Why you SHOULD spend at least 2 days in Cinque Terre Italy

If you wish to include Cinque Terre in your Italian travel itinerary, you have made a wise decision. But Cinque Terre is a popular tourist destination. The villages are small and the crowds and tour groups are big. Continue reading to find out why you should spend at least 2 days in Cinque Terre Italy. I’ll show you my perfect Cinque Terre itinerary and alternative options to enjoy two days in Cinque Terre.

Why you SHOULD spend at least 2 days in Cinque Terre Italy

What is the Cinque Terre Italy?

Cinque Terre is the name of a tiny region in Italy, consisting of 5 villages along the Ligurian coast. Cinque Terre means five lands. It is situated 80 km (50 miles) south of Genoa and 100 km (62 miles) north of Pisa.

The 5 villages of Cinque Terre are:

  • Monterosso al Mare
  • Vernazza
  • Corniglia
  • Manarola
  • Riomaggiore

Each village has her own character, views and draws, like artisan shops, colored houses and small little churches.

How to get to Cinque Terre?

All 5 villages of Cinque Terre are connected via the La Spezia – Levanto railway. To travel from La Spezia train station to the other end of Cinque Terre doesn’t take more than 30 minutes. The villages are situated along the coast, hugging the cliffs with higher mountains in the back. The area is very hard to access by car or bus, so I recommend to reach La Spezia or Levanto and go from there.

Closest airport for Cinque Terre would be Pisa, but the best Intercontinental options are to Milan and Rome. Find your flight to Cinque Terre here.

There is a walking trail that connects each of the villages with another, but due to landslides and over tourism, not all sections are open. At the moment, you can walk from Monterosso al Mare to Vernazza and from Vernazza to Corniglia. A permit is needed via the Cinque Terre card.

For more detailed information on how to reach Cinque Terre, read my transport guide here.

In this Cinque Terre Itinerary post, I share my personal experiences and recommendations for Cinque Terre. Besides useful tips and links, this post also contains affiliate links to tour companies like GetYourGuide and Viator. I also use Booking.com for other useful tips and referrals. I have gathered all the information and links for your convenience. If you decide to purchase something via one of my links, I will earn a small commission. This comes at no extra cost to you but helps me provide these free guides to you,

Cinque Terre in One Day

Cinque Terre is very popular and why wouldn’t it be? 5 cute villages sitting atop the cliffs, overlooking the sea. Turquoise waters, bright colored houses, and the famous Italian la Dolce Vita lifestyle. It is not hard to imagine, loads of day trippers reach Cinque Terre per touring car or guided train tour. Most of the trips originate in Milan or Florence, or some even depart from Rome.

You’ll travel for 1 to 3 or 4 hours to reach Cinque Terre, arrive in the middle of the day when the sun is at her brightest and the crowds are thick. You’ll probably visit one or two villages. Get an hour to walk around, eat gelato and take some selfies and then you’ll return back for another 3 hours of travel. If one day is all you have, think about your itinerary and see if you can add an extra day. Here are my reasons to spend at least 2 days in Cinque Terre.

I'll give you 7 simple reasons why you should spend at least 2 days in Cinque Terre Italy. Including a 2-day Cinque Terre Itinerary and practical tips.
2 villages in one pictures, in the foreground you’ll see Corniglia and in the distance you can see Manarola.

7 Reasons to spend at least 2 days in Cinque Terre

Besides the fact that a day trip to Cinque Terre sounds exhausting to me, you’ll spend most of your time in transit, instead of actually enjoying the villages of Cinque Terre. As Cinque Terre is easily connected with the Italian Railway network, you can venture out on your own, stay overnight, enjoy Cinque Terre and continue your travel plans. All it takes is one extra day.

Here are my reasons why you should at least spend two days in Cinque Terre:

  • Sustainable travel, slow travel is always better for the environment as it reduces your impact. Stay local for a lower carbon footprint.
  • Support the locals instead of big tour companies. Instead of spending your money on a big international travel company that runs day trips, spend your money locally by booking accommodation in Cinque Terre, buy the Cinque Terre Pass and eat your lunch or dinner or gelato in the villages.
  • Hike the Cinque Terre trail. When you have more time, you can hike 1 or more sections of the Cinque Terre walking path. I was even able to do it!
  • See all 5 villages and pick your favorite. Each little town in Cinque Terre has her own charm and unique selling points. When you have more time, you can visit all 5 of them and pick your favorite.
  • Enjoy La Dolce Vita at a relaxed pace. Relax, take a gelato, enjoy a second lunch or just admire the sunset with a beer in hand.
  • Avoid the crowds. When you stay 2 days in Cinque Terre, you can wake up early or venture out when the crowds have vanished. It is amazing how late the trains still run and how the character of the villages changes after sunset.
  • Avoid the hottest hours of the day. Italy in July and August can be boiling hot and Cinque Terre is no exception. Especially if you plan to hike (part) of the Cinque Terre Trails, then starting early is almost mandatory. When you stay overnight, the only thing holding you back from waking up early is the beer-filled night before and your comfortable bed.
I'll give you 7 simple reasons why you should spend at least 2 days in Cinque Terre Italy. Including a 2-day Cinque Terre Itinerary and practical tips.
Lovely Vernazza seen from the walking trail (coming from Monterosso al Mare).

