5 Reasons why Cinque Terre is So Special

In the last couple of years, spurred on by a desire to make the most of each precious, free moment and a habit of putting my rambling tendencies into prose, I have carved out my own tiny space here on the web, centred around making the most of my annual leave. Pumpkin and I usually invest the bulk of our leave into long-haul travel with just long weekends spent in Europe but this summer, we headed to Italy for a full ten days, a country that stole my heart when I first visited at the age of fourteen.

Cinque Terre Vernazza views

After a cosy one night stay in Pisa and prior to heading onto Florence and Venice, the first stop for our Italian adventure was Cinque Terre in Liguria. This region of northern Italy is so fondly spoken about by all those I know who have been there before me – but what exactly is all the fuss about?

What is so special about Cinque Terre?

The Acclaim

I am always wary about destinations that carry such acclaim. I’ve seen many a place end up with its reputation in tatters because hordes of happy customers showered it with generous superlatives on instrumental review sites only to build up an image so unattainable that the subsequent hordes to arrive dug in with the most critical of claws.

Cinque Terre travel blog

For years, I imagined that the Maldives couldn’t possibly be that special before finally seeing it with my own eyes and I now try and remind myself that there is a reason hyped up places acquire hype in the first place.

And it isn’t just the locals or millions of tourists sauntering in and out of these five seaside villages, who portray its Italian Riviera charm with their photographs. UNESCO too has paid homage to the fact that this is a part of Italy we should all take note of. I can only speak of my own verdict of Cinque Terre in saying with conviction that I developed a deep rooted fascination with this enchanting region of Italy.


The Cinque Terre Views

The striking views are really the face of Cinque Terre and arguably the most convincing reason it is considered so special and for me, it was these that drew me to this part of the world. I wanted to capture the essence of these colourful, cliff-top vistas and bustling harbours.

Vernazza boats Cinque Terre

I longed to see the old, pastel-toned buildings, to listen to the waves that carry the swaying fishing boats and to reap the aesthetic rewards of the uphill climbs. Seen through the lenses of both radiant sunlight and drapes of grey clouds that made appearances during our visit, the views of Cinque Terre remained irresistible.

Cinque Terre streets

And away from the mosaic panoramas, we felt at peace wandering aimlessly through the tiny back streets of the villages, stumbling upon plants nestling snugly in terracotta pots, family run greengrocers’ stores and vibrant, summer flowers adorning walls and staircases.

plants flowers Liguria Italy

The Hikes

I should tell you of the transient moment of panic that set in when I realised that I had inadvertently booked us onto a hiking holiday. I booked the trip set on seeing these views but I had not clocked onto the fact that those very views are best seen on the hikes. You can certainly hop between villages by train or boat, as many do, and walk around the main town areas but you will miss the aerial views that hallmark the beauty of the place; for those, you need to ascend some steps, often steep and often lots of them but completely worth the rising heart rate that accompanies them.

Cinque Terre hiking views

The Vernazza – Monterosso (or vice versa) routes are the most popular of the hikes but we also we also did the Corniglia to Vernazza and Volastra to Corniglia hikes, the latter of which I recommend in particular, as it is certainly off the beaten track and gives you these emerald views.

Volastra Corniglia hike

I’m not usually a hiker, nor do I consider myself particularly athletic and I certainly never anticipated we would be walking an average of 10 miles a day but even I felt that the hikes were quite manageable, always in large open spaces and with plenty of areas to be able to pause for food, drink and rest.

The Vibe and Crowds

The ambience here is a funny amalgamation of the relaxed pace of life of proud villagers, who seem to accept the contrasting busy crowds of tourists with an admirable grace and hospitality whilst still going about their normal lives.

boats Cinque Terre travel

The rounded boulders that protrude into the seafront are shared by local fishermen at sunset, slow travellers who camp out on them throughout the day, making headway through their novels and perhaps less endearingly by larger crowds using the space for waterfront parties. Sadly, as with many popular regions, there is increasing evidence in the hills of the damage being caused by tourism – littering on the hiking trails, graffiti on the natural cacti and a few tourists bellowing profanities thereby detracting from the etiquette and culture that villages like this call for.

Monterosso sea Cinque Terre

But what makes Cinque Terre so special is the fact that everyone from families to teenage backpackers to the elderly were seen travelling in this area, each group equally absorbed by the magic of the villages, all welcomed in equal measure. It appeals to romancing couples honeymooning their way to the hilly peaks. seasoned walkers, grandparents and we even spotted a super-fit, young Mum and Dad who were somehow able to do the two hour steep hike we did with a baby perched on their shoulders!

