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Ultimate 2 Week Italy Itinerary

Despite travelling to Italy several times before with my family, I’ve never visited the countries bucket-list destinations. This summer I decided to change this fact and planned a trip to Italy stopping in Venice, Florence, Cinque Terre and Rome. Thus here’s my ultimate 2 week Italy Itinerary.

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Best way to travel in Italy –

I found that the best way to travel in Italy is by train, as it’s by far the quickest and one of the cheapest ways to get around the country.

travel in Italy train travel

I planned my train trips between destinations using the Italia Rail website, which was easy to use and featured discounts on some tickets. Another option is to purchase an Interrail ticket. However, I personally found that pre-booking individual tickets online was cheaper.


Accommodation in Italy – 

Since I was travelling to very popular destinations in Italy, I found that hotels were ridiculously expensive (especially in Venice). In this way, I discovered that the best accommodation option for my trip was Airbnb. I stayed in lovely, affordable apartments for each leg of my trip and would, therefore, recommend it for when you visit Italy yourself.


2 Week Italy Itinerary –

Now the ‘admin’ is out of the way, let’s get into the details of my 2 Week Italy Itinerary:

Venice (Days 1-3):

 

2 Week Italy Itinerary Venice

I started my trip to Italy in Venice, arriving at Marco Polo Airport in the evening. The public water taxi took longer than I had expected to reach the ‘floating city’. However, I’m not complaining because the views out the window were simply to die for! What’s more, although I’d previously thought Venice would be over-rated, as soon as I stepped off the boat I fell in love with it…

Italy Itinerary Venice

This love affair continued as I reached my Airbnb and met up with a good friend of mine (who’d be my travelling companion for the 2 weeks). Although relatively late by this point, we made the most of the evening by having dinner next to one of the cities beautiful canals.

Following this, we spent the next two days exploring the magical city. Visiting highlights such as the Doge Palace and St Marks Square, all the while getting lost amongst Venice’s maze of streets.

Two weeks in Italy Venice

You can read more of the best things to do in Venice in 2 days here.

Although our two days in Venice were busy, I found it to be the perfect amount of time. If we’d spent another day here, I feel that I would have become bored as we’d done most of the top things to do.

Florence (Days 4-5):

Ready to move on to the next destination of our trip, we woke up early on our fourth day in Italy and took the water taxi (Vaporetto) to Venice’s train station, getting one last look at the grand canal on the way.

The Station (Santa Lucia) was quieter than I’d expected and easy to navigate, meaning we boarded our train to Florence (which is no doubt one of the best places to visit in Italy) with ease.

Places to visit in Italy Florence

The journey took around 2hours, and we, therefore, arrived in Florence at around 11am. Unlike Venice, the station here (Santa Maria Novella) was rather chaotic! But, we were eventually able to find a taxi to take us to our Airbnb apartment. The drive was a memorable one as we passed right by the magnificent Duomo (Florence’s Cathedral).

Seeing the Cathedral made us very excited to tour the city, so we wasted no time and headed back to the Duomo on foot, once we’d left our bags at the apartment. Sadly we hadn’t pre-booked tickets to go inside the cathedral, and the free queue was hours long. Therefore we instead decided to visit Boboli Gardens before making our way to Piazzale Michelangelo, via the Ponte Vecchio bridge.

Ponte Vecchio bridge Visit italy

Each of these sites was beautiful, none more so than the Duomo, which has to be the most stunning building I’ve ever seen. It alone makes Florence one of the best Italy holiday destinations…

We spent the majority of the next day in Florence as well because our train to Cinque Terre (the next stop on my 2 Week Italy Itinerary) wasn’t until 5pm. We’d originally planned to use this extra time to visit the world famous Uffizi Gallery or Galleria Dell’Accademia. However again tickets were sold out. You really do need to prebook tickets in Florence in summer!!

Luckily, this proved not to be the end of the world as we instead visited Palazzo Vecchio, the ‘peoples palace’, which has been around since the 14th century. Touring this palace was fascinating and by climbing its tower we also got to see some breath-taking views over the city.