More practical information: Do you need the Cinque Terre Train Pass?

What to do in Cinque Terre in 2 days?

48 hours to explore 5 tiny villages. It seems like a lot of time, but I actually spend 5 days in Cinque Terre and couldn’t get enough of it! Here is my 2-day Cinque Terre itinerary:

Day 1 in Cinque Terre, explore some of the villages

Arrive early morning by train from either La Spezia or Levanto. Leave your luggage at your hotel or accommodation and start exploring! Venture out to Riomaggiore to walk the main street, and climb to the higher level with views of the church and the village hugging the hills. Grab a delicious freshly made focaccia with Genovese pesto to get a taste of the local life.

Go back down to the harbor for that Instagram famous shot of the tall bright colored houses by the harbor.

I'll give you 7 simple reasons why you should spend at least 2 days in Cinque Terre Italy. Including a 2-day Cinque Terre Itinerary and practical tips.
The tiny harbor of Riomaggiore with the iconic bright red corner house.

Go to the train station and continue to Manarola, the pastel-colored villages hugging a tiny harbor. Walk past the harbor and up to the cemetery to enjoy the stunning views of the village. Have lunch here (if you can get a table) or enjoy a nice gelato in the park.

In the (late) afternoon, continue to Corniglia. If you’re fit, you can hike up the stairs from the train station or take the bus to town. This is the only village that doesn’t sit on the seaside but high on a cliff.

I'll give you 7 simple reasons why you should spend at least 2 days in Cinque Terre Italy. Including a 2-day Cinque Terre Itinerary and practical tips.
View of Manarola in the afternoon

The little town is a maze of small streets leading to a square, leading to more streets and squares. At the top, you’ll have a breathtaking view of the area and you can see Manarola and even Riomaggiore in the distance.

For dinner, settle on a nice terrace in either Corniglia or return to Manarola for dinner. The best evening pictures can be taken of Riomaggiore or Vernazza, the best sunset was by far in Manarola.

Day 2 in Cinque Terre:

I have 2 alternatives for you for your second day in Cinque Terre. One involves hiking and the other doesn’t. In case you have more time, you can split them of course and even stay for 3 days in Cinque Terre.

Hike the Cinque Terre Trail

Wake up bright and early and head out to Monterosso al Mare. Explore the streets and devour a delicious breakfast, and start the hiking trail from this village to Vernazza. On the way, you’ll see breathtaking views of the coast and the near-impossible agricultural activities. This part of the path is steep but offers amazing views.

I'll give you 7 simple reasons why you should spend at least 2 days in Cinque Terre Italy. Including a 2-day Cinque Terre Itinerary and practical tips.
Might have been the best breakfast I ever had.

Just before you’ll reach Vernazza, you’ll have the best views of the little town, so make sure to save some time for pictures. Looking down on the train line and the village from above is mesmerizing.

Depending on how fast you hike, you can explore Vernazza and climb to the old part and the old tower. Vernazza has the Mediterranean on each side of the village which makes for spectacular views from the top. Enjoy a lovely pasta pesto lunch here and continue your hike to Corniglia.

I'll give you 7 simple reasons why you should spend at least 2 days in Cinque Terre Italy. Including a 2-day Cinque Terre Itinerary and practical tips.
Panoramic picture of Vernazza from the old tower.

From Vernazza, the trail continues to Corniglia. This part is more rural and feels even more remote. The little bays of the Ligurian coast show a plethora of green and blue waters which combines excellently with the green landscape. Corniglia can be seen from afar and it is fun to walk towards it via the little back streets of the village.

Depending on how you feel and what time it is, you can either explore one more village or head to your hotel and freshen up. As you’ve now seen all villages pick a favorite and have dinner there.

I'll give you 7 simple reasons why you should spend at least 2 days in Cinque Terre Italy. Including a 2-day Cinque Terre Itinerary and practical tips.
Lovely view of Monterosso al Mare and the promenade.

Non-Hiking Alternative for day 2 in Cinque Terre

If you don’t like hiking, or even have 3 days in Cinque Terre, you can explore more villages in depth. Head to Vernazza in the morning on your second day.

Vernazza offers also pastel-colored houses and has a few vantage points where you can see the village and the surroundings. Climb to the old part of town and climb the tower here for 180 degrees view of the village and water. If you’re lucky, you can see Monterosso al Mare in the distance.

I'll give you 7 simple reasons why you should spend at least 2 days in Cinque Terre Italy. Including a 2-day Cinque Terre Itinerary and practical tips.
Stunning view of Vernazza and her stacked houses.

In the main street, you’ll find one amazing gelato shop after another, so be sure to indulge in some ice cream tasting. We couldn’t resist and tried the basil ice cream at one place and limoncello flavored ice cream at another.