Cinque Terre travel blog article


The Pesto, seafood and foccacia

Pesto was the first of the foodie specialities that I came to learn of. Freshly made here in Liguria with local basil, parmesan and pine nuts, the traditional way to enjoy it is with Trofie pasta, which is characteristic of this region and served up by most restaurants in the area.

traditional foccacia Cinque Terre Liguria

Whilst replenishing your fuel before or after a hike, other local specialities not to miss include warm foccacia and Antipasto Misto (fresh seafood catch of the day fried up in a light batter), often served in cones to take away or as a starter in restaurants.

antipasto frito misto Cinque Terre

I loved this region of Italy and if you like the look of it, watch this space for plenty more photographs coming soon. I will also try and give you the low down on the differences and similarities between the five villages as well as neighbouring villages you can visit during your stay.

Have you ever visited Cinque Terre? What was your opinion of the place?


61 thoughts on “5 Reasons why Cinque Terre is So Special

  1. No, but it’s on my bucket list for a long while now. Looking forward to go

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) November 22, 2015 — 5:21 pm

      I hope you do get to go – it’s a really beautiful part of Italy with such gorgeous views! Thanks so much for reading ☺

  2. Muddy Boots Bakes November 17, 2015 — 7:26 pm

    Shikha your photographs are amazing! The food looks absolutely spectacular too (and I love your nail varnish!) This is definitely going on my to visit list. L xx

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) November 22, 2015 — 5:24 pm

      Oh thank you so much Laura! That’s so kind of you, especially as I know you have an eye for photography! I think you would love Cinque Terre, as there are so many nice, gentle hikes, beautiful colourful views and yummy food!

  3. Beautiful photos, this place is one of those places you can’t quite believe exists. Thanks for sharing with us! 🙂

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) November 22, 2015 — 5:33 pm

      Thank you Becky! I completely agree – nowhere else I’ve seen that I can compare it to, it was so scenic ☺

  4. Cinque Terre is firmly on my list of places to go. I was really interested to read your take as with all the hype I was worried it might become a little touristy. But I think I want to visit for the seafood alone! Though do they have someone to carry me up those hills?
    Lots of love,

    SilverSpoon London

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) November 22, 2015 — 5:43 pm

      Hehe, I’m sure Mr S could be enlisted to help with that! 😀 There are lots of tourists Angie especially the bigger villages but that doesn’t seem to take away from its charm and the hikes still felt quite peaceful. We went peak time but I think if you go slightly at the beginning or end of the popular months, it would probably be less crowded.

  5. I would love to visit Cinque Terre, the colours of the buildings are amazing

    Suze | LuxuryColumnist

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) November 22, 2015 — 5:43 pm

      The colourful views are stunning Suze!

  6. I completely agree! I loved the views and the hikes when I was there. What an amazing place!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) November 22, 2015 — 5:45 pm

      So pleased to hear you enjoyed this beautiful area too Julie. I think these gorgeous views could turn all of us into keen hikers! ☺

  7. Looks stunning! I love Italy and have had Cinque Terre on my list for so long, maybe 2016?

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) November 22, 2015 — 5:50 pm

      Yes, let 2016 be the year Lucy, you won’t regret it! The only other parts of Italy I had been to as an adult were the bigger cities so it was a lovely experience to be out doing these hilly hikes between the little, chilled out villages ☺

  8. ladies what travel November 18, 2015 — 5:06 pm

    Oh god when I got to the end of this post I was so hungry lol! I adore Italian food & now you’ve made me want to go back – right now! Cinque Terre looks amazing, but I may have to sadly just look at the pictures than visit myself. Due to some health issues with my legs I don’t manage hills & stairs well and I learnt my lesson after Lisbon! Still, looks a beautiful part of the world… K x

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) November 22, 2015 — 5:59 pm

      Oh I’m sorry to hear you’ve had these health issues Keri and it sounds like you’d be better off avoiding the Cinque Terre hikes in that case. I’ve never been to Lisbon so hadn’t realised there are lots of steps and inclines. I’ll try and up my fitness before I plan a trip to Lisbon ☺

  9. I must admit that the Cinque Terre views are spectacular – a combo of romantic and breath-taking scenery – something I really love!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) November 22, 2015 — 6:11 pm

      That’s the perfect way to describe it Agness! The scenery really was breathtaking & it was one of the loveliest places to go walking that I’ve ever seen ☺

  10. I went to Cinque Terre last summer for a week and absolutely loved it! I loved all the hikes and the beautiful villages and the food!!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) November 22, 2015 — 6:17 pm

      I’m so glad you had such a lovely time there too Sara! The food – oh my!! I read all your blog posts on Cinque Terre when I was planning my trip there and they were really helpful so thank you ☺

  11. I loved the Cinque Terre too – it’s one of the reasons why Italy is one of my favourite countries and also why I love Italian cuisine so much. Those colourful views are calling me back!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) November 22, 2015 — 6:21 pm