Where to go in Italy florence

Read more of what there is to do in Florence Italy here

Cinque Terre (Days 5-9):

As I mentioned above, our 2 Week Italy Itinerary continued in Cinque Terre, which took around 3hours to reach from Florence. The train journey was relaxing and featured some amazing views of rural Italy. We did have to change trains at La Spezia station. However, this was no trouble as trains run very regularly between here and Cinque Terre.

The area of Cinque Terre is actually made up of five distinct villages: Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso al Mare. Each has a unique charm and they’re famous worldwide for their gorgeous postcard views.

Best places to visit in Italy Cinque Terre

Read more about the Cinque Terre Villages  

We opted to stay in Monterosso al Mare, which is the furthest village from La Spezia, but it only took about 20 minutes to reach. Therefore we arrived in the village just as the sun was setting… I’ve certainly had worse introductions to a new destination!!

Over the next four days, we explored each of the villages and took quite naturally to eating and drinking in their adorable seafront restaurants and cafes. We also spent a fair amount of time relaxing on Monterosso al Mare’s beach! However, what I enjoyed the most was hiking between the villages as the views from the cliffs were breath-taking.

Italy holiday destinations Cinque Terre

Monterosso Beach

More than this I found there to be something magical about walking along paths carved out by villages hundreds of years ago.

Learn more about Hiking in Cinque Terre 

Overall, our time in Cinque Terre was so relaxing, it was like a holiday away from the holiday. I simply loved it, and next time someone asks me ‘where to go in Italy’ Cinque Terre will be my top suggestion…

Rome (Days 9-14):

Our time in Cinque Terre came to an end all too quickly. Thankfully, leaving was bittersweet because the final stop on our Italy travel itinerary was none other than the ‘Eternal City’: Rome.

2 Week Italy Itinerary rome

Rome is a city that has long been on my Bucket-list and I’m glad to say that it didn’t disappoint! However, I’ve actually already written a detailed post about what I did during my 5 days in the city (which you can read here).

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So that completes my Ultimate 2 Week Italy Itinerary. I truly feel that its the perfect Itinerary for two weeks in Italy! I was able to visit many of the countries most famous cities, whilst also getting to spend some time on the wonderfully scenic Italian Rivera. Whatsmore, my time in each destination wasn’t rushed, meaning I left with the feeling that I had gotten to experience everything each place had to offer!

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Spending a week in Rome (Rome Itinerary)

Out of all the places there are to visit in Italy, Rome has always fascinated me the most. Mainly because I find it hard to believe that structures like the Colosseum are still standing after 2,000 years. In this way, I couldn’t wait to end my trip to Italy by spending a week in Rome! Below you’ll find all you need to know about my Rome itinerary (and why its the best).

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Why a week in Rome? 

Many people think a weekend in Rome will be enough time to see everything in the city. However, I personally think this is mad!! Rushing around like crazy to visit all the places to see in Rome in a short amount of time just sucks the enjoyment out of visiting. Who wants to be stressed while on ‘holiday’? Not me.

What to see in rome Colloseum

This is why I think a week in Rome is more appropriate. During my time in the city, I saw something new and amazing each day but I was also able to have some downtime, which meant I could truly appreciate the city!


When to visit Rome – 

I visited the city in June and I have to say that summer is the WORST time to visit Rome! For one the heat is intense, especially when you’re spending all day touring sites such as the Roman Forum. What’s more, the crowds are crazy (the worst I’ve encountered on my travels). Therefore I’d highly suggest visiting in the offseason (Spring/Autumn) instead.

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Where to stay in Rome –

Before we finally get into my Rome Itinerary I just want to mention where I stayed in Rome, which was actually in two different locations.

The first was a wonderful Airbnb located a bit of a walk away from the main attractions. However, this distance meant that the area felt authentic and relaxed. The Airbnb itself was a spacious private room that was beautifully decorated. The host even laid on breakfast which was a great touch.

Where to stay in Rome

Book this Airbnb Here

However, after 2 days in Rome, myself and a good friend (who I’d been travelling the rest of Italy with) met up with my parents. Therefore, we moved to an amazing apartment just meters away from the Trevi Fountain. This was modern, clean and couldn’t have been in a better location!