After lunch, continue to the last village of the 5. Monterosso al Mare. This village is the biggest one and it has ample opportunities for shopping and lunch and dinner options. Monterosso al Mare is also the only village that has a real beach. Actually, it does have 2 beaches!

I'll give you 7 simple reasons why you should spend at least 2 days in Cinque Terre Italy. Including a 2-day Cinque Terre Itinerary and practical tips.
Kick-off your shoes and enjoy the beach at Monterosso al Mare.

Soak up the sun at the orange striped umbrella-covered beach, or stroll along the promenade to reach the beach on the other side. Perfect for a lazy afternoon at the beach or a nice terrasse at the waterfront.

If you’re tired of walking, catch a boat tour of the villages, go wine tasting or go for a kayak trip.

Is 2 days in Cinque Terre enough?

In my opinion, no. As soon as I arrived, I wanted to unpack my bags and stay forever. I loved the small villages with cute stacked houses with herbs in big pots and cobblestone streets. The views from each of the villages seemed to change every hour of the day.

We just walked around, without any obvious plan or direction. At first sight, each village seems to have one main street (with the exception of Monterosso al Mare as it is much bigger). But as soon as you venture out and take an unexpected right turn, you’ll find more streets meandering around old houses and square foot gardens with lemon trees. All of a sudden, we stumbled on another magic viewpoint with lush green vineyards below us and the glistering turquoise waters of the Mediterranean in front of us.

In the morning, Vernazza looked so delicate while Manarola at sunset was pure magic. If you’re wondering how much time to spend in Cinque Terre, I recommend allocating as much time as you can.

I'll give you 7 simple reasons why you should spend at least 2 days in Cinque Terre Italy. Including a 2-day Cinque Terre Itinerary and practical tips.
Vernazza during sunset.

Our 3 days in Cinque Terre

We had 5 days in Cinque Terre. Arriving late on the first day, and having 3 whole days to explore before we left on the 5th day (so actually, only 3 full days in Cinque Terre). We took things really slow and hiked 2 sections of the Cinque Terre trail, one on each day. We visited each of the 5 villages at least 2 times and tried to see them once in the morning and once in the afternoon.

Of course, 2 days in Cinque Terre is better than one day, but I recommend even longer. Especially when you want to hike part of the trail. More time in Cinque Terre allows for a slower pace and a more relaxed time to really enjoy the villages.

I'll give you 7 simple reasons why you should spend at least 2 days in Cinque Terre Italy. Including a 2-day Cinque Terre Itinerary and practical tips.
Super cute little shop in Riomaggiore.

Where to stay in Cinque Terre?

Ok, I have convinced you! You’ll stay overnight in Cinque Terre and spend at least two days here. Perfect! But where to stay?

Don’t expect big international hotel chains with laundry service, room service, and valet parking. Of course, some hotels offer these services but the best experience in Cinque Terre is at a small boutique hotel in one of the 5 villages or a local apartment or bed & breakfast option.

Monterosso offers by far the most accommodations, ranging from mansions to hotels and apartments. The other villages have charming small apartments or rooms for rent.

We stayed at a local apartment where we had a double room. With double glazed windows to keep out the noise, we were able to join its prime location in the heart of Riomaggiore for 5 full days. I absolutely loved it but it books up well in advance, so book as far ahead as possible here.

I'll give you 7 simple reasons why you should spend at least 2 days in Cinque Terre Italy. Including a 2-day Cinque Terre Itinerary and practical tips.
This could be your view if you stay on Monterosso al Mare.

For all accommodation in Cinque Terre applies the rule of booking ahead. As far in advance as possible. There is nothing wrong with locking in your August accommodation in Monterosso al Mare in September or October the year before.

Looking for cheaper alternatives, like a hostel, or is everything already fully booked? You can also stay in La Spezia or Levanto and take the train into the Cinque Terre each day.

For more detailed information read my guide on where to stay in Cinque Terre.

2 days in Cinque Terre

Do yourself a favor and add at least 2 days in Cinque Terre to your itinerary. Maybe even 3 or 4. You won’t regret it when you have a sunset view with wine almost completely to yourself and can explore each of the villages in depth instead of rushing through them by train.

I'll give you 7 simple reasons why you should spend at least 2 days in Cinque Terre Italy. Including a 2-day Cinque Terre Itinerary and practical tips.
Corniglia was one of my favorite villages (but I say that of all of them).

Although I have traveled to Italy on many occasions, some times for a weekend break, sometimes for a 10-day trip, my time in Cinque Terre was still my favorite of all the places I’ve seen.

Are you planning to visit Cinque Terre? How many days do you have? Do you plan on hiking the Cinque Terre trail? Let me know in the comment section below, I’d love to hear from you.

Colorful houses stacked together on a small cliff with a harbor in front of it with little blue and white boats. Blue sky with text overlay saying 2 days in Cinque Terre Italy Probe around the Globe.
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