      Yes pulling ourselves away from Cinque Terre was hard for that exact reason Ayla! Luckily it was at the start of the trip so we still had lots of fun adventures planned so couldn’t be too upset but I would also love to return and perhaps try staying in a different village this time to compare and contrast! ☺

  12. All good reasons! and all great photos, Shikha!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) November 22, 2015 — 6:22 pm

      Thank you so much for the kind comment and for reading! So glad to hear you liked the photos ☺

  13. Ever since I saw Ayla’s blog post on Cinque Terre I’ve been longing to go there. I love your photos, especially the ones taken from above looking down, it gives a whole different view of the place. Did you go on an organised tour?

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) November 22, 2015 — 6:33 pm

      Aww thank you Emily! It’s easy to get nice photos when the views are so stunning in every direction! We didn’t do an organised tour and did it all independently, which was pretty straightforward to do. Flights into Pisa or Genoa, easy train ride to the Cinque Terre region and all the 5 villages are well connected by a combination of train, boat and walking routes. I’d highly recommend it and you can see a lot of it even with just a long weekend or bank holiday weekend ☺

  14. I’m always so glad when somewhere lives up to the hyperbole…!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) November 22, 2015 — 6:35 pm

      Me too Emma! I’m always a bit apprehensive when I’ve seen and heard such great things about a place so it was delightful to see that it was all true ☺

  15. Wow!!! I have longed to visit the Cinque Terre for so long, but we opted for Amalfi for our honeymoon instead. However, I’m pleased you mentioned that you saw a couple with a small baby because it’s great to know that this type of holiday could still be possible post-baby! Looks like you and Pumpkin had a great time. I’m so impressed by the 10 mile hikes!!!

    Polly xx
    Follow Your Sunshine

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) November 22, 2015 — 6:58 pm

      Haha, even I’m wondering if our fit bit was wrong in calculating our daily walking as 10 miles would be pretty impressive by my rubbish standards 😀 oh yes, that couple with the baby made it look easy so it could be you guys up on those hills next year,who knows?! I’ve only been to Amalfi years ago when I went with school but I saw your photos and love the equally gorgeous views of Positano & Ravello so would love to return again after all this time!

  16. Cinque Terre is a very famous place, but I have to admit I didn’t know all that much about it before, so thank-you! I would love to hike some of the surrounding countryside. The landscape is so dramatic!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) November 22, 2015 — 7:01 pm

      The landscape especially from the raised aerial views really are the best thing about the area in my opinion Katie and font worry, I myself knew very little about Cinque Terre until I started blogging and reading so many great blogs about this lovely part of Italy!

  17. Wow..those colors and views are stunning! Your photos and experience makes me want to visit it even more. Those hikes are worth it with panoramas like those and it’s a great excuse to eat all that pasta and delicious Italian food afterwards. It’s near the top of the travel wish list! Thanks for the visual feast!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) November 22, 2015 — 7:05 pm

      Thank you so much Mary, I’m so pleased that this has made you even more tempted to visit Cinque Terre because I really did love my time there! And you’re exactly right, when you’re doing hours of uphill walks and hikes, it definitely takes away any guilt I might have felt about eating lots of pasta, foccacia and gelato ☺

  18. Hiking The Cinque Terre has long been on my list and your gorgeous shots reiterate that. I’m dithering now – was going to plan a road trip around Ireland next July but this might have just pipped it! Decisions, decisions….!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) November 22, 2015 — 7:09 pm

      Haha, well Ireland is on my list too and I hear the views there of the countryside are majestic so I don’t think you can go too wrong either way Suzanne – or you could do both but don’t let me be a bad influence! 😀 Cinque Terre is very pretty though and the food, as with most of Italy, is fabulous! Thanks so much for reading!

  19. I backpacked around northern Italy when I was first in Europe (15 years ago!) and I have very fond memories of the Cinque Terre – for all the reasons you describe. Yes it is busy but I never let that put me off and once you’re up on the hill paths there is plenty of peace to enjoy the views. Thanks for reminding me with a lovely post 🙂

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) December 2, 2015 — 9:14 pm

      Thank you Natasha for reading and sharing your own experience of such a beautiful place 🙂 I used to do so many mini breaks to Europe as a student and can’t believe I hadn’t heard of Cinque Terre all that time!

  20. Beautiful photos Shikha, it must be one of the most picturesque places on earth! This post fired up both wanderlust and my hunger!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) December 2, 2015 — 9:15 pm

      Haha, thank you Rachel! I went purely to check out the gorgeous views and lovely walks but never expected the food to be so fresh and tasty – lovely unexpected bonus eh?!