Book this apartment on Booking.com here


Rome Itinerary – 

Day One –

On the first day of my week in Rome, my friend and I decided to book tickets for a hop on hop off tour of the city. I found that this was a great way to get my bearings whilst learning interesting facts about Rome’s landmarks.

TOP TIP: We purchased a 48hour ticket with citysightseeing (through Get Your Guide) but there are many different companies offering virtually the same service!

The first of Rome’s sights we decided to ‘hop off’ the bus at, was the Colosseum. However, I have to say that the crowds here made me feel uncomfortable. There were just too many people in a small space. This wasn’t helped by the mass of street sellers who were very adamant and quite intimidating. I actually felt unable to take a minute to view the Colosseum!

This said we found if you climb the steps towards the Colosseum tube station, the ‘terrace’ here is a lot less crowded and provides a great view of the structure, we were even able to get a shady spot on the wall where we could sit and admire its grandeur.

After taking some time for lunch (and then waiting for the inevitable Italian food coma to pass), our first day in Rome continued… We hopped back on the bus and decided to visit Villa Borghese park, which is definitely one of the best places to visit in Rome.

As the largest green space in the city, the park has a lot of attractions within its grounds (such as the cities zoo). However, we enjoyed simply walking along its shady tree-lined paths while stumbling upon sculptures and fountains, It’s really a fantastic place to get away from the hustle and bustle of Romes Centre.

Next, we decided to exit the park via Piazza Del Popolo, which was the main entrance to the city during the Roman Empire. The square’s centrepiece is an exquisite Egyptian Obelisk which is flanked by two identical churches. Therefore, although not as well known as other Rome attractions, I found this Piazza to be beautiful and would say its a must see in Rome.

Day Two –

Since our ‘hop on hop off’ bus tickets were valid for 48hours, my friend and I decided to make the most of them during our second day in Rome…

Thus, we used the tickets to firstly visit the Santa Maria Maggiore church. Dedicated to the Virgin Mary, this church is said to be one of the four most important basilicas in Rome. I found that it’s beautiful interior certainly matched its importance!

Following the tour of the Church, we continued our Rome sightseeing by taking the citysightseeing bus back into the centre of the city. Here we got off to view the Altare Della Patria (a humongous monument dedicated to Victor Emmanuel II, the first king of Italy).

It’s hard to describe the sheer scale of this monument which is quite unlike anything I’ve ever seen. It’s pristine white marble stands out against the earth coloured tones of Rome, while statues and fountains give the monument an elegant appearance. Out of all the things to see in Rome, the Altare Della Patria impressed me the most. Therefore I’d highly suggest visiting.

Top things to do in rome

After marvelling at the monument, we walked a short distance to Largo di Torre Argentina Square, the site of Julius Caesar’s murder. Here several roman ruins are visible, including the Theatre of Pompey where Julius Caesar is thought to have been stabbed. I found it so fascinating to stand where such an important moment in history had occurred!

Rome at night (Day two continued) –

I’ve always wanted to visit the Colosseum at night, therefore we continued our second day in Rome by going to see it later in the evening. We decided to walk to it along the Via Dei Fori Imperiali, a wide straight road that leads from Rome’s modern city centre to its historic past.

The road is flanked on either side by hundreds of breath-taking Roman ruins (Including the famous forum). Walking along this road I could really imagine what it must have been like in the city over 2,000 years ago.

What’s even better is that visiting late in the evening meant that there were hardly any people about. We found this to be the same at the Colosseum, which much to my surprise, was widely deserted too. I was shocked by this as I thought seeing the Colosseum is one of the best things to do in Rome at night!

However, I’m not going to complain as having the place to ourselves was fantastic. I’d go as far as to say that seeing the Colosseum at night was the favourite part of my week in Rome!

Day Three –

My parents joined us on the third day of my week in Rome, and it was all about getting out of the city. So, we booked a tour to visit the cities Catacombs and the Appian Way.

The tour started by taking us out of the city centre to the Catacomb’s of St Callixtus were Rome’s early Christians were buried. Although a bit creepy, I found the Catacombs to  be one of the best places to go in Rome to learn more about the cities past.

