The Cinque Terre, or “Five Lands”, are 5 picturesque villages built on the rugged and hilly landscape of the Liguria coastline and one of Italy‘s most popular sites, attracting many visitors every year. It’s one of those must-see places, similarly to Rome or Venice.
What makes the Cinque Terre worth a trip are the charming and colorful villages and its terraced vineyards that rise from the Mediterranean, creating a beautiful scenery worth of a postcard. Steep yet inviting for exploration, the 5 villages are, from south to north, Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, and Monterosso.
The 5 villages and surrounding hills are part of the Cinque Terre National Park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Cinque Terre in the Winter
In an effort to escape the crowds, we decided to visit the Cinque Terre in the winter, in December to be precise. Do we regret it? No, that’s why we decided to share our experience.
The main advantage is how quiet things are in the low season. There are still people visiting but only a fraction of the normal numbers. This makes it easier to visit at a relaxed pace and to enjoy the views. And the villages sill look beautiful! The trains run less frequently, but, from our experience, not busy at all.
One downside is obviously the weather, with lower temperatures and, potentially, rain. Luckily, we had no rain, just some clouds on the first day and plenty of sun on the second. Also, there are fewer places open, such as shops, restaurants, and accommodation.
Riomaggiore is the busiest of the 5 villages and the one closest to La Spezia, at the southern end of the Cinque Terre. From the small harbor, Riomaggiore rises steeply up a narrow valley.
Across the harbor, by the protective rocks, you get a beautiful view of the village with an interesting perspective of the buildings and how they fit such a rough landscape.
Manarola is the oldest and one of the most beautiful of the Cinque Terre. It may look small, but the tiny streets are very steep and full of stairs, with a surprise at every corner.
The views towards the hillside with all the colorful houses are memorable. Head to the opposite side of town, by the cemetery and small park, for the best vantage point.
Corniglia is the smallest and quieter of the Cinque Terre and is located atop a cliff, which makes it a bit special. In order to reach the village, you have to climb 300+ steps or take the shuttle bus. Corniglia was pretty much dead when we visited but it’s always interesting to visit the narrow streets of a small town.
Vernazza was probably our favorite. The small square and calm bay right at the heart of the town are a great and inviting place to hang about.
For the best views, walk the initial, steep, stretch of the path towards Monterosso. In about 20 mins, you reach the viewpoint.
Monterosso is split into two parts – old and new, which are connected by a tunnel. The train stops at modern Monterosso, where you can find a long sandy beach and more modern amenities, including accommodation and restaurants. You then have to walk along for 10 minutes before reaching the old town.
This northernmost of the Cinque Terre is slightly different from the other four, flatter, and with a different feel to it.
How to travel to and around the Cinque Terre
Flying to the Cinque Terre is easy. The closest international airports are Pisa and Genova (Genoa), respectively to the south and north. These airports have plenty of international flights, including low-cost airlines, convenient schedules for a weekend getaway, and are less than 2 hours away by train.
Other options further afield are Milano (Milan) and Firenze (Florence), just over 3 hours away.
Trenitalia runs all the trains in Italy and you can buy tickets online in order to save some time. From Pisa, you may have to connect at La Spezia Centrale to get the local train to the Cinque Terre, since the direct train only stops at Monterosso, the northernmost village.
Getting around the Cinque Terre is straightforward. The local trains connect the 5 villages at least a couple of times an hour (more frequent in the high season) and it only takes a few minutes between each stop. The journey is through a series of tunnels and there’s no view.
Walking/hiking between the villages is also a popular option because of the amazing views. There are different trails of varying difficulty. When we visited, some trails were closed, so always check for closures when planning your visit.
The villages are part of a National Park and some walking/hiking paths require a permit which you can get by purchasing the Cinque Terre Card. This gives you access to the paths and other park facilities. There is also an extra option with unlimited train rides – recommended for a short 2-day visit.
How to plan a weekend in the Cinque Terre in the winter
Now that you know the 5 villages and how to get there and around, let’s see how to plan a weekend trip in a similar fashion to our itinerary.
Evening flight to your airport choice and overnight. We flew to Pisa.
Early morning train to the Cinque Terre. From Pisa, we took the train to La Spezia and then to Riomaggiore, the southernmost village.
Visit the villages. Morning and early afternoon dedicated to Riomaggiore and Manarola, with lunch at the latter, followed by an afternoon visit to Corniglia and Monterosso, and evening at Vernazza.
Sleep in Vernazza.
On the second day, you have time revisit your favorite villages and see them at a different time of the day. We opted to explore Vernazza in the morning and then more of Manarola and Riomaggiore.
Train back to the city and evening flight back.
Where to sleep in the Cinque Terre
There are quite a few accommodation options, but because of the landscape of the area, you won’t find any big hotels, just smaller ones, B&Bs, and apartments. Also, it’s great to stay in a local apartment but bear in mind that you’re likely to have climb a lot of stairs to get there. Heavy bags are not Cinque Terre friendly.