  21. Never visited it but your review is so great – it takes you right there 🙂


    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) December 2, 2015 — 9:20 pm

      Thank you so much for such a lovely comment ☺ I highly recommend a visit to Cinque Terre if you get a chance one day – it’s a beautiful part of the world!

  22. I haven’t been to Cinque Terre but I would absolutely love to go! You look gorgeous in that photo Shikha and I loved reading about all the food, yummmm!

    Ash | Liakada

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) December 2, 2015 — 9:22 pm

      Aww thank you Ash! That’s so kind of you! You should definitely try and head there one day, perfect for a short weekend break with lovely views and great views! Ideal for breaking up revision and exams too!! ☺

  23. I LOVED the Cinque Terre! The daytime crowds were a bit offputting, but staying in one of the villages (Vernazza… so beautiful!!!) meant we got to experience things in the evenings when they were a lot quieter. We did the Monterosso-Vernazza and Corniglia-Manarola hikes, which were tough but so worth it. And the views are so amazing that you can pass off your frequent stops as photo ops rather than rest stops!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) December 2, 2015 — 9:28 pm

      Absolutely agree Laura! It’s so great when your rest stop also ends up being one of the prettiest views you’ve ever seen! We stayed in Riomaggiore which is a little less crowded than Vernazza though I really liked both of those villages and I also found the same thing that it was such a nice vibe in the evenings when the bulk of the crowds had disappeared. Aah, I’d love to return one day. ☺

  24. Lovely lovely pictures!! I was sad that i had to miss Cinque Terre and was so jealous of D’s pictures. But he actually didn’t take that many pictures so I’m glad to see more from you! I love the photo of the backstreet. It looks soooo charming!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) December 2, 2015 — 9:32 pm

      Hehe, Pumpkin is exactly the same! Hardly would have taken any photos if I didn’t keep bugging him every 5 minutes – I sometimes think it must drive them up the wall having us blogger girls in their lives constantly looking for photo opps etc! :mrgreen: It is really pretty despite bring quite busy at peak season so if you’re ever back in Italy, try see if you can make it!

  25. Shikha, I’m totally in love with your post. The beauty of Cinque Terre has been nicely captured by you under the lenses. The lip-smacking Italian food is too tempting. Now, this place has been added to my bucket list. Thanks for showing us such a lovely place through your splendid clicks.

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) December 29, 2015 — 11:05 pm

      Thank you so much for reading and leaving such a lovely comment Amarjit! Totally made my day ☺ It’s funny, Cinque Terre is certainly not as well known in my opinion as larger, more famous parts of Italy like Venice and Rome and yet, I think it’s worth every bit as much acclaim given how beautiful and picturesque it is! It’s so easy to visit from Pisa or Genoa airport so I highly recommend it if you do get a chance one day! And yes, those fresh, Italian ingredients & dishes are tough to beat!

  26. I love this place too, Shikha! we are kindred spirits :*

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) January 17, 2016 — 11:09 am

      I think we are Ishita ☺ Though I am yet to find anyone who didn’t like this part of the world!

      1. Haha, well why wouldn’t they 😉

  27. Gorgeous photos Shikha, you were definitely able to capture the beauty.
    We have mixed feelings about our stay there a few years ago. Yes, it is one of the most beautiful places we’ve been and the views from the different vantage points when hiking are fabulous. But we also found it very touristy and every morning we’d see the hordes descending from the train station. Tip: if you stay the night you find the towns much quieter as much of the tourists were day trippers. Sometimes couldn’t sit down anywhere for lunch but no problems sitting down for dinner in the evening.

    Frank (bbqboy)

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) February 1, 2016 — 1:16 pm

      I know exactly what you mean Frank – it really was touristy I agree especially in the mornings! Like you, we were staying in Cinque Terre for 4 days though so we were able to appreciate it at night time without the crowds, when the ambience was much more appealing! I’d strongly recommend to anyone visiting that it’s worth staying there rather than just day tripping. Thanks so much for sharing your experience ☺

  28. Beautiful post, Shikha! Looks like you enjoyed Cinque Terre very much.
    It has been on my mind since a couple of months now, but since I have only 3 days of my annual leave remaining this year, I don’t think I will be able to make it :/ The other region in Italy that interests me is the Amalfi coast near Naples. I have only been to Rome, but I so want to see more of this special country.

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) April 15, 2016 — 12:53 pm

      Italy is probably my all time favourite European country so it’s one place I’ll never tire of going back to. I haven’t been to Amalfi since I was a child so I too would love to return there myself, as it seems so relaxed and beautiful. Cinque Terre was gorgeous but can get a little crowded so it might be worth visiting at some of the less busy times of years, though I really enjoyed it despite the mass of tourists 🙂

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