After exploring the Catacombs, we got our walking shoes on and headed out to explore the Appian Way, one of the oldest roads leading to Rome. I found it unbelievable to see the stones still marked with grooves and dents where old Chariots had damaged them!

Before heading back to the city centre, our tour made one last stop at an ancient Roman Aqueduct, the majority of which is Amazingly still standing. Interestingly, part of the structure still brings water into the city today!

Once back from the tour we spent some time relaxing in our apartment before heading out to visit the Pantheon, another must do in Rome. As the best persevered ancient Roman monument, the Pantheon is breath-taking, especially its dome (which remained the largest unsupported dome in the world for 1300 years).

TOP TIP: I walked past the pantheon several times during my week in Rome, and noticed that the queue to enter during the day was always very long! However, by visiting at about 6pm in the evening we hardly had to wait. 

Day Four –

When you think of what to do in Rome, the first thought that pops into your mind is touring the inside of the Colosseum. Therefore we booked a guided tour of it along with Palatine Hill and the Roman Forum during our fourth day in the city.

However, our tour wasn’t until midday, so my friend and I decided to get up early and go to two famous Rome attractions before the crowds arrived: The Trevi Fountain and The Spanish steps.

We’d walked past both of these several times already on our trip to Rome, but hadn’t taken the time to admire them due to the intense crowds.

Thankfully, by visiting at 7am we had the famous landmarks all to ourselves. Therefore I’d highly suggest getting up early to visit these top things to see in Rome on your own visit! (Just take a look at the difference in the crowds):

Later in the day our Rome itinerary continued as we joined the tour. The inside of the Colosseum was amazing! As was Palatine Hill (the birthplace of Rome), which also provides beautiful views over the city.

However, for me, the crowning jewel was the Roman Forum. The ruins here are so well preserved, walking through its streets really did feel like stepping back in time.

However, the tour itself was pretty rubbish. Our guide seemed oblivious to the heat and kept us standing in the direct sun. What’s more his explanation of the ruins wasn’t great. Therefore with hindsight, I would suggest that you simply book skip the line tickets and tour the sites yourself. By doing so you could walk around at our own pace (taking breaks in the Shade). Further, audio guides or old school guidebooks would provide as much information as a person.

Day Five –

Ok so I know this post is titled a week in Rome, but I actually spent five days in the city… So it’s really a week minus the weekend. 😉

Anyway, on this final day, we headed to The Vatican (the last of my top things to do in Rome). We again decided to book a tour, but this time it was definitely worth it. For one, the Vatican was crazily busy which would have made the huge museum hard to navigate alone. Our guide on the other hand knew the best routes to take to avoid the worst of the crowds.

No doubt the most impressive part of the Vatican is St Peter’s Basilica, which is without a doubt the most beautiful church I’ve ever seen. When you visit make sure you climb up the church’s dome for amazing views back down over the Vatican and wider Rome.

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So that completes my Rome itinerary. I found that a week in Rome was the perfect amount of time as I left feeling like I’d seen everything I wanted to in the city. Although I might have gained a few pounds in Pasta and Gelato after the week. 😉

This said I will again suggest visiting when it’s less busy as I think this will make your time in Rome even more enjoyable!

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Top Things To Do In Florence In A Day

After Spending 2 days in Venicemy Italian adventure continued with a trip to Florence. Previously home to the famous Medici family, this Tuscan city is full of beautiful historic sites. Sadly I only spent one day in the city. However, I found that this was enough time to do most of the top things to do in Florence. Thus, here’s what to do in Florence in a day:

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1) Visit the Duomo (Florence’s Cathedral) –

Things to do in Florence the duomo

Florence’s cathedral (affectionately referred to as the Duomo) is without a doubt the most magnificent building in the city. Thus, it should be your first stop when touring Florence in a day.

Luckily its very easy to find as every road in Florence seems to lead to the Cathedral, whats more its colossal dome can be spotted from miles away. I was amazed by the Duomo when I saw it with my own eyes. I think its impossible to grasp its true scale and beauty until you’re stood right beside it, photos simply do not do it Justice!

