Activities in Cinque Terre: my top 5

What to see and do in the Cinque Terre

What is there to see in the Cinque Terre? What is there to do in the Cinque Terre? In this article, we will retrace the path we took in “What to see in Portofino“, answering those two questions that are most often asked by people intending to organise a holiday here or who are looking for advice.

Here are my personal suggestions: what I would do if I were on holiday in the Cinque Terre!



Typical “caruggi” or alleyways in the Cinque Terre


What to see in the Cinque Terre: the National Park

We are in Liguria, almost bordering Tuscany, and around 70 km East of Genoa and 10 km West of La Spezia are the Cinque Terre. Five jewels, from West to East:


  • Monterosso
  • Vernazza
  • Corniglia
  • Manarola
  • Riomaggiore

Centuries’ old dry stone walls, historical vineyards and olive groves, hilltop villages that are UNESCO heritage sites, boundless woods of holm oaks, abbeys, castles, medieval towers and incredible biodiversity both above and below the sea’s surface: for all these reasons and much more,  the “Parco Nazionale delle Cinque Terre” was established back in 1999. Created for the Park’s sustainable enjoyment, protection, education and beauty: this is the sense and aim of this sort of institution and with this philosophy in mind, I will explore deeper.


The Cinque Terre seen from Monterosso


Cinque Terre: how to get there

There are two alternatives:


  1. arriving at the Cinque Terre by train: an extremely easy solution and ideal for reaching this area. The Cinque Terre are very well served by train services.
  2. arriving at the Cinque Terre by sea (on a ferry)
    • from La Spezia
    • from the Tigullio Gulf (Santa Margherita Ligure, Portofino, Rapallo
    • from Camogli
    • from Genova

The third option would be by car, but I would advise against it completely! It takes longer, the roads are pretty challenging and parking spaces are rarer than hen’s teeth. Plus, often it just isn’t possible to reach points of interest by car, with the only exception being the “Costa di Tramonti” or Sunset Coast (reachable from La Spezia).


What to see in the Cinque Terre:


1: Grottoes and waterfalls between Monterosso and Vernazza (by Kayak)

The canoe is the ideal means of transport for visiting the rocky coast between Monterosso and Vernazza. It allows you to enter the numerous grottoes and explore every tiny, charming bay that you chance upon. An absolute must is a stop at the waterfall known as the Cascata dell’Acqua Pendente: it’s a perfect place for a break and (if it’s sweltering) an invigorating shower. More details in this article.


Kayaking off Vernazza


2: Seeing the panoramas from above (by e-bike along the Sp 51)

A cycle ride (why not pedal-assisted?) through the Cinque Terre’s landscape is an extremely pleasant way to stock up on breathtaking views and take some truly memorable photos. Don’t miss out on a stop at the Soviore Sanctuary. If you have a little more time available, it’s certainly worth exploring further inland (Val di Vara, Varese Ligure, etc). If you don’t have an e-bike, don’t despair: we can help you!

NB: You can even bring your bike on the train. Suggested route: Monterosso – La Spezia (with a deviation to Portovenere).


The waters of the Cinque Terre, seen from above


3. Vineyards overlooking the sea (Riomaggiore)

There are many different ones to visit, but our favourite is Possa (we talk about it here). Heroic and natural agriculture overlooking the sea in Riomaggiore!


4. The Sunset Coast, Monesteroli and the natural pools at Punta Pineda

Here we are just outside of the Cinque Terre and these places are not so well-known, but they have absolutely nothing to envy their famous counterparts: quite the contrary. Between Riomaggiore and Portovenere (and Palmaria Island, which we talk about here) there is a stretch of coast that feels almost wild, full of magical places (Punta Pineda and Monesteroli just to mention a few) and spectacular trails (like the one from Schiara to Monesteroli).


The coast between Portovenere and Riomaggiore, seen from Tino

A symbol of this stretch of coast is the Scoglio Ferale (the “feral rock”) (which can be seen in Pixar’s “Luca”, set exactly here in these waters).


5. Trekking from Corniglia-Volastra-Manarola

Trekking is certainly a great way to immerse yourself in nature and discover the marvels of the Cinque Terre. There are many different itineraries, this route is one of the more complete ones.

A tip: start your hike in Corniglia, you will cut out part of the uphill walk!


Along the trails in the Parco delle Cinque Terre



Now that you have all the information you need to organise a genuine active experience, in harmony with the territory… I’ll be waiting for you!


Luca Tixi - President & CEO - Outdoor Portofino
Author: Luca Tixi, sea & outdoor coach// professional kayaker// Biologo Marino // Outdoor Portofino’ President


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