We opted to stay in Vernazza at a B&B in one of the hills overlooking the town.
Click here to find accommodation for your trip.
Thank you For Sharing This Information…
And also give to me important knowledge.
Interesting post and amazing photos thanks for sharing this
This blog has an amazing information about Cinque Terre. The posts are very unique. Thank you so much for sharing the details of every travel place you have visited.
Superb post with stunning pictures! These are actually most beautiful places to visit in Italy.
A good article with a really beautiful view from the small Italian towns. Italy is a great country to travel, there are so many small towns there.
Cinque Terre seemed so quiet and quaint when you went in December. These picturesque villages are best getaway destination indeed 🙂
Wow nice article. You look your valuable time and wrote about this beautiful places in Italy. Gorgeous images too. Thanks for sharing!
That looks so amzing.
I love the pictures
I’ve been here once, and I really enjoyed the place. I’m so much in love with those beautiful colorful houses. I’ve noticed that most places in Europe have this colorful houses concept.
Great story. Can’t wait to read about your upcoming adventures. Very helpful tips.
Stunning, the more i see pics and read about this place the more I want to visit it! Thanks for sharing this with us!
I visited Cinque Terre last year and seriously fell in love with the place! The cities there are so stunning!
I have also been there three times and I still love this place!
Hi! 🙂 I’ve been there in summer and it was really overcrowded. Although it was the perfect place to ride the bike. Never would have come to this idea of going there in winter from myself but I love it, I’ll keep in mind to give it a shot in winter! Must be perfectly photographable without the crowds everywhere 🙂 just started my travel blog, it seems like a nice travel plan for winter 🙂
What a beautiful view and post you shared with us. This place looks really incredible to explore and i’m adding this place to my bucket list. Thank you.
It’s very really great information for becoming a better Blog.You become a idol for me.You always change my the Way of thinking.Your way thinking is Really amazing.Thanks
Great article! The photography is stunning! I am going to Europe this summer, and Cinque Terre is going to be a stop for me now!
Did you have a hard time finding places to eat?
Not really. There were a few places open and the food was pretty good.
These five villages are mesmerising and i would like to say such places make me curious to travel and explore the place by myself.
Fantastic list guide! Thanks for sharing it! Your shots were great BTW.
Such an amazing article! Thanks for sharing and keep it up!
Thank you so much for writing this blog! Wonderful article, thanks for putting it together! This is obviously one great post.
Thank you very much for sharing this type of blog with beautiful image and helpful information.
Wow, what a great article! Thank you for reminding us of the excitement of getting out of our comfort zones and showing us such a different place. I’ve really enjoyed reading it throughout. Thanks
Splendid blog post. Going to Cinque Terre during wintertime is probably the best option to avoid crowds. These little villages are so authentic.
Great blog! Thanks for sharing!
Is there a specific village that had more restaurants and shops open during the winter?
That would be Manarola. Riomaggiore and Vernazza also have some.
Travelling to Cinque Terre in winter is something which you don’t want to miss. I love the way you shared your experience. I am definitely going to visit this place in winter and share this blog with my travel mates.
I just came across to your website when I am searching for the travel informative website. I think this is the right choice for me. Thanks for sharing this post.
I would love to go there. Keep sharing!!
congrats for all your travels, your work, and pictures !!!!
really want to share the experience with my friends.
I visited to Manarola once and I really loved that place.
Loved this post! So many great things
Thanks so much for sharing this
This is great article, and the way you mentioned all the places with beautiful pictures make it more beautiful. I have been some places once and i have amazing experience over there. And now you give me some other places to explore, really excited to check them out. Thanks mate for your kind info.
very nice post thanks for sharing
very nice post .Really superb.
Italy itself is a dream country and this place adds up to its beauty…Loved your post!!
Lovely and Effective post for essential tips in your first time travellers.
Amazing scenery. I should visit the place
Glad I enjoyed the post! Thanks for this sharing
Hello, we are planning to go to Cinque Terra in December but unable to get trains from Genova. Any idea how to get trains to Riomaggiore from Genova? Thanks
Hi, not sure because we traveled from south. Better check the trenitalia website!
It really looks like a beautiful place to visit. thank you for the idea!
How do you travel from Genoa ?
Easiest option is by train!
Cinque Terre in winter!! the ecxact informations that I need. Thankyou so much for sharing in a great way
good post and nice photos thanks for sharing this post
They are great article share. I really appreciate your post and you explain each and every point very well. Thanks for sharing us.
Great Content Bro,
Thanks For This.You are trying to do some best of peoples. I will share the contents with my friends and family. Once again thank you so much.
This is an absolutely stunning destination. I would totally visit in winter to avoid the crowds and get better rates as well as better pictures. Your pictures are absolutely stunning. This has been on my bucket list for some time. I cant wait to visit one day, thanks so much for sharing !
There are many places in world that are so beautiful and are still admirable like this city how they built and keep the beauty of the beach and city clean colorful.
Thank you for showing such wonderful place.