Of course, viewing the Duomo from the outside is spectacular but getting an inside perspective of this great cathedral is also a must. In fact, one of the top things to do in Florence is to climb Brunelleschi’s dome, the views from which are said to be breath-taking.

Unfortunately, on my own visit to Florence, I was unable to do this as I miss judged how popular the Cathedral is… For one, the queue into the main cathedral (which is free to visit) was several hours long. What’s more, You MUST pre-book tickets to climb up the dome.

I was told that tickets sell out up to three weeks in advance during the summer months! Therefore I’d highly suggest pre-booking your tickets to climb the Duomo online. (you can purchase a combination ticket that also provides entry to Giotto’s Campanile and the Baptistery, which are both adjacent to the cathedral, for €18).

Top things to do in Florence gelato

The Duomo is even better with Gelato 😉


2) Visit the Uffizi Gallery and the Galleria dell’Accademia –

My poor organisation also meant that I missed out on the chance to visit two very famous Florence attractions: the Uffizi Gallery (that contains one of the oldest and most famous art collections in the world) and the Galleria Dell’Accademia (which is home to Michelangelo’s David).

For me, this wasn’t a huge loss as art isn’t really my thing, but if you want a chance to tour these galleries on your own trip to Florence then I’d highly suggest pre-booking tickets as entrance is restricted and tickets sell out fast.

Florence italy things to do

TOP TIP: If these galleries are high on your list of ‘What to see in Florence’, then you might want to spend more than one day in the city as visiting will take up more quite a lot of your day! 


3) Tour Palazzo Vecchio –

As tickets to the above galleries were sold out for my one day in Florence, I instead decided to visit Palazzo Vecchio, another of the top things to see in Florence.

Previously referred to as the ‘People’s Palace’, this historic building has been the epicentre of politics in Florence since the early 14th century, and its still used as the cities town hall today.

The palace is full of beautifully decorated rooms with elaborately painted ceilings, the most impressive of which is the Hall of the Five Hundred which features many impressive wall frescoes and golden decorations.

This said, what makes the Palazzo Vecchio one of the best places to visit in Florence is its tower. Standing at 95 meters, the top of the tower provides the most breath-taking views over Florence, including a great perspective over the Duomo. You have to climb 416 steps to be rewarded with these views, but trust me it’s more than worth it!

What to see in Florence views of the Duomo


4) Stroll around Boboli Gardens (Or Giardini di Boboli) –

After touring Palazzo Vecchio, I continued my Florence sightseeing by visiting the Boboli Gardens.

Located In the grounds of the Pitti Palace, the former residence of the Medici family, these gardens provide the perfect place to get away from the crowds and to enjoy some downtime.

Florence in a day boboli gardens

I found the gardens to be one of the best places to see in Florence. Winding paths framed by manicured hedges create the perfect green haven, meanwhile, grand sculptures and fountains remind you of the gardens royal past. The highlight of Boboli Gardens however, is the views from its hilltop position. Sitting high above Florence, part of the garden provides a beautiful view over the city below!

One day in florence boboli gardens

I thoroughly enjoyed spending some time relaxing on the lawns here and taking in the view. Especially since exploring Florence in a day is busy and stressful. Therefore taking some time to relax in ‘the green heart of Florence’ allowed me to appreciate the cities beauty. 🙂

TOP TIP: entrance to the gardens costs €10 (or €5 for EU citizens). 


5) Cross Ponte Vecchio bridge –

When you google ‘What to do in Florence Italy’ one of the top suggestions is a visit to Ponte Vecchio bridge, the oldest bridge in the city. This famous attraction is just a short walk from the Duomo and I actually crossed it several times during my 1 day in Florence.

Ponte Vecchio bridge Things to do in Florence

For the best view of the bridge, you can walk along the river to St Trinity bridge. From here you can look back at the medieval structure and marvel at its unique character. I found that it’s especially beautiful at Sunset!


6) Admire Piazzale Michelangelo view-point –

Speaking of breath-taking Tuscan sunsets, most people head to Piazzale Michelangelo to watch the sun go down over the city. This meant a visit to the viewpoint was the last stop on my Florence one day itinerary.

