So you’re on an Italian road trip and you only have 1 full day to see the entirety of Cinque Terre. Don’t panic! I have laid out the perfect itinerary to see all of Cinque Terre in a full day. Let’s start the journey towards your Cinque Terre day trip!
Wake up at your hotel just north of Cinque Terre in Levanto early this morning. You want to get a head start and make sure you get out there before the tour groups! Get ready and jump into the car you rented.
Drive down to the Levanto train station and park your car. PAY FOR YOUR PARKING BEFORE YOU GO INSIDE or pay for a (surprise) ticket like I did. Parking is up to €2/hour, depending on the zone you park in. The price becomes a flat fee after a certain point.
Head inside the train station and make a stop at the tourist information center. Pick up a map, a train timetable, and your 1-Day Cinque Terre Train Pass. Take the train towards La Spezia and get off at your first stop: Monterosso al Mare.
Arrive in Monterosso al Mare after your 5-minute train ride from Levanto. Congrats, you have about 2 hours until the crowds really roll in! Leave the train station and turn left to get to the town center. Soak up the beautiful coastline and crystal clear blue waters of the Ligurian Sea as you make your way into the town. Grab a breakfast pastry and espresso at Wonderland Bakery. Sit down on a bench and people watch. After you’ve had the most amazing croissant and you’re all caffeinated, spend the next hour getting lost within the narrow streets of Monterosso al Mare.
Head back to the train station and hop on the train to your next stop: Vernazza. Head straight out of the train station into town. Before you reach the marina area, turn right down the alley way to the left of the Pizzeria Fratelli Basso (the pizza place will be on your right) to get up to the Vernazza view point. This is part of the proper hiking trail and you do have to cross the check point to get to the view point, so make sure you’re wearing proper footwear or the officials may not let you through. It’s only about a 10-minute walk up to the view point, but it was steep and on steps formed from rocks, so be careful.
After you take lots of photos from the view point, head back down to the main town area. Walk down to the marina area to soak up the town you just saw from above. Sit along the water and people watch. There’s also an area you can walk along the rocks. If it’s hot, you may see people in the water over here – feel free to join in!
To get to the next stop on this Cinque Terre itinerary, you’ll have to head back to the Vernazza train station. Make your way to the next stop: Corniglia! Once you arrive at the Corniglia train station, you can either hike up to the town or wait to take the bus. Either way you choose, it’ll probably take a little while to get up top.
After your long walk or bus ride, you’ll be hungry! Stop by Osteria A Cantina De Mananan for a delicious home-cooked lunch. If you can call ahead and make a reservation, do so! This place is tiny with only 24 seats, so you may have to wait if you don’t have a reservation.
Try to fit out the door of the restaurant after a delicious lunch eating one of Italy’s must-try dishes and walk around the streets of Corniglia! The town is very small, the smallest of the 5, so you can make your way around and see a lot in a fairly short period of time. After walking around, get ready to burn off your meal with the walk back down or wait around for the bus back to the train station.
Take the train to your next stop: Manarola. Manarola is the town that has that classic Cinque Terre view you see all over the place. Once you exit the train station, go through the tunnel and make a left. Use this time to soak up the gorgeous views of Manarola from the view point. Unlike the Vernazza view point, the pathway is hard to miss!
I’ve seen people skip Manarola, take the train after Corniglia to Riomaggiore, and double back to Manarola to be here for the sunset. If you want to do this, make a reservation at Nessun Dorma for drinks or dinner to watch the sun go down.
Head back to the train station and get ready for your last town! Take the train from Manarola to Riomaggiore. I know you’re exhausted, but you made it! Follow the signs through the tunnel towards the center of town. Walk along the main street taking in the last town. Head to La Cantina del Macellaio for a yummy dinner to cap off the night!
Grab a gelato – you deserve it! Take the gelato and sit by the water to enjoy the sunset on this beautiful day you just had. Then, head back to the train station and make your way back to the start and get a good night’s sleep! You’ve just completed your Cinque Terre day trip! I hope you love the Cinque Terre itinerary!!!
Don’t forget to check out my blog posts on where to stay in Cinque Terre and your ultimate guide for Cinque Terre by train!