two nights. However, do check on other accommodations in other villages to get the best one that suits your lifestyle.
I bought a WIND local sim card with 5GB data plan that cost me 30 Euro. It worked fine around Italy; however, the network did not work while I was in the La Spezia region. My advice: get a room with free Wi-Fi connection. Or buy Cinque Terre Card to get Wi-Fi internet connection in Cinque Terre’s hot spots. If you get to Vernazza, buy the Wi-Fi from Internet Point shop at Via Roma (the main road). If you get to Corniglia, free Wi-Fi can be obtained easily at any cafe around the square. You just need to dine-in or have coffee and ask for the password.
Things to do in Cinque Terre
Taking photos is a must. Be prepared with a good camera/smartphone. Make sure you bring along extra battery, charging cable and plug adaptor. Do wake up early to capture the sunrise and do not forget to capture the sunset too.
Hiking any of the trails is a popular thing to do when visiting Cinque Terre. Some of the trails might be closed. You can check updates on the trails on Cinque Terre National Park website www.parconazionale5terre.it.
Before you go on hiking, buy Cinque Terre cards from the Info Counter at the village train station or at Information Centre at La Spezia Train Station. The card comes in two types: Cinque Terre Trekking Card and Cinque Terre Multi-Service Train Card. Check the Cinque Terre National Park website for more information on the cards.
It is alright if you prefer not to buy the card because you can simply take the train to the next station at €1.80 one way and explore the village and then trek up the trail to the park’s checkpoint. If you feel like continuing your trekking, you can obtain the card at the checkpoint; otherwise, you can just descend back to the village centre.
If you travel in the summer, bring along your beach-wear. Cinque Terre boasts some beautiful beaches including Fegina Beach (Monterosso), Guvano Beach (Corniglia) and Vernazza Beach (just in front of the main square/small harbour).
Places to eat
For Muslims, there are no halal places around Cinque Terre. You can opt for seafood, vegetable pasta or salad instead. You may use the following Italian words to help you in selecting your food: verdure – vegetable, pollo – chicken, manzo – beef, insalata – salad, pane – bread, maiale – pork. Do install translation apps on your smartphone for easy translation on the go.