The Piazzale is a little bit of a walk away from the main Florence attractions, but this provides the opportunity to walk through the cities more local neighbourhoods. The viewpoint is then located at the top of a hill which looks down onto central Florence. From this prime location, you can see all of the cities famous monuments and buildings.

Things to see in Florence Piazzale Michelangelo

I miss-judged just how late the sunsets in Florence in summer so left the viewpoint for some dinner before the sun went down, but the views are magnificant what-ever time of day you decide to visit! Therefore, a visit to Piazzale Michelangelo is definitely one of the best things to do in Florence.

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I loved how relaxed Florence felt compared to other Italian hotspots such as Rome and Venice. I also fell in love with the Duomo and the cities picturesque orange rooftops. I can certainly see myself returning as Florence made me want to explore the more of Tuscany!

From this, I will say that it is possible to explore Florence in one day. However, I think two days would be more appropriate (especially if you’re organised and managed to get tickets to get into the Duomo and Galleries).

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Guide to Hiking in Cinque Terre

The Italian Riviera is home to the most breathtaking coastlines. The views are arguably at their best in the region of Cinque Terre. Here five beautiful fishing villages sit isolated from the rest of the world on the edge of the cliffs. Hiking in Cinque Terre, therefore, involves uninterrupted views of the coast and the opportunity to explore tiny towns that have remained unchanged for centuries.

Hiking in cinque Terre

I enjoyed hiking in Cinque Terre myself when I visited the region so here’s everything you need to know!

Want to know more about the villagers themselves? Then check out my post ‘all you need to know about the Cinque Terre villages’

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Hiking In Cinque Terre –

No doubt you’ve seen photos of the Cinque Terre villages but what are the practicalities of hiking between them? Well, the first fact that you should know is that it is possible to hike between them all in just one day. So there’s no need to hike with a big bag full of camping equipment!

This said I visited Cinque Terre for several days and therefore found it better to split the Cinque Terre hiking trails into more manageable sections over the period I stayed.

Cinque Terre walk vernazza

SIDE NOTE: Each section of the trail takes between 1 to 3 hours to hike. 


The Cinque Terre Card  –

Since Cinque Terre is a national park, there are checkpoints at the beginning of its hiking trails where you have to purchase a trekking card, in order to pass. These cost €7. Therefore if you’re visiting for the day then its probably worth your while to purchase the Cinque Terre Card. 

This is €17 for 24hours and includes access to all the trails, along with free use of the local shuttle buses and trains. For reference, It cost €4 every time you travel between the villages using the train so the pass is definitely worthwhile, especially if you decide to skip sections of the trail and travel by train to the next village instead.


Which way to hike the Cinque Terre Trail –

Personally, I think its best to start hiking in Cinque Terre in Monterosso al Mare, finishing in Riomaggiore. Not only do the majority of the paths have fewer inclines in this direction, but it also means you’ll get to hike the trails with the best views first. Therefore if you get tired or run out of time, you won’t have to skip the best stretches.

Cinque Terre Hiking

Obviously, if you’re planning on doing several different Cinque Terre Walks (like I did) you can mix up the direction you head in. For example, as the village of Corniglia is located on top of the cliffs, it’s much easier to Hike back down to Vernazza at sea level than it is to hike the opposite way.


The Trails –

For the rest of this post, I’m going to go into more detail about the trails between each Cinque Terre town. I shall describe them in order as if you were hiking from Monterosso al Mare all the way to Riomaggiore.

Monterosso to Vernazza –

First up this Cinque Terre walk will take you between Monterosso and Vernazza and it’s probably the most scenic part of the whole trail. Although relatively flat and easy going most of the way, this section does start with a climb up a good few steps. However, once you reach the top, the views back over Monterosso and the Cinque Terre coast are amazing!

Cinque Terre walk - Monterosso to Vernazza

Whats more, the perspective you get over Vernazza as you reach the village is spectacular. In fact, it’s probably the most iconic view of Cinque Terre.

cinque terre trail, vernazza viewpoint

Vernazza to Corniglia – 

As I briefly mentioned above the Hike from Vernazza to Corniglia is probably one of the most difficult legs due to the large amount of uphill walking that is required. I have to admit to giving this section of the trail a miss on my own visit, but those who have hiked it do suggest that the view you get as you approach Corniglia is more than worth the extra effort.

TOP TIP: If you’re hiking in Cinque Terre in the summer, its best to hike in the early morning or late evening as the trails can get both hot and busy during the day!

Corniglia to Manarola –

Unfortunately, the coastal path (Sentiero Azzurro) between these two villages is currently closed due to a landslide. Therefore instead you have to take the 586 red trail that goes inland and passes through the small village of Volastra.

The start is again the hardest here, it’s a solid 20-30 minutes up steep steps and let me tell you how glad I was to reach the top of them!! After this, however, the rest of the trail is pretty even. As you get closer to Manarola it also cuts through pristine vineyards that locals have worked on for centuries.

Then when you reach the town you get a brilliant perspective over it. Different from Manarola’s classic image of its stacked buildings on the seafront but equally as beautiful. I must warn you though that the climb back down into the village is pretty intense so watch your footing!

Cinque Terre Coast, view of Manarola

Manarola to Riomaggiore – 

‘Lovers Lane’ (a wide and flat concrete path) used to link the last two Cinque Terre villages together. However, this is also currently closed. The alternative route here is steep and difficult and I’d, therefore, recommend skipping it unless you’re a confident walker.

SIDE NOTE: although there’s rumours that the closed trails will reopen in 2019, locals I spoke to weren’t convinced…


Only Want to walk one Cinque Terre Trail? – 

If you only want to do one shorter hike than I’d suggest going from Monterosso to Vernazza. As I said above this section has the best coastal views, and the outlook over Vernazza is stunning!

Cinque Terre Hiking Trails

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I hope this post answers any question you may have about hiking in Cinque Terre! Even if you’re just visiting for a day, I’d highly suggest getting up into the hills as the views are stunning and the extra effort makes a cone of gelato all the more enjoyable… 😉

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All you need to know about the Cinque Terre Villages

Without a doubt, the most beautiful destination on my recent trip to Italy was Cinque Terre. The first time I saw a photo of this wonderfully scenic region I just knew I had to visit! In this way, I spent five delightful days in Cinque Terre, soaking up the sun, gazing at its colourful houses and exploring its villages…

Cinque Terre Holidays

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Getting to Cinque Terre – 

Since Cinque Terre is a national park, the best way to reach it is by train. A train line connects all the Cinque Terre villages with La Spezia on one end and Levanto on the other. You’ll probably find that the best way to reach Cinque Terre is from La Spezia station, as it has direct trains arriving from major cities such as Florence and Rome.


The Cinque Terre Villages –

Cinque Terre literally translates into English as ‘Five Lands’. The name, therefore, refers to the five ancient fishing villages that perch on the rugged coastline of the Italian Riviera. Each village has its own charm and character meaning you’d be a fool not to visit them all.

From South to North the Cinque Terre villages are as followed:

Riomaggiore –

cinque terre villages riomaggiore

Taking the train from La Spezia, the first village you’ll reach is Riomaggiore. It has one main street, either side of which narrow passageways lead up to the villages stacked buildings.

However, Riomaggiore’s crowning jewel is no doubt its tiny harbour. From here you’ll get a picture-perfect view of the village, which is best enjoyed at sunset as the fading lights casts a beautiful orange glow over the buildings.

Manarola – 

My favourite of the Cinque Terre Towns, Manarola offers the most stunning postcard views. You can get the ‘money shot’ of this gorgeous village by simply walking down past the harbour and along the rocky coastal path. Here seats carved out into the stone allow you the opportunity to sit back and take in the breath-taking view.

5 towns of cinque terre, manarola

Corniglia  –

Corniglia is the rebel of the Cinque Terre villages not only is it the smallest but its the only one that sits far above the water on top of the cliffs.  To reach the village you have to climb 365 stairs… Thankfully you can also take a shuttle bus up to the town centre for €2.50.

Vernazza – 

Perhaps the busiest village, Vernazza is characterised by its amphitheatre shape. Pastel houses curve around a relatively large harbour, meaning that every building seems to have a wonderful view of the sea.

Cinque Terre Towns Vernazza

There are several different spots around the village that provide great views. My personal favourite requires a slight climb towards Monterosso al Mare. Once in the hills, you’ll spot a clear viewpoint that provides an amazing birds-eye view over the village.

cinque terre villages Vernazza

Monterosso al Mare –

As briefly mentioned above, the final of the 5 towns of Cinque Terre is Monterosso al Mare. Although not as vertical and therefore less photogenic than its neighbours, Monterosso is still a charming village.

Cinque Terre Beaches

Known mainly for its gorgeous stretch of beach, the town offers a more modern vibe. The beach’s ‘promenade’ is home to many cafes, gelato stores and restaurants. Meanwhile, if you cross the pedestrian tunnel into the ‘Old Town’ you’ll be met with traditional coloured houses and winding backstreets.


Where to stay in Cinque Terre – 

A lot of people seem to visit Cinque Terre on a day trip. However, for me, this just seems foolish. There is no way that you could get a true feel for the Cinque Terre villages when rushing to see them all in one day. Whatsmore the villages are much more peaceful in the evenings, making the whole environment feel more authentic at this time.

In this way, I’d suggest putting aside a minimum of 3 days to spend in Cinque Terre. I visited for 5 and was able to explore at a relaxed pace and visited each village several times.

Where to stay in cinque terreSo we’ve established that you should absolutely visit for several days, but where is the best place to stay in Cinque Terre? Well, this is a question everybody seems to have a different answer to…

Personally, I’d suggest staying in Monterosso al Mare, which is where I opted to set up camp on my own visit. I think that many people overlook this village because it doesn’t have the postcard good looks that people come to Cinque Terre to see. However, this is a big mistake!

Monterosso is cheaper than the other villages, has more amenities and as it’s the furthest away from La Spezia, it tends to be quieter. I stayed in a wonderful Airbnb apartment a short walk from the beach.  It had amazing views of the Cinque Terre coast and I would definitely recommend it as an accommodation option!

Best place to stay in cinque terre

You can look at this apartment in more detail here on the Airbnb website. 


Things to do in Cinque Terre – 

Go hiking –

The number one thing to do in Cinque Terre is to go hiking. The villages are all connected by a series of trails that provide pristine views over the coastline and the villages themselves.

Hiking in Cinque Terre

Go to the beach –

Once you’ve finished hiking in Cinque Terre, you’ll no doubt want to reward yourself by relaxing on a beach. Monterosso is the only village with a proper beach. It’s home to many sun-loungers that you can rent along with facilities such as showers and toilets.

This said Manarola’s harbour is also a nice place for a swim thanks to its concrete ramp that steadily leads into the ocean, providing the perfect sun-spot to dry off in. There’s also a small stretch of sand in Vernazza’s harbour, however, this was always packed when I visited!

None the less I suppose you could say that there are 3 Cinque Terre beaches if you widen the definition. 😉

Visit Nessun Dorma restaurant –

Another reason why I’d say that Manarola is the best Cinque Terre town is the fact that its home to a restaurant with one hell of a view: Nessun Dorma. Located in a prime position on the hillside, the restaurant’s terrace looks back onto the village. Therefore you can sit and eat excellent Italian meat/cheese platters while sipping on a cocktail and watching the sun-set over Manarola.

things to do in cinque terre

View the Cinque Terre Villages from the sea –

Although the easiest way to get between the villages is by the train (each is about 4-5 minutes apart) a great way to get another perspective on the villages is by talking the scheduled ferry. This travels regularly between the villages and provides the opportunity to view them from the sea.

Explore –

Above all else, the best thing to do in Cinque Terre is to simply wander around the villages while trying not to get too overwhelmed by their beauty. 😉

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If you can’t tell from my gushing statements above, I really loved the Cinque Terre villages, visiting felt like a holiday within my holiday… Although it’s becoming more and more popular, I really hope that it holds onto its charm!

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